BUSCH: Nashville: News of Note, schedule

ON THE RIGHT TRACK * Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford) has the most victories of any driver entered in the race at Nashville Superspeedway. Riggs, the defending champion of the Pepsi 300 -- his first NASCAR Busch Series win -- is...


* Scott Riggs (No. 10 Nestle Nesquik Ford) has the most victories of any driver entered in the race at Nashville Superspeedway. Riggs, the defending champion of the Pepsi 300 -- his first NASCAR Busch Series win -- is currently eighth in the point standings and also has a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory from the pole at Nashville (2001). Mike Bliss (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Pontiac), like Riggs, is familiar with Victory Lane at Nashville. Bliss won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event there last year, also from the pole position. He is seventh in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings.

* Jason Keller (No. 57 Albertsons Ford) has three top-five finishes at Nashville in three races at the track. Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) and Scott Wimmer (No. 23 Stacker 2/Stamina Rx Chevrolet) have two top fives each while Wimmer is the clubhouse leader with three top 10s in the same number of events.

* Shane Hmiel (No. 48 Dark Dog Chevrolet) comes into the Pepsi 300 as arguably the hottest driver in the NASCAR Busch Series. Hmiel has posted consecutive third-place finishes at Texas and Talladega. He also finished seventh at Bristol giving him three top-10 finishes in succession heading into Nashville, a track where he garnered the Bud Pole at this event last year. Hmiel is fourth in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings; he was 18th one year ago. Coy Gibbs (No. 18 MBNA Pontiac), the leader in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, also has two straight top 10 efforts entering Saturday's race; those are also the first top 10s of his NASCAR Busch Series career.


* TV timeout ... The final overnight rating for last Sunday's Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on FOX showed a 9% increase over last year. (All figures compiled by Nielsen Media Research.)

* Riggs is on his own ... Nashville Superspeedway has hosted only three NASCAR Busch Series races and only one former winner will be in the field Saturday -- Riggs. Previous winners Greg Biffle (2001) and Jack Sprague (2002) have moved on to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and will look to run at Martinsville Speedway Sunday.

* Splitting time ... NASCAR Busch Series points leader Todd Bodine (No. 92 Herzog-Jackson Motorsports Chevrolet), who will have Mike McLaughlin attempt to qualify for Nashville, is the lone Winston Cup driver in the field. Bodine will practice, qualify and race the No. 54 National Guard Ford at Martinsville, but will fly to Nashville following Happy Hour Saturday to race at Nashville. Rookie David Stremme will attempt to qualify for the first of at least 18 races in the No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge. Stremme, 2002 ASA Rookie of the Year and a 2003 Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, will split time with Jamie McMurray, currently second in the NASCAR Busch Series standings. McMurray will pull single duty this weekend at Martinsville.

* Looking forward to some "stand" alone time ... Saturday's race is the first of seven stand-alone events on the 2003 NASCAR Busch Series schedule. Next will be May 10 at Gateway, followed by May 18 at Nazareth, a return to Nashville June 7, Kentucky on June 14, Pikes Peak on July 26 and Memphis on October 18.

* Kahne Suddenly a Factor ... Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Ford) will celebrate his 23rd birthday this week (April 10) and has provided himself with a nice gift -- sitting in the thick of the NASCAR Busch Series points race in the season's early going. Kahne, currently ranked ninth, qualified a career-best second last week at Talladega and already has two top-10 finishes to his credit. In 20 starts last year, Kahne recorded just one top-10 effort, and finished 33rd in series points.

* Rocky Top Bragging Rights ... Nashville native Bobby Hamilton Jr. will be joined by a few others looking to run well in their home state. Saturday's entry list includes Tennessee natives Steadman Marlin (No. 30 Keystone Light Dodge -- Columbia, Chase Montgomery (No. 27 TrimSpa Pontiac) -- Mt. Juliet, Joe Buford (No. 83 Town & Country Ford) -- Antioch, and the Johnson City duo of Brad Teague (No. 77 Ford) and Mike Potter (No. 52 Ford). Scott Riggs' first-year crew chief Doug Randolph is a native of Morristown and a graduate of the University of Tennessee. Also, Bristol's Brad Baker (No. 28 Lipscomb University Chevrolet) will drive a car sponsored by his alma mater, Nashville-based Lipscomb University. Nashville Superspeedway GM Cliff Hawks and track PR Director Sean Dozier are also Lipscomb grads.

* Tina's Top 10 ... Tina Gordon (No. 22 Danny Bost Motorsports Chevrolet) collected the first top 10 by a NASCAR Busch Series female driver since Patty Moise finished seventh at Talladega in July 1995, when she posted a 10th-place finish last week at Talladega. Gordon, who leads the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, posted the eighth top-10 finish by a female driver in the history of the NASCAR Busch Series.


* The NASCAR Busch Series will join the NASCAR Winston Cup and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in an off-week next week (Easter). The NASCAR Busch Series schedule will resume April 26 at California Speedway for the Auto Club 300. ... Kasey Kahne's Nashville effort will be two-pronged. While looking for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory, Kahne will be soliciting support for a friend in his native Washington, Chris Hahto, who has recently undergone multiple surgeries and now faces the cost. Kahne's"Miles for Chris" is an opportunity for those interested to donate money to the cause as a set pledge amount or on an amount-per-mile basis. More information is available on Kahne's website, www.kaseykahne.com. ... David Stremme is another in a line of "discoveries" by Chip Ganassi, but his background proves Ganassi's faith in him as a driver. Stremme's father, mother and brother have all run in sportsman and late model competition in their hometown of South Bend, Ind.


* "You're in front of your hometown. People you grew up racing in front of. I think it's important to go home and run well. You really feel like you have something to show." -- Tennessee (Mt. Juliet) native Chase Montgomery on racing in his home state.

* "I would start taking guitar lessons tomorrow." - Bobby Hamilton Jr. on his plans if he wins the Pepsi 300 and the coveted Sam Bass custom-designed Gibson guitar trophy.


* Every Nashville race has been won by a first-time NASCAR Busch Series winner who also went on to capture either a NASCAR national series championship or Raybestos Rookie of the Year award. Greg Biffle (NASCAR Busch Series champion 2002, Raybestos Rookie of the Year 2001) won in April, 2001; Scott Riggs (Raybestos Rookie of the Year, 2002) took the 2002 April race and Jack Sprague (three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion) won in June, 2002.

Pepsi 300 (NASCAR Busch Series race No. 8 of 34.)
Nashville Superspeedway, Lebanon, Tenn.

Race: 4 p.m. ET, Saturday, April 12.
TV: FX, 3:30 p.m. ET.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice, Noon-2:00 p.m., Qualifying, 3:35 p.m., Final practice, 6:15-7:15 p.m.


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Drivers Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Greg Biffle , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Mike McLaughlin , Brad Baker , Jack Sprague , Coy Gibbs , Chase Montgomery , Scott Riggs , Tina Gordon , Shane Hmiel , Kasey Kahne , Scott Wimmer , Mike Bliss , Steadman Marlin , Joe Buford , Chip Ganassi , David Stremme