Midwest Series announces 2004 schedule

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series Schedule announced DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2004) -- NASCAR has announced the 2004 racing schedule for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, which begins April 4 at Rockford...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series Schedule announced

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2004) -- NASCAR has announced the 2004 racing schedule for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, which begins April 4 at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway. Thirteen championship points events will comprise the series' 2004 campaign, which marks the series' 30th season and seventh year as a NASCAR-sanctioned division.

"The 2004 season shows all the signs of being another great year for the Midwest Series," said Chris Boals, NASCAR's director of regional touring. "At the 2003 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in California, the Midwest Series drivers earned five of the top 10 finishing positions and showed the country the tremendous talent level that is found in this series. This year, many of those same drivers are returning to challenge for the championship and the competition should be at an all-time high."

Following the season-opener at Rockford's quarter-mile, the series heads north to Wisconsin International Raceway, a half-mile oval in Kaukauna, Wis., on May 31. The Midwest Series then travels to Colorado National Speedway near Denver (June 5), LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway (June 19), I-94 Raceway in Sauk Centre, Minn. (July 4) and Lake Geneva (Wis.) Raceway (July 24).

On July 31, the Midwest Series will be featured alongside the NASCAR Busch Series, with a 150-lap event at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. The Midwest Series has raced at Pikes Peak each year since 1998, with notable drivers such as Rick Carelli, Travis Kvapil and Steve Carlson capturing Midwest Series victories on the 1.0-mile track.

The remainder of the 2004 Midwest Series schedule includes a second race at Wisconsin International Raceway (Aug. 3) along with four new tracks -- Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway, where the series will compete for the first time on July 18; Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway, with an event scheduled for Aug. 14; Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway, a 3.0-mile road course with a where the Midwest Series will race on Aug. 22; and Kalamazoo (Mich.) Speedway, which will host the second-to-last stop on the schedule Sept. 4. The Brainerd event marks the Midwest Series' first road course event since July 2001.

The 2004 Midwest Series schedule concludes with the traditional "Oktoberfest 250" event at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway.

Originally founded in 1975 as the ARTGO Challenge Series, the series was first sanctioned by NASCAR in 1998. Today, the Midwest Series is one of four series which comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division. Other series that make up this division of Late Model-style race cars include the Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series.

In addition to competing for the 2004 championship during this 13-race schedule, Midwest Series teams and drivers will be vying for an invitation to the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, a special post-season invitational event featuring the best drivers from each of the four series in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division. In order to receive an invitation to the Showdown, drivers in each series must finish in the top 10 of their respective series' point standings.

Over the past 30 years, the Midwest Series has featured the top drivers from across the region, competing on short tracks, superspeedways and road courses. Dick Trickle, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Ted Musgrave, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray and Kvapil (the 2003 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion) are among the series' most famous alumni, while current series stars include Carlson (a nine-time series champion), Brian Hoppe, Eddie Hoffman, Tim Schendel, Jon Lemke and NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown winner Ron Breese Jr.

"The Midwest Series definitely prepared me for the experience I'm going through right now in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," said Kvapil, a native of Janesville, Wis. "Traveling to different race tracks, working with the crew, making adjustments on pit stops -- it was all another stepping stone that helped me get prepared for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"I think that racing in the Midwest, and the Midwest Series in particular, is the strongest in the country. If you can run up front and win races there, you can run in any series and be successful," Kvapil said.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Ted Musgrave , Jamie McMurray , Rick Carelli , Bobby Allison , Tim Schendel , Steve Carlson , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil