BUSCH: St. Louis: News of note, schedule

NEWS & NOTES Neuenberger diagnosed with lymphoma ... Donnie Neuenberger (No. 77 University of Maryland/BG Products Ford) is taking a medical leave of absence as the driver of the Moy Racing entry after his diagnosis and the beginning...


Neuenberger diagnosed with lymphoma ... Donnie Neuenberger (No. 77 University of Maryland/BG Products Ford) is taking a medical leave of absence as the driver of the Moy Racing entry after his diagnosis and the beginning of treatment for Follicular Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Neuenberger's twin brother, Ronnie, is involved in the medical technology profession, and will help ensure that his sibling gets the best treatment possible. "I am very fortunate to have such great people around me and recognize I am very lucky." Neuenberger said. "There are a lot of people worse off than I am. I want to thank my race team, friends, sponsors and fans for their support and understanding. I look forward to getting back to the race track, the team and driving,"

Hornaday, Bowyer and Truex to appear at Phillies-Cardinals game ... Ron Hornaday (No. 2 ACDelco Chevrolet), Clint Bowyer (No. 21 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Chevrolet) and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 8 Taco Bell Chevrolet) are slated to throw out the ceremonial first pitches May 5 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, prior to the Philadelphia Phillies-St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball game. The drivers will also to sign autographs and participate in an in-game promotion with the Phillies mascot, the Philly Phanatic, in which the drivers are to perform a "pit stop" on the Phanatic's well-known four-wheeler.

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 five wins and 67 points, compared to 53 points and three wins for Ford following the Greg Biffle (No. 60 Charter Communications Ford) win at California Speedway. Dodge is in third place with 40 points and one win, with Pontiac in fourth, with 38 points and no wins. 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.


Jason Keller (No. 22 Miller High Life Ford) has more top-five finishes than any other driver at Gateway, with five. His best finishes at the track are a pair of runnerup efforts, in the 1997 inaugural event and in 2001. Only once in seven Gateway starts has Keller finished outside the top 10. He was 37th in 1998. ... Ashton Lewis (No. 46 Lewis Motorsports Chevrolet) scored the first Busch Pole of his career last year at Gateway. ... Casey Atwood (No. 14 U.S. Navy Chevrolet) holds the track qualifying record at Gateway, with a speed of 132.423 mph set in July 1999. ... Ron Hornaday is second on the list of laps led at Gateway, with 142. ... Greg Biffle won a 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Gateway, and then won the track's NASCAR Busch Series race in 2002.


"Handling is just about everything there. Sure, you have to have plenty of horsepower and you have to have some 'oomph' down the straightaways, but how you handle determines how well you can use that horsepower. The corners are very tight, and then you have the added dimension of having to shift [gears] because of the disparity of the straightaways. That's what gives it that road course feel." -- Derrike Cope (No. 49 Advil Ford).

"It's just a fun track. It has an odd shape, kind of like Darlington. It is a flat track that you drive almost like a road course. You can really drive hard into the corners and then brake, shift and get back in the gas. I have always been good at tracks like that. I have also had transmission problems at Gateway as well. I know that the guys back at the shop have worked hard to build the toughest transmission they can for me here. I really think if we had not had the problem last year, we would have won the race. It was one of the best cars I had all year." -- Ron Hornaday, who qualified second and finished 28th last year at Gateway.


"About halfway into the Stater Bros. 300 at California Speedway, Greg Biffle thought, 'Oh no, here we go again, another long afternoon strapped into a race car. Three times this season, he has pulled into the garage with a blown engine, and on Saturday his oil light lit around Lap 65. Sometimes as he sped down the back straight at 200 mph, he said, the engine would cough and chug, like it was ready to give up. He had to pit during a caution period so his crew could put three quarts of oil in his Ford. But his afternoon only got worse. A few laps later, the system that cools his helmet began blowing hot air into his eyes. 'I can't believe what happened,' Biffle said. 'It is like a miracle.' After a series of last-second pit stops for fuel by the leaders, Biffle was the leader, and he held on to a loose race car in the closing laps to record the 13th [NASCAR] Busch Series victory of his career." -- Damian Dottore, The Orange County Register.

"Stacy Compton couldn't get anything but bad breaks in the season's first eight races, so he made his own luck at Fontana. Compton ran the final 60 laps -- 120 miles -- without a pit stop in the Stater Brothers 300. The gamble worked, and his third-place finish was his first top-five run in 21 races. He says he nearly didn't make it. 'The last lap down the backstretch, it was running out,' Compton said. 'Fuel pressure gauge was fluctuating. We figured we would be a lap short.'" -- Ryan Smithson, Nascar.com.


Few who were there will ever forget the inaugural NASCAR Busch Series race at Gateway International Raceway, on July 26, 1997. Temperatures for the early-afternoon green flag approached the 100-degree mark, and the track surface crumbled in several places. That contributed to 14 cautions for a total of 81 of the event's 240 laps -- at the time, the race was 300 miles, rather than its current 250. When all was said and done, it took race winner Elliott Sadler 3 hours, 48 minutes, 25 seconds to complete the event. It was the longest race, in terms of time, in the history of the NASCAR Busch Series. The next year, the race was moved to October to combat the high temperatures. In 1999-2002, the race was moved back to July, but held at night. Last season was the first for Gateway in its current May slot.

Fast Facts

What: Charter 250 (Race No. 10 of 34 in the NASCAR Busch Series).
Where: Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill.
When: 8 p.m. (ET), Saturday, May 8, 2004.

Track layout: 1.25-mile paved oval.
Race length: 250 miles/200 laps.

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

2003 winner: Scott Riggs.
2003 polesitter: Ashton Lewis.

Top 10 in points: 1. Michael Waltrip 1,335. 2. Kyle Busch 1,283. 3. Martin Truex Jr. 1,282. 4. David Green 1,251. 5. Robby Gordon 1,245. 6. Jason Keller 1,157. 7. Bobby Hamilton Jr. 1,095. 8. Ron Hornaday 1,084. 9. Johnny Sauter 1,079. 10. Greg Biffle 1,072.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday -- Practice, 9:45-10:45 a.m.; Practice, 11:45 a.m.-12:50 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:05 p.m. (All cars will be impounded after qualifying for race lineup.)


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Drivers Derrike Cope , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Casey Atwood , Stacy Compton , Ron Hornaday Jr. , David Green , Scott Riggs , Martin Truex Jr. , Donnie Neuenberger , Clint Bowyer , Ashton Lewis , Elliott Sadler , Ryan Smith , Kyle Busch