New crop of California drivers blossoming in NASCAR Busch Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2006) -- The NASCAR Busch Series has helped prepare its share of California natives for the next step on the ladder to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ...
New crop of California drivers blossoming in NASCAR Busch Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2006) -- The NASCAR Busch Series has helped prepare its share of California natives for the next step on the ladder to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition.
Series leader and 2001 champion Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) of Bakersfield leads an impressive group that includes Jeff Gordon (Vallejo), Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet -- El Cajon), Robby Gordon (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet -- Orange) and Casey Mears (Bakersfield).
Just into the mix is Riverside's David Gilliland, who parlayed his shocking NASCAR Busch Series win at Kentucky in June into a fulltime ride with Robert Yates Racing.
This weekend, California Speedway will host another rising crop of NASCAR Busch Series drivers from the Golden State.
Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) is from Long Beach. He finished sixth at Bristol Motor Speedway last Friday -- the highest-finishing series regular in a field of 15 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers -- and could break the top 10 in his home state. Leffler, who won the Busch Pole at California in February 2004, is only 36 points out of 10th place in the standings.
"After the strong performances we've had as a team the last couple of weeks, we're carrying a lot of momentum into this weekend and are counting on another strong run that will hopefully put us back into the top 10," Leffler said. "We had a great run in Michigan a couple of weeks ago with a 13th place finish, and I think that's going to help us tremendously in California."
West Sacramento native Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet) competes for Kevin Harvick Inc., and like his boss and mentor, he moved into the NASCAR Busch Series from the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series. Lamar started the season with a second-place finish at Daytona International Speedway and led the Raybestos Rookie standings for 23 weeks before relinquishing it to John Andretti (No. 10 RVs.com/Camping World Ford) following the race at Watkins Glen International.
"The up and down constant stressful life of racing is nice to get away from, to go home and slow down," Lamar said. "This time has been good for me to clear my mind and get ready to race this weekend. I'm excited to get back to California because I've been to this track before. It's always a good weekend when we've made laps around a track prior to first practice. This will be my second Busch Series start plus, I have a West Series win at this track, too."
Auggie Vidovich II (No.4 GEICO/DenBeste Dodge) is from Lakeside -- the son of a general contractor who laid plenty of concrete slabs before getting behind the wheel. He's a newcomer to the NASCAR BuschSeries but not to NASCAR racing. The 25-year old has made 12 starts this season and also is a product of the Southwest Series, winning the Elite Division race in the Toyota All-Star Showdown last year.
"(Crew chief) Mike Harvick guided me to victory in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway," Vidovich said. "Racing at California, which is just a few miles from there, and racing in my home state where we won the Southwest Tour championship in 2004 will be a good thing for me.
"When you race for the first time at places like Indianapolis, Chicago and Nashville, everything can be so unfamiliar. Sometimes it's hard to even find your way to the track from the hotel. This weekend, my confidence will be up and I am hoping to put together a run that will be fun to watch for my friends and family in the grandstands."