BUSCH: St. Louis: Clint Bowyer preview

EVENT INFORMATION -- Event: NASCAR Busch Series Charter 250; Time and Date: 8 p.m. EDT, Saturday, May 8; Site: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Live Coverage: FX (television) at 7:30 p.m. EDT and MRN (radio) at 7:30 p.m. EDT;...

EVENT INFORMATION -- Event: NASCAR Busch Series Charter 250; Time and Date: 8 p.m. EDT, Saturday, May 8; Site: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Live Coverage: FX (television) at 7:30 p.m. EDT and MRN (radio) at 7:30 p.m. EDT; Qualifying: 4:05 p.m. EDT, Saturday, May 8, live on SPEED (television).

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS -- For the first time in NASCAR Busch Series history, the Owners' Championship and the Drivers' Championship were split. The No. 21 PayDay Chevrolet team won the Owners' Championship in commanding fashion, clinching the title at Rockingham with one race remaining in the season. The team finished 261 points ahead of the No. 5 team of Brian Vickers, who claimed the Drivers' Championship. In 2004, the No. 21 Chevrolet carries the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups colors as the team attempts to defend its title. Harvick will compete in 20 of the 34 Busch Series events this season, and rookie driver Clint Bowyer will drive the No. 21 Reese's Chevy in the 14 other events on the schedule.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' -- Harvick and the Reese's Racing team had big expectations last week at California Speedway. After a great practice session, Harvick qualified the Reese's machine third for the race. Harvick led a handful of laps and battled up front for much of the day. Then the fuel mileage gambles came, leaving Harvick's machine a few laps short on fuel. Harvick finished eighth, notching his fifth top-10 finish of the year.

POLE CAT--Bowyer paced the qualifying order for the second consecutive week last weekend. After claiming his first career Busch Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Bowyer won the pole for the NASCAR West Series event at California. He went on to drive the No. 20 machine to a second-place finish.

THE GATEWAY TO A WIN?--There are many tracks on the NASCAR schedule on which Bowyer has never competed, but Gateway is not one of them. Bowyer competed at Gateway in 2003 in a NASCAR Touring Series car. Nashville Superspeedway was the last track on which Bowyer had previous experience. He dominated much of the Busch Series event, then finished fourth after a late-race spin.

FAMILY REUNION--Bowyer will have a "fan club" of more than 100 family and friends from Emporia, Kan., at Gateway this weekend. This is the second time a group from Emporia has witnessed Bowyer race. The first time was at Bowyer's Busch Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway.

THE CAR--This week, crew chief Ricky Viers will load chassis No. 024 onto the Reese's transporter. The car was brand new at the start of the season. Bowyer drove the car to a fourth-place finish at Nashville Superspeedway last month after leading 104 laps.


Crew chief Ricky Viers on Bowyer's experience at Gateway--"Clint's excited to get there. He's raced there before, and he feels confident about his seat time there. Clint wants to put together a solid run to gain momentum for the June swing on the schedule. He's had good runs at tracks where he's been. We all saw what he did at Nashville."

On the rookie's season--"He's done extremely well. I know that his finishes haven't shown it, but what he's been able to do in a short amount of time speaks volumes. Clint's going to put together some great runs this year, and he should be exciting to watch."

Clint Bowyer on Gateway--"It's a cool track, and it's close to home. I'll have a lot of fans in the stands, and it would mean a lot to me to run well there. I've been there before with my touring car, so I feel comfortable in the seat there. Ron ran well there last year, so we've got a good starting point when we unload. It's just time to put together a good run."

On his season to date-- "I've had ups, I've had downs. We've been good, and we've been bad. If I can just put everything together and get a good solid run in the next few weeks, we'll have some good momentum heading into the rest of the season."


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Drivers Brian Vickers , Clint Bowyer