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Winn-Dixie News and Notes

Winn-Dixie News and Notes

NASCAR - Busch - Winn-Dixie 250 Preview
The Sports Network

Date: Friday, July 6th

Start Time: 8 p.m. (et)

Site: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida

Track: 2.5-mile high-banked asphalt tri-oval

Laps: 100

Miles: 250

Defending champion: Dale Earnhardt Jr (Not defending)
Runner up: Brian Vickers

Pole winner: J.J. Yeley (183.509 m.p.h.)

Top 10:

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr (Start: 9)
2. Brian Vickers (5)
3. Kevin Harvick (42)
4. J.J. Yeley (1)
5. Carl Edwards (8)
6. Clint Bowyer (7)
7. Mike Wallace (13)
8. Martin Truex Jr (25)
9. Greg Biffle (22)
10. John Andretti (30)

Average speed: 133.343 m.p.h.

Past winners

2006 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 133.343 m.p.h.
2005 Martin Truex Jr, Chevrolet, 140.141 m.p.h.
2004 Mike Wallace, Ford, 135.014 m.p.h.
2003 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 153.715 m.p.h. (race record)
2002 Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 125.892 m.p.h.


Last year, Dale Earnhardt Jr became the first multiple winner of this race, as he dominated the field en route to his 21st Busch Series title. Pole sitter J.J. Yeley led for the first eight laps, followed by Denny Hamlin, who led for the next seven. Earnhardt Jr however took over on lap 16 and never looked back, as he led for the final 88 laps, edging Brian Vickers by less than a second for the win.

In one of the most exciting finishes at Daytona International Speedway, Martin Truex Jr captured the 2005 running of the Winn-Dixie 250 by just 0.131 of a second ahead of pole sitter Kevin Harvick. Truex, who recorded his 10th career Busch title, led five times for a total of 68 laps, while Harvick led just twice for two laps. Harvick had taken the lead on lap 95 of the scheduled 100 laps, however Truex reclaimed the lead on 96 and held on for his fourth of six wins in 2005. With two laps to go the "Big One" happened, possibly started when Jon Wood got into the back of Randy LaJoie. It collected 13 cars, including Reed Sorenson, Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards. The race was red flagged for 28 minutes to clean up the mess. On the final restart, Harvick tried to pass both inside and out, but couldn't get by Truex Jr as they took the checkered flag.

Dale Earnhardt and his son have a combined 12 Busch Series wins at this track. Interestingly enough, neither one has ever been a pole sitter in Daytona in the Busch Series.

For only the second time since the inception of the summer NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt Jr isn't entered. The leading winner with victories in 2003 and again last July, Earnhardt also deferred entry in that first summer race, won by Lakeland, Fla., native Joe Nemechek. The Earnhardts will be represented at Daytona in the NASCAR Busch Series race as older brother Kerry Earnhardt will attempt to qualify the No. 63 Spraker Racing Chevrolet. Kerry Earnhardt has competed in three previous July races at Daytona, most recently in 2005.

When Mike Wallace captured the 2004 Winn-Dixie 250, he won from the 16th position, the furthest a driver has come to win this race. Joe Nemechek is the only pole sitter to capture this race, when he took the checkered flag in 2002.

The NASCAR Busch championship moves to the Chicagoland Speedway for the 20th race in the series, the USG Durock 300 on Saturday, July 14th, as Casey Mears defends his title.

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Winn-Dixie Entry list

#0 Eric McClure (Chilhowie, VA) Chevrolet/Hefty

#01 Kevin Lepage (Shelburne, VT) Chevrolet/TBA

#1 J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ) Chevrolet/Miccosukee Resort

#2 Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS) Chevrolet/BB&T

#4 Regan Smith (Cato, NY) Chevrolet/TBA

#5 Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV) Chevrolet/Delphi

#05 Justin Ashburn (Joelton, TN) Chevrolet/31-W Insulation

#6 David Ragan (Kannapolis, NC) Ford/Discount Tire

#7 Mike Wallace (St. Louis, MO) Chevrolet/GEICO

#9 Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA) Dodge/Hellmann's

#10 Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH) Toyota/Seymour of Sycamore

#14 Kyle Krisiloff (Carmel, IN) Ford/Lilly/Walgreens

#16 Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA) Ford/3M

#18 Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN) Chevrolet/Slim Jim

#20 Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL) Chevrolet/Rockwell Automation

#21 Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA) Chevrolet/Auto Zone

#22 Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR) Dodge/Family Dollar

#24 Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA) Chevrolet/National Guard

#25 David Gilliland (Riverside, CA) Ford/

#27 Ward Burton (South Boston, VA) Ford/Cottonelle

#28 Robert Richardson (McKinney, TX) Chevrolet/U.S. Border Patrol

#29 Scott Wimmer (Wausau, WI) Chevrolet/Holiday Inn

#32 Brian Vickers (Thomasville, NC) Toyota/Ft. McDowell Resort

#33 Tony Raines (LaPorte, IN) Chevrolet/RoadLoans

#35 Bobby Hamilton Jr (Nashville, TN) Ford/McDonald's

#36 Brent Sherman (N. Barrington, IL) Chevrolet/Big Lots

#37 Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO) Ford/USPS

#38 Jason Leffler (Long Beach, CA) Toyota/Great Clips

#41 Reed Sorenson (Peachtree City, GA) Dodge/Wrigley's Juicy Fruit

#42 Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia) Dodge/Texaco/Havoline

#44 Mike Harmon (Birmingport, AL) Dodge/HGM Hotels

#47 Kelly Bires (Mauston, WI) Ford/Armor All

#52 Brad Teague (Johnson City, TN) Ford/TBA

#56 Larry Foyt (Houston, TX) Chevrolet/TBA

#59 Marcos Ambrose (Australia) Ford/Kingsford

#60 Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO) Ford/AFLAC Assurance

#63 Kerry Earnhardt (Kannapolis, NC) Chevrolet/Spraker Racing

#66 Steve Wallace (Mooresville, NC) Dodge/Homelife Communities

#70 Justin Diercks (Davenport, IA) Chevrolet/Foretravel

#77 Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX) Chevrolet/Dollar General

#88 Shane Huffman (Hickory, NC) Chevrolet/U.S. Navy

#90 Stephen Leicht (Ashville, NC) Ford/Citifinancial

#99 David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL) Toyota/Aaron's Dream Machine

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When Kevin Harvick Straps Into A NASCAR Busch Series Race Car, He Makes It Count

The reigning series champion won in his first race back from a three-week layoff last weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway. This week, he will race again in the NASCAR Busch Series and in the process, attempt to post consecutive wins at Daytona International Speedway.

Harvick opened the season with a win in February and has been brilliant at the “World Center of Racing” overall. In 10 starts there, he has yet to finish outside of the top 10 and has finished outside the top five only once – eighth in 2001.

Since 2005 – which includes finishes of second, fifth, third and first – Harvick has racked up some of the top stats on the circuit.

Among those drivers competing Friday night, Harvick has the top Driver Rating of 107.7, the second-best Average Running Position of 9.4, third-most Fastest Laps Run at 18 and the second-most Laps in the Top 15 with 469.

Harvick’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet) is another driver to watch. In five Daytona starts, Bowyer has an average finish of 6.0. He finished fourth there in February and since 2005 has run the most Laps in the Top 15 with 469. He has a Driver Rating of 107.7 (third-best among those driver competing Friday), an Average Running Position of 8.701 (second-best) and 497 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), fourth-most.

As usual, series points leader Carl Edwards has solid numbers. After finishes of 10th, 36th and 39th at Daytona, Edwards has roared to fifth- and third-place finishes in his last two races there. Those results boosted his Loop Data statistics to some of the best in the series.

Since 2005, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 92.1 (eighth-best), has 37 Fastest Laps Run (best of any driver competing Friday) and 338 Laps in the Top 15 (sixth-most).

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Earnhardt to drive JRM Busch car
July 3, 2007

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) -Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive his own race car Friday night when he replaces Shane Huffman in the Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt, a two-time Busch champion, will drive the No. 88 Chevrolet he fields for JR Motorsports. He said Tuesday he is searching for a permanent replacement for Huffman.

``Upon a midseason evaluation of the performance of this race team, we decided we needed to make a change, and right now we have a window to do that,'' Earnhardt said Tuesday. ``Because of the short notice, I am going to drive the Navy car Friday night at Daytona.''

The race is a big event for the Navy, which sponsors the No. 88 and will use a special Navy SEALs paint scheme this weekend in honor of the Fourth of July. Because of the added importance, Earnhardt wanted to pilot the car himself.

He is the defending race winner, and lead 88 of 103 laps last year driving a car owned by DEI. This weekend will mark the first time NASCAR's most popular driver pilots a car fielded by his own race team.

``I have always wanted to drive my own car, but I'm doing this to give us time to evaluate our options and see who we want to put in the car for the rest of the season,'' Earnhardt said. ``I will get with my people at JR Motorsports, and hopefully we will have a new driver named in the very near future.''

Earnhardt, who won back-to-back Busch titles in 1998 and 1999, has 22 career wins in the series and is tied for seventh on the career wins list. Five of those wins are at Daytona.

He's raced in three Busch events this season, all for DEI.

Huffman, who took over the car last August, had six top-10s in 28 races.

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Driver to win the Busch Series Winn Dixie 250

Tony Stewart +365     
Kevin Harvick +385     
Clint Bowyer +725     
Carl Edwards +745     
Casey Mears +785     
Kyle Busch +925     
Bobby Labonte +1365     
Kasey Kahne +1650     
Scott Wimmer +1650     
Brian Vickers +1885     
Juan Montoya +2050     
Greg Biffle +2050     
Jamie McMurray +2850     
Dave Blaney         +2850     
Reed Sorrenson +4050     
Jason Leffler +4000     
David Reutimann +4000     
Field +600    


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Vickers returns to Busch Series

Brian Vickers is returning to the NASCAR Busch Series this weekend, debuting in the Braun Racing No. 32 Toyota.

Vickers, the 2003 series champion, will also attempt to qualify his No. 83 Team Red Bull Toyota for Saturday night's Pepsi 400 Nextel Cup race at Daytona International Speedway.

In five Busch Series starts at Daytona, Vickers has one top-five and two top-10 finishes.

The Ft. McDowell Yavapai Nation of Arizona will sponsor the car in Friday night's Winn-Dixie 250.

"I'm looking forward to this opportunity to drive for Braun Racing," he said. "It was important to race a Toyota and with their support. Braun has been running really well this season, so I'm confident that the car they are putting together for me will be just as competitive.

"We appreciate Team Red Bull's cooperation and the support Braun receives from the Ft. McDowell Resort Destination. I'm just ready to get back behind the wheel of a Busch car. We're not racing for points, just wins."

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Leffler on pole for tonight's Busch race at Daytona
July 6th, 2007

Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Jason Leffler captured the pole for Friday night's Winn-Dixie 250 Busch Series race at the Daytona International Speedway. The No.38 Great Clips Toyota driver circled the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 48.765 seconds (184.559 m.p.h.).

The pole victory was Leffler's first of the season and seventh of his Busch career.

Starting alongside Leffler will be Tony Stewart who posted a second-best time of 48.819 seconds.

Aric Almirola (48.194) and Kevin Harvick (49.234) will start in row two. Almirola won a pole in Milwaukee just a couple of weeks ago and he combined with Hamlin to win the race.

Though there have been 11 different winners halfway through 2007 NASCAR Busch Series season, one driver continues to dominate the championship.

Carl Edwards, starting 19th, has earned four wins, 12 top-fives and 15 top-10s to construct an 784-point lead. It was 809 points, but Edwards was penalized 25 points for failing post-race inspection at Loudon. The record winning margin all-time was set last year by Harvick - 824 points over Edwards.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won last year's Winn-Sixie 250 edging Brian Vickers for the win.

There were 10 laps to go and Earnhardt Jr., Vickers and Harvick put about a four-car length lead on the pack. Clint Bowyer bridged the gap and caught the lead group with seven laps to go. It was a four-horse race to the checkered flag.

They stayed in line over the next few laps, preparing for the final charge to the finish line. With three laps to go and Jason Leffler spun out down the backstretch and set up a green-white-checker finish.

On the restart, Earnhardt Jr. fought off a couple of runs by Vickers, then pulled away to the final two-length margin.

"He must have had a fifth-gear in there somewhere because we had some good runs on him," said Vickers.

In a late change, Earnhardt Jr. will drive the No.88 Jr. Motorsports Chevrolet instead of Shane Huffman and there are at least 18 other Nextel Cup drivers who hope to give Edwards a run for his money.

The race is scheduled to drop the green flag at 8 p.m. (et).

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Rain Postpones Busch Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Inclement weather in the Central Florida area wrecked havoc with NASCAR's schedule on Friday, postponing the Winn-Dixie 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway until Saturday at 9 a.m.

Rain showers began to fall on Daytona Beach around 6:15 p.m. (ET), forcing the cancellation of qualifying for Saturday's Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Over two hours later, remnants of the showers continued to fall at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, causing NASCAR officials to change the start of the 100-lap event.

Barring any further weather delays, Toyota’s Jason Leffler will lead the 42-car field to the start at 9 a.m. (ET). Driver introductions are slated to take place at 8:30 a.m. (ET).

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Busch wins rain-delayed Busch race at Daytona
July 7, 2007

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -Kyle Busch picked up his first NASCAR victory at Daytona International Speedway, winning the rain-delayed Busch Series race Saturday morning.

Busch led the majority of the Winn-Dixie 250, earned his first win in the series this season and ended a string of bad luck at the sport's most famous track.

Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer. Series points leader Carl Edwards crossed the finish line 11th, three spots ahead of defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

``We finally get one, we finally get one,'' Busch said. ``It means a lot.''

Busch celebrated the win, then joined 19 other drivers in retreating to their motorhomes to rest up for the Nextel Cup event scheduled about nine hours later - a rare day-night doubleheader created when rain washed out the Busch race Friday night.

The 20 Cup regulars were facing a long day of 650 miles of racing.

Busch dominated much of the 102-lap morning event, taking the lead with a risky maneuver leaving pit road early and then staying out front pretty much the rest of the way.

Busch swerved into the grass following a round of pit stops on lap 20 and passed Bowyer and Kyle Krisiloff for his first lead of the race.

NASCAR officials reviewed the move, but decided not to penalize Busch. They warned him, though, telling him not to do it again.

Busch obliged and picked up his eighth career series win, his first since March 26, 2006 at Bristol - ending a 36-race drought.

``If we can't get the job done, I don't think anybody can,'' Busch said.

Busch, who will lose his Nextel Cup ride with Hendrick Motorsports at the end of this season to make room for Earnhardt, has become NASCAR's top free agent, and his victory at Daytona could make him even more sought after.

He could have won both races here in February.

Busch dominated the early part of the last Busch race at Daytona, leading 46 laps before a fuel pressure problem ended his day.

He was strong again in the Cup race the following day, but then caused a massive wreck on the final lap that helped Harvick edge Mark Martin at the finish line.

Several cars had a shot at Busch in the final laps Saturday, but no one had the speed to get by him.

Juan Pablo Montoya spun with two laps remaining, bringing out a caution, closing up the field and setting up a green-white-checkered finish.

But Busch was perfect on the restart, holding off Blaney and Stewart and making the final two laps look easy. Blaney also gave Toyota a second-place finish in the Busch race at Daytona in February.

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Busch Breakdown: Winn-Dixie 250 Presented By PepsiCo

In a Nutshell: Restrictor plate racing in the Busch Series is usually about as old school as it gets nowadays. The aero package that the vehicles run, with the wicker bill on top of the roof, results in intense racing where passing for the lead occurs for almost the entire event.

But with every rule, there’s always an exception.

Kyle Busch made a mockery of the Winn Dixie 250, leading most of the way after the competition caution on lap 20 (65 out of 102 laps total) to score his first Busch Series win of the season. The No. 5 Chevrolet beat the No. 21 driven by Kevin Harvick to the line; Harvick tried a valiant last lap challenge on the outside line, but came up a few car lengths short in what was the first Green-White-Checkered finish of the season. Still, it was a valiant effort for a team that led early until both alternator and handling problems left him back in the pack and ultimately too far behind to score the win. Dave Blaney, Tony Stewart, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

Unfortunately, an exception to the rule wasn’t just a metaphor for how the race unfolded. Late-breaking news from the track had Busch’s Delphi-sponsored car failing post-race inspection; the front springs were confiscated from the vehicle amid claims it had exceeded allowable spring rates on both the left and right front of the car. Fines and penalties are expected to be announced this week.

Who Should Have Won: Busch. There was no questioning the dominance of the No. 5 car on this day. Once Busch got out front, he was never really challenged, especially during the race’s second half. After a long list of Victory Lane near-misses earlier this season, the final laps at a plate track offered every opportunity for Kyle to give the race away; but he held on, maintaining both speed and composure to take the win. Harvick and Bowyer were also strong, but neither one could get the help they needed nor team up at the end of the race to make a push to the front.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After The Race Weekend:

1) Why can’t the Cup cars run the same aerodynamic package as the Busch Series?

The aero package that the Busch cars run at restrictor plate tracks affords so much air disturbance that drivers can actually pull up and pass by themselves. With Nextel Cup supposedly showcasing the best of that driver talent, they should also be able to handle a package like that and put on a better show for the fans. But for whatever reason, after Dale Earnhardt’s death, NASCAR pulled the package from Cup and has not put it back since. With the Cup rules more restrictive, a new aero package would be a welcome change to the parades that we have seen of late at the Cup races at Daytona.

2) Should NASCAR really do Green-White-Checkered finishes on a plate track?

Restrictor plate engines cause the cars at Daytona and Talladega to take more than a full lap to get up to speed. With that amount of time necessary, the restart turns into a complete scramble, a recipe for disaster that mixes together all too often. NASCAR would probably be better served to run two green flag laps, then throw the white and then the checkered. That would give people a little chance to settle in and hopefully reduce the insanity of that final restart.

3). Shouldn’t the second biggest series in NASCAR pay at least $100,000 to win a race?

Kyle Busch brought home just over $87,000 for winning on Saturday. In comparison, Kevin Van Dam won $100,000 for winning the fishing tournament that was shown on ESPN2 after the race. And this is supposed to be one of the bigger races on the Busch schedule? NASCAR should be ashamed that they don’t have larger purses for their second largest series in their lineup.

Worth Noting / Points Shuffle:

David Ragan had a strong run cut short by a last lap spin on the backstretch; while NASCAR raced the rest of the way under green, Ragan limped home with a disappointing 34th place finish.

As far as points go, Kevin Harvick’s runner-up result allowed him to claw his way back into second in the point standings, actually cutting Carl Edwards’ lead to under 800. At this pace, Edwards’ point lead could conceivably fall below 600 points by the end of the year; only problem is, Harvick won’t be running every race, giving Edwards plenty of leeway to expand his margin once again.

While the Cup drivers get busy battling it out up top, Jason Leffler and Bobby Hamilton Jr. are having their own competition for the best Busch regular in the point standings. After Daytona, they are separated by just 50 points and continue to run neck-and-neck for their own unofficial championship. While they are both over 900 points behind Edwards, they should be commended for putting forth an outstanding effort to keep up with the Cup guys within the Top 10 in points. Leffler also snagged the only Top 10 for the Busch regulars, too, slipping in the middle of the Cup crowd to finish 9th.

Buschwhacker watch:

Buschwhackers in the race: 21
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 348 of 770
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10 YTD: 142 of 190
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 17 of 19
Buschwhackers ranked in the Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 6


“I just needed to have a car right behind me. I got up next to Busch on the last lap, but the No. 10 went to the inside and Kyle was able to keep it wide open and I couldn’t get to him.” Kevin Harvick on the last lap effort to pass Kyle Busch

“This win means a lot to the whole team. I needed it to prove to people that I don’t give up.” Kyle Busch

“We were too tight early in the race and then got too loose and we couldn’t get it back from there. At the end when we needed to go, we were a little too wiggly and just couldn’t get it done.” Tony Stewart

Next Up:

The Busch travels north to the Windy City for the USG Durock 300 next Saturday. The race is scheduled for Saturday, July 14th at 2:30 ET, and will be available on ABC and MRN.

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