* Terry Labonte Set To Lead Series Test At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve June 12 * Nashville's Second Race Begins "Double-Duty" Driver Dance * Rusty Wallace Returns To ESPN2 Booth At Nashville Following Indy Hiatus NBS ETC. Labonte Tests in ...
* Terry Labonte Set To Lead Series Test At Circuit Gilles Villeneuve June 12
* Nashville's Second Race Begins "Double-Duty" Driver Dance
* Rusty Wallace Returns To ESPN2 Booth At Nashville Following Indy Hiatus
Labonte Tests in Montreal: Two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Terry Labonte -- who also has 11 NASCAR Busch Series wins, four of those at Watkins Glen International -- will participate in a one-day test at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on Tuesday, June 12. Labonte will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet of Richard Childress Racing and similar to Jeff Burton's test in Mexico City three years ago also in RCR equipment, will be on point for information to be shared among all teams participating in the August 4 event. Labonte, like Burton, was selected since he's not running in the event.
The test will consist of two sessons; 9 a.m. -- noon and 1 -- 5:00 p.m. at the 2.709-mile road course located on a man-made island on the St. Lawrence River. Media may enter the track beginning at 11:30 a.m. and a press conference featuring Labonte, NASCAR competition executives and the race promoter is scheduled for noon at the track. Log on to NASCARMedia.com for further information and application for credentials to attend.
Double-Duty Drivers: The second Nashville race kicks off the portion of the stand-alone season where double-duty drivers will have subs for practice and qualifying. Nine drivers are scheduled for double duty in Nashville and at Pocono Raceway this weekend. Matt McCall will sub for points leader Carl Edwards while Auggie Vidovich does the same for Edwards' teammate David Ragan. Brandon Miller stands in for Clint Bowyer; Chad Blount for Dave Blaney (No. 10 Camping World Toyota); Scott Lagasse Jr. for David Stremme; Jay Sauter for J.J. Yeley (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Chevrolet) and Mark Green for David Reutimann. Subs for Greg Biffle and Mike Bliss (No. 22 Family Dollar Dodge) are to be announced.
Hamilton Jr. Seeks His "Indy": Indiana native Tony Stewart craved to win the Brickyard 400, which he finally did in his seventh try. Denny Hamlin, a Virginia native, has echoed those same sentiments, saying a win at Richmond would be the biggest of his career. Bobby Hamilton Jr. has those same feelings about a victory at Nashville. That city's favorite son has three top fives and five top 10s in eight races at the track -- including a runner-up finish in 2002.
Bires Replaces Wood At Nashville: Wood Brothers/JTG Racing announced Tuesday that developmental driver Kelly Bires, driver of the team's No. 21 Ford in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition, will stand in for Jon Wood in the No. 47 Clorox/American Red Cross Ford this weekend at Nashville. Travis Kvapil drove for Wood at Dover last Saturday.
Bires (prounounced BY--ers) is a 22-year old native of Mauston, Wis., who has started six races in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, five for Wood Bros./JTG Racing. He posted his career-best finish (10th) at Atlanta earlier this year.
Prior to Dover, Wood had started 83 consecutive races in the NASCAR Busch Series dating back to 2004, his first full season in the series. He was 22nd in the point standings with one top-10 finsih this season -- 10th at Mexico City in March -- prior to Dover.
The Director's Take: Nashville
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT NASHVILLE: THOUGHTS FROM JOE BALASH, NASCAR BUSCH SERIES DIRECTOR
"Nashville is a big, wide track so there's not a tendency for drivers to get into each other. Fuel economy is going to be a big factor because the track lends itself to a lot of long green flag runs.
"From the team perspective, those who nail the shock and spring set-up are going to be the ones to beat. Getting those dialed in so the car carries its corner speed is going to be the key to this race. It's all about getting the car to turn through the corners without pushing."
"Even though we're headed to our second concrete track in two weeks, tire wear isn't as critical an issue at Nashville as it was at Dover.
"The surface at Nashville isn't as abraisive as it is at Dover. And the banking at Dover is more severe, even in the straightatways. Nashville's long back straight away gives the tires a chance to cool down."
Rookie Spotlight: Ambrose Catches Ragan At Top Of Leader Board
* Gotcha, Mate -- Ambrose Pulls Even With Ragan: For the first time in six races, Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Ford) finds himself back on top of the Raybestos Rookie standings, tied in points (139) with David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford) -- who was in first place during Ambrose's absence. The native of Launceston, Tasmania, finished a career-best sixth at Dover and was within laps of registering his first top-five finish. His previous best result was eighth at the Mexico City race in March.
* Ragan's Woes: Ragan, meanwhile, is searching for answers following his second sub-par finish in succession. He was 25th two weeks ago in Charlotte and followed up with a DNF due to an accident, relegating him to a 32nd-place finish at Dover. His outing at Nashville last April wasn't kind, either, as an accident left him with a season-worst 36th-place finish.
* Rookie Reunion At Nashville: Seven of the 11 drivers in the Raybestos Rookie program this season are entered at Nashville, the most since nine ran at Richmond International Raceway last month. Justin Diercks (No. 70 Foretravel Chevrolet) and Bobby Santos are both entered in their first events since Richmond.
After a brief hiatus, Rusty Wallace returns to the booth for ESPN2's coverage of Saturday night racing at Nashville Superspeedway. The telecast begins with NASCAR Countdown at 6:30 p.m. ET, with race coverage at 7 p.m. The "deuce" will also air practice and qualifying from Nashville beginning at 6 p.m. ET Friday with the live qualifying show airing at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Dr. Jerry Punch will be the lead announcer for practice, qualifying and the race. He'll be joined by analysts Andy Petree and Wallace. Pit reporters Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will contribute to the telecasts. Allen Bestwick will host the qualifying show Friday and NASCAR Countdown Saturday leading up to the race. He'll be joined in the ESPN Pit Studio throughout the weekend by analyst Brad Daugherty, while Tim Brewer will be at the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car.
In addition to the NASCAR Busch Series race telecast on ESPN2, ESPN's signature broadband service, ESPN360.com, will deliver a live online simulcast of NASCAR Busch Series events in June, ESPN360.com's most explosive month of coverage yet, with up to 102 live events. A Spanish-language version of the race will be televised on ESPN Deportes, ESPN's domestic Spanish-language network.
Edwards, Ford Have The Upper Hand At Nashville, But Toyota Was Strong In April Debut
Carl Edwards' series-leading third win of the season has helped Ford cut into Chevrolet's lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings as the series makes its second and final appearance of the season at Nashville.
Ford registered its first win since Edwards' Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth won at Texas two months ago and comes to the Music City 12 points behind first-place Chevy.
Ford holds favored status this weekend in Nashville as Edwards goes for the season sweep of the two events and his third victory in a row at the 1.33-mile concrete track. Edwards' recent success gives the manufacturer five wins at Nashville, tied with Chevrolet -- Chevy had won four of the previous five races before the current streak by Edwards and Ford. Third-place Dodge intervened in Chevrolet's recent run with a 2005 win by Reed Sorenson.
But fourth-place Toyota could surprise. It had a strong series debut at Nashville last April by placing three cars in the top five in positions 2, 3 and 4.
Up Next: Meijer 300 Presented By Oreo At Kentucky Speedway
The NASCAR Busch Series travels to the site of one of the most memorable wins in its 26-year history next week. Kentucky Speedway is the place for the Meijer 300 on June 16.
Last year, virtual unknown David Gilliland -- a part-time driver with a part-time team -- swept past J.J. Yeley in the closing laps to secure his first NASCAR national series win and a place in series lore.
Gilliland's win continued what has become a Kentucky Speedway norm -- a new face in Victory Lane. No driver has registered a repeat win at Kentucky and the same goes for the winners of the Busch Pole -- there have been six different polesitters as well.
The pre-race festivities feature 70's rock icon Peter Frampton, who will perform prior to the start of the 300-mile, 200-lap evert at the 1.5-mile oval.
The Race: Federated Auto Parts 300 Presented By Dollar General
The Place: Nashville Superspeedway
The Date: June 9, 20071
The Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 6:30 p.m. (ET)
Track Layout: 1.333-mile oval
Race Purse: $1,183,720
2006 Winner: Carl Edwards
2006 Pole: Todd Kluever
Schedule: Fri.5-6 p.m. -- Practice; 6:15-6:45 p.m. -- Rookie Practice; 7--8 p.m. -- Final Practice. Sat. 2:05 p.m. -- Qualifying (Impound).