BUSCH: Offweek News of note 2007-10-16

*Drivers, Teams Enjoy Last Open Week Of Season Before Final Four-Race Push *Try, Try Again: Edwards Goes For Series Driver Title Again At Memphis *History Rewind: Gracious Houston Watches Keller Claim All-Time Starts Mark *Stats Were Headliners...

*Drivers, Teams Enjoy Last Open Week Of Season Before Final Four-Race Push
*Try, Try Again: Edwards Goes For Series Driver Title Again At Memphis
*History Rewind: Gracious Houston Watches Keller Claim All-Time Starts Mark
*Stats Were Headliners Last Week At Lowe's Motor Speedway
*2007 Manufacturer Winner Chevrolet A Favorite At Majority Of Remaining Tracks

Memphis Presents Edwards With Second Try At Early Title Clinch

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2007) -- It must feel like being in boot camp -- "Hurry up and wait."

For Carl Edwards, it will be at least another week of waiting before he gets an opportunity to once again go for an early clinch of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series driver championship.

Edwards was seemingly en route to his first national series title last Friday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, needing to finish the race with a lead of 780 points or more over the driver ranked second in the point standings after the event.

But an incident on Lap 133 ignited by Jimmie Johnson's spin collected Edwards and three others and ended his chance to go home with the championship trophy.

Enter a new scenario for next Saturday's race at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Edwards, who holds a 638-point lead over second-place David Reutimann and a 753-point advantage over third-place Kevin Harvick, can clinch the crown by leaving Memphis with a lead of 585 points or more over the second-place driver in the point standings. He also has a bit of a cushion as he can lose 53 points and still earn the crown.

The season's second half hasn't been kind to Edwards. In the first 15 races of the year, he posted four wins, 11 top fives and 13 top 10s.

In the 16 races since, he's yet to find Victory Lane, has finished 20th or worse eight times and didn't finish on the lead lap seven times including six of his last eight races.

He's also been forced to register the first back-to-back DNFs of his series career -- which occurred two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway and last week in Charlotte.

The Torch Is Passed: Keller Breaks Houston's Starts Mark In Charlotte

It seemed like old times. Tommy Houston and Jason Keller were on the same track to start an event. But this time, it was Keller who was the veteran in the spotlight.

Last Friday night at LMS, Keller eclipsed Houston's all-time NASCAR Busch Series starts mark by taking the green flag for his 418th race. Houston, who made the trip from Hickory, N.C., with his family to be present as the new record was set, drove the pace truck for the parade laps to lead Keller to the mark.

To add to the drama, Keller had to qualify on time for the record start and went out last. His night ended early though when he was caught up in an accident on Lap 133.

"We had hoped to put on a better show," Keller said. I'm looking forward to moving on to start number 419."

In The Loop: Lighting It Up At Lowe's Motor Speedway

Last Friday night's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway had statistical storylines galore.

First, a recent record was broken. Since 2005, NASCAR has been calculating the around-the-track Green Flag Passes for the Lead. That record was broken Friday night, as there were 21 Green Flag Passes for the Lead. The old record was 18, set in October of that season.

Second, three drivers continued torrid streaks in the NASCAR Busch Series. With a Driver Rating of 115.0 on Friday, Kyle Busch now has seven consecutive races with a Driver Rating above 100, while Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton have similar streaks.

Hamlin, with a Driver Rating of 110.0 last Friday, now has six consecutive races with a Driver Rating above 100 and Burton, with a Friday Driver Rating of 116.5, has three straight races above 100.

But the big news came in the shakeup of the owner championship battle. With Burton's win Friday, the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet increased its points lead to 116 over second place. But this time, second place is occupied by the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet -- not the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford. The No. 20, piloted by Hamlin, finished fifth at LMS. The No. 60, driven all season by Carl Edwards, was collected in a late-race accident and finished 33rd. The No. 60 is now 180 points out of first.

Prior to the accident, Edwards was having an excellent race as illustrated by his post-race stats.

He had a post-race Driver Rating of 113.2 (fourth-best), an Average Running Position of 13.0 (12th-best), a race-high 35 Fastest Laps Run and spent all 130 Laps in the Top 15 (he completed 132 laps in the race).

NBS, Etc.

*Combined Operations Moving Forward: Last July, officials at JR Motorsports and Hendrick Motorsports announced that the two companies' NASCAR Busch Series operations would be combined to field two entries for the 2008 season. In preparation for that, the teams have been busy the last few weeks moving cars and equipment from the HMS NASCAR Busch Series shop in Concord, N.C., to JRM's facility in Mooresville. Starting Oct. 22, both teams will operate out of the JRM shop. In all, 32 employees, 26 cars and approximately 20 loads of equipment have moved to the JRM facility.

*Fitz On The Rise: Currently eighth in owner standings, the one-car stand-alone Fitz Motorsports team has remained a top-10 fixture the entire season. With a slow start from a DNQ at the season-opener at Daytona and multiple drivers behind the wheel, the organization quickly recovered and has registered one pole, four top fives and 11 top-15 finishes to date. With long-time supporter Supercuts and crew chief Paul Wolfe on board for next season, the team is ready to capitalize on its success and expand the team to two cars in 2008.

*Racing For Shakes: Shane "Shakes" Hakes a tire specialist in the series most recently with the No. 90 CitiFinancial team, was severely injured in a motorcycle accident nearly three months ago and has been slowly making progress in his recovery. A fund-raising race and dinner has been scheduled for Oct. 22 in Charlotte to assist in Hakes' recovery fund. Log on to the NASCAR Busch Series page on www.NASCARMedia.com for more information.

*Of Note: Landon Cassill will participate in Car of Tomorrow tests for Hendrick Motorsports over the next 10 days beginning with Kentucky Speedway this week. ... Media interested in attending 2007 NASCAR Busch Series Champions Week media activities in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 6-7 featuring the series champion and top-10 drivers should contact Tracey Judd at 386-947-6733 or tjudd@nascar.com.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: Sam's Town 250

The Place: Memphis Motorsports Park
The Date: Oct. 27, 20071

The Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN2, 3:00 p.m. (ET) Track Layout: .75-mile oval.

Race Purse: $1,302,0756

2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2006 Pole: Johnny Sauter

Schedule:
Fri. Oct. 26--Practice, 2-3 p.m. Rookie Practice, 3:30-4 p.m. Final Practice, 4-5 p.m.
Sat. Oct. 27--Qualifying, 9:35 a.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Johnny Sauter , David Reutimann , Paul Wolfe , Carl Edwards , Landon Cassill , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing , JRM Racing , JR Motorsports