BUSCH: Offweek news and notes 2004-09-29

* Races following off-weeks have been to Truex's advantage * Dover race results in huge broadcast gains in households, viewers * Spirited battle for 10th place in series standings involves five drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2004) -- The...

* Races following off-weeks have been to Truex's advantage
* Dover race results in huge broadcast gains in households, viewers
* Spirited battle for 10th place in series standings involves five drivers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2004) -- The final off-week of the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series season brings one last chance for drivers and teams to relax somewhat while also preparing themselves for the seven-week charge toward the season finale at Homestead--Miami Speedway.

The series has enjoyed seven such off-weeks in 2004, and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), the points leader for the last 12 race weeks, has taken advantage in more ways than an extra week of rest.

In the previous seven races following a week of down time, Truex has compiled an average finish of 5.7. Meanwhile, Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) who now sits 152 points behind Truex in second, has an average finish of 11.8 in races following off-weeks.

That differential offers as many as 25 points toward Truex's total in the season scenario between the two budding rivals, a variance that carries added importance to the Mr. Goodcents 300 at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 9.

The trend allows this last off-week to provide the final chapter in an interesting storyline that could very well be a deciding factor between Truex and Busch in the chase for the NASCAR Busch Series championship.

Truex's lead over his nearest competitor represents the largest deficit Busch has faced since being down 153 to then-leader, Kevin Harvick, following the season's fifth race at Bristol.

Truex has two wins, a third and fourth-place finish among his race results after off-weeks this season. His worst finishes were 14th and 11th. Busch, on the other hand, has one win, a fourth and a ninth-place in his favor, but has also collected finishes of 15th, 17th and 25th in events after off-weeks.

Despite the season-long off-week trend against Truex and the growing disparity between first and second place totaling 47 points over the last three races, the 19-year-old Busch remains upbeat.

"These guys will never give up and neither will I," Busch said of his team after his ninth-place finish at Dover. "We'll just kind of keep digging at (Truex) and see what we can do.

"We're coming up to some racetracks that we feel like we can excel on such as, Kansas and Lowe's, Atlanta and Homestead. We'll see what we can do there."

Dover race posts significant broadcast gains on TNT ... Last Saturday's Stacker 2 Hundred presented by YJ Stinger at Dover International Speedway aired on TNT and produced increases of nearly 50% in both viewers and households over last year's event, also on TNT. The race, won by Martin Truex Jr. at his hometown track -- posted an increase of 45% among viewers over 2003 (1,412,000) and a 43% boost over households compared to last year (1,130,000). The race also featured a 44% increase in ratings over the 2003 broadcast. The race aired directly against college football and Major League Baseball.

Battle for 10th place in standings heading for big finish ... Kenny Wallace (No. 23 Stacker 2 Chevrolet) nearly broke a 66-race streak without a victory last Saturday at Dover, but an empty fuel cell on lap 190 of the 200-lap event put an end to his strong run. Wallace did, however, lead the most laps in the event and despite his 20th-place finish, managed to move back into the NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 this week. Wallace displaced Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 46 Lewis Motorsports Chevrolet), but is only one point ahead of Lewis heading to Kansas. The 10th-place spot will be the most hotly contested ranking during the last seven races of the season. Only 63 points separate Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Dodge) from 13th-place David Stremme (No. 32 TRIMSPA X32 Dodge). Casey Atwood (No. 14 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) is 12th, just 40 points in back of Lewis but only three ahead of Stremme.

Akins Motorsports takes two at Kansas ... Kasey Kahne will team with Brent Sherman -- currently second in the ARCA RE/MAX standings -- a week from Saturday at Kansas. Akins Motorsports co-owners Doug Stringer and Brad Akins will field the No. 58 Serta Mattress/Hickory Farms Dodge for Sherman, who recently tested at Kansas for the team and impressed the owners in his first go-round in a NASCAR Busch Series race car. "Next season Brent will be running a limited schedule for Akins Motorsports, so our immediate goal is to get him in some Busch races this season so that he's prepared for 2005," Stringer said. The team also plans to compete in two other NASCAR Busch Series races this year, at Memphis and Homestead. Jay Fellores, the car chief for the No. 38, will serve as crew chief for Sherman's three runs during the remainder of this season. Sherman will compete in Friday's ARCA RE/MAX season finale at Talladega.

Truex's Dover win increases Chevrolet's manufacturer's lead ... Martin Truex Jr.'s fifth win of the season last Saturday at Dover allowed Chevrolet to continue to build on its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Chevy now has 17 wins and 207 points with seven races to go. Ford is second, having posted eight wins and 168 points thus far in 2004. Dodge is third with two victories and 125 points. Chevrolet has yet to win at Kansas Speedway, site of the next NASCAR Busch Series event. Ford has two wins at Kansas, Dodge has one.

Contingency Corner ... Martin Truex Jr. won his eighth NASCAR Busch Series MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award by leading last Saturday's Stacker 2 Hundred at Dover at the half-way mark. Truex also claimed the $8,500 MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award bonus by winning the race. He remains the only NASCAR Busch Series driver to take the MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award and go on to win the race. Kasey Kahne became the third driver to win back-to-back Busch Poles with his top qualifying effort at Dover. Kyle Busch and Truex are the only other drivers to have back-to-back poles. Truex leads Busch 6--4 in the $30,000 year-end Busch Pole Award standings, presented to the driver that earns the most Busch Poles. Truex picked up his seventh Goody's Headache Powder Award at Dover, and tied Busch in the $5,000 year end Goody's Headache Powder Award competition. QUOTEBOOK

"If given the chance, I would definitely do it again." -- Denise Mixon, wife of GIC Mixon Motorsports engine builder Gregg Mixon, after stepping in to handle catch can duties at Dover. Denise normally spots for the No. 24 team. FROM THE ARCHIVES

The 2005 NASCAR Busch Series schedule marks the return of the series to road course racing when it competes in Mexico City on March 6 and at Watkins Glen, N.Y. on Aug. 13. NASCAR Busch Series races were held at The Glen from 1991-2001, but the first road course on which the NASCAR Busch Series competed was Road Atlanta in Gainesville, Ga.

Two races were held on the 2.52-mile course, the first being the Food Giant/Big Apple 300 on July 6, 1986. Terry Labonte won the pole for the 74-lap, 300-kilometer event with Bill Elliott making his only start in a Buick on the outside of Row 1. A 30-car field took the green flag with Labonte leading the first 13 laps. Dale Earnhardt led the next 11 laps with Darrell Waltrip going to the front on Lap 25. The lead swapped three more times as the field was slowed for 15 caution laps. Waltrip took the lead for good on Lap 42 and led the rest of the way for his 11th NASACAR Busch Series victory.

The next race at Road Atlanta was the Amoco 300, held on Aug. 2, 1987. Pole sitter Rusty Wallace led 33 cars through the first 32 laps with Larry Pollard taking the point for two laps. The surprise of the day was Patty Moise, who led twice for 17 of the race's 74 laps. Moise became the first female driver to lead a NASCAR Busch Series event and finished the day in eighth place. Morgan Shepherd and Dale Jarrett also led the race at various times but it was Shepherd who took the checkered flag. NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick made a rare driving appearance, starting sixth and finishing 24th due to clutch problems.

Fast Facts

Next Race: Mr. Goodcents 300 (Race No. 28 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).

Where: Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, Kan.
When: 2 p.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 9.

Track layout: 1.5-mile paved tri-oval.
Race length: 300 miles/200 laps.

Posted awards: $1,361,504.

TV: TNT, 2 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: David Green.
2003 polesitter: Michael Waltrip.

Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 4,139. 2. Kyle Busch 3,987. 3. Jason Leffler 3,661. 4. Greg Biffle 3,557. 5. David Green 3,466. 6. Ron Hornaday Jr. 3,382. 7. Jason Keller 3,346. 8. Mike Bliss 3,203. 9. Kasey Kahne 2,990 10. Kenny Wallace 2,971.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday -- Practice, 9 -- 11:15 a.m.; Qualifying, 1:30 p.m.; Final Practice (one hour, time permitting) following NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying (scheduled for 3:10 p.m.).


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