The Frontstretch: Race Trax: Meijer 300 by Amy Henderson -- Thursday June 15, 2006

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Race Trax: Meijer 300

Amy Henderson · Thursday June 15, 2006


On Track
The Meijer 300 Presented by Oreo is the sixteenth race on the 35-race NASCAR Busch Series Schedule. This is the only time the Busch Series will visit the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in 2006. The track has hosted the Busch Series races each year since 2001, with the inaugural winner being Kevin Harvick. The track is a fairly flat tri-oval track with 14 degrees of banking in the corners, eight on the frontstretch, and just four degrees on the backstretch. Drivers will race 200 laps for the checkered flag. The field will include 2005 polesitter and race winner Carl Edwards.

45 teams will compete for 43 starting spots for Sunday, with the Top 30 in car owner points guaranteed a starting position. Qualifying runs consist of two laps, with the fastest lap setting a team’s time. The entry list includes eight full-time Nextel Cup drivers. The Busch Series qualifying record at Kentucky is 181.287 mph, set by Carl Edwards last year.

The points battle in the Busch Series still reads largely like a Nextel Cup leaderboard, with the top seven positions still being held by full-time Cup drivers. Leader Kevin Harvick holds a 272-point advantage over Carl Edwards; Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and Greg Biffle fill out the Top 5 after Nashville. The top Busch regular is Paul Menard in eighth, and Busch-only drivers Johnny Sauter and Kenny Wallace are in ninth and tenth, respectively.

What To Expect
Kentucky is the latest of the 1.5-mile racetracks, and drivers who are successful at the intermediate tracks will be in fine shape here. Expect maybe a round or two of green-flag pit stops; historically, there have been enough cautions (between four and nine) that this doesn’t always happen each year.

Still, this could be a fuel-mileage race if the cautions fall early. A smooth, consistent driver will have better luck than a fast one who burns fuel and tires racing hard early in a run.

Who to Watch
Kentucky has two winners who were running a full Nextel Cup and Busch Series schedule at the time: Kevin Harvick in 2001 and Carl Edwards last year. These two will almost certainly run up front again this time around. Fellow Nextel Cup regular Clint Bowyer was a strong third here in 2005, and should contend once again. Reed Sorenson – who this week showed true maturity by bowing out of his full-time Busch schedule next week to benefit his Cup team – also ran very well, and is looking to bounce back after a rough night in Nashville.

The other three winners in Kentucky history have all been Busch Series regulars. The still-improving Paul Menard is a threat to take his first NBS win – he finished fifth last year and has only gotten better. Other Busch regulars who ran very well in the last visit to this track were David Green (12th) and Kenny Wallace (14th).

Did You Know:

  • Kyle Busch led just three laps en route to victory at Kentucky in 2004? That’s in stark contrast to Kevin Harvick, who led 131 laps on his way to the checkered flag.

  • When Todd Bodine won the 2002 race, he crossed the line just .036 seconds before his closest competitor, Greg Biffle?
  • No driver has won the pole twice at Kentucky?

You Don’t Say"¦
"I’m looking forward to it! I know they have a lot of trouble with weather down there, so I should bring a ray of sunshine in." Busch Series rookie John Andretti, who brings his sunny personality to Kentucky for the first time this week

"I remember that Mike Bliss was practicing my primary car and got into a wreck. When I arrived at Kentucky, they told me that my primary car was wrecked and I was going to have to qualify the back-up car without any practice. We qualified the car 11th and went on to win the race. That is where our favorite car got the name "˜The Punisher’. When they told me that my primary car was wrecked, I said that it didn’t matter because we were going to punish them anyway. So when we won that race we just decided to start calling that car "˜The Punisher.’" point leader Kevin Harvick on his favorite racecar

"I owe a great deal to my dad. He’s been a tremendous supporter of my racing career, and without his help and guidance I wouldn’t be where I am today. He put his racing career on the shelf to allow me to chase a dream, and that means the world to me. He’s not as involved as he used to be, but I appreciate everything he has done for me. It sure would be nice to get a win in one of these races for him this weekend." driver Reed Sorenson on his father’s influence and his hopes for a win on Fathers’ Day weekend

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Contact Amy Henderson

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