VICKERS MAKING 35TH CUP START: Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 25 GMAC Financial Services Chevrolets, may be making his 35th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start on Sunday, but it will be his first on the circuit at Kansas Speedway. The 20-year-old rookie has made two NASCAR Busch Series starts at 1.5-mile tri-oval without yielding a finish better than 32nd.
LABONTE TO ADDRESS FUTURE OCT. 12: Two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte is expected to announce his future racing plans during a media breakfast at Hendrick Motorsports on Tuesday, Oct. 12.
BUSCH BACK IN CUP: Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 84 CARQUEST Chevrolets, will attempt to qualify for his fourth career NEXTEL Cup Series event Friday at Kansas Speedway. The Las Vegas native has made three starts on the circuit -- Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway and California Speedway -- with two additional dates scheduled. CARQUEST Racing will visit Lowe's Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway this month.
1.5-MILE SUCCESS: Sunday's 267-lapper at Kansas will mark the sixth event of the NEXTEL Cup season at a 1.5-mile track. In the five previous races -- Las Vegas; Hampton, Ga.; Fort Worth, Texas; Concord, N.C.; and Joliet, Ill. -- the No. 25 team has recorded qualifying efforts of third, second, 13th, fifth and fourth, equating to an average starting position of 5.4. This season, the best finish for GMAC Racing at a 1.5-mile circuit came in April at Texas Motor Speedway, where Vickers placed 12th.
OLD RELIABLE: Kellogg's Racing will have one of its most reliable cars (Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 225) entered in the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway this weekend. It's been run four times in 2004, with top-10 finishes in three of those races -- twice at Pocono Raceway and once at Chicagoland Speedway. Labonte drove the car to a 12th-place finish at Kansas in 2002, his best showing in three starts there.
'84' TESTS KANSAS: Busch and CARQUEST Racing spent Sept. 20-21 testing at Kansas Speedway. The team was working with its primary car for this weekend (Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 320), which was fielded for the first time at California Speedway in September.
CHASSIS NO. 2552 FOR VICKERS: GMAC Racing will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 2552 on Friday at Kansas. This season, the car has made appearances at Indianapolis and California (Sept. 5), qualifying sixth and first, respectively. After starting from the pole, Vickers went on to lead 44 laps before finishing 14th at California.
500-MILE MAN: By running to the finish of last weekend's EA Sports 500 at Talladega, Labonte has now completed seven 500-mile races this year -- one shy of his personal single-season high. He completed eight races of 500 miles or longer during his championship season of 1984. There are three 500-mile events remaining on the 2004 schedule: Concord, N.C., on Oct. 16, Hampton, Ga., on Oct. 31 and Darlington, S.C., on Nov. 14.
TWICE IS NICE: Busch, 19, will attempt to pull double duty this weekend, racing his No. 5 Chevrolet in Busch Series competition on Saturday before looking toward Sunday's NEXTEL Cup contest. The driver won't be the only one working a double shift for CARQUEST Racing at Kansas, as the No. 84 pit crew will be the same group that services his Busch Series ride.
'25' LOOKS TO BACK UP QUALIFYING: Despite a 5.4 average starting position at 1.5-mile tracks, Vickers has yet to lead a lap on one this season. In an effort to change that statistic, GMAC Racing spent Wednesday testing at Kentucky Speedway in preparation for Sunday's Banquet 400.
LABONTE PILING UP LAPS: Through the first 29 races of the 2004 season, Labonte has run more laps than any other Hendrick Motorsports driver, completing 7,934 circuits. Jeff Gordon is second among the Hendrick contingent with 7,767 laps completed.
DYNAMIC DUO: Crew chief Gary DeHart, who won a Cup Series championship with Labonte in 1996, will be at the helm of the No. 84 Chevrolets this weekend. Lance McGrew, Busch's crew chief in the Busch Series, also will be available to consult the CARQUEST crew throughout the weekend. McGrew led Brian Vickers to the Busch Series championship in 2003.
PROVISIONALLY SPEAKING: Labonte has now gone 44 consecutive races without the use of a car owner's provisional to access the starting field. The last time he failed to qualify for a race based on speed was the 2003 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, making him one of only six full-time drivers to do so -- the others being Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart.
HOMECOMING FOR REXFORD: Ondre Rexford, engine tuner on Labonte's No. 5 team, returns to his native Kansas for this weekend's Banquet 400. Rexford, in his fifth year at Hendrick Motorsports, is from Dodge City, about 340 miles southwest of the race track.
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TERRY LABONTE, DRIVER OF THE NO. 5 KELLOGG'S CHEVROLETS: (ON THIS WEEKEND'S RETURN TO KANSAS.) "The car we have ready for this weekend has been very good on the mile-and-a-half tracks over the last couple years -- Chicago, Texas and Kansas. We tested at Charlotte (N.C.) last week and that'll help us in Kansas, as well as Atlanta coming up at the end of the month."
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BRIAN VICKERS, DRIVER OF THE NO. 25 GMAC FINANCIAL SERVICES CHEVROLETS: (WHAT'S BEEN THE KEY TO THE TEAM'S SUCCESS DURING QUALIFYING AT THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS?) "I enjoy qualifying anywhere, but I really look forward to qualifying at some of the bigger, faster tracks -- the speed and being on the edge. Our team has worked to develop a good intermediate-track program and that's been apparent on Fridays during time trials. The goal now is to follow up with some strong race finishes at the mile-and-a half-tracks. In addition to Kansas, we still have places like Charlotte, Atlanta and Homestead (Fla.) left to accomplish that."
VICKERS: (YOU'RE BRINGING THE SAME CAR TO KANSAS THAT WON THE POLE AND LED LAPS AT CALIFORNIA. HAVE YOU MADE ANY CHANGES TO THE CAR SINCE THEN?) "We spent Wednesday testing at Kentucky Speedway trying some different things that we hope to be able to apply this weekend and down the road at Charlotte and Atlanta. There's always room for improvement, no matter what the results were previously. You have to stay on top of things."
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KYLE BUSCH, DRIVER OF THE NO. 84 CARQUEST CHEVROLETS: (WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR KANSAS?) "California (Sept. 5) was a good race for us. We qualified pretty well and ran on the lead lap all day. We probably could've finished a little better, but we didn't take on tires there at the end. Hopefully, this time, we can run a little higher, maybe in the top-20, and finish all 400 miles."
BUSCH: (ON KANSAS SPEEDWAY.) "The test was the first time I'd ever been on the race track. It's a pretty cool place. It has elements of Chicagoland, Kentucky Speedway and a little bit of Las Vegas. We ran pretty well at all three of those places in the Busch Series car, so I feel like that's a good omen for both Busch and Cup this weekend."
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GARY DEHART, CREW CHIEF OF THE NO. 84 CARQUEST CHEVROLETS: (ON KYLE BUSCH.) "My prediction is that Kyle, one day, will be viewed as one of the greatest drivers of all time. He has a lot of ability and a lot of talent, and he carries himself in a certain way. It's just a gut feeling that I have."
DEHART: (WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR KYLE IN THE NEXTEL CUP CAR?) "If we're running a 300-lap race, I want Kyle to run 300 laps. If he finishes well, that's great, but there's no pressure on him to set the world on fire. Having that 300 laps of experience is what counts right now."