Waltrip To Lead Cup Contingent To "The Meijer 300 Presented By Oreo"
Two-time Daytona 500 champion and Kentucky native Michael Waltrip will lead a contingent of seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers in "The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo" NASCAR Busch Series event at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, June 19.
"I'm proud of being a Kentuckian and it's great that I'll have the chance to race my Aaron's Dream machine in my home state," Waltrip said. "Kentucky Speedway has a whole bunch of fans of the venue. When we go to Bristol, tons of people want to come just because it's Bristol Speedway. It's the same thing at Daytona. Kentucky Speedway has that same allure. Whether it's Busch, trucks, ASA or ARCA everybody wants to watch races at Kentucky. I think that will lead to the speedway eventually having a NEXTEL Cup race, sooner rather than later I hope."
Waltrip will join drivers Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Robby Gordon, Johnny Sauter, Johnny Benson and 1990 Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope in the 43-car field that will race for a share of the top-five NASCAR Busch Series purse of more than $1.2 million. All seven drivers also are expected to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event in Michigan that same weekend.
"I think it's terrific, but not surprising," Kentucky Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Mark F. Cassis said. "The NEXTEL Cup Series drivers test here frequently, so they know our track and how to get around it. Couple that with a huge winner's purse and the opportunity to promote their sponsors to 70,000 plus fans, and the bar is certainly raised for the Busch Series regulars. I think it bodes well for the series, our fans and our event sponsors - Meijer and Oreo."
Waltrip, Gordon, Benson and Cope will make their competitive debuts at the $152-million facility.
Biffle, the runner-up for NEXTEL Cup Series rookie-of-the-year last season, 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion and 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, has the most Kentucky Speedway experience among the group. In three starts at the facility, he has earned two second-place finishes in NASCAR Busch Series events. He also took the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at the track in 2000.
Kahne, a leading candidate for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie-of-the-year honors, drove to an 11th-place finish in his only Kentucky Speedway start in the 2003 "Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo." Sauter owns a Kentucky-best 17th-place finish through two NASCAR Busch Series starts at the track.
"We're on pace for a record fourth consecutive sellout and we certainly expect today's news to accelerate ticket sales," Cassis said.
Pre-race festivities will include a concert by country music entertainer Tracy Byrd and a U.S. Navy F-18 fighter jet fly over.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~