BUSCH: Texas: Clint Bowyer series debut preview

EVENT INFORMATION - Event: NASCAR Busch Series O'Reilly 300; Time and Date: 2 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 3; Site: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas Live Coverage: Fox (television) at 2 p.m. EST and PRN (radio) at 1:30 p.m. EST; Qualifying: 5...

EVENT INFORMATION - Event: NASCAR Busch Series O'Reilly 300; Time and Date: 2 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 3; Site: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas Live Coverage: Fox (television) at 2 p.m. EST and PRN (radio) at 1:30 p.m. EST; Qualifying: 5 p.m. EST, Thursday, April 1, Live on SPEED (television); Happy Hour: Friday, April 2, 11 a.m. EST

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.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, CLINT BOWYER - This weekend, rookie driver Clint Bowyer will make his first start behind the wheel of the No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet. Bowyer, 24, comes from the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series ranks. The Emporia, Kan., native has competed in a variety of machines including dirt modifieds, dirt late models, asphalt modifieds, asphalt late models, ARCA and NASCAR Touring Series. Bowyer was the 2002 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Midwest Division Champion.

FAN CLUB-More than 150 of Bowyer's family and friends will travel from Kansas to Texas Motor Speedway to witness Bowyer's first Busch Series race. Two charter buses will be packed full of people, and one large section in the grandstands will stand out in Reese's orange.

STAYING BUSY-Even though Bowyer has yet to compete in a Busch Series event, he has been extremely busy gathering seat time. Bowyer has tested a Busch Series car, a Craftsman Truck and a NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series car. He also competed in the ARCA event at Daytona International Speedway in February. Bowyer drives the car for pit practices at the Reese's Racing shop. The pit practices should help Bowyer, considering he only has three pit stops under his belt and has never pitted under green flag conditions.

TEXAS TEST-Bowyer tested the No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet at Texas in early March. The team worked on a variety of different setups, while giving Bowyer much-needed seat time. Bowyer later returned to Texas Motor Speedway with Nextel Cup Series driver Bobby Labonte. He watched and learned as Labonte tested the No. 29 ESGR Chevrolet.

EXTRA TEAMMATE-Bowyer and RCR teammate Ron Hornaday will have an additional teammate this weekend at Texas. Labonte will drive the No. 29 ESGR Chevrolet as part of a year-long partnership in which RCR and several Nextel Cup drivers will salute the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.

HARVICK AND ICEBREAKERS IN CUP RACE - Although he is not driving in the Busch Series event at Texas, the weekend will be special for Kevin Harvick. His No. 29 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet will sport a blue-and-silver IceBreakers Liquid Ice Mints paint scheme in Sunday's Nextel Cup Series race. The IceBreakers Liquid Ice Mint colors will only appear for one race.

THE CAR-This week, crew chief Ricky Viers will load chassis No. 026 onto the Reese's transporter. The car was new in 2003 and had three top-10 finishes. Bowyer tested the car at Texas.

ROOKIE STRIPE-The No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet will sport a yellow rookie stripe at Texas.


Crew chief Ricky Viers on Clint Bowyer-"He's a great young kid that's very competitive. He is very smart and takes to the car and the track well. He is constantly learning and watching and talking with Kevin [Harvick]. I'm very optimistic about Clint and know he'll do well for us every time he gets in the car. I look for a lot of great runs from him this year."

On the Texas test-"Clint did an exceptional job testing. He was able to handle everything we threw at him. He learned a lot over the two days, and really began to get a good grasp on the racetrack."

Clint Bowyer on his first Busch Series race- "I'm really excited this week has finally arrived. I've been going to the track every week watching and learning. It's really tough not to be behind the wheel of a race car when you're at the track. Our test went well, and I'm really excited. Richard [Childress] has given me an incredible opportunity, and I can't wait to make the most of it. I've talked with Kevin [Harvick] a bunch about what to expect. I just can't wait to get on the track on Thursday morning."

On preparing for Texas- "We had a really good test there. I obviously learned a lot. Then I got the chance to watch Bobby [Labonte] test a Busch car there. I'll tell you what, I learned a ton from him watching and listening to what he wanted in the car. Now we just got go down there and get it done."

* Harvick's second-place finish at Bristol last Saturday was his sixth top-five finish in nine Busch Series starts at the grueling short track.

* Bowyer will drive the No. 21 Reese's Chevrolet in the next three Busch Series events.

* Bowyer will compete in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series event at California Speedway in May.

* Bowyer's RCR teammate Ron Hornaday tested the No. 2 AC Delco Chevrolet at Nashville Superspeedway this week

* Bowyer's first race car was a Chevrolet Chevette in the pony stock division. He drove it at the tender age of 14.


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Drivers Bobby Labonte , Kevin Harvick , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Brian Vickers , Clint Bowyer