BUSCH: Daytona II: Round 18 preview

Recent results have Daytona race filled with excitement and anticipation DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2006) -- There have only been four NASCAR Busch Series summer races at Daytona International Speedway, but each one has produced a finish ...

Recent results have Daytona race filled with excitement and anticipation

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2006) -- There have only been four NASCAR Busch Series summer races at Daytona International Speedway, but each one has produced a finish arguably more exciting then the last.

Add the past two weeks -- perhaps the most talked-about span in series history -- and Friday night's race brings with it an air of anticipation.

Defending race winner Martin Truex Jr. is a late addition, replacing injured Mark McFarland in the No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet. He'll face off against his Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Menards Chevrolet), renewing a friendly rivalry between the last two drivers to win consecutive series championships. Earnhardt won this race in 2003 in-between his victories at the 2002 and '04 season-openers at Daytona.

And the electricity doesn't end there.

Series leader Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) won the Busch Pole for this race last season and is coming off his worst finish of the year -- 19th at Milwaukee when he was caught up in an incident with three laps to go. He'll certainly be looking for redemption.

Harvick the team owner will have to contend with Tony Stewart, the driver of his KHI Inc. No. 33 Dollar General Stores Chevrolet, who has won at Daytona during the last two season-opening races in NASCAR Busch Series competition.

Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Dodge), one of NASCAR's top restrictor-plate drivers, is still seeking his first series win at Daytona in what will be his series-leading 22nd race there.

Then, there's the growing confidence factor among many NASCAR Busch Series drivers.

Over the last three races, including the storybook win at Kentucky by David Gilliland and last week's career-first victory by Paul Menard (No. 11 Menards Chevrolet) at his home track at Milwaukee, an average of six NASCAR Busch Series regulars have finished in the top 10.

Menard and Mike Wallace (No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts Dodge), the winner at Daytona in 2004, have been stellar. Menard has two top fives including his win, plus a top 10 in his last three events while Wallace has two top fives in his last two races.

David Reutimann, who has driven the No. 99 Dodge for Waltrip in the last three races, had three top-10 finishes in his last three outings while Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) and Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Danny O'Quinn Jr. (No. 50 World Financial Group Ford) collected a top five and two top-10 finishes in their last three outings, respectively, heading to Daytona.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Mike Wallace , David Reutimann , Martin Truex Jr. , Paul Menard , Ashton Lewis , Mark McFarland , Danny O'Quinn