* Native sons: Sauters, Menard come home to Wisconsin * Sleeper factor: Keller's record at The Mile makes him one to watch NEWS & NOTES Keller strong at The Mile ... Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) isn't one to show much emotion, but...
* Native sons: Sauters, Menard come home to Wisconsin
* Sleeper factor: Keller's record at The Mile makes him one to watch
NEWS & NOTES
Keller strong at The Mile ... Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) isn't one to show much emotion, but the NASCAR Busch Series iron man has to be excited to arrive at Milwaukee. Keller, currently 10th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, carries the best record among drivers at The Mile. Keller has the most top fives and top 10s (seven each) of any driver, and was third at this race one year ago. The series' all-time earnings winner with (over $9.7 million) won at Milwaukee in 2003, setting a race record in the process at 103.093 mph. The win was the 10th -- and most recent -- of his 372-race career. Keller has also led four races at the track.
"Milwaukee has been very good to me the last few years," Keller said, "[and] we've been running really well the last month or so. My car has always handled well through the big, sweeping turns and then [has] been able to use its horsepower to drive up off the turns." Keller has started 252 consecutive series races, second only to Tommy Houston's record of 360. Wisconsin natives Sauter, Menard home at Milwaukee ...
Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) and Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) are Wisconsin natives looking at this visit to their home track in different ways. Menard's hometown is Eau Claire, some 240 miles from Milwaukee. He comes to The Mile following the best finish of his NASCAR Busch Series career -- fifth last week at Kentucky. He also gained four places in the standings, bringing him to 14th, his best ranking since Las Vegas when he was ninth. Sauter, the youngest of three racing brothers whose father, Jim, is a Wisconsin racing legend, is a two-time winner on the NASCAR Busch Series, but has struggled with consistency this year. He does have two top-10 finishes in his last five races, including a season-best third at Richmond, and hopes a trip home will turn his season around. The Sauter clan hails from Necedah, 150 miles from the track. Sauter and his brother Tim (No. 56 Lester Buildings Chevrolet) are scheduled to be joined by Menard for a press conference at The Milwaukee Mile Infield Media Center on Saturday, immediately following final practice.
Defending race winner Hornaday, others pull double duty at Milwaukee ...
Ron Hornaday Jr., who won last year's NASCAR Busch Series race at Milwaukee, is back to defend his victory driving the No. 32 WINFuel Dodge for Braun Racing. But first he'll compete in Friday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event. Hornaday is currently fourth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck point standings; he won at Atlanta in March. Martin Truex Jr. will attempt to make his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck start, while Johnny Sauter plans to pull double duty at The Mile as well. Regan Smith (No. 58 Glynn Motorsports Dodge) is also entered in both events. Smith has made five starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this year, Sauter one. Meijer 300 most-watched NASCAR Busch Series race ever at Kentucky ...
Viewers tuned to last Saturday night's Meijer 300 presented by Oreo at Kentucky Speedway watched yet another exciting NASCAR Busch Series finish as Carl Edwards cleared three cars in the closing laps, including leader Martin Truex Jr., to capture his third win of the year. The event, broadcast on FX, was the most-watched series race ever at Kentucky and showed increases in households and viewers over the 2004 event, also broadcast on FX. Households increased 18% over last year (1,373,000 -- 1,168,000) while viewers were up 6% versus the 2004 race (1,834,000 -- 1,726,000). Figures are provided by Nielsen Media Research.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
In addition to Jason Keller's dominance at Milwaukee in 12 starts, David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet), who won consecutive series titles in 1996-97 and defending race winner Ron Hornaday Jr. are tied for second among all drivers with three top-five finishes; the trio is also tied for second behind Keller with five top-10 finishes. ... Green has led the most races at Milwaukee (five). ... There has not been a multiple Busch Pole winner at Milwaukee, but three drivers in the field have an opportunity to become the first. Defending pole winner David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge) set a qualifying record last year at 122.533 mph. Green (1994) and Timmy Fedewa (No. 12 Supercuts Dodge), who claimed the pole in 1997, are the others. The pole was the first of Stremme's NASCAR Busch Series career.
The 66-point separation between first and fourth place in the NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 is only one example of the tight standings. Kenny Wallace (No. 22 Stacker 2 Ford) is solidly in fifth with 1,991 points, but the drivers in positions sixth through eighth, -- Raybestos rookie Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet), Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) and David Stremme -- are 73 points apart. Jason Keller is poised to overtake ninth place from Greg Biffle; Keller is only 11 points in back of the 2002 series champion, who is not running in this event. Meanwhile, David Green is 11th, just 44 points out of 10th. ... Carl Edwards' win at Kentucky moved Ford into a tie with Chevrolet in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Both manufacturers have seven wins this season, to go along with 109 points. Dodge has two victories and 86 points. ... Edwards' third win of the season not only tied him with Martin Truex Jr. for the series lead, but also moved him to within three points of Reed Sorenson in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings, 225 points to 221. Denny Hamlin is third (161), Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Wisk Ford) is fourth and Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 10 ppc Racing Ford) is fifth (102). ... Hendrick Motorsports developmental driver Kyle Krisiloff (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) is scheduled to make his NASCAR Busch Series debut this weekend at Milwaukee. The 19-year-old Indiana native is the youngest driver ever to have a podium finish in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series when he placed second at Milwaukee in 2003 at 17 years, two months. ... For the second time in their NASCAR Busch Series racing careers, brothers Aaron and A.J. Fike will compete in the same event. Aaron, who shares time in the No. 66 Duraflame Ford with Biffle, looks to make his eighth start of the year at Milwaukee, while A.J. will attempt his fourth start of the season in the No. 43 Curb Records Dodge. The Fikes have run head-to-head once this year, two weeks ago at Nashville, where A.J. had the better finish, 28th to Aaron's 38th.
"As if coming to your home track isn't invigorating enough, we got a huge shot in the arm with our solid finish at Kentucky, so the boys are pumped because they can just smell that first win together." -- Paul Menard "I'm looking forward to getting back home. It's been somewhat of a rough ride through the first part of the season and I can't think of a better place to turn this program around than Milwaukee. There are a bunch of us from Wisconsin on the Yellow team and we all want to make a good showing for our family and friends." -- Johnny Sauter "I'm really looking forward to racing a truck. Everyone tells me it's a lot of fun. Billy Ballew Motorsports has two wins this year. As of late, they seem to be the team to beat. Kyle Busch has really put the pressure on anyone who hops in the No. 15 Silverado. I can't let my old rival Kyle show me up. It's going to be a blast." -- Martin Truex Jr. "It's very exciting. It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. To get the chance to drive in one of NASCAR's top series is an awesome opportunity." -- Kyle Krisiloff on his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Milwaukee
FROM THE ARCHIVES
The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest race track on which the NASCAR Busch Series competes. It opened in 1903 with NASCAR making its first appearance in 1984. The track, known as Wisconsin State Fair Park at the time, hosted the inaugural NASCAR's Busch Series race -- a 200-mile event -- on May 13. Many of NASCAR's brightest stars, including Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, turned out to compete. Future stars Dale Jarrett, Alan Kulwicki, Davey Allison also were there, along with short-track legend Dick Trickle.
Defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Sam Ard bested the field of 26 cars for his fourth victory of the season, defeating runner-up Kulwicki, who hailed from Greenfield, Wis. Ard went on to win his second consecutive series title later that year despite missing the season's final event due to an accident at Rockingham. Ard is the only driver to win a NASCAR Busch Series championship without participating in every race of a season.
ON DECK: DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
The second half of the NASCAR Busch Series season takes place under the lights at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, July 1. Four lead changes in the last 10 laps resulted in an exciting victory last year for Mike Wallace, who led only one lap -- the final one. Wallace is scheduled to return and defend his win driving the No. 6 Hungry Drivers Dodge for Evernham Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won three straight races prior to Wallace's stunning victory, is also entered in the event.
What: SBC 250 (Race No. 17 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: The Milwaukee Mile, Milwaukee, Wisc.
When: 9:05 p.m. ET, Saturday, June 25.
Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Length: 250 miles/250 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,061,935.
TV: FX, 8:30 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Ron Hornaday Jr.
2004 Polesitter: David Stremme.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Reed Sorenson 2,186. 2. Martin Truex Jr. 2,150. 3. Clint Bowyer 2,145. 4. Carl Edwards 2,120. 5. Kenny Wallace 1,991. 6. Denny Hamlin 1,882. 7. Ashton Lewis Jr. 1,874. 8. David Stremme 1,809. 9. Greg Biffle 1,764. 10. Jason Keller 1,753.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., June 25: Practice -- 10 -- 11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. Qualifying -- 5:05 p.m.