*Is Toyota All-Star Showdown Winner Tim Schendel The Next David Gilliland? *Justin Labonte Returns To NASCAR Busch Series As Sub For Kyle Busch *RCR Needs Finish Of 35th Or Better To Clinch Series Owner Title *Last Stand (Alone) For...
*Is Toyota All-Star Showdown Winner Tim Schendel The Next David Gilliland?
*Justin Labonte Returns To NASCAR Busch Series As Sub For Kyle Busch
*RCR Needs Finish Of 35th Or Better To Clinch Series Owner Title
*Last Stand (Alone) For Substitute Drivers; Labonte In For Kyle Busch
Seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars -- six who are regulars in the NASCAR Busch Series -- will utilize substitute drivers at Memphis this weekend while pulling double duty at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
One driver who has competed full-time in both series this year will miss his first race of the season. Kyle Busch will be replaced by Justin Labonte for practice, qualifying and the race in the No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet at Memphis.
Kevin Harvick, the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series champion, will return to the No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet for this event. Two-time series champion Randy LaJoie subs for Harvick during practice and qualifying.
In addition, Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) will be assisted by Kevin Hamlin; Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) has Brandon Miller ready to stand in; Kertus Davis will set up the No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet for Denny Hamlin; Mark Green will do the same for J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet); Peter Shepherd is in for Carl Edwards (No. 60 FreeCreditReport.com Ford) and Hermie Sadler will substitute for Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Vitamin Water Dodge).
Kenny Wallace will be in a reverse role; he'll be in Memphis all weekend while Kevin Lepage attempts to qualify his No. 78 Chevrolet at Atlanta. If Lepage makes the race, Wallace is scheduled to drive Sunday.
Chevrolet Continues Record Quest
Chevrolet needs to sweep the remaining four NASCAR Busch Series races in order to tie its mark for most wins by a manufacturer in a season. Chevy set the standard with 24 victories in 1999.
Chevrolet's 20 wins are tied for sixth all-time; matching the marks it set in 1994 and '97; it can tie for fourth with a win at Memphis. Pontiac had a series-record 21 wins in the inaugural 1982 NASCAR Busch Series season, a record that stood until Chevy registered 23 wins in 1998.
Chevrolet is on a four-race winning streak heading to Memphis and has won the last two races there -- five out of the seven events overall.
Ford and Dodge are engaged in a spirited battle for second in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Ford is in second place with six wins and 182 points while Dodge has five wins and 171 points.
On The Right Track
There have been seven different winners at Memphis since the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race at the track in 1999. Two former winners -- teammates Clint Bowyer (2005) and Kevin Harvick (2000) -- are entered.
Randy LaJoie, who will sub for Harvick until race time, also won at Memphis in 2001.
Harvick and Bowyer have two top-five finishes at Memphis, best among drivers entered.
Jason Keller has five top-10 finishes at Memphis, best among all drivers. A new Busch Pole winner can emerge from Memphis as none of the previous four pole winners are entered in the event. Jeff Green and Martin Truex Jr. lead that category with two each.
Four former Memphis winners also are NASCAR Busch Series champions -- Harvick, Truex, Jeff Green and LaJoie.
In The Loop: Speed Rules for Bowyer, Sauter at Memphis
Whether charging from the back of the field as last year's race winner Clint Bowyer did following a 35th-place start, or maintaining a spot in the top 10 after claiming the outside pole a la Johnny Sauter (No. 00 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet), topping the NASCAR Loop Data speed charts points to success at the .75-mile Memphis Motorsports Park.
Bowyer had the best Driver Rating last year at 140.9, while Sauter was third (122.9). Sauter bested Bowyer in Average Running Position in 2005, standing second with a 3.528 average while Bowyer was fourth at 4.752, but it was in the speed categories that Bowyer was able to take the win and arrive this weekend as a favorite to defend his victory.
Bowyer was first in the Fastest Lap category (69) while Sauter was second (26). Sauter was Fastest on Straightaways among all drivers last year with an average speed of 119.856 mph, but Bowyer prevailed as the Fastest Driver by Turn Number, placing first among all drivers through each turn.
Bowyer also was consistent as the Fastest Driver Early and Late in Runs, leading all drivers at 116.117 and 113.240, respectively. Sauter was fourth to Bowyer in both categories one year ago.
Sauter was second in Green Flag Speed last year (114.067), but it was Bowyer who was first, averaging 114.331 to round out his dominant speed performance.
Richard Childress was denied the opportunity to clinch his third NASCAR Busch Series owner championship at Lowe's Motor Speedway two weeks ago as a result of Jeff Burton's 35th-place finish due to an accident. Childress can capture title No. 3 at Memphis if Kevin Harvick, who returns to the No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet, finishes 35th or better. Harvick is bringing the same car that won earlier this year at Martinsville Speedway, O'Reilly Raceway Park and Richmond International Raceway. ... Jason Keller (No. 66 YardMan Ford) returns to the NASCAR Busch Series at Memphis. Keller's 400 starts are second all-time in series history and he's the only driver to earn over $10 million. ... Heading into Saturday's race at Memphis, Tim Schendel can look to one of his predesessors namely, 2005 Toyota All-Star Showdown winner David Gilliland. Gilliland, of Chino Hills, Calif., parlayed his Showdown victory into a part-time opportunity for a startup team in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2006. After a stunning victory at Kentucky Speedway last June, Gilliland saw his career path quickly rise landing him in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series a few weeks later.
Other Toyota All-Star Showdown graduates who have advanced to the NASCAR Busch Series include Burney Lamar and Auggie Vidovich (No. 4 GEICO Dodge). ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) will aim for his 100th series start at Memphis. ... Dollar General, sponsor of the No. 77 Chevrolet driven this week by Lamar, has invited the Kevin Harvick Inc. road and race day crews to join a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi River aboard the Queen Memphis III on Thursday evening. ... Shane Huffman and several members of the No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet team spent two days aboard a U.S. Navy submarine during the open week. The JR Motorsports team members toured the sub and visited with sailors to see firsthand what life is like in the U.S. Navy. ... Steve Wallace (No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge) and Stephen Leicht (No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford) made their NASCAR Busch Series debuts at Memphis last year. Leicht qualified eighth and finished 13th while Wallace started 11th and had a 15th-place result. ... Cale Gale will make his first start in the No. 33 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet for KHI at Memphis. Gale, with three previous series starts this season, is expected to announce further plans with the team at a later date. ... Chris Wimmer (No. 0 RACEGIRL Chevrolet) will drive the Davis Motorsports entry while regular driver Kertus Davis practices and qualifies for Denny Hamlin.
From The NASCAR Busch Series '25 Seasons Running' Archives
Memphis Motorsports Park has been on the NASCAR Busch Series schedule since 1999 and during that span, 23 drivers have made their series debut at the .75- mile facility.
The 2000 Memphis event saw five drivers including Tim Sauter, Jamie McMurray and Scott Wimmer along with first-timers Sammy Ragan and Billy Parker each take their first series green flag. Parker had the best qualifying effort of the five with an eighth-place starting position.
Wimmer went on to earn an 18th-place finish for the best result among the quintet.
As a group, those five drivers are responsible for 12 NASCAR Busch Series victories in 379 starts.
On Deck: Texas Motor Speedway
A second and final trip to Texas Motor Speedway in 2006 is up next for the NASCAR Busch Series -- the O'Reilly Challenge on Nov. 4.
Series champion Kevin Harvick won last year's race, his second at Texas, while Kurt Busch captured the spring race this year. Ryan Newman earned the Busch Pole last November.
Mark Martin is the all-time leader in series wins at Texas with three -- he won three of the first four races at the 1.5-mile track. Jeff Green, the 2000 series champion, leads all drivers with two poles.
The Race: Sam's Town 250
The Place: Memphis Motorsports Park
The Date: Oct. 281
The Time: 2:10 p.m. (ET)
TV: NBC 2 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: .75-mile oval
Race Purse: $1,279,397
2005 Winner: Clint Bowyer
2005 Pole: Martin Truex Jr.
Schedule: Friday, Oct. 27 -- Practice, 2-3 p.m. & 4-5 p.m. Rookie Practice, 3:30-4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28 -- Qualifying, 10:05 a.m. Race, 1:10 p.m.