NWS: Magic Valley II: Pre-race Notebook

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 17, 2005) -- Three events remain on the schedule for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series, and all three are 200-lap affairs. First up is the Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone at Magic Valley...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 17, 2005) -- Three events remain on the schedule for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series, and all three are 200-lap affairs. First up is the Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. This will be the longest NASCAR event ever in the state of Idaho.

THE TRACK: Magic Valley Speedway is hosting its 10th Northwest Series event since joining the circuit in 1997. The track is a 1/3-mile oval with 13 degrees of banking in the corners and seven on the straight aways. Greg Biffle won the track's inaugural event on September 20, 1997. The nine races have produced five winners with just Garrett Evans (4) and Gary Lewis (2) being repeat winners. Four of the five winners are expected to compete in this event. Joining Evans and Lewis are Jeff Jefferson and winner of this year's Pepsi 125 held on June 11 John Bender.

LAST TIME OUT: The last race for the Northwest Series was last Saturday, August 13 at Evergreen Speedway in which Bender led 77 laps en route to his second win of the season and the fourth of his series career. The last time the series visited Magic Valley Speedway was June 11 for the Pepsi 125. In that race, Bender took advantage of the invert, started on the pole and led for all 125 laps.

POLE-ING NUMBERS: Travis Bennett with his Bud Pole win this past week at Evergreen is the first repeat pole winner this season. Other fast qualifiers this season are Bender, Jefferson, Brandon Riehl and Troy Tramell. Jefferson's next pole will move him out of a tie with Dirk Stephens and alone into fifth-place all-time in the series with 15. Evans leads the series all-time in Bud Pole Awards with 63

TRAFFIC REPORT: Wilbur Bruce had a loose wheel forcing him to the pits and taking off the lead lap for the season. John Dillon and Jefferson are the only two drivers to complete all 750 laps, so far, in 2005. Evans with 748, Bruce's 747 and Bender with 730 round out the top five. With 77 laps led last Saturday at Evergreen Speedway, Bender has led for 202 circuits this season to lead the series followed by Jefferson's 159 and Evans' 96.

GROUP TIME: The top 13 in the championship point standings consists of four groupings. The top group isn't so much of a group as it is the single car of points leader Jefferson, who is 86 tallies in front of second-ranked Pete Harding. Harding, Riehl and Evans make up the second group as just 18 points are between second and fourth places. The third group ranges from Dillon sitting in fifth to Lewis in ninth. Only 28 points separate those two drivers with Bruce, Jeff Barkshire and Bender in between. Group number four may be the most volatile as everyone wants to finish in the top 10 for an invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. It begins with Bennett in 10th and ranges down to Steven Howard in 13th. There are 43 points in between them along with Jeff Bailey and Roger Habich.

THE ROOKIES: Barkshire was the top-finishing rookie for the fifth straight race and extended his lead in the race for the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award. The top-finishing rookie in each event is awarded 10 points while the next highest gets nine and so on. At the end of the year, each candidate's best nine finishes will be used to determine the winner. Barkshire currently has 57 points and is being pursued by Jim McVey's 42 points. Tramell is third with 29. He is trailed closely by Darren Trimble with 26 points, Mike Longton and Ed Thomsen with 25 and Erick Hargraves' 24. Marty Sokulski (11), and Dennis Wurtz (6) round out the list.

ALUMNI REPORT: Former Northwest Series competitor Greg Biffle continues his strong season in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. He is currently ranked third in the championship point standings behind leader Tony Stewart. Biffle and Stewart lead all NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers with five victories this season. Biffle is also currently in 15th place in the NASCAR Busch Series standings. Biffle is looking to become the first driver in history to win a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series title, a NASCAR Busch Series title and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title over the course of a career. Mike Bliss has moved up to 26th place in points in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Kevin Hamlin stepped out of his new NASCAR Busch Series ride, the No. 4 GEICO Dodge of the Biagi Brothers, to make room for road-racing specialist Scott Pruett this past week at Watkins Glen.

Fast Facts

What: Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone (Race No. 7 of 10 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).

Where: Magic Valley Speedway, Twin Falls, Idaho.

When: 9:00 p.m. MDT (approx.), Saturday, August 20, 2005.

Track layout:  1/3-mile oval.

Race length: 200 laps/66.66 miles.

Posted awards: $51,245.

2004 winner:  Event not held in 2004.

2004 polesitter: Event not held in 2004.

Top 10 in points: 1. Jeff Jefferson 1016, 2. Pete Harding 930, 3. Brandon Riehl 917, 4. Garrett Evans 912, 5. John Dillon 854, 6. Wilbur Bruce 849, 7. Jeff Barkshire 837, 8. John Bender 832, 9. Gary Lewis 826, 10. Travis Bennett 797.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 10:00 a.m. Registration opens, 2:30-5:00 p.m. Practice, 6:30 p.m. Bud Pole Qualifying, 9:00 p.m. Magic Valley Pipe 200.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Scott Pruett , Mike Bliss , Jeff Jefferson , Jeff Bailey , John Bender , Kevin Hamlin , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire