* Mother's Day a reminder of career sacrifices for the Sorensons * Testing continues at Lowe's Motor Speedway NEWS & NOTES Harvick stays hot; pads points lead ... Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) won his third race in his...
* Mother's Day a reminder of career sacrifices for the Sorensons
* Testing continues at Lowe's Motor Speedway
NEWS & NOTES
Harvick stays hot; pads points lead ... Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) won his third race in his last four outings last Friday night at Richmond. The win kept his points lead at a comfortable cushion over Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet). There are just three races left before the NASCAR Busch Series stand-alone portion of the schedule begins. Harvick is one of seven drivers attempting to run a full season in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, so his 313-point lead over Bowyer is a luxury considering the possible roadblocks that lie ahead with travel, mainly due to the unpredictable summer weather. A missed race at Nashville last June due to a rain postponement arguably cost Carl Edwards (No. 60 Henkel Ford) the title.
Harvick hasn't run at Darlington since 2004, and has one top five and three top 10s in seven career NASCAR Busch Series races at the track. Menard, Sauter, Wood keeping pace ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) comes to Darlington fifth in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, not only his highest ranking of the season but the best of his 79-race career. He was in 13th place in the points as recently as six races ago. Menard's rise has been punctuated by four top-10 finishes in his last five races.
After a slow start to the year, Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet) now stands ninth in the points. He has been in the top 10 for five of the last six weeks and has improved his standing after each of the last three races. Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/American Red Cross Ford) is 10th, and has held a top-10 position in the points in all but one week this season. Menard's best Darlington finish came in the fall race in 2004 when he was 12th. Sauter's best finish was fifth in the spring 2003 race while Wood had a forgettable 35th-place finish in his first series start at the track last spring.
Sorenson grateful for Mom's support ... Just two years removed from ASA and ARCA competition since his rise in NASCAR, 20-year-old Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) is quick to point out how influential his mother, Becky, has been as Mother's Day weekend approaches. "My mom took care of a lot of the business side of my racing career," Sorenson said. "She did all that stuff and worked for my dad (Brad), too. Dad and I joked sometimes that she liked racing so much that she liked it even more than we did." Becky Sorenson agreed. "It has been fun watching him grow up through the years and every series he competed in was always very family-oriented, so it made it a great experience for all of us [including daughter Ashley]," she said. "I don't know if you can ever really pay your parents back," Sorenson said. "There is probably nothing you could ever do to match what they did for 15 years when I was growing up racing. A lot of money was spent and time taken to help me through it all. I definitely will never forget everything they did and still do for me."
Season's final scheduled test at LMS .... Nearly 50 NASCAR Busch Series teams were scheduled to participate in the fourth and final scheduled test of the season this week at Lowe's Motor Speedway. This year, NASCAR set a schedule for when and where each of its national series tests at tracks that host NASCAR events. Those tests are the teams' only opportunities to test at those tracks. LMS is one of four tracks -- and the second of two 1.5-mile tracks -- that series teams can utilize for tests this season. Daytona International Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway already have hosted tests. Teams select two of the three available days to test. Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ameriquest Ford) was the fastest in the Tuesday's opening afternoon session with a speed of 185.542 mph (29.104 seconds). Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) posted the day's fast time with a lap of 29.012 seconds (186.130). Testing concludes Wednesday night.
IN THE LOOP: Wallace ready for Lady in Black... Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) is 14th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings heading to Darlington, and could be a factor Friday night, according to NASCAR's Loop Data Statistics. Wallace, who finished second in last year's race, was first in Average Running Position one year ago (3.082) and second to race winner Matt Kenseth in Driver Rating (125.7) Kenseth posted a 127.9 Driver Rating. Wallace was second in Fastest Drivers Early in a Run at the egg-shaped oval (159.217 mph) and was 10th among the Fastest Drivers by Straightaway (158.999) on the frontstretch and fourth on the backstretch (170.447). He was fastest in Turn One (152.632), third-fast in Turn Two (155.451) and seventh-fast on Turns Three and Four (136.224). He was best on restarts (158.680) in an event that saw six cautions last year and was tied for 10th in Quality Passes with nine. For the complete Loop Data statistics report and a glossary of category terms, go to www.nascarmedia.com.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Mark Martin (No. 6 Ameriquest Ford), the NASCAR Busch Series' all-time leader in wins (47), captured eight of those victories at Darlington, the most of any driver. Martin, who is tied with Tommy Ellis for the all-time lead in Busch Poles with 28, has eight starts from the pole at Darlington, also first. Martin has 12 top fives and 16 top 10s in his 26 career races there (tied for third in series history). Martin also has led the most laps (972). ... Last year's race winner, Matt Kenseth, has the best average finish among drivers who have started at least five races -- 4.6. Kenseth has started 11.
Chevrolet has eight wins and 84 points following Kevin Harvick's win at Richmond last Friday, building on its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup Standings. Ford has moved into second place with 63 points and has one win this season. Dodge is third by one point (62) and has two wins. Chevy has the most NASCAR Busch Series wins at Darlington (13), but hasn't won since sweeping in 2003. ... Two NASCAR Busch Series teams are based in South Carolina -- Phoenix Racing and owner James Finch are in Spartanburg while Johnny Davis Motorsports is in Blacksburg. Kertus Davis, who this week will drive the No. 34 Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly Chevrolet, is from Gaffney, S.C. ... After winning the Busch Pole at Richmond, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) is tied for the series lead in Busch Poles (two). His 76 laps led last Friday night are the most this season for a series regular.
Mark Martin's appearance at Darlington will be his first in the NASCAR Busch Series at the track since 2000 when he swept both races that season from the Busch Pole. ... Tony Stewart (No. 33 Dollar General Chevrolet) hasn't started a NASCAR Busch series race at Darlington since 1998. ... Todd Kluever (No. 06 3M Ford) will make his first start at Darlington and although he has never raced there, the track will always be special to him since he won his job at Roush Racing by beating nine other drivers at Darlington at the 2004 "Gong Show."
"There isn't a tire that would last at Darlington. I could take my rental car out there and the tires would be gone after 10 laps." -- Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's/Sta-Green Chevrolet).
"At that place it seems like every lap you are going to get a Darlington stripe, and when you do it is usually big. The bottom line is that you know there is a good chance of it happening, so you just have to be on top of your game every lap so that when it does happen, you are ready to regain control." -- Clint Bowyer.
"He won his first and only ARCA race on Father's Day two years ago, so he owes me." -- Becky Sorenson, mother of Reed Sorenson, on her son racing on Mother's Day weekend.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
The fifth NASCAR Busch Series event ever held was known as the TransSouth 200 and took place at Darlington International Raceway on April 3, 1982. The race marked one of only six times David Pearson entered a series event. Pearson was known as the master of Darlington and anticipation was high he would have a good showing there.
Harry Gant took the pole for his first of 14 career top starting spots. The field of 23 cars included Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and his brother Glenn, short-track ace John Anderson and veteran J.D. McDuffie, who also was making one of his rare series starts.
Geoffrey Bodine and Jody Ridley put on a duel for the lead late in the race with Bodine picking up the win. Ridley finished second. Pearson came home third one lap down. Bodine won $8,650 and averaged 129.018 mph for the 200-mile event.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" QUOTEABLES
"I can't count out Darlington. It was a challenging, driver's racetrack. In those days, Darlington was turning them away. It was just slam-packed." -- 1990 NASCAR Busch Series champion Chuck Bown on his favorite tracks.
Note: A NASCAR Busch Series "25 Seasons Running" Media Kit CD is available at-track each race weekend and also on-line at nascarmedia.com. A CD can also be obtained by contacting NASCAR PR.
ON DECK: LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Following an off-week, the NASCAR Busch Series returns on May 27 at Lowe's for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300. Kyle Busch won last year's race while Kasey Kahne captured the Busch Pole. FX will carry the race beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
What: Diamond Hill Plywood 200 (Race No. 12 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Darlington Raceway, Darlington, S.C.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET, Friday, May 12.
Track Layout: 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval.
Race Length: 200 miles/147laps.
Posted Awards: $1,068,115.
TV: FX, 8 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Matt Kenseth.
2005 Polesitter: Jimmie Johnson.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 1,799. 2. Clint Bowyer 1,486. 3. Carl Edwards 1,417. 4. Denny Hamlin 1,381. 5. Paul Menard 1,359. 6. Kyle Busch 1,340. 7. Greg Biffle 1,314. 8. J.J. Yeley 1,294. 9. Johnny Sauter 1,241. 10. Jon Wood 1,192.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., May 12 -- Practice, 8:30 -- 9:45 a.m.; "Rookie Practice," 9:45 -- 10:15 a.m.; Final Practice 10:30 -11:30 a.m. Qualifying 5:05 p.m. (Impound).