Points tighten as final races begin
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 29, 2003) -- With just three races remaining on the NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series 2003 schedule both the championship and Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year titles are very much up for grabs.
The NASCAR Midwest Series travels next to Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, for the running of the Oneida Bingo & Casino 300, Tuesday night, August 5.
The green flag is scheduled to wave over the Oneida Bingo and Casino 300 at 7:45 p.m. (CT). Thirty drivers are scheduled to fill the field for the 300-lap affair, Tuesday, August 5. The fastest 16 competitors in time trials earn an automatic starting berth in the main event with seven additional starters transferring from the 20-lap last chance qualifying race. Up to seven additional provisional starting spots are available based on current points. Qualifying is set for 5:00 p.m. with the last chance qualifier scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
With his victory at the most recent event, eight-time series champ Steve Carlson (Wilson Oil Company Chevrolet) pulled to within eight points of series leader Eddie Hoffman (Lisa Thomas Salon Chevrolet). By the standards of many series followers who expect to see Carlson dominate at nearly every stop, his 2003 campaign has been a disappointment with just two wins.
"We had a good win at the beginning of the year," said Carlson after his Pikes Peak win. "Even though we haven't fallen out of any races, we've finished kind of poorly so this win boosts the teams morale."
Hoffman is in search of his second Midwest Series title and first since 1997.
Brian Hoppe (Gildan Activewear Chevrolet) and Ron Breese, Jr (EWT, Inc. Chevrolet) finished 20th and 21st, respectively at Pikes Peak and took a major hit to their championship bids. On the other hand, Jon Lemke's (Certified First Chevrolet) second place run continued an amazing seven race streak of top-five finishes and propelled him to fourth in the title chase.
"Our goal at the beginning of the year was championship all along," said Lemke. "But we had two rough races to start the year off and after that our goal has been poles and podiums. We keep doing that and we'll let the points fall where they will."
Eric Fransen (RAM Tool Chevrolet) saw a five point lead in the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year standings get shaved down to just two over Jeremy Lepak (Exide Batteries Chevrolet). All registered rookies earn points based on their race finishes. With seven rookie drivers currently active in the series, there are plenty of opportunities for Lepak to gain ground and certainly anything can happen in the final three events.
"We just have to keep doing what we've been doing," said Lepak. "We've had a good car all along, but we just haven't had any luck. The last couple of races it seems as though our luck is turning."
As an extra added feature to the race event, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Ernie Irvan and Harry Gant will participate in a special Race of Legends prior to the running of the Oneida Bingo and Casino 300 for the International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series. In 1998, as part of NASCAR's 50th anniversary, Baker, Yarborough, Irvan and Gant were all named as members of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers.
Wisconsin International Raceway is located three miles south of Kaukauna on County Trunk KK, one-mile east of Hwy. 55. To order tickets, visit any area Express Convenience Store or Ticket Star location or call Game Day Sports Marketing at (877) 902-1177.
NEWS OF NOTE
* The International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series has a storied history at Wisconsin Int'l Raceway (WIR). Dick Trickle won the first event, June 24, 1979. Since then, the series has visited WIR at least once a year for a total of 63 feature events.
* This year marks the first under the series' new name: International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series. For the past five seasons, the series was known as the RE/MAX Challenge Series. Prior to that it was known throughout the Midwest as the ARTGO Challenge Series.
* Steve Carlson is the International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series defending champion.
* The Midwest Series last competed on July 26 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado. Steve Carlson and Rick Carelli (RE/MAX Chevrolet) put on a great show in the early stages of the race that was scheduled for 150 laps. Carlson eventually prevailed and was leading when rain came and forced a halt to the race after 120 laps. Jon Lemke pulled out his back-up car after the final pre-race practice session, fell to the back of the field (40th) for the start and raced all the way to second at the finish. Justin Diercks (Adrian Carriers Chevrolet) was third at the checkers while Carelli settled for fourth. Eighteen-year-old Joey Miller (Great Clips Chevrolet) captured his first Bud Pole fast qualifier award.
* The 2002 version of this event Brian Hoppe and Steve Carlson swapped the lead on a pair of occasions early on. Josh Vadnais (Northern Racing Products Chevrolet) led for a brief time after a round of pit stops. Shortly after going back to green after the pit stops, Hoppe retook the lead and drove away to the win. The win was the first for the team with new crew chief Joe Wood. Wood had joined the team just days before the event. Carlson settled for runner-up honors with Terry Baldry coming home third. Justin Diercks claimed Bud Pole fast qualifier honors.
* After starting the season with 17th and 24th place finishes in the first two events, Jon Lemke has posted seven consecutive top-five runs and vaulted into fourth spot in the championship point standings.
* As he has done from week one, Eric Fransen continues to lead a very talented Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year class. Fransen took a major hit in the rookie point chase however at Pikes Peak. Transmission troubles relegated him to a 35th place finish and allowed Jeremy Lepak to close within two points in the year-long rookie chase.. Clint Bowyer (Sonic Drive Ins Chevrolet), Mark Voigt (Bilstein Shocks Chevrolet) and A.J. Rhoads (Dakota Rhoads Masonry Chevrolet) round out the top five in the rookie standings.
* POWERade Sports Drink is a welcome addition as a new contingency sponsor with the International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series in 2003. POWERade will put $750 up for grabs at each event to the eligible driver who advances the most positions during the course of the race.
* Hoosier Tire returns as the tire of choice for the International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series in 2003. The Indiana based company will give away over $4200 worth of their rubber at every series event. Other contingency sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Five Star Stock Car Bodies, Flowmaster, G-Force, Goody's Headache Powder, Holley Carburetors, JE Pistons, Mac Tools, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, MSD, Penske Shocks, Quarter Master, Quick Car, Raybestos Brakes, "76" Racing Gasoline, Wix Air Filters and Victory Circle Chassis.
WHAT'S IN A NUMBER?
"I wrestled 160 for weight in high school and 60 was my number in football. And the 60 was a good number that was open when we needed a number." -- Ryan Hanson.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
August 4, 1987 -- The Dixieland Challenge at Wisconsin International Raceway was co-sanctioned by the ARTGO Challenge Series and the NASCAR All-American Challenge Series. The high profile event drew cars from the southern based All-American Challenge Series as well as the ARTGO regulars. Dick Trickle won with Butch Miller second and Ted Musgrave third. Flying the southern colors were Bobby and Davey Allison, David Green and Ronnie Sanders. Today the All-American Challenge Series is known as the Kodak Southeast Series while the ARTGO Challenge Series grew into the International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series. Both divisions run under identical rules and are part of the NASCAR Elite Division.
What: Oneida Bingo & Casino 300 (NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Race 10 of 12).
Where: Wisconsin International Raceway, Kaukauna, Wisconsin.
When: 7:45 p.m. CT, Tuesday, August 5.
Track layout: .50-mile, D-shaped, asphalt oval.
Race length: 300 laps, 150 miles.
Schedule: 8:00 a.m. (CT) Haulers Enter; 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Practice; 5:00 p.m. Time Trials (2 Laps); 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Race; 7:45 p.m. Oneida Bingo & Casino 300.