Turn four of the last lap saw Burton (31) just inches from the back bumper of Kyle Busch (5). Lots more pictures in the
Photo Gallery at the end of this page...
Kyle Busch Wins Inaugural Car of Tomorrow Race
BRISTOL, TN (March 25, 2007) - Kyle Busch shook the monkey off his back Sunday and won NASCAR's first-ever Car of Tomorrow event in dramatic style.
Busch held off a hard-charging but gentlemanly Jeff Burton, who passed four-time champion Jeff Gordon for second place on the next-to-last lap following a green-white-checkered restart.
Burton's teammate Kevin Harvick was fourth behind Gordon and greg Biffle finished fifth.
The win for young Busch was his fourth on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series circuit and the 200th win for his car owner, Hendrick Motorsports. It was also Chevrolet's 600th NASCAR win.
Busch's luck this season has been unbelievably bad as several potential wins evaporated in the latter stages of races with either ill-timed miscues or mechanical failures.
Rounding out the top 10 were Jeff Green, his best finish of the season, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jamie Mcmurray and Casey Mears.
Denny Hamlin, who led much of the second half of the race, had engine problems just a few laps from the finish that knocked him from contention.
Hamlin's teammate, Tony Stewart, who dominated the first half of the race, had some sort of engine problem that ended his run for the victory.
Busch's win puts him in the record books for winning the first NASCAR "Car of Tomorrow" race. The new, safer car with an adjustable wing and a different style front air dam splitter, was just as competitive on the high banks of Bristol as its predecessors and the race finish was another hair-raising Bristol shootout.
Gordon's third-place finish was truly remarkable. He made numerous pit stops to change the setup of his car after handling problems surfaced early. He worked his way from the back of the field several times and served notice he has his sights set on a fifth championship. He took over the points lead from Mark Martin,who sat this one out as a part of his decision to run a limited schedule this season.
Jeff Gordon's car was fast in qualifying but the four-time champion slowed down after starting from the pole position. He encountered handling problems early on, falling out of the top 10 as Stewart charged to the front. Stewart led most of the laps before Elliott Sadler passed him with 305 laps to go.
Stewart, not to be denied, passed him back a few laps later.
It was pretty much a typical Bristol race with caution flags playing a major role.
Most of the cautions were prompted by the close-quarter racing that has made bristol one of the most popular tracks on the nascar circuit for fans.
Harvick accidentally tapped Reid Sorenson, who spun into the retaining wall before 10 laps were complete. Sorensen became the first car out of the race.
Dale Jarrett joined him several laps later after being tapped by Matt Kenseth. That accident also ended the day for David Gilliland, who had nowhere to go and got into Jarrett's spinning machine.
Rookie Regan Smith, subbing in the Ginn Racing Chevrolet for veteran Mark Martin, had a rough start at one of the toughest tracks on the schedule. This was Smith's first race in the car Martin had been driving. Martin took his first weekend off since he decided to run an abbreviated schedule for the first time in his career. Smith spun twice in the first half of the race but continued racing.
At the halfway point, Stewart, Biffle, Hamlin, Kahne, Harvick and Burton, as well as Kenseth, McMurray and Bowyer were contending but Stewart was clearly the class of the field.
Complete race results and point standings in "Event News" section below...
Event Facts, Pre-Race
- Kyle Busch won the Food City 500, winning the first Car of Tomorrow race. It is his fourth victory in 79 NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is his first victory and third top-10 finish in five races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
- Kyle Busch has won at least one race in each of the past three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series seasons.
- Jeff Burton finished second, his second straight runner-up finish and his third top-10 overall at Bristol.
- Jeff Gordon finished third, his 18th top-10 finish in 29 Bristol races.
- Kevin Harvick finished fourth, posting his ninth top-10 finish in 13 races at Bristol. Six of his finishes here have
been fourth or better.
- Jeff Gordon took over the lead in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, his first time atop the points since
Feb. 20, 2005. Gordon leads Jeff Burton by just three points.
- Mark Martin fell from first to seventh in the point standings after voluntarily breaking a string of 621 starts.
- This was the 600th NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victory for Chevrolet.
- The last victory recorded by a Chevrolet Impala was on December 1, 1963. Wendell Scott drove a 1962 Impala to
victory at Jacksonville Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Race: Food City 500
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 25
Green Flag: 3 p.m. AT, 2 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .533 mile oval
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps)
2006 Winner: Kurt Busch
2006 Pole: N/A (weather)
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (Local Time): Friday–Practice, 10:30 a.m.–noon; Qualifying, 3:45 p.m.; Saturday–Practice, 10-10:50 a.m.; Final Practice, 12:50-1:50 p.m.
Pre-Race Point Standings: click here
Qualifying: Friday, March 23 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m. AT, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Practice: Saturday, March 24 (SPEED at 11 a.m. AT, 10 a.m. ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, March 24 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m. AT, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Pre-Race: Sunday, March 25 (SPEED at 12:30 p.m. AT, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Race: Sunday, March 25 (FOX at 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 ET)
- Jeff Gordon won the Bud Pole for the Food City 500, posting a lap of 15.295 second at 125.453 mph - scoring the first Bud Pole in the Car of Tomorrow.
- It is Gordon’s 58th Bud Pole 478 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his second Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2007 – all also top-fives.
- This is Gordon’s fifth Bud Pole at Bristol – breaking a tie with Fred Lorenzen for the fifth most Bud Poles here.
- Gordon moved into a tie with Bobby Allison for fifth on the all-time Bud Pole winners list.
- Ward Burton (14th) was the quickest of the drivers required to qualify on time.
- Jeremy Mayfield (23rd) and AJ. Allemendinger (35th) qualified for their first race this season. It will be Allmendinger’s career-first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup sta
- Joe Nemechek missed his first race in five years when he failed to qualify along with Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann,
Kevin Lepage, Johnny Sauter and Paul Menard.
Keys To Victory
- 3/22: If Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) is to win his third consecutive NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race this weekend
at Bristol, it will have to come at a track where he has never visited Victory Lane. Johnson won his 24th and 25th career NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup races the past two weekends at Las Vegas and Atlanta. That ties the reigning series champion with Joe Weatherly and
Jim Paschal for the most victories since 1949 – 23. In 10 races at Bristol, Johnson’s best finish is third, coming in the second
race of the 2004 season. He finished 30th and 10th, respectively, in the two races at Bristol a year ago. His average Bristol
finish is 15.5.
- 3/22: Sunday’s Food City 500 is the fifth race of the 2007 season and the last event where the top 35 drivers in the 2006
final owner standings will be guaranteed a starting spot. The following week at Martinsville, top-35 status reverts to the 2007
owner standings, which turns up the pressure on teams battling for those spots. Heading into Bristol, several noteworthy
drivers are battling for those top 35 spots. Jeff Green (No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet) is currently 35th, while Kyle Petty (No.
45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge) is 34th. Former series champion Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota) is 33rd.
Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Paul Menard (No. 15 Menard’s Chevrolet) is 36th, while Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge
Dealers/UAW Dodge) is 37th. Kahne had a series-high six victories in 2006 and ranked second in the standings this time a
year ago. Kahne finished eighth in the final standings last season.
- 3/21: With Mark Martin’s consecutive start streak set to be snapped this week, here are the top six current drivers in
consecutive starts: 1. Mark Martin -- 621; 2. Jeff Gordon -- 477; 3. Bobby Labonte -- 476; 4. Dale Jarrett -- 419; 5. Jeff Burton – 380;
6. Tony Stewart -- 288.
Car Of Tomorrow Is Here … Today
- Car of Tomorrow – The debut of the new car means finding the right setups is even more critical than ever. The configuration of the new car means setup packages used in years past at Bristol may not be the answer this time. The teams that benefited the most from last month’s test session could have an advantage on the competition.
- Final Practice – Saturday’s final practice takes on even more importance. The teams that hit the right setup for the long runs on Saturday could be the teams to watch on Sunday.
- Taking Care Of The Equipment – Bristol is Bristol and that means a lot of close racing on the race track. It’s imperative for the driver to take care of equipment and keep the car as clean as possible heading down the stretch run of this 500-lap race.
- Making The Right Pit Calls – A bad pit call at Bristol can put a team in a hole that’s too deep dig out of. Pit strategy is huge here, as there is such an emphasis on track position.
The culmination of seven years of research, planning, testing and development come to fruition this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway as NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow debuts in Sunday’s Food City 500.
The Car of Tomorrow is NASCAR’s safer race car that also focuses on improving competition and providing teams with an opportunity to manage their costs more efficiently.
During a Feb. 28-March 1 test at Bristol, 50 teams went through a dress rehearsal that set the stage for this weekend. Most competitors came away sensing that Sunday’s race should be another hard-driving, tight racing and challenging afternoon at one of the sport’s most popular and dynamic venues – the .533-mile concrete oval layout at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Overall, I think the car is a resounding success for all the teams and for the way it’s going to put on a good show when we come back here,” said Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) during the Bristol test. “It’s a clean slate, so whoever works the hardest and is the most determined and still continues to keep an open frame of mind will succeed in the end.
“I’m intrigued by it. It’s a new challenge. It has 50 percent of the Chase races this year, so the Car of Tomorrow is very important. In the end, this Car of Tomorrow is going to be a good thing.”
The Food City 500 is the first of 16 races scheduled for the Car of Tomorrow in 2007. All tracks a mile or less in length, along with the two road courses and the October race at Talladega Superspeedway, will run the Car of Tomorrow this year.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, March 25
Darrell Waltrip was the Honorary Starter and Junior Johnson the Grand Marshal for the event.
Over 160,000 spectators gathered to watch the race.
With the checkered flag in the air, Burton went low on the front stretch to try and pass Busch for the win; third and fouth place finishers Jeff Gordon (24) and Kevin Harvick (29)
were in hot pursuit.
Busch was the victor - by less than a full car length.
Kyle Busch did a burnout for the fans, then stopped on the track to celebrate his win.
Photo Gallery - Friday, March 23
A.J. Allmendinger qualified for his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race Friday, after missing the first four shows of the year.
Dale Jr. makes some practice laps.
In spite of qualifying fourth for Sunday's Food City 500, Tony Stewart still does not like the COT.
Jeff Gordon makes his pole qualifying lap at 125.453 mph around the 0.533-mile "bullring."
Jeff Gordon accepting his 58th career Budweiser Pole Award, and fifth at Bristol.
Regan Smith qualified for his first NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Bristol - driving the championship points leader car vacated for the next two
weeks by series veteran Mark Martin, as he begins his promised limited schedule in the Cup series. Martin will be at a racetrack
Friday and Saturday, in Florida as a mentor to Ginn Racing newcomer Ricky Carmichael and also to his Mark's son Matt. Sunday, Mark
Martin has planned a cookout at home watching the race on TV with family and friends.
Tomorrow Today Handbook
Click on the picture for a guide you can easily print for the Car of Today.
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.
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