BUSCH: Homestead: Chad Blount preview

LAST RACE: Blount made his most recent series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oct. 25). He started 24th in the No. 26 High Life Dodge, completed 159 of 203 laps, and finished 37th. AT MIAMI: The Ford 300 will be Blount's first NASCAR start...

LAST RACE: Blount made his most recent series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Oct. 25). He started 24th in the No. 26 High Life Dodge, completed 159 of 203 laps, and finished 37th.

AT MIAMI: The Ford 300 will be Blount's first NASCAR start at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

IN FLORIDA I: In this year's series season-opener at Florida's Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 15), Blount started ninth, completed all 120 laps, and finished 11th driving a Dodge for Braun Racing. Two years ago, when Blount was a regular competitor in the ARCA series, he made his first appearance at a `Sunshine State' speedway in the 2002 series season opener at Daytona Beach. Driving for Braun Racing, Blount started sixth and finished fourth in the ARCA race at Daytona.

IN FLORIDA II: Blount's only other experience racing in Florida was in 2000 when he competed in the short-track `Speed Weeks' series at Volusia County Speedway. Blount captured one feature win and registered six top-five finishes in the Late Model series. "I ran an old Junior Hanley car -- a car that was probably 13-years-old -- for an owner named Matt Hagans," says Blount. "Even though it was an old car, it was still pretty good. The first night we had some brake problems and didn't finish. That was the only day we were planning to race, but Matt said we could go ahead and run the car the next night. We raced the next night and finished fourth, and then ended up racing all seven nights."

TRACK TALK: "This will be my first trip to the Homestead-Miami track," says Blount. "I've never visited the track before, but with all the changes they've made to the racetrack -- it'll be new to me and everyone else. Everyone will be in the same position -- we're all going to be working from a clean sheet of paper after the recent construction. From everything I hear, the track is similar to Kansas Speedway -- and that's a place I've raced at a couple of times."

HOMECOMING: For Team Jesel mechanic and rear tire changer Ricky Cade, the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be a homecoming. Cade, 38, was born in Hialeah and graduated from Hialeah Miami Lakes High School. Following school, Cade worked in an auto shop in Ft. Lauderdale during the week, and helped his friends race on the weekends. He was a regular at Hialeah Speedway on Friday nights and West Palm Beach Motorsports Park on Saturdays. Ten years ago, he moved from Miami to North Carolina and began working as a NASCAR mechanic. He has experience with several teams, including Team Jesel, Carroll Racing, Team 34, Diamond Ridge Motorsports and BACE Motorsports. A long-time season ticket-holder for the University of Miami football team, this weekend Cade will be gathering race tickets for family and friends.

NEW CHIEF: Veteran mechanic Robbie Allison will serve as Blount's crew chief in the series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Allison, who grew up in Oakland, Calif., worked with Tom Gloy's Trans Am team for five years before moving to North Carolina. After moving East, Allison worked with Irvan-Simo Racing, before moving to Carroll Racing in 1999. In addition to serving as Blount's car chief and front tire changer this season, the 34-year-old Allison has worked with drivers Kevin Grubb, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Ron Hornaday and Boris Said during his career.

WHAT CAR: The car Blount will drive at Homestead-Miami Speedway is chassis No. 117. This will mark the first time that Blount has raced the car. Earlier this season, Kevin Grubb used this car at Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway. "I've never been in this race car before, but I've put my seat in it and have set everything up like all the other cars I've raced this year," says Blount. "I don't think it will be a problem getting comfortable in the car. After the first 10 or 12 laps in practice, I should have a pretty good handle on the car."

FAMILY Earlier this season, and last year when he finished second in the ARCA championship point AFFAIR: standings, Blount drove for Braun Racing. Blount is still friendly with team owner Todd Braun and has several connections to Braun's team. Blount's father Bob is the parts manager for Braun Racing. Also, Chad's uncle, Tab Smith, is a mechanic with Braun Racing. A Blount family friend, Mike McCoige, who has helped Chad, as well as his father and grandfather in their racing endeavors, also works for Braun Racing as the chief mechanic. When Blount began racing at Berlin Speedway, McCoige was usually at the track helping him with his racecars.

2003 TOTALS: This year, Blount has started 18 events in the No. 26 High Life Dodge -- 7 for Team Jesel (Atlanta, Memphis, Charlotte, Kansas, Richmond, Michigan and Milwaukee) and 11 for Braun Racing. His best finish was a fifth-place at Texas Motor Speedway (March 29). Blount made his debut in the High Life Dodge at the Milwaukee Mile (June 29).

BEST FINISH: Blount's best result in the No. 26 High Life Dodge was when he crossed the finish line 15th at Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 16). In that race, Blount started 22nd, completed all 110 laps, and recorded his best finish in the Team Jesel entry.

BEST START: Blount's best qualifying effort this season was when he started seventh at California Speedway (April 26). He also started ninth in the series season opener at Daytona International Speedway (Feb. 15).

2002 REVIEW: In 2002, Blount was a regular competitor in the ARCA series and finished second in the final championship point standings. He won four races -- at Michigan International Speedway, Kentucky Superspeedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Lowe's Motor Speedway -- and registered five pole positions en route to winning the series Rookie-of-the-Year honors. During the season, Blount led 403 laps in 13 different races.

EYES IN THE Blount has had several different `spotters' in his first seven races driving the No. 26 High Life SKY: Dodge. At Milwaukee, in Blount's debut with Team Jesel and the High Life Dodge, fellow Indiana native and Winston Cup star Ryan Newman was Blount's `spotter.' At Michigan International Speedway, 1980 Daytona 500 winner Buddy Baker served in the same role for Blount. In three of his four most recent starts -- at Atlanta, Kansas and Charlotte -- Newman's father Greg, a fellow Indiana native, was Blount's `spotter.' Bob Blount, Chad's father, acts as his son's spotter during race practice sessions.

FOLLOWING Blount is a fourth-generation racer joining his father (Bob), grandfather (Jim) and FOOTSTEPS: great-grandfather (Harold). Bob and Jim Blount have combined for more than 1,500 wins at racetracks across the country. Bob Blount has raced for 28 years in everything from Late Models to Sprint Cars and Midgets and continues to race today. Jim Blount began racing in 1954 and competed for 43 years before retiring in 1997. He captured 2 ASA championships (1968-69) and recorded 3 straight wins in the Anderson 400 (1968-70). Harold Blount was a respected car owner who fielded entries at many tracks throughout the Midwest.

HAPPY Blount's No. 26 High Life Dodge will have a paint scheme that resembles the stock car in which ANNIVERSARY: Miami native Bobby Allison captured his only NASCAR Winston Cup championship in 1983. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Allison's title-winning campaign -- when he won six races en route to his only championship -- driving the No. 22 High Life Buick for DiGard Racing. In addition to recognizing Allison's accomplishments from 20 years ago, Blount's Team Jesel entry will also honor High Life's 100th anniversary. The High Life brand was introduced in 1903 when Ernst Miller, son of company founder Frederick Miller, selected the name.

NOTES: Celebrated 24th birthday at Richmond International Raceway, Sept. 4. Began working in father's race shop at 10. Started driving career at 16, competing in Sportsman division events at Indiana tracks. Born and raised in Walkerton, Ind., about 15 miles from where Ryan Newman grew up.


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Drivers Boris Said , Ryan Newman , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Chad Blount , Kevin Grubb , Tom Gloy , Bobby Allison , Matt Hagan , Buddy Baker