NASCAR Busch Series Points Leaders Join 10-Team Kentucky Speedway Test
The top four drivers in the NASCAR Busch Series points standings were among 10 teams turning test laps at Kentucky Speedway today during a dress rehearsal for the June 19 "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo."
Series leader Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr. (-13), David Green (-152) and Michael Waltrip (-195) joined Clint Bowyer, Stuart Kirby, Jamie Mosely, Billy "Catfish" Parker, Jay Sauter and Kenny Hendricks during the one-day test. Waltrip practiced his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet.
Busch will roll into this Saturday's race at Nashville, Tenn., looking to extend his string of top-10 finishes to 11 races. He has finished in the top-five in four of his last five outings, including wins at Richmond and Charlotte.
While he expected to perform well in the series this season with Hendrick Motorsports equipment, he is somewhat surprised to be atop the standings entering Race 15.
"Honestly, I didn't expect this," Busch said. "We were just hoping to be in the top-10 by now because we had a couple of bad runs in the beginning of the year. They weren't necessarily terrible, but they just weren't finishes that we wanted or necessarily deserved. Once we got through Bristol and finished third, we've been on a tear finishing second, winning a couple races, and finishing in the top-five, top-10. That's all you need to do in order to run for the championship."
He also is enjoying his tight points battle with Truex, Jr., and is looking forward to returning to the site of his 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Series win next week.
"Truex and I are trying to mix it up to get an awesome points race going," Busch said. "It's pretty fun to be the young guys out there doing well and hopefully our Lowe's Chevrolet will continue to run well every week. We just want to keep capitalizing on all the good finishes and all the good efforts and keep it going through the rest of the year.
"You are always looking forward to going to any racetrack, especially one you've won at before. Returning to a track where you've won helps you a lot because you have that experience underneath your belt and you're able to come in with a confidence knowing that you can run well. Knowing that you have a great team behind you that's going to give you an awesome car just brings that confidence up. We look forward to the race here and hopefully we can get a good enough feel for the car and racetrack today so we can be pretty fast when we come back. It will be a lot of fun, especially with all the great Kentucky fans."
Green, an Owensboro, Ky., native, has delivered five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes through 14 starts this season. He hopes to improve on last season's eighth-place Kentucky Speedway finish with his Kentucky-based BREWCO Motorsports team.
"This has been a pretty good track for me," Green said. "I just haven't had the results that I wanted or my teams wanted. We had a pretty good run with my Timber Wolf team and slipped there at the end. We'd like to redeem ourselves this year. There's a little extra pressure in coming here because it's home base for the team. You try not think about it too much, but it's there so we'd like to do well here.
"We had a tremendous year last year and started out on track this year. We're getting finishes that are better than last year's, which is what you strive for. We've had two races where a little mechanical glitch set us back from the top-three finishes we had going. You'll have some of that. We switched over to the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and that was a little more of a transition than we thought it might be. That kind of stepped us back, but we're right there with a solid top-15 every week. I'm proud of my guys for having the enthusiasm they had last year after disappointment of losing the championship by basically three positions. We gave it a good ole Kentucky try, you might say, and we hope to try to redeem ourselves this year."
Green also is happy with the stability teammate Johnny Sauter has brought to the No. 27 Kleenex Chevrolet after drivers transitioned in and out of the seat during the 2003 campaign.
"I think our team is stronger and a little more solid now with Johnny Sauter and Newt Moore, who got on board as crew chief there. Johnny has done well and Kleenex has added a lot of support to our team along with Timber Wolf. We feel like we do have a one-two punch now. I don't know that we've utilized it 100 percent quite yet because Johnny's had a lot of bad luck. In the big picture, it's going to be a plus for our team."
Waltrip, who will defend the NASCAR Busch Series title he won in April at Nashville this weekend, has engineered three top-five and eight top-10 Busch Series finishes to date. He set the record straight regarding his plans for the remainder of the 2004 Busch Series schedule.
"We're going to run Nashville this weekend and Kentucky the next and then we'll skip Milwaukee, Pikes Peak and maybe a couple other races," Waltrip said. "We've signed up for something I don't think we were really prepared for. Our team wasn't able to improve week to week because we were just so busy loading up and showing up that it put us behind a little bit. It kind of disgusts me that I put us in that position so we've got to bail out and get everything fixed up so we can go back to running up front."
Tickets for "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" are still available and sales are quickly tracking toward the speedway's 66,089 grandstand capacity. The event ticket includes a pre-race concert with country star Tracy Byrd. Pre-race festivities will feature a military jet flyover, event Grand Marshal and Cincinnati Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis and more. The NASCAR Busch Series weekend begins on June 18 with Insight Communications Pole Night featuring the "Kentucky 150" NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southeast Series race and NASCAR Busch Series qualifying and "Happy Hour" final practice.