* Green pushing towards inclusion in tight NASCAR Busch Series Top 10 * Yeley, Menard look forward to racing in Phoenix NEWS & NOTES Green on brink of Top 10 ... David Green (No. 27 Kleenex/Scott Brands Ford) has been fairly quiet during the...
* Green pushing towards inclusion in tight NASCAR Busch Series Top 10
* Yeley, Menard look forward to racing in Phoenix
NEWS & NOTES
Green on brink of Top 10 ... David Green (No. 27 Kleenex/Scott Brands Ford) has been fairly quiet during the first quarter of the season, but the 1994 NASCAR Busch Series champion appears primed to make his move toward a top-10 ranking in the point standings. Green led his first laps of the season (two) at Texas last Saturday en route to an 11th-place finish, his second-best result of the season; he finished 10th at Las Vegas in March. Green, who was 18th in the points following the race in Mexico City, enters Phoenix 44 points behind 10th-place Jon Wood (No. 47 Clorox/Wisk Ford). Meanwhile, only 20 points separate the drivers in positions eight through 10 -- Shane Hmiel (No. 32 WINFuel Chevrolet) is eighth with 888 points; Kevin Harvick stands ninth with 875 and Wood, a Raybestos rookie, has 868. Only 46 points are between slots four through seven where Kenny Wallace (No. 22 Stacker 2 Ford) is fourth with 973 points, Ashton Lewis Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford) is fifth with 935, rookie Denny Hamlin (No. 29 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet) is sixth also with 935 while reigning series champion Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) is seventh with 927. As previously noted, third-place Clint Bowyer trails Reed Sorenson, another rookie, by 90 points while Sorenson has closed the gap a bit on leader Carl Edwards (No. 60 World Financial Group Ford), trailing by 76 points entering Phoenix.
Yeley back home in Phoenix ... What better place to turn a season around than at your home track? Phoenix native J.J. Yeley (No. 18 Vigoro/Home Depot Chevrolet) has been a consistent starter -- five of his eight starts this year have been in the top 10 with two on the outside pole -- but his finishes haven't been what the 28-year-old driver in his first fulltime season expected. Yeley enters Friday night's race 23rd in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, and is seeking his first top-10 finish of the season. "We have a great team here," Yeley said. "We can contend for wins and top-five finishes, and we prove that each week by running up front. We just need to finish there." Yeley, who finished 15th in his first series race at PIR last year in a schedule that consisted of 17 starts, is happy to be home. "There are many people that helped me along the course of my career, so it's special to be able to go back to Phoenix and see everyone again, and to race in the NASCAR Busch Series event at PIR," he said. A group of 20 family members and friends will be in the stands courtesy of Yeley for the race. Menard looks to duplicate previous success at PIR ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet) is scheduled to make his third NASCAR Busch Series start at Phoenix Friday night, and hopes this race will be the one that results in the duplication of some of his most memorable racing moments. Menard gained notice in 2002 following his thrilling last-lap pass of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup veteran Ken Schrader for the victory in a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series event at PIR. The win catapulted Menard into NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition the following year. He produced another pair of top-10 finishes in the Southwest Series in 2002 and '03. The 24-year-old from Eau Claire, Wis., also enjoyed a win at Phoenix in 2002 in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series. "Every racecar driver has his favorite tracks, and Phoenix is definitely one of mine for obvious reasons," said Menard. "Phoenix has always been known for some of the best door-handle-to-door-handle racing in all of NASCAR, and we're ready to get back there and mix it up again on Friday night."
"Moore" to come in NASCAR Busch Series ... Maine native Ryan Moore may well be the next NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series star to follow 2004 NASCAR Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. to success in NASCAR's national series. Moore, who is participating in a NASCAR Busch Series driver development program for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2005, will make his first start of the season in Thursday's Casino Arizona 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series event. Moore will be driving his own No. 74 R.C. Moore Transportation Chevrolet in the race, but is scheduled to test and compete on a limited NASCAR Busch Series schedule for DEI later this season.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
There have been seven different winners and Busch Pole winners at Phoenix. ... Two former race winners -- Greg Biffle (No. 66 Henkel Ford), the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion, and Jamie McMurray (No. 64 Top Flite Dodge) are entered. Biffle won in 2001 while McMurray is the defending champion. ... Biffle and Kevin Harvick are former pole winners in the field. ... Biffle is tied for the lead in top fives (three) and top 10s (four) at Phoenix; he has entered four NASCAR Busch Series races at the venue. ... Ford has three wins in the seven races held at PIR. ... Biffle has led the most laps at PIR with 297.
Dodge recorded its second win of the season last week at Texas to move within seven points of leaders Chevrolet and Ford in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Kasey Kahne drove the No. 38 Great Clips Dodge to victory; Dodge didn't record its second win until the 20th race at Chicago last season. Chevy and Ford are tied with three wins and 53 points each. ... Sarah Fisher, the former open wheel star and Indianapolis 500 veteran who drives the No. 20 Domino's/NAPA Chevrolet as part of the NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, is entered in Thursday's Casino Arizona 150 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series event. She has made two starts in the West Series this year and posted a season-best 16th at Mesa Marin Raceway last Saturday. ... Two sets of brothers are entered in Friday night's race -- David Green and his brother, Mark (who was announced this week as the interim driver of the No. 23 Vassarette Chevrolet replacing Shawna Robinson) and the Fike brothers -- Aaron (No. 37 Duraflame Ford) and A.J. (No. 43 Channellock Dodge). This will be the first series race of the year in which the Fikes have both attempted to qualify; the Greens have competed together twice this season, at Nashville and Bristol. ... Kahne will drive the No. 6 Hungry Drivers Dodge for Ray Evernham's NASCAR Busch Series team in the next two events at Phoenix and Talladega. Tyler Walker is sharing the No. 38 ride with Kahne this year and will be in the car at Phoenix -- this will be Walker's first NASCAR Busch Series race at PIR, but he has four other starts in USAC Silver Crown competition at the venue, including a career-best third place earlier this year. ... The No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet -- this week driven by Boston Reid -- has never finished outside the top five in a NASCAR Busch Series race at Phoenix. In 2002, David Green drove the No. 5 entry to a fifth-place finish, while 2003 NASCAR Busch Series champion Brian Vickers started sixth and finished third that season. Kyle Busch won the pole position and led all but 53 laps on his way to a runner-up finish in last year's event. ... Tony Stewart (No. 33 Mr. Clean AutoDry Pro-Series Chevrolet) will attempt to make his first NASCAR Busch Series start at Phoenix. ... Reed Sorenson has finished in the top five in his last three races and on the lead lap in his last 10 events, both bests in the NASCAR Busch Series.
"I'm happy to be fourth, but I remember in 2001 when I was winning poles as well as winning races. It feels right to be here; it's where I belong. I've spent more years running in the top five than I have spent out of the top five." -- Kenny Wallace on his current ranking in the NASCAR Busch Series points
"We are a championship team. We didn't finish the last two races and that's something we really haven't experienced. Last year we had no DNF's; all the chips just seemed to fall our way. I have no doubt that we can be a contender for the championship. We have 27 races left, we just need to take it one race at a time and be patient." -- Martin Truex Jr.
"I know one thing for sure, Greg (Biffle) will always keep us on our toes, and that's good. I like the fact that probably the hottest driver in NASCR NEXTEL Cup racing right now is my teammate in the NASCAR Busch Series."- David Green
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Jeff Gordon, then a three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, made a rare appearance outside NASCAR's premier series when he competed in the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race held at Phoenix International Raceway in 1999. Gordon drove his own Chevrolet, qualifying third. Ken Schrader won the Busch Pole with a speed of 129.580 mph.
Ron Hornaday led the first 24 laps after starting second, but Gordon took the lead for the first of three times on Lap 105, once again on Lap 153, then for the final time on Lap 180 to take his fourth career NASCAR Busch Series win. He was followed across the line by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmy Spencer, and Jeff Burton. Kenny Wallace rounded out the top-five finishers. Gordon, scored Chevrolet's only NASCAR Busch Series win to date at PIR, took home $32,450 for his first win in the series since October 1992.
What: Basha's Supermarkets 200 (Race No. 9 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Phoenix International Raceway, Avondale, Ariz.
When: 9:10 p.m. ET, Friday, April 22.
Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Length: 200 laps/200 miles.
Posted Awards: $1,166,999.
TV: FX, 8:30 p.m., ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Inaugural event.
2004 Polesitter: Inaugural event.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Carl Edwards 1,271. 2. Reed Sorenson 1,195. 3. Clint Bowyer 1,105. 4. Kenny Wallace 973. 5. Ashton Lewis Jr. 935. 6. Denny Hamlin 935. 7. Martin Truex Jr. 927. 8. Shane Hmiel 888. 9. Kevin Harvick 875. 10. Jon Wood 868.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thur., April 21: Practice -- 1:45-2:45 p.m. Final practice -- 5-6:05 p.m. Fri., April 22: Qualifying -- 1:30 p.m. Cars impounded after qualifying.