* Papis looking forward to NASCAR national debut in the Zippo 200 * Going one better: Chevrolet surpasses 2005 win total NEWS & NOTES Double trouble: Fellows, Harvick masters at The Glen ... Ron Fellows (No. 33 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet) has...
* Papis looking forward to NASCAR national debut in the Zippo 200
* Going one better: Chevrolet surpasses 2005 win total
NEWS & NOTES
Double trouble: Fellows, Harvick masters at The Glen ... Ron Fellows (No. 33 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet) has three NASCAR Busch Series wins and two Busch Poles, all earned at Watkins Glen. Kevin Harvick (No. 21 U.S. Coast Guard Chevrolet) has third-place finishes in his only two starts at the track. Harvick, the series leader, is on quite a streak as he comes to The Glen. The 2001 champion has six top-five finishes in his last six races -- two of which are wins, including last Saturday's victory at O'Reilly Raceway Park. Fellows' participation gives Harvick another edge as the Canadian road-course ace is driving for Harvick's Kevin Harvick Incorporated (KHI) team and is a coach/teammate for Burney Lamar (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet), the leader in the Raybestos Rookie standings. "To have a teammate like Ron Fellows to go to for help is priceless," Lamar said. "I've also received advice from my team owner, Kevin Harvick. We've had some time to sit and visualize the turns at Watkins Glen."
Papis makes NASCAR debut ... Italian open-wheel star Max Papis will make his NASCAR national series debut at Watkins Glen, replacing Tim Sauter in the No. 36 Sport Clips Chevrolet for McGill Motorsports for this race. Papis also is entered in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, the car normally driven by Kenny Wallace in that series. "Mad Max" will add stock-car racing to his impressive 2006 resume, which also includes racing in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Indianapolis 500 and at Le Mans. Other road-course specialists joining Papis in the NASCAR Busch Series race this weekend: Scott Pruett (No. 1 Miccosukee Gaming Dodge) is in for Mike Wallace, Boris Said (No. 9 Ingersoll-Rand Dodge), a New York City native who won the Busch Pole at Mexico City and finished second there, Michel Jourdain Jr. (No. 15 Kraft Singles Ford) returns to series competition as does Mexico countryman Adrian Fernandez (No. 57 Lowe's Chevrolet). Trans Am veteran Brian Simo (No. 34 No Fear Chevrolet) is entered for Frank Cicci while Grand Am driver Butch Leitzinger will drive the No. 79 WMRA/Jasper Dodge. Eduardo Troconis, a native of Mexico City with stock car experience in the Desafio Corona Series, will attempt his series debut in the No. 23 Keith Coleman Racing Chevrolet. Chris Cook (No. 43 visitPA.com Dodge) will put his driving school instructor experience on display at The Glen as well.
Sorenson charging back ... Since giving up his seat -- and his opportunity to run a complete season in the NASCAR Busch Series -- at Milwaukee, Reed Sorenson (No. 41 Discount Tire Co. Dodge) has made a remarkable resurgence in the series standings. The native of Peachtree City, Ga., was in 20th place in the NASCAR Busch series rankings, 294 points out of 10th, following the race at Daytona International Speedway last month. In the five races since, Sorenson has posted three top-five finishes, another top 10 and moved to 11th in the standings. He's 97 points behind Kenny Wallace in 10th. Out of the NASCAR Busch Series championship picture, Sorenson didn't run at Milwaukee in order to gain more experience in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup car at Infineon Raceway. His Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate David Stremme -- who was replaced by Scott Pruett at Infineon -- took over at the NASCAR Busch Series event at Milwaukee. Sorenson has run in all other NASCAR Busch Series races and plans to complete the season in double-duty fashion.
IN THE LOOP: Menard "better late than never" ... Paul Menard's first career series start at Watkins Glen last year showed his penchant for patience and mastery of the final three turns at the 2.45-mile road course. NASCAR's Loop Data statistics from last year's race -- where Menard was eighth -- were most telling in the final turns where he built his 109.9 Driver Rating, 11th overall and best among NASCAR Busch Series regulars in the race. In the Fastest Drivers Early in a Run category, Menard was 31st (113.545 mph), but improved to ninth among Fastest Drivers Late in a Run (117.892). He recorded his best speeds in the Late in a Run category in Turns 9 (second), 10 (fourth) and 11 (eighth), and also was third-fastest on the third and final straightway. Likewise, he was 31st in Passes by Turn Number in Turns 1-8, but jumped to ninth in Turns 9-11. His five Green Flag Passes on Turn 11 represented his highest total throughout the course.
Upstate upbringing for Smith ... Regan Smith (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) isn't just going home this weekend to upstate New York, he's revisiting his childhood at the same time. Smith grew up nearby Cato, N.Y., and is scheduled to make a homecoming appearance at the McDonalds on Grant Avenue in Auburn, N.Y., on Thursday beginning at 6:30 p.m. The location was the first McDonald's he ever visited. The store is planning a celebration with over 500 people expected to attend. Smith will begin the evening by enjoying a cheeseburger and Coke just like he did 20 years ago. "Cato is where I first climbed into a go-kart and that entire area of New York played an important role in my development," Smith said. The No. 22 AutoZone Ford team also has a large contingent from New York, including crew chief Todd Gordon, who is from Camden. Chad Walter, crew chief of Kyle Busch's No. 5 Lowe's Chevrolet, grew up in Albion, N.Y., near Rochester. He graduated from Cornell University in 1993 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and played defensive end for the Ivy League school's football team.
ON THE RIGHT TRACK Ryan Newman (No. 02 Penske Truck Rental Dodge) is the only driver other than Ron Fellows entered in the Zippo 200 with a victory, which he claimed last season. ... Former Busch Pole winners in addition to Fellows entered this weekend are Scott Pruett (2001), Boris Said (1998) and David Green (No. 27 Kleenex Ford -- 1996). ... Fellows' four top-five finishes are best among drivers entered and his 178 laps led are first all-time at The Glen.
ETC. Kevin Harvick's series-leading fifth win of the season last Saturday also was the 15th this year for Chevrolet. Harvick's wins tie his series career-high set in 2001 while Chevy's victories not only lead the 2006 Bill France Performance Cup standings, but are one more than the manufacturer registered last season when it won the title. The record for manufacturer wins is 24 by Chevrolet in 1999. Ford is second in the standings with five wins and 139 points while Dodge is third with three wins and 125 points. Chevy has won nine of 12 series races at Watkins Glen, although Dodge broke Chevy's eight-race victory streak last year as Ryan Newman took the win. Newman is in the field this weekend; his win last year marked the beginning of his five-race victory string. The races were not consecutive, however. ... Carlos Contreras (No 12 Goulds Pumps Dodge) makes his return to the NASCAR Busch Series in this event; he finished 11th at his home track in Mexico City last March, a career best. ... The July issue of Lideres Mexicanos placed Adrian Fernandez on an accomplished list of his fellow countrymen, joining leaders in numerous categories including science, culture, media, entertainment, sports, politics, public opinion and business. It is the fourth time Fernandez has been part of the magazine's elite list, having been selected in 2001-02 and '05.
"To get ready for Watkins Glen, I've been racing the track on my computer for the last three weeks. I think it's helped me a lot. I've learned the shifting points and the shape of the track." -- Mark McFarland (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet).
"Winning at Mexico City earlier this year gives us a lot of confidence going into this race. But make no mistake; this is going to be a tough race to win." -- Denny Hamlin (No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet).
"Adrian [Fernandez] helps Kyle [Busch] to learn the tracks and Kyle helps Adrian get adjusted to stock cars. It's a great situation for everyone." -- Chad Walter on the Hendrick Motorsports driver duo.
FROM THE NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" ARCHIVES
There have been 12 previous NASCAR Busch Series events held at Watkins Glen International since 1991. The first race at The Glen marked only the third time the NASCAR Busch Series had competed on a road course. Terry Labonte won the pole with Ernie Irvan starting on the outside of the front row. The field of 29 included future series champions Bobby Labonte (1991), David Green (1994) and Steve Grissom (1993) as well as female driver Patty Moise and a youngster soon to make his mark in NASCAR -- Jeff Gordon.
Terry Labonte led all but nine of the 62 laps but was nearly overtaken by a rapidly-closing Joe Nemechek, who finished a mere .71 seconds behind the eldest Labonte brother. Although Bobby Labonte finished 16th, he left Watkins Glen retaining the series lead on his way to the season championship.
NASCAR BUSCH SERIES "25 SEASONS RUNNING" DID YOU KNOW?
Chuck Bown, the 1990 NASCAR Busch Series champion, is third among drivers all-time at Watkins Glen in average finish. In three races from 1991-93, Bown finished seventh, seventh and sixth, respectively, an average finish of 6.6.
ON DECK: MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Michigan International Speedway is the next destination for the NASCAR Busch Series. Ryan Newman captured the win there last year. Newman is one of three drivers with two wins at Michigan, site of his first career series victory in 2001. There was no Busch Pole winner last year due to inclement weather and there hasn't been a polesitter since Kasey Kahne in 2003 due to bad weather on qualifying day. There have been 12 different pole winners at the 2-mile track.
What: Zippo 200.
Where: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, NY.
When: 2:10 p.m. ET, Sat., Aug. 12.
Track Layout: 2.45-mile road course.
Race Length: 200.9 miles/82 laps.
Posted Awards: $1,126,020.
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET.
Radio: MRN, XM Satellite.
2005 Winner: Ryan Newman.
2005 Polesitter: Tony Stewart.
2006 NASCAR Busch Series Top 10: 1. Kevin Harvick 3,627. 2. Carl Edwards 3,253. 3. Denny Hamlin 3,154. 4. Clint Bowyer 3,093. 5. J.J. Yeley 2,991. 6. Paul Menard 2,701. 7. Greg Biffle 2,670. 8. Greg Biffle 2,656. 9. Johnny Sauter 2,521. 10. Kenny Wallace 2,505.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri 11., Aug. -- Practice, 1:15-2:30 p.m. Rookie Practice, 2:30-3 p.m. Final Practice, 5:30 p.m. (45 minutes, time permitting). Sat., Aug. 12 -- Qualifying 11:05 a.m. (Impound).