* Edwards first Series win 'flips' his place in standings -- he's first * Top 30 starting slots now set by top 2005 owners point positions NEWS & NOTES Edwards takes over Series lead; LaJoie making solid move ... Carl ...
* Edwards first Series win 'flips' his place in standings -- he's first
* Top 30 starting slots now set by top 2005 owners point positions
NEWS & NOTES
Edwards takes over Series lead; LaJoie making solid move ... Carl Edwards' needle-threading pass to take the lead on Lap 192 of Saturday's race at Atlanta not only solidified his first career NASCAR Busch Series win, but moved him into the series points lead. Edwards became the third driver to lead the standings this season, and he also leads for the first time in his brief series career after supplanting 2001 NASCAR Busch Series champion Kevin Harvick, who led following the previous three races. Meanwhile, two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet) enters this week's event at No. 11 in the driver point standings, his highest showing since ranking 11th following the 2003 spring race at Bristol. LaJoie, competing in his first fulltime season in the NASCAR Busch Series since 2002, now drives the Frank Cicci Racing with Jim Kelly entry. He has come from the 43rd position in his last two races to finish eighth and 15th, respectively, to push for a spot in the Top 10. LaJoie won consecutive NASCAR Busch Series titles in 1996-97 and owns a Busch Pole at Nashville, capturing the top starting spot for the 2003 Pepsi 300. LaJoie won the final NASCAR Busch Series race at the Music City Motorplex (formerly Nashville Speedway USA) in 2000.
Jourdain collects first NASCAR Busch Series top 10 ... His racing has been methodical, a self-proclaimed learning experience each time out. Now, following the fifth race of his NASCAR Busch Series career last Saturday at Atlanta, Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 10 ppc Racing Ford) has been rewarded for his patience as the former Champ Car star collected his first top-10 series finish. That effort followed his best series start -- sixth -- also at Atlanta. Jourdain, a native of Mexico City, is attempting to become the first Mexican driver to run a fulltime schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series. Both his start and finish are the best ever for a Mexican driver in the series, and are the best in any of NASCAR's three national series since fellow countryman Carlos Contreras started sixth and finished eighth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona in February 2002. Jourdain also led a lap at California, another series first for a Mexican "piloto" (driver); Contreras led three laps at Darlington in the truck event in March 2002.
Top 30 positions in 2005 owners points in starting field beginning at Nashville ... Beginning with Saturday's event at Nashville, the season's sixth race, the current highest-ranked 30 positions in the NASCAR Busch Series owners points -- provided their entry has made an attempt to compete in the previous 2005 events up to that point -- will be used to set a majority of the starting field for the remainder of the year. And, as was the case for the first five races of 2005, the remaining 12 positions will be assigned to drivers with the fastest qualifying speeds while the 43rd position remains reserved for a former series champion. If not used by a former champion, the 43rd position will be assigned to the next eligible car owner based on qualifying times. Last Saturday's event at Atlanta was the final race this season where the revamped race lineup procedure assured the highest-ranked 30 positions in the 2004 owner championship points a starting slot.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
David Green (No. 27 KLEENEX Ford) is the only former Nashville spring race winner in this weekend's field. Green won the 2003 Pepsi 300 by .282 of a second over Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge), the closest margin of victory in series history at Nashville Superspeedway. ... Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver to have won multiple Busch Poles at Nashville. ... Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) is tied for most top-five finishes at the track with three. Keller and teammate Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) have run in each of the previous seven races at the venue.
There have been four different winners in Nashville's four spring races since 2001. ... A Busch Pole winner has yet to win at Nashville. ... The state of Tennessee has the most active NASCAR Busch Series tracks (Nashville, Bristol and Memphis). ... Shane Hmiel (No. 32 WIN Fuel Chevrolet) recorded his first NASCAR Busch Series pole at Nashville in the 2002 spring race. ... Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) collected half of his four top-five finishes in 2004 at Nashville's spring and summer events. He also led the most laps (104) in this race one year ago. Richard Childress Racing has announced that Bowyer will attempt to make his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at Phoenix next month. ... Nashville's Bobby Hamilton Sr. (No. 95 Sadler Motorsports Dodge), the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and current points leader in that series, is entered in the Pepsi 300. ... Sterling Marlin (No. 40 Jani-King Dodge) is one of four NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars entered in the event; Marlin hails from Franklin, Tenn. Jamie McMurray (No. 64 Top Flite Dodge) and Kasey Kahne (No. 6 Country Crock Dodge) will join Marlin and Carl Edwards this weekend. ... Edwards has five consecutive top-five finishes, best in the NASCAR Busch Series. With his win at Atlanta last Saturday, he joined Kyle Busch as the only rookies to capture their first series wins from the Busch Pole. ... Ford, with three wins and 37 points, leads the Bill France Performance Cup standings for the first time since March, 2002. Chevrolet is second with two wins and 36 points, Dodge is third with 22 points and no wins to date in 2005. ... FitzBradshaw Racing will hold a press conference on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in the Infield Media Center at Nashville, featuring team drivers and owners, including NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
"I try to have one day a week where I can just sleep and not wake up to an alarm. Sleep to whenever I get up and then go do something fun for at least a half day, just to get my mind off it and reset. It's helping me a lot." -- Carl Edwards on running fulltime in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
"Weekends off are nice, I guess, but racing is everything to me. Spending a weekend racing somewhere is what I am all about." -- Derrike Cope (No. 28 Jay Robinson Racing Ford) on racing at Nashville during an off-week for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
"I'm telling you, I don't know what's going on. It's pretty frustrating. We need to turn this luck around, I know that. It sure is aggravating. We've had good race cars all year and we haven't been able to prove it." -- Stacy Compton (No. 59 Kingsford/Bush's Baked Beans Ford)
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The NASCAR Busch Series has been competing in the Nashville area since 1984. The series first raced at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (now known as Music City Motorplex) in 1984, '88, '89 and 1995-2000. The fairgrounds facility was a high-banked, ½-mile track which could trace its racing heritage back to 1907 when it opened as a 1-mile horse track.
The series moved to the new 1.333-mile Nashville Superspeedway in 2001. The venue, with its gleaming white concrete surface and wide, sweeping turns, was a striking contrast to the venerable old Fairgrounds.
Greg Biffle, the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion, won the inaugural Nashville Superspeedway event in 2001 while Scott Riggs registered his first series win in the 2002 race. Riggs also won the 2003 June event, making him one of only two drivers to win more than one NASCAR Busch Series race at Nashville. David Green, the 1994 series champion, also has two Nashville victories. He secured his first in 1995 at the Fairgrounds, then won the 2003 Pepsi 300, making him the only driver to win at both facilities.
What: Pepsi 300 (Race No. 6 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Nashville Super-speedway, Lebanon, Tenn.
When: 4:05 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 26.
Track Layout: 1.333-mile tri-oval.
Race Length: 300 miles/225 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,001,987.
TV: FX, 3:30 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Michael Waltrip.
2004 Polesitter: Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Carl Edwards 795. 2. Kevin Harvick 690. 3. Clint Bowyer 676. 4. Reed Sorenson 670. 5. Martin Truex Jr. 668. 6. Ashton Lewis Jr. 615. 7. David Stremme 576. 8. Kenny Wallace 539. 9. Denny Hamlin 533. 10. Greg Biffle 505.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday: Practice -- 1:15 -- 2:15 p.m.; Final practice -- 3:15 -- 4:15 p.m. Saturday: Qualifying, 10:35 a.m.; cars impounded following qualifying.