* Truex tops $1 million in winnings, earliest to do so in series history * Back in the game: Mexico pole-sitter Goeters to run for Braun Racing at Pikes Peak, Watkins Glen NEWS & NOTES Goeters returns to NASCAR Busch Series ... Braun Racing...
* Truex tops $1 million in winnings, earliest to do so in series history
* Back in the game: Mexico pole-sitter Goeters to run for Braun Racing at Pikes Peak, Watkins Glen
NEWS & NOTES
Goeters returns to NASCAR Busch Series ... Braun Racing has signed Mexican racing star Jorge Goeters to drive the No. 32 Canel's/Scotiabank Inverlat Chevrolet for two races beginning this weekend at Pikes Peak. Goeters made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at the historic race in Mexico City on March 6 where he became the seventh driver in series history to win the Busch Pole in his first start. He finished 38th due to engine failure, but had a stout car, leading the first 24 laps.
"Ever since the race in Mexico City, I have been dreaming about returning to the NASCAR Busch Series," Goeters said. "I am very grateful for this opportunity and intend on making the best of it."
Goeters has experience at Pikes Peak, having raced there in the Indy Lights Series in 1998. He has won championships in Mexico's Formula 3 series and the Mastercard Truck Series, and currently leads Mexico's Desafio Corona Series standings, having won the support race of the NASCAR Busch Series event at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez from the pole.
"Jorge has had a lot of success in several top-tier racing circuits and we are confident that he can bring that level of success to our team," said owner Todd Braun.
The 35-year-old native of Mexico City will also compete in the NASCAR Busch Series' return to Watkins Glen on Aug. 13.
Menard showing mettle ... Paul Menard (No. 11 Menard's Chevrolet) finished seventh last Saturday at New Hampshire, the latest in an impressive string of top-10 finishes. The 24-year-old native of Eau Claire, Wis., began the five-race streak with his first career NASCAR Busch Series top-five result at Kentucky, followed by a third at his home track at Milwaukee, a sixth place at Daytona and ninth at Chicago.
Menard charged from 22nd place in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings to 12th in a six week span, and is now only 20 points behind David Green in 11th, and 52 points behind 10th-place Greg Biffle, who will not race at Pikes Peak on Saturday.
"We're creeping up in the points where we should have been all along," Menard said. "This is a top-10 team every way you look at it and the guys have been working like you wouldn't believe to try and get us there. We've managed to keep our noses clean for several races in a row and it's important we stay in that groove. Everyone's inspired by all this to do even more, to finish even better than we have been."
Edwards in for long weekend ... Carl Edwards (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford), who is running a full schedule in both the NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, has a weekend in the mountains in both series. He will attempt the cross-country jaunt from the Poconos to Pikes Peak Friday though Sunday in order to compete in both races. When Edwards tried the Pocono "double" in June, he missed the NASCAR Busch Series race at Nashville due to inclement weather, but made up for that disappointment by winning the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event. He was the NASCAR Busch Series points leader going into Nashville, and has been forced to play catch-up since. Entering the Pikes Peak event, Edwards is 220 points behind Martin Truex Jr. and only 53 in front of fifth-place Kenny Wallace (No. 23 ppc Racing Ford). Edwards' car won this race last year with Greg Biffle behind the wheel.
NASCAR's ladder system at work ... Before the green flag drops on Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series will be showcased in a 150-lap support event beginning at 10:30 a.m. For many of today's top NASCAR Busch Series racers, it will be a chance to see some of their old rivals in action. Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard are recent graduates of the Midwest Series; Menard posted two top-six finishes at Pikes Peak including a fifth-place effort in 2002. Additionally, this represents the busiest weekend of the season for NASCAR's various divisions. On July 23-24, 10 of NASCAR's 11 touring series will be racing -- a combined 1,362 miles of racing at eight race tracks.
Truex tops $1 million in winnings ... In just 20 races, Martin Truex Jr. has surpassed the $1 million mark in NASCAR Busch Series winnings, making him the fastest driver in series history to arrive at that total. Following his series-leading fifth win of the year last Saturday at New Hampshire, he has posted winnings of $1,022,350 in 2005. The defending NASCAR Bush Series champion, Truex set a single-season payout record of $2,537,171 last year. He and Kyle Busch ($2,027,050) were the first drivers in series history to surpass $2 million in earnings in a single season. Truex didn't pass the $1 million mark until after the 30th race last season; Busch was quicker, hitting the $1 million mark after 25 events last year.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Three former Busch Pole winners are entered at Pikes Peak -- Kenny Wallace (2001), Jason Keller (No. 35 McDonald's Ford -- 2002) and last year's pole winner, Martin Truex Jr. Truex set the track qualifying record at 137.478 mph. ... Keller is tied for the most top-five finishes at Pikes Peak with three. He is also the only driver to have competed in all seven races at the track. ... Stacy Compton (No. 57 Kingsford/Bush's Baked Beans Ford) and David Green rank in the top 10 in average finishes at Pikes Peak. Compton's 6.0 mark is tied for fifth while Green's 6.6 mark is seventh all-time. ... Pikes Peak is the first track in Colorado to hold NASCAR Busch Series events.
Last Saturday's race at New Hampshire was the most-viewed NASCAR Busch Series race in the history of the track. Viewership increased 15% (1,732,000 -- 1,514,000) over last year's event also broadcast on TNT while households were up as well, producing a 14% clip over 2004 (2,243 -- 1,954,000). ... Harold Holly is back in the NASCAR Busch Series, taking over as crew chief for Justin Labonte's No. 44 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet beginning at Pikes Peak. Holly most recently served as crew chief of Bobby Hamilton Jr.'s No. 32 Chevrolet in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, making the move with Hamilton from the NASCAR Busch Series last season. Former crew chief Bryant Frazier will remain with the team in project development and quality control capacities. ... Rusty Wallace is scheduled to test his RWI Racing Dodge at Gateway International Raceway through Wednesday of this week, in preparation for the July 30 "Wallace Family Tribute 250" on the 1.25-mile track. NASCAR's three racing Wallace brothers -- Kenny, Mike and Rusty -- are entered in the event. ... Two-time NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Champion Kevin Hamlin will drive the No. 4 GEICO/Pet Brands Dodge at Pikes Peak for Biagi Bros. Racing. ... Chevrolet's third straight win has provided a bit of breathing room for the manufacturer in the Bill France Performance Cup standings. Martin Truex Jr.'s win last week at New Hampshire gave Chevy 10 wins on the season and an 11-point lead over second-place Ford, which has seven wins and 131 points. Dodge is third with three victories and 107 points heading to Pikes Peak. Each manufacturer has at least one win at the track, but Chevrolet has been dominant, winning five of the previous seven races there.
"I'm a Southern boy at heart, but going out west and getting away from the humidity is always fun. My only fear going out there is that I might fall in love with the area too much. Colorado is one of those places that grab people and makes them fall in love with the mountains and rivers. I'm not sure my wife and kids would like it very much if I told them they were moving out there." -- David Green
"I like Pikes Peak, especially since I finished fourth last year in my first race there. It's also nice to get to that side of the country for the sights. I hope I get some free time to take a ride to the top of the mountain to check the scenery out." -- Clint Bowyer
"I'm excited to be working with Harold Holly, he has a great record in the NASCAR Busch Series, and I think he'll do great things with this team. We made a change to help better the team, and sometimes you just have to make a change when things aren't going as well as planned." -- Justin Labonte
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Pikes Peak International Raceway has held seven NASCAR Busch Series events since 1998, and those races have yet to produce a repeat race winner or repeat pole winner.
The inaugural race at the one-mile track is shorter than the 5,546-foot altitude of its home base in Fountain, Colo. Matt Kenseth became the only driver to win a race at Pikes Peak from the first starting spot. It was Kenseth's first career NASCAR Busch Series pole and he shared the front row with Joe Bessey, who qualified second.
Kenseth led 104 laps, the most of any of the seven drivers who went to the front of the field. He picked up his second career series victory while Phil Parsons finished second. Randy Lajoie, the NASCAR Busch Series champion the previous two seasons, Elton Sawyer and Jeff Purvis rounded out the top-five finishers.
ON DECK: GATEWAY INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
The NASCAR Busch Series competes in the hometown of series sponsor Anheuser-Busch -- St. Louis -- next Saturday, July 30 under the lights at Gateway International Raceway beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET. Martin Truex Jr. won from the pole at last year and will attempt to match the consecutive victories of his owner and two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99) and 2001 series titlist Kevin Harvick (2000-01).
What: ITT Industries, Systems Division and Gould's Pumps SALUTE TO THE TROOPS 250 presented by Dodge (Race No. 21 of 35 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Pikes Peak International Raceway, Fountain, Colo.
When: 3:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, July 23.
Track Layout: 1-mile oval.
Race Length: 250 miles/250 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,357,089.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2004 Winner: Greg Biffle.
2004 Polesitter: Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 2,846. 2. Clint Bowyer 2,704. 3. Reed Sorenson 2,676. 4. Carl Edwards 2,626. 5. Kenny Wallace 2,499. 6. Denny Hamlin 2,446. 7. Ashton Lewis Jr. 2,277. 8. David Stremme 2,273. 9. Jason Keller 2,186. 10. Greg Biffle 2,174.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., July 22: Practice -- 9 -- 10:00 a.m.; 10:30 a.m. -- Noon. Qualifying -- 4:30 p.m. Impound following qualifying.