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Busch Grand National Division




Tuesday, May 6

Drivers to watch
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Check out a short list of favorites for Saturday's Charter Pipeline 250 at Gateway International Raceway.

Mike Bliss
Bliss
Mike Bliss
The 2002 Craftsman Truck series champion finished outside the top 15 for the second straight race and fell two positions to seventh in the points standings; was 28th at Richmond after a 17th-place finish in California; recorded four top fives and five top 10s in 10 races this season; this will be his first Busch Series start at Gateway.

Todd Bodine
Contact with Caleb Clanton on lap 88 at Richmond took him out of contention last week and to a 29th place finish; remained in first place in the standings, but had his lead reduced to 40 points by David Green; leads series with four top-five efforts and six top 10s; best career finish in points were third in 1992 and 1996.

David Green
The Owensboro, Kentucky native and 1994 NASCAR Busch series champion is one of two series regulars to win a race this year, doing so at Nashville Superspeedway on April 12 for his sixth career victory and first series win since 1996; started from the pole twice this year and has scored three top-five and six top-10s through 10 races; was ninth at last Friday's night race in Richmond; reduced Todd Bodine's lead in the standings to 40 points.

Ron Hornaday
Enters this race closer to first place in the standings in points, yet he fell from second to fourth place; finished 15th at Richmond last week, and combined with Todd Bodine's bad luck, he moved from 99 points behind to just 57 points out of first; but Hornaday's own bad luck cost him two slots in the standings; Gateway has been a very good track for Hornaday, who drives the Chevrolet which has won four of the last five races at the 1.25-mile egg shaped oval; Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won back-to-back races in 1998 and 1999, while Kevin Harvick equaled the feat in 2000-2001; Hornaday finished sixth at the track in 2000 and led the most laps last year en route to a second place result; the Charter Pipeline 250 will be Hornaday's 93rd career NASCAR Busch Series start; the all-time Craftsman Truck series winner (26), is expected to make his 100th start at Daytona International Speedway on July 4.

Shane Hmiel
Placed eighth at Richmond in the last race, the same finish posted in California in the previous event; that makes five top-10 finishes this season including his first career Busch Series top-fives on back-to-back races of third-place at Texas and Talladega; moved up one slot to third in the standings, 44 points out of first place; was third in the 2002 Busch Series Rookie of the Year standings; started 37th and finished 26th at Gateway as a rookie last year; son of former veteran Winston Cup crew chief Steve Hmiel.

Kasey Kahne
Followed his best Busch series finish of fourth in California with an 18th-place showing in the night race at Richmond; owns four top-10s after 10 races; the 23-year-old has been ranked in the top 10 after eight events this season; before joining the Busch Series, he spent 2001 juggling time between events in the USAC Midget division, Silver Crown division, the Northern Sprint Tour and three races in the Toyota Atlantic Series, recording 10 wins within the four series.

Jason Keller
Remained steady in sixth place of the points standings despite a modest 21st finish at Richmond; is only 129 points out of first place; qualified well in third in this race last year and also finished a solid sixth; finished in the top 10 in five races this season; a two-time Busch Series championship runner-up (2000, 2002), he is considered one of the favorites for the title despite a somewhat slow start; winner of four races last year, as many as champion Greg Biffle; finished each of the past three seasons in the top three in points.

Scott Riggs
The runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick at last week's Hardee's 250 was his third top five of the season; improved four positions to fifth in the points race and made up ground on the leader; trails Bodine by 118 points; as a rookie at this track last year, he started 14th and finished 27th.

Johnny Sauter
One of three drivers with six top-10 finishes in the first 10 races; Todd Bodine and David Green are the others; as a rookie here last year he missed a top 10 in 11th after starting 17th; up two more slots to eighth in the points.

Kenny Wallace
A regular driver in the Winston Cup series for Bill Davis Racing, he will make a special trip to his hometown of St. Louis to compete in the Busch Series event held not far away at Gateway International Raceway; "Being able to race this event at Gateway is so near and dear to my heart," he said. "This has nothing to do about points or money; it is all about paying homage to my hometown of St. Louis and running a St. Louis Cardinals car for all the great St. Louis fans. I have such pride being able to race in front of a hometown crowd and now that I'm racing full-time on the Winston Cup series, I don't get to race at Gateway anymore and I'm so grateful to Bill Davis who has helped me fulfill this dream. I can't think of anything more exciting than having a St. Louis Cardinals car in St. Louis' Victory Lane with a St. Louis driver behind the wheel."

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