BUSCH: Off-week news of note 2005-04-06

BUSCH: Off-week news of note 2005-04-06
Apr 7, 2005, 12:40 AM

* Plenty of highlights as season nears first quarter mark * Tight for 10th - five drivers within 62 points of rookie Wood's slot * 2001 series champion Harvick provides second consecutive season sweep DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) - When ...

* Plenty of highlights as season nears first quarter mark
* Tight for 10th - five drivers within 62 points of rookie Wood's slot
* 2001 series champion Harvick provides second consecutive season sweep

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) - When asked to name their favorite number, many people will answer, "Seven."

Add the drivers and teams in the NASCAR Busch Series to that group. After seven consecutive weeks of racing, preceded by one full week in Daytona Beach participating in Speed Weeks to kick off the 2005 season, the series is in the midst of its first off-week of the year, picking up on April 16 at Texas Motor Speedway.

In comparison, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series has had two off-weeks thus far while the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has had three races since Feb. 18. Both of those series race at Martinsville this weekend.

Nearly of a quarter of the season has already passed during that span. Races on the east coast (Daytona), west coast (California) and into a foreign land (Mexico) have been contested, with over 8,000 miles traveled to reach each of the first seven venues on the schedule. The entire NASCAR Busch Series season totals 8,654 miles in total race distances.

The competition has lived up to the anticipation heading into the series' 24th season. Here are some highlights:

- Six different winners in the first seven races;

- Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), the reigning NASCAR Busch Series champion, won the historic race at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course;

- Rookie drivers rank one-two in the point standings for the first time in series history as Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) and 19-year-old Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) have held those positions for the last two race weeks. Fellow rookies Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) and Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Wisk Ford) are in eighth and 10th place, respectively;

- Edwards and Sorenson won consecutive races at Atlanta and Nashville. Edwards won his first NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Atlanta, a NASCAR first;

- Mark Martin, the all-time wins leader in series history - added to his total by winning both races he entered. He now has 47 victories in 207 career starts.

- Points battle takes a breather, too ... Through the first seven weeks of the season, portions of the NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 show little separation between drivers. Carl Edwards retains the lead he has held for the past three race weeks with 1,106 points, while Reed Sorenson, another rookie, stands second for the second consecutive week (1,025), having gained 14 points on Edwards with his third-place finish at Bristol. Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet) has been steady in third place over the last five weeks (955); Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick (No. 21 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet) is in fourth with 875 points despite running in only five of the season's seven events. Harvick had collected second-place finishes in his first four races, finally breaking through with a win at Bristol. That victory followed his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup win on Sunday, the second such sweep this season. Martin Truex Jr. is in fifth, 11 points behind Harvick. However Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) is just one point behind with 863. Kenny Wallace (No. 22 Stacker 2 Ford) is in seventh place, his third straight appearance in the Top 10; Wallace has 835 points, just ahead of eighth-place rookie Denny Hamlin (814). Wallace and Hamlin have a bit of breathing room between them and Shane Hmiel (No. 32 WIN Fuel Dodge) who is ninth in the rankings. Hmiel has to pay attention to yet another rookie, Jon Wood, now 23 points back. Drivers in positions 11-15 - David Stremme (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Dodge), David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford), Johnny Sauter (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) and two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet), respectively, are all within 62 points of Wood's 10th-place ranking.

- Lewis is lurking ... After finishing in the NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 last year for the first time in his four fulltime seasons driving for his family-owned team, Ashton Lewis Jr. has picked up where he left off. Lewis, who finished eighth at Bristol and was ninth in Mexico City, is currently sixth in the rankings, just one point behind 2004 series champion Martin Truex Jr. Lewis was fifth in the points last week, his best standing ever in the series.

"We set a goal to get off to a good start the first seven races and not put ourselves in a hole," Lewis said. "Fortunately we accomplished that goal as we stand just one point outside of the top five. I know you can't win the title the first seven races, but you can put yourself in a pretty big hole. We are looking forward to this off-week and taking the time to make the Team Marines Ford even faster."


Kenny Wallace will be featured on a segment of the ESPN show "Rome is Burning" with host Jim Rome. The program highlighting Wallace at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month will air Wednesday, begining at 4:30 p.m. ET. ... David Green, the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, will travel to Milwaukee on Thursday to take part in a press conference announcing the entitlement sponsor for the June 25 event at The Milwaukee Mile. The press conference will take place at Noon at the Coast Restaurant, 931 E. Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. ... The No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. NASCAR Busch Series team will go to Martinsville this weekend to work on - and pit - Harvick's No. 33 Yard-Man Silverado in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday. Harvick is attempting to become the first driver in NASCAR history to win consecutive races in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. ... Justin Labonte (No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) was scheduled to test at Richmond on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Texas for an advance media tour on Thursday. Sunday, Labonte will join his family at their Corpus Christi home base for the 90th birthday celebration for the grandfather of his mother, Kim. ... ... J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro-Home Depot Chevrolet) will join 1989 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion and NASCAR Busch Series owner Rusty Wallace and FOX analyst/former Daytona 500-winning crew chief Larry McReynolds in Phoenix on Monday, April 11 for "NASCAR 101," an event hosted by Phoenix International Raceway and the local FOX affiliate. The group will offer an educational interactive opportunity at the Superstition Springs Mall in Tempe from 6 - 7:00 p.m. ... Kasey Kahne and Tyler Walker, who share time in the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge, will be at Akins Motorsports in Mooresville, N.C., on Thursday for a Great Clips Rally to meet and greet nearly 40 Great Clips managers as well as host a shop tour. ... Nearly 120 sixth graders attended the First Annual Team Rensi Motorsports Science Fair at the organization's shop in Mooresville on Tuesday. Ten unique stations were in place for the students to learn about the application of science in NASCAR. The demonstrations included technology, safety, tire pressures and transportation logistics. Team Rensi drivers Ashton Lewis Jr. and Jason Keller, along with members of each drivers' team, participated in the event.


- "Just relax and take it easy." - Reed Sorenson

- "I might go to a local late model track to watch some of the guys that I used to race with last year. I think we're going to go to Chicagoland and see what we can learn there." - Denny Hamlin

- "I'm probably just going to go riding four-wheelers and hang out with my friends. I was going to go back home and run a dirt car, but I have an ACDelco video shoot and then my new Cup car is getting finished. We are going testing next Tuesday and Wednesday so, I just need to hang around here and make sure everything is covered so we can go have a good test in Phoenix." - Clint Bowyer


One of the more difficult feats to accomplish in NASCAR racing is a "sweep" of a racing weekend. A driver winning races in two different series at a track during the same weekend is said to have completed a "sweep." Since 1984, sweeps have occurred only 21 times, the latest this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway when Kevin Harvick won the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event and the NASCAR Busch Series race. It was the second sweep this season and the second consecutive sweep weekend; Carl Edwards won both races two weeks ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway. NASCAR last experienced consecutive sweep weekends in 1991 when Harry Gant swept the September races at Richmond and Dover.

Edwards' sweep at Atlanta was the first time the feat was accomplished in that speedway's history. Harvick is only the second driver to sweep at Bristol; the first was Dale Earnhardt Jr. last August when he won both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.


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