BUSCH: Richmond: News of note, schedule

* Gateway a big viewer hit NEWS & NOTES Gateway a big viewer hit ... The Charter 250, the NASCAR Busch Series race held May 8 at Gateway International Raceway, was the second-most watched sport on cable television last weekend, trailing only...

* Gateway a big viewer hit


Gateway a big viewer hit ... The Charter 250, the NASCAR Busch Series race held May 8 at Gateway International Raceway, was the second-most watched sport on cable television last weekend, trailing only the NBA playoffs. An average of 999,000 households tuned in to the event, a 36% increase over 2003. An average of 1,324,000 viewers tuned in, a 27% increase over 2003. The Charter 250 aired during prime time, compared to the 2003 event, which aired during the afternoon.

Chevrolet builds on lead in manufacturers standings ... Chevrolet has built a fairly comfortable lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings for manufacturers in the NASCAR Busch Series. Chevrolet has six wins and 76 points following Martin Truex Jr.'s win at Gateway, to 59 points and three wins for Ford. Dodge is in third place with 44 points and one win, while Pontiac is in fourth, with 41 points and no wins so far this year. The standings are determined by a scoring system in which the highest-finishing manufacturer receives nine points, the second-highest gets six, third-highest receives four and fourth-highest receives three.


Johnny Sauter (No. 27 Kleenex Chevrolet) gave Matt Kenseth a nudge in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag last year at Richmond to score the victory. Sauter started 30th in the race, the worst starting position ever for a Richmond NASCAR Busch Series winner. Sauter also scored the first top-10 finish of his career at Richmond, a fifth-place showing in September 2001. ... Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) has started in the top five in the last four races. The string includes two second-place starts and two fifth-place starts. Keller won at the track in May 2002. ... Michael Waltrip is tied with Tommy Ellis for most Busch Poles at Richmond, with five. No other driver has more than two poles at the facility. ... Tony Raines (No. 74 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet) improved the most positions in last year's spring Richmond race. Raines gained 25 spots, starting 28th and finishing third. ... Kenny Wallace (No. 23 Stacker 2/YJ Stinger Chevrolet) is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. for third on the list of all-time NASCAR Busch Series wins at Richmond. Both drivers have three victories. Wallace is also second behind Mark Martin in top fives, with nine to Martin's 13. Finally, Wallace's 7.9 average finish in 20 career starts at Richmond is best among those entered in the Funai 250 with five or more starts at the track, and fourth-best all time.


"Really, when you talk about the new surface, you have to also mention the harder tire they are bringing. From what I understand, the track has so much grip, the softer tires were getting worn out too quickly. I really feel like the harder tire is going to throw some teams a curve. To me, Richmond is one of the hardest tracks to pass at. Typically, you see the top-20 cars running at pretty much the same pace. In the past, there have been multiple grooves, but the new surface will do away with that. Track position will make or break us this weekend." -- David Green.

"I've always worked on my own cars. I didn't have any choice as I was coming up. I was the crew chief and, a lot of times, I was the crew. If things were going to get done, I had to do them. But I enjoyed working on them, and it helped me as a driver, too. It's important for a driver to work on his own car, as far as I am concerned. I want to know everything I can about it."
    -- Travis Geisler (No. 36 DCT Motorsports Chevrolet).


Jason Keller and Jeff Burton made contact coming off Turn 4 on the final lap of the Hardee's Fried Chicken Challenge 250 on March 1, 1997, an incident that caused both to spin allowing Mark Martin, Burton's Roush Racing teammate, to slip by for the win.

Fast Facts

What: Funai 250 (Race No. 11 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va.
When: 8 p.m. (ET), Friday, May 14, 2004.

Track layout: 0.75-mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 laps/187.5 miles.

Posted awards: $967,735.

TV: FX, 8 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

2003 winner: Kevin Harvick.
2003 polesitter: Michael Waltrip.

Top 10 in points: 1. Martin Truex Jr. 1,472. 2. Michael Waltrip 1,456. 3. Kyle Busch 1,443. 4. David Green 1,386. 5. Robby Gordon 1,379. 6. Jason Keller 1,322. 7. Ron Hornaday 1,259. 8. Bobby Hamilton Jr. 1,255. 9. Greg Biffle 1,223. 10. Johnny Sauter 1,188.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Thursday -- Practice, Noon-2:15 p.m.; Qualifying, 4 p.m.; Final Practice, 6:30-7:30 p.m.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Kevin Harvick , Kenny Wallace , Greg Biffle , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tony Raines , David Green , Johnny Sauter , Martin Truex Jr. , Travis Geisler , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin