BUSCH: Milwaukee: Round seventeen preview

* NASCAR Busch Series enjoys third off-week of season * Tight points race takes a break before next race June 29 at Milwaukee * Paul Menard attempts to qualify for first NASCAR Winston Cup race at Infineon DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 18, 2003) --...

* NASCAR Busch Series enjoys third off-week of season
* Tight points race takes a break before next race June 29 at Milwaukee
* Paul Menard attempts to qualify for first NASCAR Winston Cup race at Infineon

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 18, 2003) -- The NASCAR Busch Series has this week off following last Saturday's exciting finish at Kentucky Speedway where Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 25 Team Marines Ford) overtook Jason Keller (No. 57 Albertsons Ford) on lap 197 of the 200-lap event to post his first win of the season.

The series will reconvene June 29 at The Milwaukee Mile for the GNC 250. The lone Sunday race of the year will be preceded by the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series GNC 200 on Saturday, June 28.

The conclusion of the GNC 250 will mark the halfway point in the 34-race 2003 NASCAR Busch Series season.

David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac) will take the NASCAR Busch Series point lead into Milwaukee, but his lead is well within striking distance by at least three drivers. Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford) is only 46 points behind in second place. Todd Bodine (No. 92 Monster.com Chevrolet) lurks 72 points back while Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) is 98 points out of the No. 1 position.

NEWS & NOTES, PART II

* Time off takes different directions ... This week's down time affords NASCAR Busch Series drivers the opportunity to relax away from the track. But there are those who enjoy racing regardless of an off-week. Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Ford) plans to run Sprint Cars Thursday through Sunday at Skagit Speedway in Mt. Vernon, Wash. He also was on the dirt track at Medford, Ore., on Tuesday. Kahne will receive the "Wild Card Award" while in his home state of Washington. Kahne is a four-time winner of the award, which is given to the driver with the most exciting Sprint Car performances as determined by a voting panel of media, promoters and sanctioning officials. ... Scott Wimmer (No. 23 Stacker2/Stamina Rx Chevrolet) is staying away from the track. "I'm spending my off-weekend with my fiancee in Myrtle Beach, S.C.," he said. "We don't get many off-weekends, so I feel it is important to be able to spend time with loved ones since we are away so much." ... David Stremme (No. 1 Yellow Dodge), who has risen from an initial starting point of 57th in the championship standings after his NASCAR Busch Series debut resulted in a seventh-place finish April 12 at Nashville to 29th following last Saturday's 10th-place at Kentucky, will celebrate his 26th birthday at home in South Bend, Ind., on Thursday.

* Stremme has four top-10 finishes in his first seven NASCAR Busch Series races. ... Hornaday turns 45 on Friday and will be the recipient of a party thrown by his wife, Lindy. ...Brian Vickers (No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet), sixth in the points, was scheduled to test Wednesday and Thursday at Kentucky for Hendrick Motorsports, then was heading to the beach to spend time with family and friends. ... Hamilton, who collected his second career NASCAR Busch Series victory with his win at Kentucky and moved into the No. 7 position in the points, might watch some racing, but doesn't plan to get any seat time. "I'm going to have a nice weekend at home, maybe go see some Late Model racing," he said. "The last three weeks have been a whirlwind with first, fifth (Nashville) and sixth (Dover)-place finishes. I'm going to sit back and enjoy the success and get focused for Milwaukee."

* TV Timeout ... The Trace Adkins Chrome 300 broadcast on FX June 14 from Nashville drew 1,343,000 viewers, up 9% from last year. In addition, 897,000 households tuned in to the event, 5% more than one year ago. (Figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research).

* "Realignment 2004 and Beyond" also shows changes in NASCAR Busch Series schedule ... Following last week's NASCAR Winston Cup Series 2004 schedule realignment announcement, five date changes were also noted for the NASCAR Busch Series in 2004. California Speedway will now host two NASCAR Busch Series races next year on May 1 and Sept. 4 as companion events to NASCAR Winston Cup races. Darlington's NASCAR Busch Series events are now slated for March 20 and Nov. 13, while Rockingham will host the second race of 2004 on Feb. 21.

* Menard moves quickly ... Paul Menard, who finished 12th in his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Nashville June 7 and followed with a 14th-place finish at Kentucky last Saturday driving the No. 55 Turtle Wax/Menard's/Purex Chevrolet, will attempt to qualify for his first NASCAR Winston Cup race Sunday at Infineon Raceway. The 22-year-old Menard -- son of long-time IRL team owner John Menard -- will drive the No. 33 Turtle Wax Chevrolet for Andy Petree at Sonoma. Petree originally scheduled Menard for 18 events this season in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The native of Eau Claire, Wis., who is pursuing a degree in Business at the University of Wisconsin -- Eau Claire, has two NASCAR Elite Division wins to his credit -- a Featherlite Southwest Series victory at Phoenix last year and in the International Truck and Engine Midwest Series at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., in 2001.

* ETC ... Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) will drive a third NASCAR Winston Cup car for Joe Gibbs Racing at Daytona and Talladega. Bliss, currently in eighth place in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, has 30 career NASCAR Winston Cup starts. ... Regan Smith (No. 22 Danny Bost Motorsports Chevrolet), currently third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings and only three points from taking over second place, is looking for improvement in the second half of the season. "I am very focused on two goals at this time, they are to beat my best finish of 15th at Texas and to finish the race on the lead lap," he said. "I have not finished on the lead lap in any of my NASCAR Busch Series races so far and that is an important step in getting the finishes this team and I are capable of achieving." Smith ran the fastest practice lap last Friday at Kentucky (172.844). ... Coy Gibbs (No. 18 MBNA Chevrolet) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings with 167 points, and is the top first-year driver in the NASCAR Busch Series championship standings -- 16th. ... Casey Atwood (No. 14 NAVY "Accelerate Your Life" Chevrolet) has finalized his 2004 NASCAR Busch Series schedule and will enter nine more races this season. Atwood finished ninth at Kentucky last week in his return to the NASCAR Busch Series after a two-year absence. He is entered at Milwaukee, and is also scheduled to compete at Daytona, New Hampshire, Bristol, Darlington, Richmond, Charlotte, Memphis and Homestead-Miami.

FAST FACTS Next Race: GNC 250 (Race 17 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wis.
When: 2:30 p.m. (ET), Sunday, June 29, 2003.
TV: FX, 2 p.m. (ET).

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice, 8:30 -- 10:30 a.m.; Qualifying, 12:05 p.m.; Final Practice, (one hour, time permitting) following NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series GNC 200 (2 p.m. start).

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Casey Atwood , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Coy Gibbs , David Green , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , Scott Wimmer , Andy Petree , Mike Bliss , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , David Stremme
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing