*Debut City: Memphis Becoming Synonymous With First Rides In Series *St. Jude's Children's Hospital Patients Design Memphis Paint Schemes *In The Loop: Data Likes Edwards' Clinch Chances On Saturday Franchitti, Austin Among Group Keeping In Step...
*Debut City: Memphis Becoming Synonymous With First Rides In Series *St. Jude's Children's Hospital Patients Design Memphis Paint Schemes *In The Loop: Data Likes Edwards' Clinch Chances On Saturday
Franchitti, Austin Among Group Keeping In Step With Memphis Debuts
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 23, 2007) -- In the city where blues is king, Memphis Motorsports Park is quickly becoming known as the track where NASCAR Busch Series debuts are all the rage.
Led by reigning Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti (No. 42 Target Dodge) and 18-year-old Chase Austin (No. 64 HomeLife Communities Dodge), Saturday's field at Memphis is again dotted by some high-profile drivers attempting to make their series debuts.
Last year, another open-wheel superstar, Juan Pablo Montoya, was in the debut spotlight along with Tim Schendel who was fresh off his victory in the Elite Division at the Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Austin, who turned 18 less than a month ago, will attempt to become only the second driver of African-American descent to compete in the NASCAR Busch Series (Bill Lester was the first in 1999). A teammate of Steve Wallace (No. 66 HomeLife Communities Dodge), Austin -- a competitor in the NASCAR Grand National Division Busch East Series this year -- will have to qualify on time.
Additionally, Colin Braun (pronounced "Brown") looks to make his much-anticipated series debut in the No. 16 3M Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Like Franchitti, the 19-year-old Braun -- a Grand-Am Series "veteran" -- made his NASCAR national series debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
In all, there are 14 drivers age 23 or under entered at Memphis and along with Austin and Braun, there are three other teenagers in the event: 18-year-old Bryan Clauson (No. 41 Memorex Dodge) who is the experienced series driver on the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team with Franchitti (four starts); 18-year-old Landon Cassill (No. 24 National Guard Chevrolet) and 19-year-old Brad Coleman (No. 18 Carino's Chevrolet). All three will be making their track debuts at Memphis.
Teams Participate In St. Jude's "Design A Dream" Event At Memphis
Young patients at Memphis-based St. Jude's Children's Hospital will literally have a hand in this weekend's race at Memphis Motorsports Park.
Sixteen cars in the race will carry paint schemes designed by the children. The original "Design a Dream" idea was circulated in the media and received support from St. Jude's and the track. It will come to fruition in the form of colorful and whimsical takes on each participating team's normal paint scheme.
Some drivers will visit the hospital on Thursday and enjoy lunch with the children. A few patients will, in turn, come to the track on Saturday and participate in the singing of the National Anthem with the popular country group Diamond Rio.
"This is a great way to help bring awareness and give the kids a chance to be creative on a large scale," said Jason Keller (No. 11 InvestLinc Chevrolet).
In The Loop: Edwards' Stats Say Probable Clinch At Memphis; Yeley A Factor Driving No. 20 Chevy
Carl Edwards (No. 60 Scotts Winterguard Ford) is in a comfortable spot right now.
After the checkered flag flies this weekend at Memphis, Edwards needs to lead David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota) by 585 points to clinch the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series championship.
Currently, Edwards is 638 points ahead of Reutimann, meaning Edwards can lose 53 points and still hoist the championship trophy. An eighth-place finish or better for Edwards would also clinch the title.
Considering Edwards' past at Memphis, losing points doesn't seem likely.
He's been stellar there, finishing in the top five in both his visits. Edwards finished fifth and third in 2005 and '06, respectively.
His statistics there are obviously solid. He has a Driver Rating of 106.8, an Average Running Position of 11.3, 36 Fastest Laps Run and of the 506 laps run at Memphis over the two races, he has spent 78.3% of them in the top 15.
Reutimann has run at Memphis in the NASCAR Busch Series only once, posting a 12th-place finish in 2002.
Another battle to watch is for the owner's championship -- and the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet could make a hard charge this weekend. J.J. Yeley, a Memphis master, will pilot the No. 20 FedEx Chevrolet this weekend and try to chip away at the 116-point lead the No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet now owns.
Of those competing this weekend, Yeley holds the top statistics in most categories. With finishes of second and 10th in 2005 and '06, he has a Driver Rating of 108.7, an Average Running Position of 8.0, and has run 85.6% of the total laps in the top 15. All those numbers are best of any driver in Saturday's race.
Scott Wimmer, who will drive the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet this weekend, will have to shake off some Memphis rust. He has not raced at the Tennessee short track since 2003, but does have strong finishes there. Wimmer won at Memphis in 2002 and notched three consecutive top 10s from 2001-03.