NWS: Magic Valley II: Round 7 preview

DILLON LIKES CHALLENGE OF NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES Historic Event for Magic Valley Speedway DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 11, 2005) -- John Dillon currently sits among the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite ...

DILLON LIKES CHALLENGE OF NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES

Historic Event for Magic Valley Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 11, 2005) -- John Dillon currently sits among the top 10 drivers in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series point standings, a place the 30 or so drivers behind him would dearly like to occupy. However, Dillon is not entirely pleased with the progress of his No. 25 Frontier Equipment Company Chevrolet team this season.

"I knew we would be competitive from the start," said the Boise, Idaho-based driver. "I thought we would have been more competitive in terms of having a shot at some wins."

While Dillon can be classified as mildly disappointed, he does appreciate where he is ranked. "Don't get me wrong. We've done pretty well and we're clicking right along," he said.

The 1990 Northwest Series champion is driven by the challenge of learning the nuances of racing today. Since winning that title, Dillon has run more than a handful of series events in just three seasons. Figuring out the set-ups has been the test this season.

"We've been experimenting along the way with the new shock packages and softer springs," he said. "We've had a bit of catching up to do after being out of the mix for a few seasons. Those challenges have really been the fun part for me."

The biggest hurdle for Dillon is practice time on the track to test various combinations of equipment on the car. Geographically, he feels at a disadvantage.

"Some of the teams get to practice quite a lot at tracks that we race at. We can test some things here locally, but that track is not like any that we go to," he stated. "It just puts us behind a little from a fine tuning standpoint."

The lack of practice time does bother Dillon, but not so much as to miss the key ingredient to racing at this level at 42 years of age. That element is fun and it is not lacking in the Dillon camp.

"We're having a blast. We're in the top 10 in points. We're catching on to what makes these cars go fast. It's very enjoyable," Dillon said.

It is hard to tell, however, which part of his job Dillon is enjoying more. Is it the role of driver or set-up man? "I do all of my own chassis set-up work and I have to admit that while it adds to my workload, I like the challenge of it," he said. "The process of learning the new things and re-learning the old has been good."

Another good thing for the Dillon team is the upcoming race at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. After spending the entire season traveling to central and western Washington, the two visits the series makes to Magic Valley are a welcome respite. "It's nice not to have to go so far, but that's all part of the deal," he says.

The short commute is not the only reason Dillon likes racing at Magic Valley Speedway. "It's a good little track. It can be hard to pass sometimes, but there are places to take some chances and if you get into trouble there is space to get out of it in case you spin or something."

The racing surface and track at Magic Valley is just one part of the equation. The chief reason many Northwest Series teams enjoy the races there is the atmosphere and crowd support. Dillon says, "The stands are always full and they appreciate the sport. It's a great place to race at."

This visit to Magic Valley Speedway for the Northwest Series will be different from any of its previous nine dating back to 1997. The Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone will be the longest NASCAR event in Idaho. When the series last visited for the Pepsi 125 in June, 31 cars were entered for the event vying for the 24 starting positions for the main event. This time, in addition to the added distance, four more starting spots have been added potentially giving the event the largest starting field for a NASCAR event in Idaho.

Track promoter Steve York is very excited about this event and the new variables it brings to a Northwest Series event at his track. "We wanted to do something different for the fans, competitors and sponsors," he said.

Tire wear is a factor at every race, but even more so with 200 laps around the 1/3-mile oval. The key will be to have a suspension set-up to maintain lap times after the tires begin to fall off. Consistent lap times will be the key while negotiating 800 corners over the course of the event. Abusing the equipment early in the race will not be a good strategy in this event.

"This event has a chance of becoming the most exciting stock car race in our history at Magic Valley Speedway," said York. "All the thanks goes to AutoZone and former track champion Eddie McKean and his wife Lynette for supporting the sport they love right here at home by sponsoring the Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone. Without the help of these fine sponsors, an event like this would not be possible at a track with our population base."

McKean is currently fifth in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series standings where he competes on a full-time basis. However, whenever the schedule allows he joins his Northwest Series counterparts for races at Magic Valley. He has yet to collect a win in any of those efforts, but there have been some close calls, most notably a second-place finish to Gary Lewis in June 2003.

Gates open for this special event at 2:00 p.m. with McDonald's time trials beginning at 6:00 p.m. Bud Pole qualifying will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. for the Northwest Series. The first green flag will fall at 7:05 p.m. with the Pepsi Premier Series, the Budweiser Grand Nationals and the NAPA Auto Parts Pony Stocks competing for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series. The Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone is scheduled to get underway at 9:00 p.m. local time.

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.

Top 10 in points: (as of 8/11/05) 1. Jeff Jefferson 846, 2. Brandon Riehl 767, 3. Pete Harding 765, 4. Garrett Evans 752, 5. Wilbur Bruce 734, 6. Gary Lewis 723, 7. John Dillon 712, 8. Jeff Barkshire 710, 9. Jeff Bailey 694, 10. Travis Bennett 691.

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.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jeff Bailey , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire