The Frontstretch: Race Trax: CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 by Cami Starr -- Thursday May 25, 2006

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Race Trax: CARQUEST Auto Parts 300

Cami Starr · Thursday May 25, 2006

 

On Track

The CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 is the 13 race on the 35-race NASCAR Busch Series Schedule. The Busch Series will visit the 1.5 mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway twice in the 2006 season with a return visit in October. Mark Martin has the most wins (6) in the series at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and will be in the race on Saturday. He also leads the series in most top fives (13), most top 10s (13), most races led (18) and most laps led (1,257). The track is quad oval with twenty-four degrees of banking in the turns. The frontstretch measures 1,952.8 feet and the backstretch measures 1,360 both with five degrees of banking Drivers will race 200 laps (300 miles) on Sunday night. The field will include 2005 pole winner Kasey Kahne and race winner Kyle Busch.

Fifty-two teams competed for 43 starting spots for Saturday’s race, with the Top 30 in car owner points guaranteed a starting position. The 2006 owner points determine who is in this group for qualifying purposes the remainder of the season. The entry list includes 22 full time Nextel Cup drivers. Qualifying runs consist of two laps, with the fastest lap setting a team’s time. Harry Gant and Tim Richmond hold the Busch Series record for poles at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with three.

Kevin Harvick continues to dominate the Busch Series and recorded his seventh straight Top 10 finish at Darlington. Harvick holds a massive 347 point lead over second place, where the battle is much tighter. Clint Bowyer currently holds second place but is just 32 points ahead of Denny Hamlin. Another Cup driver, Carl Edwards, is only seven points behind Hamlin in fourth place with Kyle Busch a distant fifth. The highest ranking Busch "regular" is Paul Menard in sixth, 462 points behind Harvick.

What to Expect

If Thursday’s practice session was any indication, look for plenty of yellow flags to wave Saturday night. A total of six yellow flags waved during practice as teams fought to get used to the resurfaced track. The upside is that the practice session was held in the heat of the day, and the cooler night temperatures that they will race under should help provide extra grip. Other than cautions, you can expect the headlines to once again be dominated by the Cup Series drivers. More than the usual number of Buschwhackers will be running in Saturday’s race in order to get used to the new track surface in preparation for 600 miles on Sunday.

Who to Watch

The obvious pick might be Kevin Harvick given his dominance this season, but Harvick has failed to score a Top 10 finish in the last three races here. Look for another Lowe’s car to be strong on Saturday night with two-time defending race winner Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Mark Martin, who holds most every track record at LMS, will be racing here for the first time since 2000 and could give the young kids a run for their money. But the current king of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson is planning on running both races and could come away with the weekend sweep.

Did You Know

"¢Only two of the last 19 Lowe’s winners have started outside the top 10: Kyle Busch, 19th, 05/05 and Michael Waltrip, 31st, 10/99.

"¢Mark Martin had nine DNFs in his 11 Lowe’s races prior to driving for Jack Roush. In his most recent 15 races in the #60 he finished in the top four 13 times.

"¢The last three Lowe’s have had double digit cautions, including the Lowe’s record 14 last October. Only two of the previous 45 Lowe’s had double digit cautions.

"¢The 2005 Busch pole winners at Lowe’s did not fare well. Spring pole winner Kasey Kahne went out after 52 laps due to an accident and fall pole winner Jimmie Johnson lasted only 29 laps before an accident claimed him.

You Don’t Say"¦

“I really don’t know what it is, being in the Lowe’s car and winning at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The track is a natural fit with my driving style and the cars have always been good there. Winning two Busch races in a row is a great feeling, especially to do it at Lowe’s track in the Lowe’s car. The funny part about that is that I’m winning in the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300, which is a sponsor on my Cup car. So I’ve got all of my sponsors pretty much wrapped in for the whole Lowe’s weekend. I want to keep the winning streak alive. Winning the Truck race last Friday was nice. Maybe we can win again on Saturday in the Lowe’s/Shop-Vac Chevy, and sweep the weekend with a Cup win on Sunday. I can’t think of anything much better than that.” Kyle Busch on his success at LMS keeping his sponsors happy.

"The NEW Lowe’s Motor Speedway is a NEW kind of monster. The new surface is a lot like the old. Some things don’t change, but the GRIP sure has! With the new Goodyear tire and the new grippy surface, it almost feels like they just used some good ol’ black paint to paint the track and freshen the look! Seriously, it’s smoother, but still has the same old personality. The entry and exits still feel the same. It’s definitely going to be a slip sliding kind of race, with the possibility of few to no tire changes." David Green on the monster known as Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

"It’s something that we have come pretty used to during the season. A couple of years ago we had to run it on the same day. That was a workout. All in all, it’s good for me. It keeps me sharp." Kevin Harvick on running 900 miles this weekend.

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