NWS: Evergreen III: Round seven preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES ROOKIE SHANE HARDING WANTS A PAIR OF WINS THIS SATURDAY AT EVERGREEN SPEEDWAY DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2006) -- NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series rookie Shane Harding has...

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES ROOKIE SHANE HARDING WANTS A PAIR OF WINS THIS SATURDAY AT EVERGREEN SPEEDWAY

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2006) -- NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series rookie Shane Harding has come close to winning both ends of the doubleheader at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., but wants to come more than close this time around.

The Northwest Series visited Evergreen earlier this month and raced on the 3/8-mile inner oval along with the Speedway Chevrolet Super Stocks as part of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. On that evening, Harding, the defending Evergreen Speedway champion, won the Super Stock show, his fifth such win this year. In that race he came from the rear of the field to win, but he had a starting position of fifth on the grid for the Northwest Series main event. The Langley, B.C. Canada resident was not able to make much progress from there and finished a season-best fourth.

This Saturday, though, the races will be on the big .646-mile oval. From Harding's point of view, he feels that he has to be considered a favorite in the Super Stocks. He didn't go as far as using the word favorite for the Northwest Series event, but believes his chances are as good as anyone's.

"We all know this track pretty well. It's my home track, so I've got as good a chance as anyone to come out on top," says Harding.

He does not view splitting his time between two race teams as a disadvantage at all due to the similarity of his two cars. "The cars are virtually identical. I really can't even tell the difference between the two," said Harding.

"It's really not that big of a deal. I get in one car and focus on it and then get in the other one and put my focus there. With the cars being the same, we can make the changes we want to both."

As a Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year contender, Harding is proud of what he has accomplished this season, but not pleased. "The fact that we've been able to come in here and compete with the Ed's Transmission/Harding Forklift Chevrolet is pretty good and we're proud to have made the step up, but we can produce better results than we have," he says.

Despite being a little inconsistent this season, Harding and his team have kept their goals in sight and have an opportunity to make a move during the second half of the season. In the battle for Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors, he currently is in seventh place, but his only 13 points off the pace set by current leader Shane Mitchell. On the championship point standings front, he holds the 19th position, but is just 64 points out of 10th place. The top 10 is the desired destination for every team in order to earn a start in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in October.

"The rookie deal is real tough this year. It is a stout field and every rookie team has performed well. We've all had our rookie moments, but we've got four rookie teams in the top 10. That's not bad. It would be a huge honor to win that award this year, but we have to perform better down the stretch to have a chance."

"Sometimes I think that making the top 10 in points to go to the [NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown] is easier than winning the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-year Award," says Harding. "I feel like we've been closer to that this year. Again, though, it would be an honor to represent the Northwest Series. It's within sight, but our race team has to keep everything together and pick it up a little bit to get a little more into the mix for that thing."

All the talk of awards and season-ending standings doesn't move Harding one bit off his focus and his goals for this Saturday. "The big track at Evergreen is like home to me and I think it's my best chance to win a Northwest Series race. So, we're going to stay on top of everything this weekend and try to make it happen. There's going to be lots of hoopla there this weekend and we need to make sure that we don't get caught up in it and lose an opportunity."

It is a big day of racing at Evergreen Speedway. The Washington 500 will consist of the Washington National Guard 150 presented by Creekside Retirement Center, the Northwest Series event, a 100-lap Speedway Chevrolet Super Stock event as part of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and the NAPA 250 presented by Triple A for the NASCAR Grand National Division AutoZone West Series. All told, there will be 500 laps of racing on the speedy .646-mile oval. It will be the largest assembly of NASCAR race teams ever at Evergreen Speedway.

Tickets and information about The Washington 500 can be obtained by calling the speedway office at (360) 805-6100 or by visiting www.evergreenspeedway.com.

FAST FACTS

What: Washington National Guard 150 presented by Creekside Retirement Center (Race No. 7 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).

Where: Evergreen Speedway, Monroe, Wash.

When: 6:30 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, July 29, 2006

Track layout:  .646-mile oval

Race length: 150 laps/96.90 miles.

Posted awards: $53,058

2005 winner:  John Bender.

2005 polesitter: Travis Bennett.

Top 10 in points: 1. Gary Lewis -- 1007; 2. Travis Bennett -- 960; 3. Brandon Riehl -- 878; 4. Jeff Barkshire -- 827; 5. Shane Mitchell - 815; 6. Wilbur Bruce -- 807; 7. Jay Sauls -- 775; 8. Garrett Evans -- 767; 9. Mike Longton -- 756; 10. B.J. Tidrick - 745

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 7/22 - 8:00 a.m. Registration opens; 11:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m. Practice; 2:30 p.m. Time Trials; 6:30 p.m. Washington National Guard 150 presented by Creekside Retirement Center.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Shane Mitchell , John Bender , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire