Tim's Take on The All-Star - Kennedy Sets The Odds (and Evens) For The Showdown LOS ANGELES, CA. - The second annual $500,000 Toyota All-Star Showdown for NASCAR touring divisions has an extra $70,000 added and will be held November 10-13 at ...
Tim's Take on The All-Star - Kennedy Sets The Odds (and Evens) For The Showdown
LOS ANGELES, CA. - The second annual $500,000 Toyota All-Star Showdown for NASCAR touring divisions has an extra $70,000 added and will be held November 10-13 at Irwindale (CA) Speedway. The event on the banked half-mile again will feature the two Grand National Division Series-Busch North and G.N West-and the four AutoZone Elite Division Series-Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. Lucas Oil is the presenting sponsor this year.
The All-Star schedule shows the free to the public Street Festival from 5:00-9:00 p.m on Wednesday, November 10 at Irwindale Speedway this year. Last year the Street Festival took place on 2nd Ave., north of Huntington Dr., in Arcadia. City police blocked off the two blocks to vehicle traffic. This year the front parking lot of Irwindale Speedway behind the main grandstand will have booths and displays. The IMPACT RACING PRODUCTS pit stop contest (three timed tire changes and simulated refueling) will be held on track property next to Live Oak Ave. The top three point drivers in both Busch North and GN West will be the six contestants and they use their own cars or backups. More than $2,000 in merchandise will go to the winning team members. Last year Mike Stefanik's Busch North team won the pit stop contest.
On Thursday, November 11 free to the public practice will be held for all 30 GN Division drivers and all 40 Elite Division drivers. Grandstand gates will open at 11:00 a.m, followed by GN practice session one at 11:30, Elite practice session one at 1:00, GN practice session two at 2:30 and Elite practice session two at 3:00.
On Friday, November 12 grandstand gates open at 12 noon. Opening ceremonies will begin at 7:00 p.m with driver introductions at 7:30. The first 50-lap Elite Division qualifying race will start at 8:05 followed by the second 50-lap Elite qualifying race at approximately 8:50. The first GN Division qualifying race will begin at approximately 9:35 and the second GND qualifying race will start at approximately 10:05. Speed Channel will televise all four races live.
On Saturday, November 13 grandstand gates will open at 1:00. An on-track autograph session will begin at 3:00, with opening ceremonies at 4:15. Driver introductions at 4:30 will precede the two features-the 100-lap Elite Division race at 5:05 p.m PST and the 125-lap GN Division race at approximately 7:30 PST. Speed Channel again will televise every lap of both races live in a telecast that lasted about four hours last year. Telecasters this year will be Mike Joy and Dr. Dick Berggren in the booth, plus Ralph Sheheen and Jim Tretow in the pits.
Team competition in both the GN and Elite Divisions again will use traditional NASCAR points for first place, second, etc. The team points will be tallied at a break before the final 25 laps. Last year 15 Busch North drivers split the GN Division team bonus money and ten Midwest Series drivers split the Elite Division team bonus money. For the final 25 lap segment team rules and team cooperation are off and all drivers will be racing for themselves and their own teams. This All-Star Showdown is a must see race and the most significant stock car race ever run at the six-year old track in Los Angeles County. The annual USAC Midget Grand Prix on Thanksgiving is the most important open-wheel event run at IS. Classic races both attract more than 6,000 fans and are true short-track classics.
The All-Star Showdown 30 GN Division drivers (the top 15 in both Busch North and GN West 2004 point standings) are set. Busch North ran 13 races with six winners and 65 drivers earned points. GN West ran 13 races, had seven winners and 69 drivers earned points. Repeat drivers from Busch North (in order of 2004 points) are champion Andy Santerre (5 wins), Mike Olsen, Dale Quarterley (2 wins), Kelly Moore (1 win), Mike Stefanik, Ryan Moore, Matt Kobyluck (1 win) Joey McCarthy, Mike Johnson (1 win), Brian Hoar, Eddie MacDonald and Bryon Chew. (12 repeaters from the first All-Star Showdown). Newcomers are Bobby Dragon, Bill Penfold and Jamie Aube (3). Missing from last year are Barney McRae, Carey Heath and Mark Durgin (3). No Busch North 2004 rookie made the top 15. Rookie Ryan Seaman finished 16th, only 61 points behind 15th place Aube, but Seaman made the Showdown when Penfold scratched. Brad Leighton won three 2004 Busch North races.
Top 15 GN West repeat All-Star drivers are in order of point standings are champion Mike Duncan (1 win), 2003 All-Star Showdown winner Austin Cameron (5 wins), Scott Gaylord, Scott Lynch (2 wins), Gene Woods, Jack Sellers and Bobby Hillis (7 repeaters). Newcomers are top rookie David Gilliland (1 win), Mike David (1 win), Daryl Harr, dad Carl Harr, Tim Woods III, Jose Luis Ramirez, Nick DeFazio and Sean Woodside. (8). Missing from last year are Mark Reed, Brett Thompson, Jim Inglebright, Johnny Borneman, Steve Portenga, David Eshleman, Kevin Richards and Jeff Davis. (8). Ken Schrader won two races and Brett Thompson won one GNW race. Late news: Gene Woods and Hillis scratched, so 16th and 17th place Thompson and Kerry Earnhardt were invited to complete the 15 member GN West contingent.
The top ten in final 2004 points in each of the four Elite Divisions comprise the 40-driver Elite Division field. MIDWEST Series: Ran 13-races, had five winners and 68 drivers scored points. All-Star Showdown repeaters are 2004 champion Justin Diercks, a 24-year old from Davenport, IA. (6 wins), Steve Carlson (3 wins), Brian Hoppe (2 wins), Tim Schendel, Eddie Hoffman (1 win) and Ryan Hanson.(6). Newcomers are A. J. Rhoads, Bryan Roach and top Midwest rookies Russ Blakeley (R of Y) and Justin Hirt. (4). Missing are 2003 All-Star Midwest drivers Jon Lemke, Jeremy Lepak, Eric Fransen and Ron Breese (4). Breese won the Elite Division 100-lap first All-Star Showdown.
SOUTHEAST Series: Ran 12 races, had seven winners and 57 drivers received points. Repeat drivers are champion Jeff Fultz (5 wins), Kevin Prince, Jason Hogan (2 wins), Justin Wakefield and 11th in points Dusty Williams, who replaced Hogan, who was committed to a race in Nashville. (4). SE newcomers are top rookie J. R. Norris (1 win), Eric Darnell (1 win), rookie Chris Davidson, Robert Richardson, Greg Pope and Alan Karnes. (6). Missing SE drivers are Charlie Bradberry, Steven (S.C) Howard, A. J. Frank, Johnny Brazier and Cecil Chunn. (5). Hoppe won two MW and one SE feature.
NORTHWEST Series: Ran 10 races, had four winners and 42 drivers earned points. All-Star repeaters are champion Jeff Jefferson (4 wins), brother Jason Jefferson (3 wins), Gary Lewis (2 wins) Joe Benedetti and Steven (WA) Howard. (5). Newcomers include top rookie Travis Bennett, a 25-year old who fell short of the NW title by one point. Others are Garrett Evans (1 win), Pete Harding, Brandon Riehl and Wes Rhodes. (5). Missing NW drivers are Chris Hart, John Bender, Kevin Hamlin, Rick Suran and Jeff Bailey. (5).
SOUTHWEST Series: Ran 14 races, had seven winners and 110 drivers scored points. Repeat drivers are champion Jim Pettit II (4 wins), Craig Raudman (2 wins), Burney Lamar (1 win), Eddy McKean (2 wins) and Eric Holmes (2 wins). (5). SW Newcomners are Greg Voigt, Joe Herold, Doug McCoun, top rookie Rip Michels and Todd Souza. (5). Missing SW drivers are Auggie Vidovich, Jr, Dan Holtz, Steve Belletto and J. R. Patton. Also, David Gilliland (2 wins) was a SW Elite driver last year, who moved to the GN Division, West Series. (5).
All-Star Showdown Favorites: (GN Division)-GNW Austin Cameron and Busch North Andy Santerre (1-2 finishers last year) have to be favorites again. I'll also toss in GNW drivers Gilliland and champion Duncan as favorites based upon their past success at IS. My dark horses are Busch North drivers Quarterley, who finished a close second at IS on October 23 in the GNW season finale, and Stefanik. Quarterley stored his 18-wheeler containing his long-track and short-track cars at IS from October 23 to the Showdown. Quarterley saw that GN West driver Mike David had Bennett Lane Winery as a sponsor, so "1/4ly" went to his part-time sponsor, Bully Hill Vineyards, and got them on board as his All-Star Showdown sponsor. Now there will be a friendly battle of east and west coast wineries.
In the Elite Division, All-Star 2003 runner-up and '04 SW champion Pettit has to be a favorite along with the other three regional champions-Diercks, Fultz and Jefferson. My dark horses are Elite rookies J. R. Norris (SE) and Travis Bennett (NW). Bennett raced a No. 77, Bakersfield, CA-based car at Irwindale twice in Super Late Model races this summer to get IS experience for the All-Star Showdown. In large fields, Bennett finished fifth on August 21 and third on August 28 in the unfamiliar car and he should do even better in his regular NW Series ride--the No 33 Don Scriver Monte Carlo.