* Adrian Fernandez makes return to NASCAR Busch Series at California * Erin Crocker scheduled for NASCAR Busch Series debut at Richmond NEWS & NOTES Points report: Changing of the guard ... The top five in the NASCAR Busch Series...
* Adrian Fernandez makes return to NASCAR Busch Series at California
* Erin Crocker scheduled for NASCAR Busch Series debut at Richmond
NEWS & NOTES
Points report: Changing of the guard ... The top five in the NASCAR Busch Series championship driver standings underwent some changes following last Friday night's race at Bristol when Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) displaced Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) in fifth place. Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), the defending series champion, continues to lead the standings, followed by Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), who is 194 points behind. Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) is third, now 394 points behind after being penalized 50 points for rule violations at Bristol, and Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) is fourth, 425 points behind Truex. Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) quietly slipped back into the top 10 following his 12th-place finish at Bristol. Keller was 12th in the championship standings prior to Bristol, but made up two spots to claim his highest standing since New Hampshire, where he was ninth following that race. Keller knocked Team Rensi Motorsports running mate Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) out of the 10th slot in the process. Keller, the all-time leader in NASCAR Busch Series winnings with over $10 million, has finished in the top 10 in eight of his 11 fulltime seasons in the series, the last six in succession.
Adrian Fernandez returns to NASCAR Busch Series ... Open-wheel star and Mexico City native Adrian Fernandez (No. 5 Lowe's/Spectrum Chevrolet) will return to the NASCAR Busch Series this weekend at California Speedway. Fernandez made his NASCAR debut in March when the NASCAR Busch Series held its first points race outside the United States at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course. Fernandez, who started 40th in that event after an accident during qualifying, finished 10th. He is also scheduled to compete for Hendrick Motorsports this season in NASCAR Busch Series events at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead. Two other fellow Mexico City natives are scheduled to run alongside Fernandez at California -- Carlos Contreras (No. 12 Supercuts Dodge) and Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 15 Centrix Financial Ford). Both drivers also competed in the historic race in Mexico City. Jourdain has run 18 series races this season for ppc Racing, while Contreras looks to participate in his third series event this season. Except for the Mexico City race where 10 drivers from Mexico were entered, Saturday's event would mark the first time three natives of Mexico raced together in any of NASCAR's national series. Jourdain will have to make the race on time; Fernandez and Contreras are among the top 30 in owner's points and are assured of a starting position.
Erin Crocker slated to make series debut at Richmond ... Erin Crocker is scheduled to make her NASCAR Busch Series debut next Friday night at Richmond International Raceway. The 24-year-old native of Wilbraham, Mass., is a development driver with Evernham Motorsports. Crocker has started five ARCA races this season, claiming two poles, a second-place finish and two third-place efforts in those outings. Crocker competed in a USAC Silver Crown race at Richmond in June. "It's an honor to be considered NASCAR's hopeful for a female to be successful," Crocker said. "There have been some in the past and there are some in the ranks right now."
Lewis, Team Rensi visit Marines ... Ashton Lewis (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) and other members of Team Rensi Motorsports are heading to California early in order to take part in a Wednesday visit to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. While there, they will visit with Marines and learn more about the training of new recruits. Thursday, the group will venture to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and participate in training exercises, as well as spend time with a large group of Marines that just returned from Iraq. "I am looking so forward to this trip to California," Lewis said. "Any time that I can visit with Marines and thank them for their service to our country, it is rewarding to me. These guys are the backbone of America and I continue to be amazed by the sacrifice they display." Lewis is 11th in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings, just 21 points behind teammate Jason Keller, who is 10th.
Next time out, watch Newman ... Although not entered at California, Ryan Newman is poised to make NASCAR Busch Series history, attempting to become only the second driver in series history to win four consecutive races. Sam Ard, the series' first two-time champion, accomplished the feat in 1983; he also won three straight in 1984. Newman won at the road course at Watkins Glen, followed that with a victory at Michigan's 2-mile track, then claimed the win at Brtistol's half-mile last Friday night. Newman has competed in only 20 NASCAR Busch Series races since his first start at Rockingham in November 2001. He has four series victories overall.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Greg Biffle's two NASCAR Busch Series wins at California are second only to Matt Kenseth's three victories. Kenseth was the first driver to win successive races at California (1999-2000), however, Biffle will be remembered as the first to record a season sweep. ... Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Chevrolet) leads active drivers in this event with six top-10 finishes. Waltrip and Kasey Kahne are tied among active drivers with three top-five finishes at California. ... Jason Keller is the only driver to have competed in all 10 races at California Speedway. ... There has not been a repeat Busch Pole winner at California. ... Biffle has led the most laps (241) in NASCAR Busch Series competition at this track.
Ryan Newman's third consecutive series victory at Bristol moved Dodge to within one victory of second place in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Dodge has seven wins and 153 points. Ford is second with seven wins and 166 points, and has the edge with five victories in NASCAR Busch Series competition at California Speedway. Chevrolet continues to lead with 11 victories and 175 points. ... Coming into this event last year, Martin Truex Jr. had held the NASCAR Busch Series points lead for nine consecutive races and went on to win the season championship. Heading to California at this stage of the 2005 season, Truex once again has held the points lead for nine straight races. ... Only 142 points separate seventh-place David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford) from 12th-place J.J. Yeley in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings. Yeley is entered in Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event, driving the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet. ... Some stars are coming out to California Speedway for Saturday's race. Emmy-nominated actor Patrick Dempsey, who currently stars on the ABC-TV show "Grey's Anatomy," and Paige Hemmis, a carpenter on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Editon, are guests of the No. 90 Citifinancial team. Elliott Sadler will drive the car. Hemmis is from Chatsworth, Calif., and Dempsey has racing experience, having participated in the Panoz Series and Pro Miata Series. ... Biagi Bros. Racing has re-launched its website at www.biagibrosracing.com. ... J.J. Porter will serve as interim crew chief for Kim Crosby (No. 26 Vassarette Chevrolet). Porter replaces Gene Allnutt beginning this weekend at California. He will retain his duties as team manager as well. ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet) had his four-race streak of top-10 finishes snapped at Bristol where he finished 41st due to an accident. Menard had posted nine top 10s in his 10 races prior to Bristol overall, and had moved from 18th to ninth in the point sstandings during that span.
"With the race starting later this time around, we are going to have to stay on top of our adjustments as the race progresses. It's really easy to get behind with the changing track conditions." -- Greg Biffle.
"How could I not be excited? This is something I've wanted to do my entire life, and now I'm running my first [NASCAR] Busch Series race alongside a lot of guys I've looked up to ever since I knew what a race car was." -- T. J. Bell.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The first NASCAR Busch Series event to be held at the new California Speedway took place on Oct. 19, 1997. Rookie Steve Park won his only career Busch Pole for the event. Park opened the eyes of many by leading the first 27 laps of the race, but the true surprise was Todd Bodine. Starting deep in the field, Bodine worked his way to the lead by Lap 62 and remained near the front for the rest of the event. The Chemung, N.Y. native -- one of three brothers who have competed in NASCAR -- passed leader 1991 NASCAR Busch Series Champion Bobby Labonte on Lap 141 and never looked back as he claimed his 10th career NASCAR Busch Series win. Bodine's 28th starting spot is still the deepest for any California Speedway winner in a NASCAR event.
ON DECK: RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
Richmond International Raceway is the destination for the NASCAR Busch Series next Friday night. The Emerson Radio 250 will be the second of NASCAR's three national series to race Thursday through Saturday. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will run Thursday night. On Saturday night, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will stage its final race to determine which drivers advance to the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Last year, Robby Gordon collected his first NASCAR Busch Series victory in an exciting duel with Casey Atwood. Mark Martin is the all-time leader in series wins at Richmond with five. Kenny Wallace is the active leader with three victories at Richmond, two of them in the fall event.
What: Ameriquest 300 (Race No. 27 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: California Speedway, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: 8:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 3.
Track Layout: 2-mile oval.
Race Length: 150 laps/300 miles.
Posted Awards: $1,495,210
TV: NBC, 8:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Greg Biffle.
2004 Polesitter: Casey Mears.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,756. 2. Clint Bowyer 3,562. 3. Reed Sorenson 3,412. 4. Carl Edwards 3,331. 5. Kenny Wallace 3,136. 6. Denny Hamlin 3,182. 7. David Green 2,908. 8. David Stremme 2,892. 9. Paul Menard 2,887. 10. Jason Keller 2,819.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri., Sept. 2: Practice -- 1 -- 2:20 p.m.; 3:20 -- 4:20 p.m. Sat., Sept. 3 -- Qualifying -- 12:05 p.m. Impound on pit road after qualifying.