All-Star spotlight - Rip Michels

Rip, Roaring And Ready; Michels can't wait to get back to racing at Irwindale Rip Michels knows one thing: There's going to be a party after the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He just hopes he's in the middle of it all. "We want that...

Rip, Roaring And Ready; Michels can't wait to get back to racing at Irwindale

Rip Michels knows one thing: There's going to be a party after the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He just hopes he's in the middle of it all.

"We want that Showdown really bad," said Michels. "I've led laps there. I feel like I'm always in contention but at the end of the night, it's always somebody else walking out with the girl and I'm sitting there pretty bummed out."

Michels will be one of the top contenders to take down the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model feature, one of the three races that make up the biggest weekend on NASCAR's short-track racing calendar.

The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will feature two days of exciting action Jan. 23-24 among some of the top drivers in NASCAR Camping World Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. The competition will air live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. PT both nights.

A four-time track champion at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Michels earned the pole for the 2007 Super Late Model portion of the Showdown, only to finish second to rival Greg Pursley.

While the first five years of the event were held in the Fall, immediately after the regular season ended, the move to January provides a break in the monotony of winter and an opportunity to get back to racing.

"I'm so excited about the date and everybody able to come," Michels said. "I just feel like this is a home run.

"All the other Showdowns were great, but this is by far the biggest event I've been to. Having it in January, when there is no other racing going on -- the whole world gets to see the No. 1 track and all the best short-track drivers."

Early entries for the Camping World Series portion of the event have already exceeded 50, and the Super Late Model and Late Model races are expected to match that number.

Michels was the runner-up at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2004 in the former NASCAR Elite Division race.

But what he would really like is to get to Victory Lane. He built a car specifically to run in the race, bearing sponsorship support from Stock Building Supply and Anderson Windows. He only ran the car one night at Irwindale last year, sweeping twin features.

If not him, Michels is pulling for Cole Whitt and Dan Moore. Michels is supplying cars to both drivers. Whitt won the 2008 USAC Midget National Championship.

The trio will get plenty of competition. Already entered into the Super Late Model race is Nick Joanides, who won 10 times at Irwindale in 2008 en route to the track title, and two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris, who is entered in all three races.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Greg Pursley , Rip Michels , Philip Morris , Cole Whitt , Nick Joanides