Chicagoland site of many firsts for NASCAR Busch Series drivers, teams DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2005) -- Among other monikers, Chicago is known as the "Second City." But in NASCAR Busch Series lexicon, Chicago has truly been a city ...
Chicagoland site of many firsts for NASCAR Busch Series drivers, teams
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 5, 2005) -- Among other monikers, Chicago is known as the "Second City." But in NASCAR Busch Series lexicon, Chicago has truly been a city of firsts.
The inaugural NASCAR race at Chicagoland Speedway in July 2001 was the NASCAR Busch Series event. Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) won the race, the first win of his NASCAR Busch Series career. Johnson also gave owner Stanley Herzog his first series victory.
"[The win] came at a perfect time in my career," Johnson said. "I really needed that win for myself -- I was already under contract with Hendrick Motorsports -- but [needed it] for the racing community to show I could win a race. It was a huge moment in my career."
Three of the previous four winners at Chicago, including Johnson, captured their first NASCAR Busch Series win at the 1.5-mile track. Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) won his first series event in 2002, while Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) did the same in this race last year. Labonte started 34th, and won on the last lap after Mike Wallace ran out of fuel. The win was also the first in the NASCAR Busch Series for Labonte as an owner.
Casey Mears won his first pole in NASCAR national series competition when he secured the top starting slot in 2003 in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Chicago.
And, although the victory by Bobby Hamilton Jr. in 2003 wasn't the first for Ed Rensi and his Team Rensi Motorsports organization, it was a landmark win for the group.
Rensi and Gary Weisbaum, two of the team's three owners (along with Rensi's brother Sam) reside in the Chicago area. Ed Rensi served as president and CEO of McDonald's for over a decade while Weisbaum owns a suburban-based business-to-business marketing agency in the Chicago vicinity.
"With McDonald's being based here, we really want to have a great race and let them know how much we appreciate their support of our racing program," said Jason Keller, driver of the No. 35 McDonald's Ford.
"Add in the fact that Ed and Gary live here and this is a very important race for us. Last year I finished second, so hopefully we can duplicate our effort or even make it to Victory Lane."