BUSCH: Darlington: Aaron Fike preview


AARON FIKE - #43 RFMS/Curb Records Dodge


* From one Friday-night race at a historic NASCAR track to another, Aaron Fike and the #43 RFMS/Curb Records Dodge team of the Curb Agajanian Performance Group head to the Darlington Raceway 1.33-mile egg-shaped oval for Friday night's NASCAR Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200.

* It will be the second visit to Darlington for the 23-year-old driver from Galesburg, Ill., although his first one was cut tremendously short in the 2004 Busch series race here after an opening-lap accident. Fike comes to Darlington with 48 NBS starts in all.

* Last Friday night, during the rain-delayed NBS event on the three-quarter-mile tri-oval at Richmond, Fike qualified 29th but used pit strategy to work his way up to as high as fifth in the order by Lap 80 of 250 on the night. Poised from there to make a solid run to the finish despite an increasing loose condition, he was squeezed high off the racing line and into the outside wall near the race's midpoint. The #43 CAPG Dodge sustained suspension damage that required a green-flag pit stop for repairs, and that took him out of contention for a top finishing position.

* In this season's opening race at Daytona, Fike qualified second in the #43 CAPG Dodge, missing the pole by a mere 43-thousandths of a second. On race day, however, he was taken out early when a fellow competitor blew a tire on the front straight and sent him into the outside retaining wall.

* Other bright spots since Daytona for Fike and the #43 team came at Bristol with an 18th-place finish, at Nashville with a 15th-place run, and at Talladega with another top-six qualifying effort.

* Sponsoring the #43 CAPG Dodge for this weekend's 11th of 35 NBS races of 2006 is RFMS, Inc., the Galesburg, Ill.-based retirement lifestyles operation with retirement villages and assisted living facilities in northern Illinois and Iowa. Also sponsoring the car is Nashville-based Curb Records, which recently celebrated "43 History-Making Years" in the music industry. Curb's lineup of major recording artists includes Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes, Jo Dee Messina, Wynonna, and Hank Williams, Jr.

AARON FIKE QUOTES ON DARLINGTON -- "It's really like my first race at Darlington and I'm looking forward to it. I got to practice and qualify the first time, but didn't get very far after the start. That was two seasons ago. This should be a whole different story. We're bringing our Richmond car from last week. I liked it a good bit. Hopefully it'll be even better suited to the track at Darlington. From what little I've driven there, I like the track a lot. Once your tires go away, which is usually pretty quickly, you can slide around and make like dirt-track racers. That's right up my ally."


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Drivers Aaron Fike
Teams Williams