* Off-week not a passive time for NASCAR Busch Series drivers * Four former series champions entered in NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge * Loop Data shows reasons behind Leffler's consistency DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 16, 2006) -- This may be...
* Off-week not a passive time for NASCAR Busch Series drivers
* Four former series champions entered in NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
* Loop Data shows reasons behind Leffler's consistency
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 16, 2006) -- This may be the second off-week of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series season, but for some, the down time includes competition at the race track.
Eight drivers -- seven who are attempting full-time double duty this season in both the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- are scheduled to participate in Saturday's NASCAR NEXTEL all-star challenge events at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet), fourth-place Carl Edwards (No. 60 Henkel Ford) and fifth-place Kyle Busch (No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet) are locked in to the all-star challenge due to wins collected last year in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition. Busch will be making his first appearance in the race.
Harvick is joined by three other former NASCAR Busch Series champions who are also locked in to the star-studded race -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99), the only former series champion to have won the all-star challenge (2000) -- Greg Biffle (2002) and Bobby Labonte (1991). Mark Martin, the all-time NASCAR Busch Series wins leader (47), is the defending all-star champion.
Five drivers who also compete full-time this year in the NASCAR Busch Series are entered in the NEXTEL Open to try and secure a spot in the all-star race. Four of them would join Busch as first-time all-star challenge participants should they transfer through.
Clint Bowyer (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), who is second in the NASCAR Busch Series points, Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) who is ranked third and comes off a win at Darlington last week and J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet), eighth in the standings this week, are entered in the Open. Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) and Kenny Wallace (No. 22 AutoZone Ford) are also among the 31 drivers in the NEXTEL Open; they are 14th and 15th in the NASCAR Busch Series points but are within striking distance of 10th place, 55 and 60 points out, respectively.
Wallace has one previous all-star appearance, in 1991 when he finished 17th. He has four starts this season in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup competition.
Wallace's week will actually end with the all-star race. He's already begun his "off-week" by running his dirt modified last Sunday night at the I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb., with Ken Schrader. He's also scheduled to race on Tuesday night in Mt. Vernon, Ill., and again on Wednesday in Paducah, Ky.
News and Notes Part II
Green always in learning mode ... David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford), the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion, won't be racing this week, but will still use the time to gather information to assist him during next week's race at Charlotte. "I will be attending all activities at the track during the all-star weekend," he said. "I'll be with fellow Ford driver Bobby East who runs in the truck series, and also spend time with Bobby Labonte and my Hendrick Motorsports buddies Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch as they prepare for their activities. It's a new track now and I want to learn as much about it as possible prior to next week's race. I believe Stewart (Cooper, Green's crew chief) is coming over as well. I feel like [by being] at the track watching and listening, it will help us in our strategy come next weekend." Green's BREWCO Motorsports team has shown improvement over the last six races, improving in the driver point standings to 22nd from 28th during that span. He had been forced to qualify on time at Atlanta and Bristol before gaining a little breathing room over the last four events where he's been locked in with a 30th-place or better in the owner standings.
IN THE LOOP: Leffler showing consistency ... Now that his switch from Dodge to Chevrolet and from one sponsor to another is complete, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Chevrolet) has shown more consistency over the last three races in the point standings where he's moved to ninth from 12th. His progress is also justified by the current NASCAR Loop Data Season Report. Leffler is ranked in the top 10 in eight of the nine main Loop Data categories, and is first or tied for first in two of those listings. He is first in the Passes by Straightaway (frontstretch) category with 270 passes and is tied for first with Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) in Passes by Straightaway (backstretch) with 174 passes. He is fifth in Quality Passes with 493 (leader Kevin Harvick has 613) and stands ninth in Mile Leaders, which calculates the mileage of laps led with 127.50 (Harvick is first with 421.19 miles). Leffler is 10th in Driver Rating (85.92 -- Harvick is first at 112.9), Average Running Position at 16.006 (Greg Biffle is first at 7.263), Percentage of Laps Run on the Lead Lap (84.11% -- Harvick leads with 100%) and Fastest Drivers Early in a Run with an average rank of 11.3 (Matt Kenseth is ranked first at 3.375). Kenny Wallace leads all drivers in the Closers category, gaining an average of two spots in the last 10% of each race.
Chevrolet has opened a wide gap in the NASCAR Busch Series Bill France Performance Cup standings. Denny Hamlin's victory at Darlington was the fifth in succession for the manufacturer and the ninth in 2006. Chevy didn't earn its ninth victory until Race No. 19 at Chicago last season. Chevrolet has 93 points, upping its lead over second-place Ford (one win, 69 points) to 24 points. Dodge is third with two wins and 66 points after 12 races. ... Three new names to the NASCAR Busch Series finished 1-3 at the ARCA race at Kentucky Speedway last Saturday. Steve Wallace, who shares time with Jamie McMurray in the No. 64 Jackson Roscoe Foundation Dodge, won the event. Brad Coleman, a developmental driver for BREWCO Motorsports who plans to make his series debut later this year, was a close second. Matt McCall, whose team owner Robert Yates recently announced would expand his shared time in the No. 90 CitiFinancial Ford with Stephen Leicht as Elliott Sadler will concentrate on his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup duties, was third. ... Clint Bowyer will get in a little R&R prior to participating in the NEXTEL Open. He's taking some island time in the Bahamas this week. ... Kyle Busch has gained seven spots -- from 14th to fifth -- in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings over his last seven races. Busch is coming up on a stretch of four tracks where he's earned at least one victory at each. He's had two NASCAR Busch Series wins and one NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Charlotte, won in the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks Series at Dover International Speedway last June, registered a win in ARCA at Nashville Superspeedway in April 2003 and has captured two victories at Kentucky Speedway -- one in NASCAR Busch Series competition in 2004 and another in ARCA. ... Jason Leffler will attempt to qualify for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway in November with Fort McDowell Resort Destination as the primary sponsor. Fort McDowell is an associate sponsor for his No. 38 car in the NASCAR Busch Series. ... Greg Biffle will return to BREWCO Motorsports this year, driving the majority of a six-race schedule with sponsor Cub Cadet. Biffle finished 10th in the series standings last year in 27 races for BREWCO. He is currently seventh in the standings after 10 races with Roush Racing.
"I got to battle some veterans there at the end. I had a good race with Kenny Wallace. He came over after the race and told me that he put the old 'Earnhardt Move' on me in Turn One. That was pretty cool. It was fun learning from him and racing with him." -- Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) on his first appearance at Darlington Raceway.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
NASCAR Busch Series veteran Kenny Wallace is much more than Rusty Wallace's kid brother; he's an accomplished driver in his own right. Now celebrating his own anniversary -- his 20th season in racing -- Wallace made his series debut in a Dale Earnhardt-owned Chevrolet in 1988 at Martinsville Speedway. He qualified 26th and finished an impressive 11th. Wallace went on to win the first series Rookie of the Year Award in 1989.
Wallace is currently in his 10th full season of series competition. He also has competed in seven partial seasons. He has finished in the top 10 in points in each of his previous nine full seasons with a runner-up spot in 1991.
Wallace is set to make his 360th career start next week at Charlotte, fifth on the all-time list. He has nine wins, 10 Busch Poles, 63 top-five finishes and 154 top 10s. He has completed nearly 68,000 laps, leading 3,040 of them. A consistent competitor, Wallace's average starting position is 14.1 with an average finishing position of 14.8. He is on the verge of surpassing $6 million in career winnings, needing just over $74,300 to do so.
Also known as "Herman," Wallace is famous for his wild sense of humor and raucous laugh. In recent years he has become an accomplished television commentator as he remains one of the mainstays of the series.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" QUOTEABLES
"... Charlotte is still Charlotte. And a lot of these older race tracks that we go to, you can dig them up, you can repave them, you can do whatever you want to. But the bottom line is they still have the same history and characteristics they started with 50-plus years ago." -- Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/American Red Cross Ford) on LMS, previously Charlotte Motor Speedway, a track that has hosted NASCAR Busch Series races since 1982.
ON DECK: LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Following the off-week, the NASCAR Busch Series returns on May 27 for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 at Charlotte. Kyle Busch won last year's race while Kasey Kahne captured the Busch Pole. FX will carry the race beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Next Race: CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 (Race No. 13 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C.
When: 8 p.m. ET, Saturday, May 27.
Track Layout: 1.5-mile oval.
Race Length: 300 miles/200 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,227,316.
TV: FX, 7:30 p.m., ET.
Radio: PRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Kyle Busch.
2005 Polesitter: Kasey Kahne.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 1,945. 2. Clint Bowyer 1,598. 3. Denny Hamlin 1,566. 4. Carl Edwards 1,559. 5. Kyle Busch 1,490. 6. Paul Menard 1,483. 7. Greg Biffle 1,469. 8. J.J. Yeley 1,432. 9. Jason Leffler 1,322. 10. Johnny Sauter 1,302.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thur., May 25 -- Practice, Noon-1 p.m.; Rookie Practice, 1:20-1:50 p.m.; Final Practice 1:50-2:50 p.m. Qualifying 9 p.m. (Impound).