* University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith partners with NEMCO for '05 * Bill Elliott returns to the NASCAR Busch Series for first race in a decade NEWS & NOTES No hoop dream - Tubby Smith a partner with NEMCO, Mosely in '05 - ...
* University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith partners with NEMCO for '05
* Bill Elliott returns to the NASCAR Busch Series for first race in a decade
NEWS & NOTES
No hoop dream - Tubby Smith a partner with NEMCO, Mosely in '05 - University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Tubby Smith, who guided the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA title, will look to gain a championship of a different kind in the future as he teams with NEMCO Motorsports and driver Jamie Mosley to form a NASCAR Busch Series team that will begin running next season. Mosley arranged the partnership between Smith, his wife Donna and 1992 NASCAR Busch Series champion Joe Nemechek, who has led the successful team since its inception in 1990. Mosley a 34-year-old native of Hazard, Ky., has nine career series starts - the last of which, ironically, was last June at Kentucky. The team, which will run Chevrolets, is targeting a 20-race schedule next season as well as announcing sponsorship in the near future.
"We thought it was a good opportunity for us to expand our opportunities to generate revenue for [The Tubby Smith Foundation]," Smith said. "It's a win/win situation for us. Obviously, we feel like Joe Nemechek and NEMCO Motorsports is very outstanding, a championship group. I had a chance to watch the race in Kansas a couple of weeks ago, so it's pretty impressive to see him get a win like that. I know Jamie's excited about the opportunity and that's what it's all about - the relationships and the people that you can surround yourself with."
Charlotte race sets mark ... The SpongeBob SquarePants the Movie 300 last Saturday night on TNT is the highest, most-viewed NASCAR Busch Series fall event in the history of Lowe's Motor Speedway. Average viewers jumped 50% over the 2002 race (2,149,000), while average households saw a 44% increase (1,562,000) over 2002. Last year's race was originally scheduled to air on a Saturday afternoon tape-delay, but due to rain, was moved to Saturday morning with no advance promotion. Saturday's event was won in exciting fashion by Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), and aired in primetime directly against college football. Figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research.
Atwood and FitzBradshaw part; Blaney in at Memphis ¡K Dave Blaney, who drove a third FitzBradshaw Racing entry last week at Charlotte, will drive the No. 14 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet at Memphis, replacing Casey Atwood, released earlier this week. Blaney, who has 75 NASCAR Busch Series starts to his credit, was running in the top 10 for most of the night but finished 24th following a late-race incident with Kyle Busch. "Dave did a fabulous job in Charlotte and is familiar with our equipment, so he¡¦ll take the wheel in Memphis," said team co-owner Armando Fitz. "We'll have our plans in place for the next four races very soon." The decision to part ways was a mutual one by Atwood and FitzBradshaw as part of the team's evaluation and preparation for 2005. "We're splitting up the team with five races left so we can evaluate the entire team and make the right decision for the future," co-owner and NFL Hall of Fame member Terry Bradshaw said. "This move will give us all an opportunity to move forward." Atwood was 13th in the points standings, and posted his best finish of the season at Richmond four races ago where he was second.
Elliott returns to the track at Memphis ... Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR premier series champion, makes his first appearance in the NASCAR Busch Series since the 1994 season-opener at Daytona when he drives the No. 6 Elvis Presley "He Dared to Rock" Dodge. Elliott has 36 career starts in the series, with one win at Watkins Glen in 1993. He also has two Busch Poles to his credit. Elliott, one of NASCAR's "50 Greatest Drivers," will be joined by another legend as Oscar-winning composer/musician Issac Hayes, a 2003 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and an avowed NASCAR fan, will serve as the Grand Marshal and will also sing the National Anthem.
Stremme partners with St. Jude; numerous drivers visit research hospital ... David Stremme (No. 32 TRIMSPA x32 Dodge) will run the St. Jude Children¡¦s Research Hospital logo on his car this weekend at Memphis Motorsports Park in an effort to bring awareness to the lifesaving mission of the facility. Stremme and his team will also make a financial contribution per lap to the Memphis-based hospital from a fund-raising event that originated at their shop in Charlotte last week. "We have an employee in our shop who is a cancer survivor from St. Jude; that's how we originally made the connection," he said. Stremme, along with other NASCAR Busch Series drivers such as Clint Bowyer (No. 21 Reeses' Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet), Kyle Busch, Tim Fedewa (No. 12 Supercuts Chevrolet), Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford), Martin Truex Jr., Kenny Wallace (No. 23 Stacker 2 Chevrolet) and Mike Wallace (No. 4 GEICO Chevrolet) are scheduled to visit the young patients at St. Jude on Friday morning. "It is always great to see all of the kids," Mike Wallace said. "It is a great way to spend a few hours before we go to work." David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac) will make a visit on Thursday.
Bliss - ful effort ... Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) won the first race of his NASCAR Busch Series career at Charlotte last week, defeating 13 full-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in the field while also authoring one of the most exciting moments of the 2004 NASCAR season with his daring three-wide pass on the frontstretch for the lead on Lap 181, leaving behind Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson in the process. Bliss, the 2002 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, is eighth in the points standings, and is quietly locking in on his second-straight finish in the top 10 in his second fulltime season in the series. Bliss is the 16th different winner in the NASCAR Busch Series this year.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Saturday's race will produce the sixth different winner in six NASCAR Busch Series races at Memphis; a previous winner is not entered in this year's field. ... Chevrolet, which will win the Bill France Performance Cup manufacturers' championship this year, has three victories at Memphis. Ford and Pontiac have one win each. ... Johnny Sauter (No. 27 Kleenex Anti-Viral Chevrolet) has two top-five finishes at Memphis while Jason Keller and Tim Fedewa each have three top 10s in five races there. ... Keller finished second in the race last fall.
Only 126 points separate ninth-place Kenny Wallace from Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Aaron¡¦s Sales & Lease Chevrolet), who is in 14th position in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings while just 74 points stand between Wallace and 12th-place David Stremme. ... Regan Smith will qualify for Greg Biffle in the No. 60 Charter Communications Ford at Memphis, and will be at the ready to drive the car should Biffle not be able to participate due to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup obligations at Martinsville. Last year, David Reutimann qualified for Biffle and won the Busch Pole. ... Tyler Walker will qualify and race the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge for Kasey Kahne, who will also be at Martinsville. Walker replaced Kahne at Pikes Peak for the entire race weekend, qualifying eighth and finishing 27th. He qualified for Kahne two other times this year, at the June Nashville and Kentucky events. ... Wallace flew to St. Louis to watch his beloved Cardinals attempt to win Game 6 of the NLCS; should they force a Game 7, Wallace will be back at Busch Stadium on Thursday night. ... Robert "Bootie" Barker, crew chief for the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, will move to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage following the Memphis race to work with the No. 0 NetZero Chevrolet. Barker will swap positions with Bill Ingle. ... David Green has recorded one top five and five top-10 finishes in eight previous stand-alone events this season. ... Johnny Sauter will feature a special paint scheme at Memphis; the No. 27 Chevrolet will sport a "KLEENEX Brand Anti-Viral Tissue" scheme. Sauter will also run the scheme at Atlanta. "Series points leader Martin Truex Jr. will once again attempt to qualify for his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Atlanta next week. Rain cancelled qualifying at New Hampshire back in September, where Truex was to attempt to qualify the No. 1 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. entry. ... Only one margin of victory at Memphis has been over one second, that was last year when Bobby Hamilton Jr. won by 1.019 seconds.
"... there are so many opportunities for people of color, and not just African-Americans, to be involved with NASCAR in some capacity. I can see me helping out in many ways." - Tubby Smith.
"Memphis can get pretty rowdy. There's a lot of slipping and sliding. You can expect to make contact with a few cars before the day is out. It's almost impossible to leave there without a few new paint samples on your car that you got from racing the guys around you." ... Johnny Sauter.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Previous NASCAR Busch Series winners at Memphis Motorsports Park have one thing in common - strong racing resumes. The first running of the event was held in 1999 when Jeff Green won from the Busch pole. The 2000 NASCAR Busch Series champion has gone on to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in Richard Petty's Dodge.
Kevin Harvick won the race in 2000 and also set the track record of 120.267 mph. After winning the series title in 2001, Harvick moved on to run for Richard Childress in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition, although he still competes in the NASCAR Busch Series on a part-time basis.
Randy LaJoie, who won in 2001, is a two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion, while Scott Wimmer and Bobby Hamilton Jr., the 2002 and 2003 winners respectively, have gone on to full time premier series rides.
What: Sam's Town "He Dared to Rock" 250 benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Race No. 30 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Memphis Motorsports Park, Memphis, Tenn.
When: 3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 23.
Track layout: Three-quarters mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/187.5 miles.
Posted awards: $1,165,764.
TV: TNT, 3:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2003 winner: Bobby Hamilton Jr.
2003 Pole Winner: David Reutimann (qualified for Greg Biffle).
Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 4,367. 2. Kyle Busch 4,223. 3. Greg Biffle 3,892. 4. Jason Leffler 3,661. 5. Ron Hornaday Jr. 3,660. 6. David Green 3,648. 7. Jason Keller 3,565. 8. Mike Bliss 3,499. 9. Kenny Wallace 3,227. 10. Ashton Lewis Jr. 3,193.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday - Practice,12 - 2 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:35 p.m. followed by final practice (one hour, time permitting).