NWS: Tri-City: Round two preview

NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series makes first appearance at reconfigured Tri-City Raceway. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2003) -- NASCAR racing returns to a reconfigured .500 mile Tri-Oval with the running of the Speck &...

NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series makes first appearance at reconfigured Tri-City Raceway.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 18, 2003) -- NASCAR racing returns to a reconfigured .500 mile Tri-Oval with the running of the Speck & Moore Automotive Group 125, April 26 at Tri-City Raceway (TCR) in West Richland, Wash. Over $40,000 in posted awards await the competitors of the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, the second of fourteen races on the series schedule.

Returning for their first TCR appearance as Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Victory Circle Chassis' rookie of the year candidates, Jason Jefferson, Brandon Rhiel, and Jeff Bailey are proven winners at TCR, accounting for eighteen of twenty late model wins during the 2002 season at Tri-City.

Jefferson, the 2002 TCR late model champion, took the last three late model wins at Tri-City and his first Northwest Series win during the 2002 fall Tri-City event.

Jefferson finished third in the 2003 Northwest Series season opener at Evergreen Speedway. With a reputation for bringing home feature wins throughout the region, Jefferson comments, "I started racing at Tri-City, it seems like we've always run well there. I'd guess it just comes down to seat time. The lighting is really good, and they've opened up the front straight for better vision. The new hot pits will be great; this should create a lot of excitement for the crews and fans. I think Tri-City is first rate, it must be one of the better tracks we get to race on."

Tri-City Raceway General Manager Joe Lewandoski had little rest over the off-season, bringing an entire new look and feel with the reconfiguration of the track.

Improvements include: removal of the inside wall in the front straight, paving over the infield grass, and creating an actual hot pit. Crews will now go over a wall to service cars during the race. In addition turn one inner rumble strips have been removed. The infield bump upon entry to turn three has been shaved down eliminating the tunnel vision effect. Drivers will now have a clear view of the front straight while entering turn three.

"The inside wall on the front straight has collected many cars over the years. With the removal of the turn three infield bump and turn one rumble strips we have a great opportunity to see a new track record. This should be a much faster track now," said Lewandoski.

Two-time defending Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series champion Kevin Hamlin comes to Tri-City with one win and one Bud Pole Award among his credentials on the .500 mile tri-oval. Hamlin is currently second in the championship points following a solid second-place performance at Evergreen Speedway last month.

"I've been looking forward to this race", Hamlin said. "The Evergreen opener was a good show for us. We found the new tire tricky to dial in, but I think every team is dealing with the same thing so the field is even. We're hoping we get better grip at Tri-City; we will adjust either way."

Top Five News and Notes

Pete Harding, Surrey, B.C.--Harding, the 1999 series champion returns to Tri-City Raceway with the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series points lead following his sixteenth career win at Evergreen Speedway in March. Harding has one win and eight top five finishes at Tri-City Raceway.

Kevin Hamlin, Snohomish, Wash. -- Coming off back to back Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series championships, Hamlin finds himself in familiar territory -- poised near the top of the point standings. Hamlin has nine wins from the last twenty-eight races on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series.

Jason Jefferson, Naches, Wash. -- Jefferson is the Victory Circle Chassis' rookie points leader coming into the Speck & Moore Automotive Group 125. Jefferson took his first NW Series win at Tri-City Raceway in the fall of 2002.

Chris Hart, Yakima, Wash. -- Hart, with 88 career starts on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, rolls into Tri-City Raceway with one win at the Northwest's only tri-oval facility.

John Bender, Monroe, Wash. -- Bender, the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series 2001 rookie of the year, finished second in the fall event of 2001 at Tri-City Raceway, brought home a fifth place finish at the Evergreen Speedway opener.

Notes of Interest

Garrett Evans, Ardenvoir, Wash. -- Evans has five wins at Tri-City Raceway, and won the Northwest Series inaugural event in 1985. His last TCR victory was the fall race of 1994. He finished second during the 2002 Tri-City Raceway spring event.

Nine current drivers on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series have scored victories at Tri-City Raceway including; Garrett Evans (5), Ron Eaton (3), Gary Lewis (3), Pete Harding (1), Chris Hart (1), Kevin Hamlin (1), Shane Biles (1), Jeff Jefferson (1), Jason Jefferson (1).

The Tri-City Raceway track record is held by: Jeff Krogh driving a Chevrolet on April 22, 1995. Krogh drove the .500 mile tri-oval in 17.440 seconds at 103.211 mph.

Tri-City Raceway holds the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series record for cautions with 16 on September 20, 1990, race winner was John Dillon.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jeff Bailey , Jason Jefferson , John Bender , Kevin Hamlin , Gary Lewis