BUSCH: Fontana II: News of note, schedule

NASCAR Busch Series increasing in popularity in Los Angeles market "Family Feud" TV game show to feature NASCAR Busch Series drivers, crews NEWS & NOTES NASCAR Busch Series booms in Los Angeles market ... The move of the Labor Day weekend...

NASCAR Busch Series increasing in popularity in Los Angeles market
"Family Feud" TV game show to feature NASCAR Busch Series drivers, crews

NEWS & NOTES

NASCAR Busch Series booms in Los Angeles market ... The move of the Labor Day weekend events from Darlington to California this year was designed to bring the excitement of NASCAR to a broader fan base as a result of "Realignment 2004 and Beyond," and the year-to-date network television results for the NASCAR Busch Series reinforce that move. Los Angeles -- the second-largest television market in the country -- is No. 1 among NASCAR Busch Series Top-10 markets, according to Nielsen Media Research. To date in 2004, Los Angeles averages 86,000 households tuning in to each NASCAR Busch Series race -- an increase of 39% over 2003. Also, the West Coast viewership overall has seen gains as California's surrounding markets (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City) have experienced increases in NASCAR Busch Series viewership as well.

Hornaday hoping for good show at "home" ... Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), a native Californian from Palmdale, would relish the opportunity to turn around his recent performances at his "home" track -- Palmdale is located some 60 miles from Fontana. After reaching as high as third in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings following Pikes Peak, Hornaday has slipped to seventh place. Following seven top 10s in an eight-race stretch from Charlotte to New Hampshire -- including his first win of the season at Milwaukee -- Hornaday has fallen on hard times with finishes ranging from 11th to 35th in his last four outings. "That's all part of racing," he said. "There are very few years when everything goes your way. That's why when you have a year like that, you treasure it. Winning at this level is not easy; the competition is so tight. But we try not to get too high or too low. There are still 10 races left and that means 10 possible wins. We are focused on the goal of winning races." Hornaday has one top-10 finish (10th, 2003) in five California Speedway appearances in the NASCAR Busch Series. He was 11th in the spring race this season.

Drivers, crews participate on "Family Feud" ... NASCAR Busch Series drivers David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac) and Kenny Wallace will lead four of their team members against other NASCAR drivers and crew/team members on the popular game show, "Family Feud." Green's group will challenge NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bill Lester and his Toyota Tundra crew during taping today for broadcast during the show's "NASCAR Week" segments scheduled for Nov. 8-12. Wallace and his Stacker 2 mates will meet NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver Ward Burton's quintet. Others scheduled to compete are the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams of Kevin Harvick versus Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Wimmer against Casey Mears and Sterling Marlin taking on Elliott Sadler. All proceeds will be donated to various charities of the driver's choices, including the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

Chevy builds on manufacturer's standings lead ... The victory at Bristol by Dale Earnhardt Jr. last Saturday night gave Chevrolet its third consecutive win and increased its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings over Ford. Chevy has 15 wins and 185 points; Ford has seven wins and 149 points while Dodge, seeking its first win since Chicago, has 109 points and two victories. Ford has won the last three races at California Speedway.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Express Personnel Ford) has the most NASCAR Busch Series wins at California Speedway with three. He is the only driver with multiple victories at Fontana. ... Kenseth has the most top fives (six) and is tied with Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron's Sales & Lease Chevrolet) in all-time top-10 finishes (six). ... Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) is the only active driver in the field who has participated in all eight previous NASCAR Busch Series races at California. ETC.

FitzBradshaw Racing co-owners Armando Fitz and Terry Bradshaw will travel to Hawaii this week to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor to commemorate the 49th anniversary of the surrender of Japan to end World War II. The formal surrender procedures took place on the deckplates of the Missouri. ... J.J. Yeley will seek his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at California, so NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star and 2000 series champion Bobby Labonte will drive Yeley's NASCAR Busch Series No. 18 Chevrolet entry under the sponsorship of Banquet. ... Wally Dallenbach will step out of the NBC broadcast booth this weekend to drive the No. 35 Mr. Clean AutoDry Ford for Team Rensi Motorsports. It will be his first NASCAR Busch Series race since Daytona in February where he finished 42nd. ... This week, Sterling Marlin (No. 1 FleetPride Dodge) will look to make his first NASCAR Busch Series start since Sept. 8, 2000 at Richmond. The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup veteran has 53 career starts and two wins in the NASCAR Busch Series. ... Kevin Harvick (No. 21 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet), the 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion from Bakersfield, Calif., has eight top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 series races this year.

QUOTEBOOK

"I think it's like home-field advantage in other sports. It feels awesome to hear the cheers and see so many of your friends." -- Ron Hornaday, a native of Palmdale, on racing at California Speedway.

"California is just what it looks like on TV: A big, wide, really fast race track. You build up some serious speed there. You come off the corners and fly down the frontstretch, probably before you have to get out of the gas. Yeah, you're holding onto the wheel pretty tight. -- Johnny Sauter (No. 27 Kleenex/Scott Chevrolet).

"The rookies now are with better race teams than they used to be with, so I think they're expected to run good, but I didn't think they would run as consistently and really make such a big splash." -- Jason Keller. FROM THE ARCHIVES

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was on his way to the first of consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championships when he came to California Speedway for the 19th race of the 1998 season. The event was known as the Kenwood Home & Car Audio 300 with 150 laps being run over the 2-mile speedway.

Robert Pressley won the pole in his Kingsford/Matchlight Chevrolet with Earnhardt Jr. qualifying second, also in a Chevrolet. Female driver Patty Moise along with premier series stars Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip helped make up the 43-car field.

As the green flag waved, Earnhardt Jr. took the lead, holding it for the first 32 laps. There were seven lead changes among five drivers including Hermie Sadler, Kevin Lepage, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Purvis. Only 17 laps were run under caution as Earnhardt Jr. dominated the race, leading 141 of 150 laps and setting an event average speed record of 148.576 mph. It was the fourth victory of the year for the Dale Earnhardt-owned, ACDelco-sponsored team. The combination would win three more races and the championship before the end of the year.

Fast Facts

What: Target House 300 (Race No. 25 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
When: 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 4. (ET).

Track layout: 2-mile banked, paved tri-oval.
Race length: 300 miles/150 laps.

Posted awards: $1,443,769.

TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: N/A, inaugural event.
2003 polesitter: N/A, inaugural event.

Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,634. 2. Kyle Busch 3,556. 3. Jason Leffler 3,202. 4. Greg Biffle 3,116. 5. David Green 3,093. 6. Jason Keller 3,076. 7. Ron Hornaday Jr. 3055. 8. Bobby Hamilton Jr. 2,896. 9. Mike Bliss 2,829. 10. Ashton Lewis Jr 2,673.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice, 8:30 -- 10:50 a.m.; Qualifying, 1 p.m.; Final Practice (one hour, time permitting) following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying (scheduled for 3:10 p.m.)

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Ward Burton , Wally Dallenbach , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Kevin Lepage , Sterling Marlin , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Robert Pressley , Casey Mears , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jeff Purvis , David Green , Hermie Sadler , Johnny Sauter , Bill Lester , J.J. Yeley , Mike Bliss , Martin Truex Jr. , Ashton Lewis , Elliott Sadler , Kyle Busch