NASCAR & Auto Racing

Busch Series Notebook | Franchitti's learning curve points toward Memphis this weekend

Dario Franchitti is set to take the next step on his NASCAR learning curve.

The reigning IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion made his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series last weekend at Martinsville, Va., getting involved in a wreck and finished 33rd.

He moves to the Busch Series this week, planning to drive Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 Dodge in Saturday’s Sam’s Town 250 at Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park (3 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2).

Franchitti spent most of Wednesday testing at Kentucky Speedway in preparation of his Busch debut.

Despite the poor finish, Franchitti – who will drive Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge in the Nextel Cup Series next season – was pleased with the race at Martinsville.

“When it got a little tight I was struggling with how to drive the corner a little different. I think some of that was inexperience on my part in setting up the truck [Friday] in that I didn't know what to expect [Saturday] and how the truck was going to react,” he said.

“It was a good experience - it was interesting, if you ignore the result. The result is pretty disappointing - like, very disappointing. But at the same time we’re here to learn right now and it’s a long way to go.”

Notes

  • Roush Fenway Racing development driver Colin Braun will make his Busch debut this weekend. The 18-year-old made his NASCAR debut in the Truck race at Martinsville, finishing 34th after getting into an accident.
  • Braun has one top-five and three top-10 finishes in three starts in the Automobile Racing Club of America series with Roush Fenway this season.

  • Chase Austin, who turned 18 less than a month ago, will attempt to become the second African-American driver to compete in a Busch race. Bill Lester was the first in 1999.
  • Austin will drive a second entry for Rusty Wallace Inc. as a teammate to Steve Wallace. Austin, who competed in the Busch East Series this season, is not guaranteed a spot in the field and will have to qualify on speed.

  • Richard Childress Racing development driver Brandon Miller will make his series debut with Kevin Harvick Inc. this weekend, driving the team’s No. 77 Chevrolet. Miller drove a truck for KHI in 2003, finishing eighth at Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway.
  • Jamie McMurray will drive the No. 26 Ford Fusion in Saturday’s Busch race, but will miss practice and qualifying. Kenny Wallace will fill in for McMurray for Friday’s practice sessions and qualifying on Saturday morning.
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