BUSCH: Charlotte II: News of note, schedule

NEWS & NOTES Close call at Kansas for title contenders ... When Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) went out on Lap 3 at Kansas due to an accident, the door opened for Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) to make a significant move...


Close call at Kansas for title contenders ... When Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) went out on Lap 3 at Kansas due to an accident, the door opened for Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) to make a significant move in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings. However, Busch suffered his own misfortune after getting caught up in an accident on Lap 81. Both drivers were able to rejoin the race, and although Truex posted his worst finish of the season (30th), Busch was able to gain only three points on the points leader after finishing 29th. Truex heads to Charlotte with a 149-point lead over Busch with six races to go. Busch won at Charlotte in the spring, and made his first career series start at the venue last year. Following a second-place finish at Kansas, Greg Biffle moved into third in the standings, 480 points behind Truex. Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 46 Lewis Motorsports Chevrolet) has moved into ninth -- his highest ranking of the year -- thanks to his season-best fourth-place finish at Kansas. Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Dodge) fell to 10th, 16 points behind Lewis. The narrow gap between 11th- place David Stremme (No. 32 TRIMPSPA X32 Dodge) and 14th-place Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Chevrolet) is 85 points.

Home track brings out big numbers ... With Friday night's race in such close proximity to the majority of headquarters for NASCAR teams, the entry list for the NASCAR Busch Series race hit 60 as of Tuesday. Along with defending race champion Greg Biffle, 11 other fulltime NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers are entered, including Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 SpongeBob SquarePants Chevrolet) and Sterling Marlin (No. 1 Virtual Stock Car/Americard Exchange Dodge). This would be Johnson's first series start since 2001 at Homestead. Marlin has one other NASCAR Busch Series start this season, at California where he finished 37th. Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Dodge) will look forward to racing his uncle, Bobby Labonte (No. 19 Banquet Chevrolet), while two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Ford) makes his first series appearance since July at Daytona. Busch drives a different 5 next year ... The quick ascent of Kyle Busch through NASCAR's top national series continues. On Tuesday, the 19-year-old Las Vegas native was named the driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports in 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition following the announcement that two-time NASCAR premier series champion Terry Labonte will run a partial schedule in '05 and '06 in his former No. 44 Chevrolet. Busch, the youngest full-time competitor in any of NASCAR's three national series, will be a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series next season. "The fact that I have this opportunity is amazing," Busch said. "I'll never be able to fill the shoes of Terry Labonte, but I'm proud to follow in his footsteps. He's an icon in our sport and a great role model for young drivers like myself." A driver for the No. 5 in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2005 entry has yet to be determined.

Blaney in third FitzBradshaw entry at Lowe's ... Dave Blaney will drive the No. 82 Goulds Pumps Chevrolet at Charlotte, adding to the two-car FitzBradshaw Racing team headed by Casey Atwood (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) and Tim Fedewa (No. 12 Hot Tamales Chevrolet). Blaney has competed in three NASCAR Busch Series races this year, most recently at Richmond in May where he finished 21st. The native of Hartford, Ohio, has 74 NASCAR Busch Series starts and has finished second twice for his personal bests. He won his first NASCAR Busch Series pole at Charlotte in the 1998 fall race. Blaney also has started 15 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races this year. "I think Dave will bring a lot to the table as far as experience and ability," said team co-owner Armando Fitz. "We are looking forward to running three successful cars in our own backyard and expect to have a great weekend." ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Kevin Harvick swept both Busch Poles at Charlotte last year and set the track qualifying record in the spring race (184.445 mph). ... Michael Waltrip is second in all-time NASCAR Busch Series starts at Charlotte (29); Mike McLaughlin (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) is tied for fifth with 26. Both drivers are former winners at the track. ... Waltrip has 12 top fives and 11 top-10 finishes at Charlotte, tied for second in each category, respectively. ... Greg Biffle has the best average finish at Charlotte at 4.8.


Chevrolet continued to build on its Bill France Performance Cup lead, adding its 18th win of the season by Joe Nemechek (No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet) at Kansas. Chevy now totals 216 points, Ford is second with eight wins and 174 points while Dodge is third with 129 points and two victories. ... Six former winners at Charlotte are entered in Friday night's event along with five former NASCAR Busch Series champions. ... Jimmy Spencer will drive the No. 74 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet for BACE Motorsports for the remainder of the year beginning at Charlotte. Spencer replaces Tony Raines, who had run 16 races for BACE this season. ... Paul Menard's (No. 11 Menards/Moen Chevrolet) Busch Pole at Kansas was the first of his series career and the second this season won by a rookie other than Kyle Busch -- Busch has four poles while Clint Bowyer won the other at Talladega. ... Nemechek's weekend sweep at Kansas was the third this season, and the first by a driver other than Dale Earnhardt Jr.


"I am the same Ron Hornaday who won at Milwaukee in July, who won two NASCAR [Craftsman] Truck Series championships in the '90s and won features at Saugus Speedway in the '80s. It takes a whole package to win in the Busch Series. We have hit that package a few times, but then it has gotten away from us. I think we have something that works right now and the results show." -- Ron Hornaday (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet). FROM THE ARCHIVES

Sam Ard made NASCAR Busch Series history at Lowe's Motor Speedway on October 8, 1983. Ard was on his way to the NASCAR Busch Series championship, his first of two consecutive titles. He had already recorded eight wins that season, including three in a row coming into the event at Charlotte.

Ard, driving his familiar No. 00 Thomas Bros.-sponsored Oldsmobile, was having a career season. But as hot as he was that year, he was far below the publicity radar screen heading to Charlotte. NASCAR Busch Series regulars had never beaten their premier series counterparts on the superspeedways. Stars such as Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant, Geoffrey Bodine and Darrell Waltrip were synonymous for winning the big races on the big tracks. But this day was different.

Ard won the Miller Time 300 and became the first NASCAR Busch Series regular in series history to win on a superspeedway against a legion of Cup drivers.

Fast Facts

What: Lowe's presents The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300 (Race No. 29 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
When: 8 p.m. ET, Friday, Oct. 15.

Track layout: 1.5-mile banked paved tri-oval.
Race length: 300 miles/200 laps.

Posted awards: $1,121,781.

TV: TNT, 8 p.m. ET.
Radio: PRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: Greg Biffle.
2003 polesitter: Kevin Harvick.

Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 4,212. 2. Kyle Busch 4,063. 3. Greg Biffle 3,732. 4. Jason Leffler 3,661. 5. Ron Hornaday Jr. 3,542. 6. David Green 3,524. 7. Jason Keller 3,492. 8. Mike Bliss 3,314. 9. Ashton Lewis Jr. 3,135. 10. Kasey Kahne 3,119.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Practice,11 a.m. -- 1:15 p.m.; Qualifying, 5:30 p.m.; cars will be impounded after qualifying


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Geoffrey Bodine , Jimmy Spencer , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Sterling Marlin , Casey Atwood , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson , Justin Labonte , Kasey Kahne , Mike Bliss , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Ashton Lewis , Dave Blaney , Harry Gant , Kyle Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports