AUGGIE VIDOVICH OUTCLASSES COMPETITION AT IRWINDALE SHOWDOWN
LAKESIDE, Calif. (16 November 2005) -- Twenty-four-year-old Auggie Vidovich II of Lakeside, California is still on cloud nine after his recent NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, Elite Division win at Irwindale Speedway, November 12.
Vidovich's week started at Phoenix International Raceway (Avondale, AZ), November 10, where he finished fifth in the final round of NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series racing. Coming to PIR with a 51-point deficit, Vidovich was on a mission to gain the points needed for a second Southwest Series championship. Top of the board with the fastest practice session before the race, Vidovich went out to qualify in eighth position, laying down the fastest time at 27.715 until regular Cup driver Kenny Schrader bumped Vidovich off the pole (27.667) as one of the final qualifiers. Starting next to Schrader on the outside pole, Vidovich was looking for an exciting race along side experienced Schrader but was hit by another car sending Vidovich's car backwards into the turn three wall on the first lap. Crew chief, Mike Harvick summoned Vidovich in to view the damage and have the team make quick repairs, sending him back out to finish the 125-lap race remaining on the lead lap with the respectable fifth place finish for the day out of 42 cars.
Vidovich, however, finished the season in second only 34 points out of first in the point standings. Vidovich has now finished the year-end standings in second three times (2005, 2001 and 2000), more than any other driver in the series history since 1986.
Finishing out the year with the most wins (four) including nine top-five and 11 top-ten finishes, Vidovich also lead the most laps in the Southwest Series this year at 423, leading two entire races start to finish.
The 2003 NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series Champion now has ten career Southwest Series wins after the wins at Mesa Marin, Shasta and Stockton twice this year.
Vidovich headed to Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale, CA) Friday, November 11 after the Phoenix race for this year's third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown along with the other top-10 drivers from the Elite Southwest, Southeast, Midwest and Northwest NASCAR divisions for his second invitation. Vidovich finished eighth out of 40 cars in 2003, the same year he won the NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series championship.
Starting 18th in the NASCAR predesignated lineup for the Friday night 50-lap qualifying race with the results to determine the starting positions for the Saturday night main event with Vidovich finishing fourth.
Vidovich started the Saturday night SPEED CHANNEL televised 125-lap main event in eighth, fourth row outside. He quickly found the quickest way around the 1/2-mile oval moving up to second before the mandatory 10-minute break at lap 75 where all teams stopped to take on gas, tires and make any adjustments. Vidovich then took advantage of the double-file restart on lap 76 to pass the leader dominating the final 50-lap segment for the win crossing the finish line with a 1.738 second lead. Vidovich was elated to win after coming so close to other Southwest Series victories at Irwindale Speedway but never succeeding.
"I've hated this track at times but love it tonight!" exclaimed Vidovich in victory lane. He credited his crew and crew chief, Mike Harvick, for the adjustments made at the break sending him to victory. The first 75-lap segment was awarded to the Vidovich's Southwest Series Division for the best overall finish.
Car owners Rich and Kathie Fountain and the No. 11 Centrifugal Technologies, Ultra Custom Boats, Ransom Brothers True Value Lumber team had a very special guest in the pits Friday night at the Showdown. Samantha Palumbo and her parents, Sam and Diana, took a quick tour of the pits plus photos before moving up to an Irwindale suite to watch Vidovich's qualifying. Samantha, the beautiful 16-year-old Miss California Junior National Teen, was involved in a near-fatal accident April 8, 2005 and has been featured on Vidovich's hood for the final three races at Shasta, Mesa Marin and Phoenix. The team dedicated the final races including the Showdown to the continued recovery of Samantha Palumbo of San Dimas, California. Samantha had been in the hospital and rehabilitation center since the accident and recently returned home on October 29, continuing to make great strides in her recovery. The Palumbo family continues to be overwhelmed with the racing community's support for their daughter since Vidovich has been displaying Samantha's picture on the hood. For more information about Samantha Palumbo go to www.pray4samantha.com. Vidovich dedicated the big Showdown win to Samantha when interviewed in winner's circle.
One of the highlights for the Southern California racer this year was his selection by Roush Racing for the Discovery Channel "Driver X: The Race for the Ride," a 13-part reality series for a fully sponsored Roush Racing NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride in 2006. Vidovich felt honored that he was selected one of the 25 out of 1700 submitted resumes, making it down to the finals and sensing he did well in the Roush Racing Craftsman Truck at the Darlington and Martinsville tracks he tested at.