NASCAR Preview

Last Updated Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 5:27 pm, EDT

Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400

Status: Final North Carolina Speedway

Race Capsule

North Carolina Speedway
  • What:

    Race 35 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    North Carolina Speedway, Rockingham, NC

  • When:

    November 9, 2003 1:00 pm EST

  • Laps:

    393

  • Track Length:

    1.017 miles

  • Race Length:

    400.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $4,444,009

Drivers to Watch

Ryan Newman Won 10th pole in Phoenix and finished third for series-best 16th top-five; winner of eight races; improved one slot to fifth in points; started from pole this race last year and placed 23rd; still seeking first career top-10 finish at this track; in three starts, best finish was 14th twice, including in February stop.
Bill Elliott The veteran made his first Winston Cup start at Rockingham more than 26 years ago; qualified 34th and finished 33rd on February 29, 1976, earning a paycheck of $640 in the Carolina 500; since then, Elliott has won 55 poles, 43 races and some $30 million in a successful career; made it to victory lane at The Rock three times, won two poles, 11 top-fives and 20 top-10s.
The active leader with five victories at the track, the last being in 1994; he and Richard Petty are the only drivers to win three successive races at Rockingham; swept races in 1993 and won again in 1994; finished in the top-10 in 20 of 39 starts at the track.
Michael Waltrip Renewed his bid for first top-10 finish in series championship with a fifth-place performance in Phoenix; scored eighth top-five and 11th top-10 finish of season; was first top-five finish since winning at Talladega on September 28; is 12th in the points standings, 124 points behind 10th-place Bill Elliott; owns a single-season career-high of eight top-five finishes.
Mark Martin In 34 starts at "The Rock", he has two victories and 18 top-10 finishes; his first career Winston Cup victory was recorded at the track in 1989; also a winner of the spring race in 1999; he and Kyle Petty lead all active drivers with five poles each at the speedway.
Bobby Labonte Recorded nine top-10 finishes in 18 career races at Rockingham; winner of February race in his 2000 championship season; finished 16th here in February, but has posted top-10 efforts in seven of last nine stops at track; led at least one lap and earned bonus points in eight of last nine; placed 36th at Phoenix; eight in points for fourth straight week.
Jeff Gordon Swept both races at North Carolina Speedway in 1998 when he won his third Winston Cup championship; he has four victories at this track and 10 top-10 finishes in 21 starts here; late-season surge continued at Phoenix with a seventh-place effort; won at Martinsville and Atlanta in the two previous weeks; has eight top-10 finishes in the last nine races; finished 15th in the February race here.
Jimmie Johnson Continued recent roll in Phoenix by finishing second behind Earnhardt for fourth consecutive top-three finish; also extended run of top-10 finishes to five straight and nine of last 11; moved up one position to third with his 12th top-five finish; finished eight here in February after struggling here in last year's rookie campaign with finishes of 28th (spring) and 37th (fall); donated $14,976 to the wildfire relief efforts in California after finishing the Phoenix race while sponsor Lowe's donated $100,000.
Kurt Busch Finished fourth at Phoenix on Sunday, his first top-five since a victory at Bristol in August; did not score a top-10 in first four starts at Rockingham, but has posted a top three effort and led more than 100 laps in each of his last two starts; led 105 laps and finished third in this event last season; led 150 laps in the February race here and finished second behind Dale Jarrett.
Matt Kenseth Posted just his second top-10 in the last six races with a sixth at Phoenix; it was his series-leading 24th top-10; surrendered 30 points to race winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and now leads the standings by 228 points; needs to finish seventh or better this week to to capture first career Winston Cup championship and first title for owner Jack Roush; had problems at Rockingham early in career with results of 25th and worse in first four starts; recorded top-10 finishes in last four starts at track, including victory in February 2002; finished third earlier this season.
Tony Stewart An 18th-place finish last week ended a run of six successive top-five finishes; had not finished outside the top five since a 20th effort at New Hampshire on September 14; owns five top-10 finishes in nine career starts at Rockingham, but has been shut out in last two starts; finished fourth in the spring event three times in a row (2000-02) and seventh in back-to-back fall races (2000-01); was 20th in February.
Kevin Harvick Late-season charge was halted for second straight week as he placed 34th at Phoenix; that came after a 20th in Atlanta, which was preceded by five consecutive top-10 efforts; tumbled from third to sixth in standings; has not enjoyed much success at this venue - his 14th-place effort in February 2001 was his best result in five starts.