BUSCH: Richmond II: Kevin Conway preview

Conway & No. 18 Z-Line Designs Team Tackle Unfinished Business with Circuit City Joining Busch Series Effort at Richmond HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 5, 2007) -- Taking care of unfinished business may be one of the more overused cliches in...

Conway & No. 18 Z-Line Designs Team Tackle Unfinished Business with Circuit City Joining Busch Series Effort at Richmond

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 5, 2007) -- Taking care of unfinished business may be one of the more overused cliches in sports, but there's just no other way to describe what's on the mind of Kevin Conway, the 28-year-old driver from Lynchburg, Va., as he brings the No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Circuit City Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing to Richmond (Va.) International Raceway for Friday night's NASCAR Busch Series Emerson Radio 250.

Conway is coming off his career-best Busch Series finish of 20th in the Z-Line car last Saturday at California Speedway in Fontana. He's looking to finish the job started at Richmond last May by NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regular and fellow Virginia native Denny Hamlin, who qualified the Z-Line Chevrolet on the pole but was out of contention by lap 25 thanks to an early race accident.

It will be the sixth start of the season and 12th career Busch Series start for Conway, and his first at the legendary, three-quarter-mile tri-oval he frequented as a youngster while traveling with his father, Sam, who was team manager for Darrell Waltrip's Winston Cup team in the 1990s. But while new as a competitor to the tricky, high-banked Richmond layout, Conway's name is known among local short track and dirt track followers from his early days tearing up area short tracks and dirt tracks while winning races and championships in Legends and Late Model cars. After making history in 1994 as the youngest Late Model champion at the age of 15, Conway followed in 1996 by clinching the Mid-Atlantic Late Model Pro Series championship at Southside Speedway in nearby Midlothian, Va.

As Richmond-based Circuit City joins the Z-Line Designs team this weekend, the No. 18 Chevrolet will again fly the colors of the national Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. The organization also has become synonymous with Z-Line's sponsorship in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The No. 19 Z-Line Designs Lexus Riley campaigned by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates features drivers Rob Finlay and Michael Valiente, and has four finishes of eighth or better, including a season-best second at Iowa Speedway in July.

The Emerson Radio 250 is a one-day show, with practice opening at 8:30 a.m. EDT, qualifying set for 4 p.m., and the 250-lap race beginning at 8 p.m. ESPN2 will carry both qualifying and the race live.

Kevin Conway -- Driver, No. 18 Z-Line Designs/Circuit City NASCAR Busch Series Chevrolet at Richmond

You're returning in the Z-Line car to the track where it had one of its most promising starts to its race weekend back in May at the hands of Denny Hamlin. Does that have you feeling particularly encouraged?

"Joe Gibbs Racing has an awesome short-track program. They've had a tremendous amount of success at Richmond both on the (Nextel) Cup side and the Busch side. So it definitely takes a lot of the pressure off, knowing you're going to have the car and the equipment, and the team is there 100 percent. What it also does is put the ball back in my court to step up and do my job and to take advantage of the opportunity they've given me."

Richmond is another track where you have never raced before, but you've logged hundreds of laps there as an instructor with the Richard Petty Driving Experience. How will that help Friday, and what else are you doing to prepare?

"Again, we get to go to a race track and experience a whole new thing. Having driven the track in the Driving Experience car, I'll at least make short work of getting acclimated with the race track, visually, in the Busch car. I've talked to others who have succeeded there, and I've learned that it seems to be a lot of drivers' favorite race track. It's very racy for a short track, and you see higher speeds than you see at Martinsville (Va.) and a lot of other short tracks we go to. You can definitely work the second groove once the race gets going, so you have places to go and places to race. It's a race track that I'm really looking forward to. The biggest thing, from everybody I've talked to, is that you can't overdrive the car. You need to be patiently aggressive. It really is a momentum track and you have to know when to go and when to play it safe."

You were born in Lynchburg, Va. Would this be considered a home race for you?

"I'm originally from Virginia, but I haven't necessarily considered Virginia home. But this week, it is definitely my home. Richmond's an awesome race track. I grew up going to races there when my dad worked for Darrell Waltrip. I've seen tons of races there, but just never had the opportunity to race there up until now. I do have experience at several tracks in and around the area. In 1996, we won the Mid-Atlantic Pro Division championship in the Legends Car Series and we locked that up at Southside Speedway, which is just down the road. It's probably about 15 or 20 minutes from Richmond International Raceway. It's a race track where Denny Hamlin won a lot of Late Model races, and even Curtis Markham, who works on our team. So there's a lot of history with Joe Gibbs Racing at Southside Speedway. I cut my teeth on so many of the dirt tracks and asphalt tracks in the area, in go-karts and Late Models and Legends cars. Going back there and racing in one of the premier divisions, it's very, very exciting. It's kind of cool to know this is what I've been doing since I was a kid, and now we're back with one of the most successful teams in NASCAR. To be able to do that and have Z-Line Designs and Circuit City on board is really an honor."

You're nearing the end of your first season with this Z-Line deal that you, personally, played a large part in orchestrating with the Joe Gibbs Racing organization. Would you consider it a success?

"It's been an interesting year for Z-Line. I think they're understanding the power of NASCAR and what it means to be able to reach the awesome fans we have, and to have such an incredible partner that we have with Joe Gibbs Racing with all the things that they've done for Z-Line as a whole. It's been a very, very successful year for them -- perhaps more so off the race track than on the race track. To be able to come into Richmond with one of their largest retailers, Circuit City, having a good run really just adds icing on the cake. We've been able to partner this year with some of their largest retailers in OfficeMax, Staples, Wal-Mart and Circuit City, so they've gotten a lot out of the program. Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing has been awesome in making sure we have the best opportunity to succeed on the race track."

-credit: jgr

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Richard Petty , Chip Ganassi , Kevin Conway , Denny Hamlin , Rob Finlay , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing