All-time victory leader Mark Martin returns to series competition at MIS Leffler hopes to continue recent hot streak NEWS & NOTES Leffler making a move ... Jason Leffler (No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) has quietly put together a hot streak.
All-time victory leader Mark Martin returns to series competition at MIS
Leffler hopes to continue recent hot streak
NEWS & NOTES
Leffler making a move ... Jason Leffler (No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet) has quietly put together a hot streak. Leffler has gained 893 points in his last six races, moving from eighth to third in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, still within striking distance of the one-two standing of Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch. Leffler has put together three straight third-place finishes -- including his last time out at Indianapolis Raceway Park, located in his hometown -- and has accumulated three top five and four top-10 efforts in his last six outings. Leffler won his first career NASCAR Busch Series race at Nashville in June and his 13 top-10 finishes are tied for third-most this season. Leffler's pit crew has aided their driver's results as well; they lead the POWERade/McDonald's Pit Championship Award standings heading into Michigan.
Hornaday looks to extend streak ... This week, Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) hopes to extend his 61-race streak of running at the finish. Hornaday surpassed the previous record of 60 races without a DNF -- set by another driver of the No. 2 Chevy, Kevin Harvick, during the 2000 and 2001 seasons -- with an uncharacteristic 35th-place finish Aug. 7 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Hornaday's last DNF was at Kansas last fall when his engine failed. Harvick carried his ability to run at the finish over to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup where he ran a modern-era record 58 races in succession before bowing out at Pocono Aug. 1.
First "NASCAR Day" set for Friday... America's passion for NASCAR and desire to help others will come together on Friday, which has been designated as "NASCAR Day." The inaugural event will allow NASCAR fans across the country the opportunity to wear their favorite NASCAR apparel to work in exchange for a $5 donation to the Victory Junction Gang Camp. All participants will also receive a commemorative NASCAR Day lapel pin. More than 600 companies, including America Online, SunTrust and Levi Strauss Signature, have enrolled in the program. In addition, almost 50,000 individuals have signed up through nascar.com. Local governments are also involved, with the governors of Michigan and North Carolina declaring Friday as NASCAR Day in both states. For information on participating, log on to www.nascar.com/nascarday or call (866) 305-4703.
Putnam named at NEMCO ... Gary Putnam, who most recently served as crew chief for current NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver and 2000 NASCAR Busch Series champion Jeff Green, has been named crew chief of the No. 87 Cellular One Chevrolet. NEMCO team owner/driver Joe Nemechek, the 1992 NASCAR Busch Series champion, tabbed Putnam to replace Brian Pattie, who moved to Chip Ganassi's NASCAR Busch Series program. Putnam will also oversee NEMCO's developmental partnership with Hendrick Motorsports including rookie drivers Blake Feese and Boston Reid. The same program was instrumental in the career of Kyle Busch last season.
Grissom, Allison featured on Outdoor Life Network Friday ... Steve Grissom (No. 24 GIC Mixon Motorsports Chevrolet), the 1993 NASCAR Busch Series champion, will pair with NASCAR legend Bobby Allison on the Aug. 20 episode of NASCAR Outdoors on the Outdoor Life Network. Grissom and Allison, the 1983 NASCAR premier series champion, compete in a friendly bass fishing contest while talking about their racing careers. The half-hour program airs at 8 p.m. ET.
Chevrolet looks to pad lead in Manufacturers' Standings ... Following Kyle Busch's win at Indianapolis Raceway Park two weeks ago, Chevrolet upped its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings to 30 points over Ford. Chevy has eight wins in 12 NASCAR Busch Series races at Michigan, and enters the Cabela's 250 with 13 wins worth 167 points overall this season. Ford, driving in its home state this weekend, has seven wins. Dodge is in third place with two wins good for 101 points.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Mark Martin and Todd Bodine have the most wins at Michigan with two each. ... Martin also leads all drivers in top fives (five), top 10s (six), laps led (303), races led (six) and average finish (4.4) in seven career NASCAR Busch Series races at the venue. ... Holt, Mich., native Tim Fedewa (No. 12 Supercuts Chevrolet) and Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) are tied with 10 starts each at MIS. ... Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips/Shark Tale Dodge) won the first Busch Pole of his career last year at Michigan and set the qualifying record in the process (186.490 mph).
Martin Truex and Kyle Busch, who stand first and second in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, will be making their first series appearances at Michigan. ... Six former NASCAR Busch Series champions are entered in the Cabela's 250 -- Greg Biffle (2002), Kevin Harvick ('01), David Green ('94), Steve Grissom ('93), Joe Nemechek ('92) and Bobby Labonte ('91). ... Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Dodge) will race against his uncle, Bobby, at MIS. Justin claimed his first NASCAR Busch Series victory at Chicago last month. ... Busch will also attempt to qualify for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup GFS Marketplace 400.
"[Competing against Cup drivers] helps to let me know where we stand against the competition." -- Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet). "The Busch Series definitely helped my career. I had a lot of fun racing fulltime in the series and winning the 1991 title certainly is one of the highlights of my career." -- Bobby Labonte (No. 19 ConAgra Foods Chevrolet). "After our test session there (MIS), I feel really good about the race. This car was great in qualifying trim and it handled great in race mode too. When a test goes that well for you, you can't help but get excited about the race. All I thought about during the off-week was getting to the track and going racing." -- Johnny Sauter (No. 27 Kleenex/Scott Brand Chevrolet).
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Many of NASCAR's brightest stars have had success at Michigan International Speedway in NASCAR Busch Series competition. The series first came to MIS in 1992 with then-rookie sensation Jeff Gordon taking his eighth pole of the season with a speed of 173.135 mph. Bill Elliott won the pole in 1993 in a rare NASCAR Busch Series appearance with Mark Martin scoring his first series win at the track driving a Jack Roush Thunderbird. Martin won again in 1995. Roush became the event's most successful car owner with three wins when Jeff Burton cruised to victory in 1998. Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in 1999 on the way to his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series championship. Ryan Newman scored his only series victory in 2001 after starting on the front row. Just as in the first race back in 1992, the pole for last year's race was won by another young upstart -- Kasey Kahne. He set a new event record of 186.490 mph.
What: Cabela's 250 (Race No. 23 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.
When: 1 p.m. ET, Saturday, Aug. 21.
Track layout: 2-mile banked asphalt oval.
Race length: 250 miles/125 laps.
Posted awards: $1,081,847.
TV: TNT, 1 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2003 winner: Kevin Harvick.
2003 polesitter: Kasey Kahne.
Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,318. 2. Kyle Busch 3,201. 3. Jason Leffler 2,944. 4. Greg Biffle 2,910. 5. David Green 2,871. 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. 2,843. 7. Bobby Hamilton Jr. 2,820. 8. Jason Keller 2,819. 9. Mike Bliss 2,595. 10. Ashton Lewis Jr. 2,464.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday, Aug. 20 -- Practice, 8:30 -- 10:30 a.m.; qualifying, 1 p.m.; final practice following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying.