BUSCH: Off-week news of note 2005-09-13

* Numerology: Current championship race one of closest in series history * NASCAR Busch Series teams use off week to provide relief for Katrina victims * Richmond posts broadcast increase for second time this season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept.

* Numerology: Current championship race one of closest in series history

* NASCAR Busch Series teams use off week to provide relief for Katrina victims

* Richmond posts broadcast increase for second time this season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 13, 2005) -- The key numbers as the NASCAR Busch Series settles into its third off-week of the season are these; the No. 8 leads the No. 2 by 69 points.

Defending series champion and points leader Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) still holds an advantage over second-place Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), just as he has for the past 11 weeks.

However, Truex's lead has dwindled during the last six races. Leading Bowyer by 204 points following a fourth-place finish at Michigan four races ago, Truex has lost 135 points, 25 of those due to a penalty at Richmond last Friday night.

One historical stat is in Truex's favor -- the driver who was the championship points leader following the fall race at Richmond has gone on to win the series title 15 times in the last 21 years.

The 69-point separation between Truex and Bowyer ranks sixth among the tightest point battles at this stage of the season since the NASCAR Busch Series' 1982 inception.

The top five closest point clashes after the fall Richmond race are as follows:

1. 1992 -- Joe Nemechek led Todd Bodine by one point. Nemechek went on to win the championship by three points over Bobby Labonte in the closest series title finish ever.

2. 1991 -- Kenny Wallace led Labonte by two points. Labonte was the eventual champion, winning by 74 points over Wallace.

3. 1988 -- Tommy Ellis led Tommy Houston by nine points. Ellis pulled away from the field, winning the crown by 239 points over Rob Moroso. Houston finished fifth, 268 points behind Ellis.

4. 2003 -- Veteran David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, led 20-year-old Brian Vickers by 48 points. Vickers would bypass Green in the season's final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway to become the youngest champion in series history. He claimed the title by 14 points over Green.

5. 1985 -- Jimmy Hensley led the series' first champion, Jack Ingram, by 53 points. Ingram would come back to his second championship by just 29 points over Hensley.


McMurray, Autism Society team up for Katrina relief ... Jamie McMurray, who has split time with Jeremy Mayfield in the Rusty Wallace owned No. 64 Top Flite / Miller High Life Dodge, has joined with the Autism Society of America (ASA) to provide help for the families of individuals with autism affected by Hurricane Katrina. McMurray, who has a niece with autism, is making a $50,000 donation to the ASA's relief fund and is pledging a long-term, active commitment in the coming months to the cause. For its part, the ASA is aiding the relief effort with members actively on the ground in Louisiana and Texas. It also is setting up donation and awareness information pertaining to hurricane assistance on its website (www.autism-society.org). "I keep thinking about if it was my sister and niece that were being housed in one of the numerous shelters set up, and my niece did not have all her special food and medicine that she requires on a daily basis and was unable to follow her daily routine," McMurray said. "There's nothing I wouldn't do to ensure my family's safety and comfort. So for all the people who have lost everything, this is the least I can do."

Team owners Biagi, Stringer pitching in, too ... A few NASCAR Busch Series teams are using this week to join the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. Fred Biagi, owner of the No. 4 GEICO Dodge, has worked to send numerous truckloads of water and other necessities from his Houston, Texas-based trucking and warehouse operation. Additionally, the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge team has headed up collection efforts throughout the NASCAR community. Duane "Pops" Stringer, father of team owner Doug Stringer, will drive his own truck to Louisiana on Wednesday to deliver over $1,000 and other items to NASCAR coach drivers who were affected by the storm. Steve Carter, the coach driver for Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Dodge) will join Stringer on the trip. NASCAR and the American Red Cross have united to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Log on to "Race to Help" at www.nascar.com for more information.

Richmond posts second TV increase this season ... The Emerson Radio 250 held last Friday night at Richmond International Raceway broadcast on TNT posted an increase of 22% in both households and viewers over the same event one year ago that also aired on TNT. Households were up 1,470,000 versus 1,205,000 for last season's event while viewers rose 2,054,000, up from the 1,681,000 of one year ago. It marked the second time this season the NASCAR Busch Series race at Richmond showed significant increases in those categories -- the FUNAI 250 in May posted jumps of 35% and 24% in households and viewers, respectively. Figures are provided by Nielsen Media Research.

Newman looks to tie series consecutive win mark at Dover ... Ryan Newman (No. 39 alltel Dodge) is entered at Dover next week and will attempt to tie the NASCAR Busch Series record for consecutive wins. Two-time series champion Sam Ard set the standard in 1983 with fall wins at South Boston, Martinsville, Orange County and Charlotte. Newman has reeled off wins in his last three races at Watkins Glen, Michigan and Bristol. He also collected a Busch Pole at Chicagoland earlier this summer. Newman has made 20 NASCAR Busch Series starts and has one other win, at Michigan in 2001; he also has seven career Busch Poles. He has one previous series start at Dover, capturing the pole there in 2001. Newman led 141 laps, but ended up 21st following an accident on Lap 186. His luck has been much better at the Monster Mile in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition. In seven career races, he has three wins -- two straight in the fall race -- plus, four top fives, six top 10s and one pole.


Kevin Harvick's (No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet) victory at Richmond last Friday night allowed Chevrolet to return to Victory Lane for the first time in the last five races. The win also gave Chevy a bit of breathing room in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Chevrolet enters the off week with 12 NASCAR Busch Series wins for a total of 190 points. Ford is second with nine wins and 181 points while Dodge is third with seven victories and 161 points. ... Reed Sorenson is scheduled to make his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series debut for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at his home track in Atlanta Oct. 31, driving the No. 39 Discount Tire Co. Dodge. In addition, he will also attempt to qualify for the premier series race at Texas on Nov. 6. ... Kevin Hamlin (No. 4 GEICO Dodge) is scheduled to test at Dover this week before heading to his home state of Washington, where he'll race Saturday night at Monroe's Evergreen Speedway in NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Late Model competition. Hamlin hasn't been home since December. ... J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) has a busy week planned. He flew back to his home in Indianapolis following the Richmond race, and is gathering up wife Kristen and baby daughter, Faith, as the family moves to Charlotte. Yeley then will head to New Hampshire, where he will drive the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race on Sunday. Yeley has three other NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts to his credit, the last coming at California earlier this month where he started a career-best eighth and finished 39th. Yeley is scheduled to share time in the No. 11 Chevy with his Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Busch Series teammate Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) the rest of the season. ... Mark Martin, the all-time leader in NASCAR Busch Series victories (47), tied Tommy Ellis for the series lead in poles last week at Richmond, where he captured No. 28.


"This off-weekend should be a blessing for our team. We can regroup and focus on these final seven races. We need to get back on our game and put the U.S. Marine Corps Ford back inside the top 10 in the points race." -- Ashton Lewis Jr., who is 12th in the point standings. Lewis had been in the top 10 for 24 of the season's 28 weeks.

"I've heard that Dover is a pretty gnarly place, so [much] like Bristol." -- Kevin Hamlin on his first NASCAR Busch Series appearance at Dover.


After the fall event at Richmond International Raceway the NASCAR Busch Series championship points leader has gone on to win the season title 15 times since 1984. The longest streak was six consecutive years, starting with Randy LaJoie in 1997, and ending with Greg Biffle in 2002.

The largest lead for an eventual NASCAR Busch Series champion coming out of Richmond was Jeff Green's 649- point margin over Jason Keller in 2000. The tightest battle was Joe Nemechek's one-point lead over Todd Bodine in 1992; Nemechek went on to win the crown.

The deepest position in the standings post-Richmond by the eventual series champion was fourth place by Rob Moroso in 1989.

This season, defending NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. leads second-place Clint Bowyer by 69 points coming out of Richmond. One year ago, Truex had a 105-point lead over Kyle Busch after the Richmond event.


Martin Truex Jr., a native of Mayetta, N.J., returns to the facility he considers his home track when the NASCAR Busch Series arrives at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 24. Truex is the defending winner of this race, and also won at Dover in June. He will attempt to become the first driver to win three straight NASCAR Busch Series races at the Monster Mile, and the first since two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie (No. 34 Dollar General Chevrolet) to sweep a season series there. LaJoie did it in 1996. Robert Pressley in 1992 and Todd Bodine (1993) are the other drivers to record series sweeps at Dover. Bodine is the only driver to have three NASCAR Busch Series wins at Dover, also posting a victory in 1991.


Next Race: Dover 200 (Race No. 29 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: Dover International Speedway, Dover, DE.

When: 1:00 p.m. ET, Saturday, Sept. 24.

Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Length: 200 miles/200 laps.

Posted Awards: $1,043,792.

TV: TNT, 1:10 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2004 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
2004 Polesitter: Kasey Kahne.

NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 3,931. 2. Clint Bowyer 3,862. 3. Reed Sorenson 3,645. 4. Carl Edwards 3,595. 5. Kenny Wallace 3,348. 6. Denny Hamlin 3,346. 7. Paul Menard 3,196. 8. David Green 3,126. 9. David Stremme 3,088. 10. Jason Keller 3,018.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thurs., Sept. 22: Practice -- 2 -- 3:00 p.m.; 4 -- 5 p.m. Fri., Qualifying -- 1:35 p.m.


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Drivers Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Jeff Green , Ryan Newman , Robert Pressley , Jamie McMurray , David Green , Jimmy Hensley , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Carl Edwards , Chip Ganassi , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Ashton Lewis , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Kevin Hamlin , Felix Sabates , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing