FORT WORTH, Texas (October 30, 2007) -- Kevin Harvick heads into Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge NASCAR Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway looking to continue his recent dominance in Busch Series action at "The Great American ...
FORT WORTH, Texas (October 30, 2007) -- Kevin Harvick heads into Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge NASCAR Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway looking to continue his recent dominance in Busch Series action at "The Great American Speedway!"
Harvick has visited Victory Lane three times in his seven Busch Series starts at TMS and enters the O'Reilly Challenge as the two-time defending winner of the event. In addition to his three Busch Series victories, Harvick has posted three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. The Richard Childress Racing driver has led the most laps in Busch Series competition at TMS with 404 and has the top finishing average of 5.28 in seven starts.
"I think a lot of the credit for my three wins at Texas needs to go to the RCR Busch Shop," Harvick said. "Shane Wilson (crew chief) and all the guys down at the shop work hard to give me the best equipment. I think it is always exciting when you can go somewhere and have the opportunity to three-peat. Texas has been really good to us lately and hopefully we can compete for another win."
Harvick, who will pilot the No. 21 AutoZone Chevrolet, finished 11th in the O'Reilly 300 this spring at TMS. The two-time NASCAR Busch Series champion (2001, '06) heads into the O'Reilly Challenge ranked fourth in the Busch Series standings on the strength of five victories, nine top-five and 18 top-10 finishes in 23 starts. If Harvick plans on a three-peat in the O'Reilly Challenge, he will have to fend off several top-flight NEXTEL Cup Series competitors.
Among the NEXTEL Cup regulars entered in the O'Reilly Challenge are this past spring's winner in the O'Reilly 300 Matt Kenseth, as well as Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards, who looks to clinch the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series championship this weekend at TMS.
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars have dominated Busch Series competition at Texas Motor Speedway, winning 11 of the 13 events. Jeff Purvis was the last full-time Busch Series competitor back in 2002 to visit Victory Lane at "The Great American Speedway!"Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first career Busch Series victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 1998 while he was a full-time Busch Series driver. At least 13 NEXTEL Cup regulars are entered in the O'Reilly Challenge as they look to continue their streak of visiting Victory Lane. In last season's O'Reilly Challenge, 14 full-time Cup drivers were entered and the result was a sweep of the top four positions.
The Busch Series regulars, however, are up for the challenge of defeating the NEXTEL Cup driver juggernaut. Four full-time Busch Series drivers are among the top 10 in the Busch Series point standings heading into the O'Reilly Challenge, led by Jason Leffler, who scored a Busch Series victory earlier this year at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis and is situated third in the points. Joining Leffler in the top 10 in points are Bobby Hamilton Jr. (sixth), Stephen Leicht (seventh), winner at Kentucky Speedway earlier this year, and Marcos Ambrose (eighth). Ambrose, a native of Launceston,Tasmania, has posted five top-10 finishes this season.
7-Eleven Qualifying for the O'Reilly Challenge begins at 5:35 p.m. CT Friday. The green flag waves Saturday on the O'Reilly Challenge at 2:45 p.m. CT.
Edwards Set To Clinch Busch Series Championship At TMS
There may be three races remaining in the NASCAR Busch Series season, but Carl Edwards more than likely will be celebrating a Busch Series championship following the O'Reilly Challenge.
Edwards entered last weekend's event at Memphis with a 638-point lead over David Reutimann and had planned on wrapping the Busch Series title. Those plans, however, were halted in a series of accidents that saw Edwards slip to a disappointing 25th while his closest pursuer -- Reutimann -- went on the score his first career Busch Series victory.
Edwards enters Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge with a 531-point lead over Reutimann and only has to finish 36th or better, regardless of how Reutimann finishes, to clinch the NASCAR Busch Series championship. Edwards can also clinch the championship by finishing 37th and leading a lap or by finishing 39th and leading the most laps. When the checkered flag waves on the O'Reilly Challenge, Edwards only needs to lead the second-place driver in the point standings by 390 points to earn the crown.
And Edwards knows his way around "The Great American Speedway!" having scored a Cup Series victory in the inaugural Dickies 500 in 2005. In five Busch Series starts at TMS, Edwards has three top-five and four top-10 finishes. He finished third in April's O'Reilly 300 at Texas.
"Obviously I was disappointed with how Memphis turned out this past weekend," Edwards said. "But I can't think of a better place to celebrate a Busch Series championship than at Texas Motor Speedway. We seem to always run well there and I've visited Victory Lane in the Cup car there, so I'm looking forward to getting a win and clinching the Busch Series championship at Texas this weekend."
"The Great American Speedway!" To Play Host To Four Indy 500 Champs
With the late addition of Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti to the lineup for Saturday's O'Reilly Challenge, the NASCAR Busch Series field is beginning to look like a Who's Who among Indianapolis 500 winners.
Hornish Jr. is a three-time IndyCar Series champion and winner of the 2006 Indianapolis 500. In addition, Hornish Jr. is a three-time IndyCar Series winner at TMS.
Franchitti is the defending IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner and will be competing in his first stock-car race at "The Great American Speedway!" as he prepares for the transition to running on the Sprint Cup Series in 2008 for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.
With the addition of Jacques Villeneuve, another former Indy 500 winner who will be competing in Friday night's Silverado 350k Craftsman Truck Series race, and Juan Pablo Montoya (2000 Indy 500 winner), who will compete in Sunday's Dickies 500, Texas Motor Speedway will play host to four former Indy 500 champions during the upcoming race weekend.
"It's exciting to have four former Indy 500 champions competing in all three NASCAR divisions this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway,"TMS President Eddie Gossage said. "I think this is a testament to how competitive NASCAR racing is and how much drivers who have been successful in open-wheel racing want to try their hand at NASCAR competition."
Tasmanian Racing Devil
NASCAR Busch Series rookie driver Marcos Ambrose has not followed the typical grassroots feeder system by racing on local tracks in the United States in an effort to excel up the racing ladder. Ambrose, from Launceston,Tasmania,Australia,spent the 2006 season competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
The 31-year-old had early aspirations of competing in Formula One and out-qualified future F1 drivers Jenson Button and Kimi Raikonnen in the British Formula Ford Festival in the late 1990s. Ambrose went on to claim the 1999 British Formula Ford championship along with winning consecutive titles in V8 Supercar (2003- 2004), an Australian road racing series comparable to Trans-Am in the U.S.
Ambrose made his Busch Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway this spring in the O'Reilly 300, finishing 31st after being collected in an accident. Ambrose heads into the O'Reilly Challenge with momentum on his side after earning his first career Busch Series pole this past weekend in Memphis and backing it up with a strong fourth-place finish.
"I am very excited about returning to Texas Motor Speedway,"Ambrose said. "We seem to be our best on the 1.5-mile speedways and we had a great run in the Craftsman Truck Series race there last fall, so I'm hoping for great things this weekend. This season has definitely been a learning experience for me but I feel like I'm adjusting to these cars and I have a great team behind me.
Anyone Need A Stuntman?
While Stanton Barrett will compete in the O'Reilly Challenge, stock car racing is not his primary profession. Barrett's full-time job is a Hollywood stuntman.
Barrett, the godson of legendary actor and race-car driver/ owner Paul Newman, has worked on nearly 150 motion pictures and television series. He has performed an array of dangerous stunts, stunt doubling and stunt coordinating for many of Hollywood's finest actors in films including all three Spiderman movies, Jurassic Park 2 & 3, Fastlane and Dukes of Hazzard, just to name a few.
Barrett has competed on a part-time basis in the NASCAR Busch Series over the years and has made four Busch Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway, with a best finish of 19th in 2003.
Last Lap . . .
Greg Biffle has captured NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Craftsman Truck Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway, but missing from the resume is a Busch Series victory. He is looking to become the first driver in track history to accomplish the "Texas Trifecta" when he takes another crack Saturday in the O'Reilly Challenge. Biffle, who won the Cup race in 2005 and the truck event in 2000, has narrowly missed out on the historical footnote with three runner-up finishes. ... Only one driver -- Jeff Green -- has won multiple poles for Busch Series races at Texas Motor Speedway. Eleven drivers have won one pole and of that group six are entered in the O'Reilly Challenge. Those competing who have a chance to tie Green's mark are Kyle Busch,Matt Kenseth,Denny Hamlin, Jason Leffler, Elliott Sadler and David Ragan, who earned the pole this spring in the O'Reilly 300. ... Will a new track record be established in the O'Reilly Challenge? This spring's O'Reilly 300 saw the closest winning margin in Busch Series history at TMS when Matt Kenseth beat Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag by 0.128 of a second. The previous record was 0.178 of a second (Dale Earnhardt Jr. over Elliott Sadler, 1998).