* Defense: Mike Wallace returns to site of exciting 2004 finish * Despite rain, Milwaukee race posts increased households, viewers over last year NEWS & NOTES Second half Top 10 ramped up, too ... The 79 points separating the first ...
* Defense: Mike Wallace returns to site of exciting 2004 finish
* Despite rain, Milwaukee race posts increased households, viewers over last year
NEWS & NOTES
Second half Top 10 ramped up, too ... The 79 points separating the first four positions in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings is also reflective throughout the remainder of top 10. Kenny Wallace has accumulated five top-10 finishes in his last seven races -- including two runner-up results -- en route to his current fifth place in the standings. He is 187 points out of first, and is looking to put more distance between him and rookie Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), who is sixth, 101 points behind Wallace. Sixth through tenth places are separated by a total of 144 points. Seventh-place Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) is working to fend off David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge), who is 19 points back in eighth. Lewis' teammate, Jason Keller, is in ninth, but 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion David Green, has completed a 14-week odyssey and is in the top 10 for the first time since the second race of the season. Green has moved to within 38 points of Keller.
Mike Wallace relishes Daytona, chance to defend ... Mike Wallace (No. 6 Country Crock Dodge) has only three starts in the NASCAR Busch Series this year, having moved over to the No. 4 Lucas Oil Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this season. However, the middle sibling of the three racing Wallace brothers is the defending champion of the Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona, and will attempt to defend his exciting 2004 last-lap win for Evernham Motorsports' Hungry Drivers program. The victory was the first for Wallace in the NASCAR Busch Series in 10 years and the first for Biagi Bros. Racing for whom he drove. "I love racing at Daytona," Wallace said. "I love the track, the speed and the challenge of being in the draft. It is just fun to race there. I look forward to going back this weekend and defending my title as last year's race winner." Wallace has won in three different series at Daytona -- ARCA (1994), NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (2000) and NASCAR Busch Series.
Former series champion Earnhardt Jr. looks for jump-start ... The last driver to win consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championships -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 81 Menard's Chevrolet) -- is looking to find some momentum in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, and Friday night's race may be the opportunity for him to do just that. He is 143 points out of the 400-point cutoff behind the leader needed to advance to the 10-race "Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup." Earnhardt won back-to-back titles in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1998-99, and owns four series wins at Daytona. He won at the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval three times in succession in NASCAR Busch Series competition in 2003-04 before Mike Wallace snapped the streak last summer. Earnhardt finished third in the season-opening NASCAR Busch Series race in February, the only other series race he has participated in this season. "The last time I drove the Menard's car was at Bristol last summer and we won both races that weekend," Earnhardt said. "Hopefully, we can have the same kind of weekend here in Daytona. Our record at this track is pretty good."
Rain doesn't dampen Milwaukee broadcast results ... Despite a rain delay that ultimately caused the race to be shortened by 50 laps (200 of 250 laps completed), the SBC 250 at The Milwaukee Mile -- the final FX telecast of the 2005 season -- showed increases in households and viewers over the 2004 race, also broadcast on FX. Households increased 50% over last year (1,281,000 -- 852,000) while viewers increased 32% versus the 2004 race (1,746,000 -- 1,322,000). The race aired directly against Game 1 of the Men's College World Series, the IRL and Major League Soccer. Figures are provided by Nielsen Media Research.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has the most NASCAR Busch Series wins at Daytona among active drivers with four; his father, Dale Earnhardt is the all-time series win leader with seven. Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevroelt) is tied for third with three wins while Joe Nemechek (No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet) is tied for fifth with two series wins. ... There have been three different race winners and three different Busch Pole winners in the summer race. Nemechek has won four Busch Poles at Daytona, overall, best among all NASCAR Busch Series drivers. Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for this event last year. ... Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick (No. 21 TAKE 5 Chevrolet) have five top-five finishes at Daytona, best among active drivers; Kenny Wallace's seven top-10 finishes are tied for fourth all-time at Daytona. ... Harvick's 4.0 average finish in six NASCAR Busch Series races at Daytona is third all-time, first among drivers entered in the event.
The second half of the NASCAR Busch Series season switches from FOX and FX to NBC and TNT beginning with Friday night's broadcast on TNT. TNT will broadcast 14 of the final 18 series races while NBC will air four beginning with next week's race at Chicago. Other NBC broadcasts include Watkins Glen on Aug. 13, California on Sept. 3 and Kansas on Oct. 8. ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's/Turtle Wax Chevrolet) has had his two best career finishes in the NASCAR Busch Series in the last two races -- fifth at Kentucky and third at his home track at Milwaukee. Menard has moved from 22nd to 12th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings in the last five weeks. ... J.J. Yeley (No. 18 VIGORO/Home Depot Chevrolet) has three top-10 finishes in his last three races, including a career-best fourth at Milwaukee last Saturday night. ... Jason Leffler will drive the No. 32 WINFuel Dodge for Braun Racing at Daytona. Leffler drove in 27 NASCAR Busch Series races last season for Haas CNC Racing and was third in the point standings after his 27th and final race for the team. ... Kerry Earnhardt will drive the No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Chevrolet at Daytona for Michael Waltrip Racing.
"I'm happy to go back to Daytona. [It] is where I started my first-ever NASCAR Busch Series race and I finished on the lead lap. Daytona this time is under the lights and I have more experience racing stock cars, so hopefully we will have a better result." -- Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 10 ppc Racing Ford)
"When we are this close in points there can be no chances taken. At least we didn't lose any real ground in the points standings, but this is still a hard pill to swallow." -- Clint Bowyer's frustration at mechanical issues he felt were key in his disappointing 10th-place finish at Milwaukee.
"We've had some pretty good finishes at the speedways this year. We are taking the same car that we took to Daytona earlier this year and it gave us a pretty good start to the season. This time around we are half-way through our season and things look like they are starting to come together. I'm looking forward to the later half of the season." -- Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet)
"Seems like I have been coming to Daytona for a long time, yet I still don't have a trophy from there. Daytona is a special place, and the NASCAR Busch Series races are always full of excitement". -- Jason Keller
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Daytona International Speedway has hosted a NASCAR Busch Series event each February since 1982, the inaugural season of the division. The series made its summer debut at the "World Center of Racing" in July, 2002 with an event which is held in conjunction with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Pepsi 400. The NASCAR Busch Series summer race at Daytona has proven to be very competitive. In the event's three-race history, there have been three different winners -- Joe Nemechek, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mike Wallace -- in three different makes of cars -- Pontiac, Chevrolet and Ford -- from three different teams.
There have also been three different pole winners -- Nemechek, Earnhardt Jr. and Mike Bliss -- and the total margin of victory for the three races combined is a mere .467 seconds.
ON DECK: CHICAGOLAND SPEEDWAY
Chicago is the destination for the NASCAR Busch Series next week. The USG DUROCK 300 is scheduled on Saturday, July 9 at 2:05 p.m. Last year, Justin Labonte won his first career NASCAR Busch Series race when Mike Wallace, bidding to win his second consecutive event, ran out of gas on the last lap. There have been four different race winners and four different Busch Pole winners at Chicago since the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race in 2001 at the 1.5-mile track.
What: Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo (Race No. 18 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: 8 p.m. ET, Friday, July 1.
Track Layout: 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Race Length: 250 miles/100 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,441,600.
TV: TNT, 7:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Mike Wallace.
2004 Polesitter: Mike Bliss.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 2,320. 2. Reed Sorenson 2,313. 3. Clint Bowyer 2,279. 4. Carl Edwards 2,241. 5. Kenny Wallace 2,133. 6. Denny Hamlin 2,032. 7. Ashton Lewis Jr. 1,983. 8. David Stremme 1,964. 9. Jason Keller 1,877. 10. David Green 1,839.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thur., June 30: Practice -- 3-4:00 p.m.; 5:20 -- 6:05 p.m. Sat., July 1: Qualifying -- 1:45 p.m. Cars impounded following qualifying.