NEWS OF NOTE * Family climb to success.... Raybestos rookie Casey Mears (No. 66 Phillips 66 Dodge) may be making his first NASCAR Busch Series start at Pikes Peak, but he arrives with an impressive family history for racing in the area.
NEWS OF NOTE
* Family climb to success.... Raybestos rookie Casey Mears (No. 66 Phillips 66 Dodge) may be making his first NASCAR Busch Series start at Pikes Peak, but he arrives with an impressive family history for racing in the area. Roger Mears, Casey's father, was a five-time class champion (1972-73,' 85,' 98-99) in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and Rick Mears, the open-wheel legend who is Casey's uncle, captured a class crown in 1976.
* No generation gap.... Tim Sauter (No. 19 AP Performance Chevrolet), who competed against his father and two brothers in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Milwaukee in June, is witnessing the early beginnings of another generation of Sauters joining the racing ranks. Travis Sauter, the 19-year-old son of Tim, will be racing in his third superstock event at Wisconsin Dells Speedway this weekend. "I have been telling him to be smooth and smart," said Tim, who also has two other sons, Tyler, 17, and Benny, 14. "Travis needs to talk to the other racers and learn. I told him not to tear the thing up because it isn't any good if it's wrecked. There is no sense in putting pressure on him. We all started racing because it was fun and something to do. I don't want him to be pressured to start at Daytona in 2005. It's not on my agenda and I hope it's not on his." Tim has not yet had an opportunity to see Travis compete due to his race schedule, but will get the chance Aug. 12 when the NASCAR Busch Series has an off weekend.
* It's Greener on the other side of this track.... The Green brothers - Mark, Jeff and David - have shared success on an annual basis since the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race at Pikes Peak in 1998 and Mark Green (No. 38 Great Clips Ford) will be the lone representative this weekend to uphold the family run of top-10 performances. Mark kicked off the family run with a seventh-place finish in 1998; Jeff was fourth in 1999; Jeff and David were 1-2, respectively, in 2000; and Jeff was second and David sixth last year."I had a good run my first time here in 1998 and since then Jeff and David have carried the family name at Pikes Peak International Raceway," Mark said."It's my turn this year and I think this Great Clips team and I are up to the task."
* Etc.... There have been 12 different race winners and 10 Bud Pole winners through 20 events this season. There have been four first-time race winners as well as pole winners. ... Jason Keller (No. 57 Albertsons Ford) and Jeff Green (No. 21 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) lead the series in wins (4) and poles (3), respectively.... Last year's event established a race record for average speed at 120.160 mph. The race had just one caution period for four laps. The one caution tied Homestead for the least amount in the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series season and the four caution laps were a season low.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
* Kenny Wallace (No. 48 Stacker 2/Goulds Pumps Chevrolet) captured the pole at Pikes Peak last season, marking the first time he sat on the pole since 1994. He also went on to win another pole last season - at Indianapolis Raceway Park - to push his career total to 10.
* Chevrolet has won all four events at Pikes Peak with drivers Jeff Purvis, Jeff Green, Andy Santerre and Matt Kenseth.
WHAT'S THE WORD?
* "As far as the altitude, I don't think it affects the quality of racing at all. It definitely cuts down on the amount of horsepower you can make, but it's the same for everyone. As far as the altitude affecting me as a driver, fortunately we get a couple of days to get acclimated to it before we race. That, coupled with all the cardio training I do, makes it pretty easy to adapt to the thin air up here." - Hank Parker Jr. (No. 36 GNC Live Well Dodge).
* "We never imagined to come out of the box like we did and lead the points and win a race. Sure, it's a great feeling to lead the points for so long, but we still have a shot to come back and make a run for it and wouldn't count us out yet. What's hard to stomach is the way we lost the lead. The late-race wreck at Daytona and then the engine failure just a couple laps into the race at Chicago a few weeks ago just killed us. I try not to think about it too much. Besides this team was in the same situation in the Truck Series last year and fought back to sit at the front table at the banquet," - Jack Sprague (No. 24 NetZero Chevrolet), who led the championship earlier in the season and currently is third.
* "Racing at Pikes Peak is a lot like Saturday night short-track racing, which is what I grew up with and a lot of other drivers did too. You rub a little bit out there and you run up close to the wall. If you get in trouble, you can save it and you don't tear your car up just because you are beating and banging out there. It's really a lot of fun." - Ricky Hendrick (No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
* In 1999, Andy Santerre captured the NAPA Autocare 250 at Pikes Peak for his first and only victory of his NASCAR Busch Series career. It came in his 38th career start.
NASCAR Busch Series pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday - Practice, 10:30-11:25 a.m.; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; 5-5:55 p.m.; qualifying, 3 p.m.