BUSCH: Rockingham II: News of note, schedule

* Martin returns to NASCAR Busch Series * Riggs back atop ultra-close driver standings * Stremme captures lead in rookie chase NEWS & NOTES * He's back!!! Martin to return to the NASCAR Busch Series, along with Burton, Kenseth and Pennzoil...

* Martin returns to NASCAR Busch Series
* Riggs back atop ultra-close driver standings
* Stremme captures lead in rookie chase


* He's back!!! Martin to return to the NASCAR Busch Series, along with Burton, Kenseth and Pennzoil ... Mark Martin, the NASCAR Busch Series' all-time leading winner with 45 victories to his credit, just couldn't stay away. He'll make his return to competition on the circuit next year at Daytona International Speedway with Roush Racing and sponsorship from Pennzoil. Martin and Roush teammates Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth will combine for eight other NASCAR Busch Series events next season under the Roush Racing, No. 9 Pennzoil colors.

* Riggs retakes lead in driver point standings ... For the 11th time in the last 18 races, the lead in the NASCAR Busch Series driver standings has exchanged hands. Scott Riggs regained the top spot in the title chase with a sixth-place finish at Phoenix. He's 17 points ahead of Ron Hornaday (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), 21 in front of Brian Vickers (No. 5 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolet), 22 ahead of former leader David Green (No. 37 Timber Wolf Pontiac) and 60 in front of Jason Keller.

Only one other first-to-second margin in the history of the NASCAR Busch Series has been closer with two races to go in the season. Rob Moroso led Tommy Houston by nine points at that point in 1989. Houston reclaimed the lead in the standings with one race to go, but Moroso took the championship in the season finale at Martinsville Speedway.

The 60-point spread between first-place Riggs and fifth-place Keller, teammates at ppc Racing, is the closest margin in the history of the NASCAR Busch Series with two races to go.

* Stremme takes lead in rookie chase ... David Stremme (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) has fought a long, uphill battle in 2003 while trying to overtake Coy Gibbs (No. 18 MBNA Chevrolet) for the lead in the Raybestos Brakes Rookie of the Year standings. Going into Phoenix, Stremme had made only 15 starts for car owner James Finch, as opposed to 31 for Gibbs.

Yet Stremme's 13th-place finish in the "Valley of the Sun" was good enough to put him atop the freshman standings, 211-207.

"I'm excited about leading the rookie standings going into the final two events," Stremme said. "Early on in the season, I didn't know if it would be possible since I am only running a partial schedule, but the entire Yellow Transportation team has worked hard all season and it has paid off. I am going to continue to do my best, and hopefully, I will earn the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title."


* Jamie McMurray (No. 1 Yellow Transportation Dodge) dominated this spring's race at Rockingham, to collect his second NASCAR Busch Series win in a row at the facility. ... Greg Biffle (No. 7 Kleenex/Scott Brand Products Chevrolet) holds the track qualifying record at a speed of 156.368 mph, set in March 2001. It was the first pole of his NASCAR Busch Series career.


* "We've definitely had our ups and downs this year. But I've come a long way as a driver, and most of that has come from the added seat time. Between [Brewco Motorsports teammate] David Green and [crew chief] Terry Shirley, I've got a world of experience to draw from. This series is extremely competitive, and it's pretty intimidating to come into, but I really feel like we've held our own. Hopefully, I'll be able to take what I've learned and really use it to my advantage in 2004." -- Chase Montgomery (No. 27 TrimSpa Pontiac).

* "I like racing at Rockingham. It's a track that wears out tires pretty quickly, and I've always raced well on tracks like that. Earlier this year, we had a really good car. I actually ran in the top four all day until I had electrical problems with about 40 laps left in the race. Had we not had those problems, we would have definitely finished in the top five, maybe even as high as third. I'm looking forward to this weekend, and hopefully, we can end the season with two more top-five finishes." -- Kasey Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Ford), who will drive a car at Rockingham that he raced to a sixth-place finish in the most recent race at Darlington.


* Mark Martin and Todd Bodine are the only drivers who have swept both the spring and fall NASCAR Busch Series races at Rockingham. The most consecutive wins at the track is four by Martin, who scored back-to-back victories in 1996 and '97. Martin also won three straight by winning in the fall of 1992 and both 1993 races. In all, Martin has a series high 11 wins at Rockingham.

What: Target House 200 (Race No. 33 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham, N.C.
When: 1 p.m. (ET), Saturday, Nov. 8.

Track layout: 1.017-mile oval.
Race length: 200 miles/197 laps.

TV: TNT, 1 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Friday--Practice, 9-11:15 a.m.; Qualifying, 1:35; Final Practice Following NASCAR Winston Cup Qualifying, Time Permitting.


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Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Greg Biffle , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Coy Gibbs , Chase Montgomery , Jamie McMurray , David Green , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , Brian Vickers , David Stremme , Mark Martin