SES: Caraway: Wednesday night race preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2004) - For the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series, the last couple of weeks have been ones of not a lot of rest for the drivers and teams. Then again, as all true racers will be quick to admit, they'd ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 2, 2004) - For the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series, the last couple of weeks have been ones of not a lot of rest for the drivers and teams. Then again, as all true racers will be quick to admit, they'd rather be racing than working or doing any other hobby they might have when not at the track.

Those who like the challenge of racing on a regular basis are in for a treat heading into Wednesday night's AutoZone 150 at Caraway Speedway, while the competitors who prefer a little more time to prepare will have their work cut out for them. Whatever the case, the Southeast Series is slated for a busy Wednesday heading into the 150-lap race, July 7 at the famed Asheboro, N.C. track.

The AutoZone 150 represents the shortest break in racing action for the Southeast Series of the entire season as the teams and drivers have only five days to unpack their haulers following Friday night's Firecracker 150 at Lanier National Speedway in Braselton, Ga. Those competitors thought they would have six days to prepare for Asheboro, but those plans were hurried at an even more rapid pace when inclement weather postponed the AutoZone 150 from Thursday to Friday night.

One driver who admits that his team is going to be faced with a short turnaround time is Beach Park, Ill. resident Erik Darnell, who jokes that his time to get ready for the Southeast Series race at Asheboro has been somewhat self-inflicted.

"It's going to be a pretty big challenge for us, especially because of the fact that we are racing a Midwest Series race Saturday night at 1-94 Raceway [in Sauk Centre, Minn.]," said Darnell. "We will get the car back to the shop sometime early Monday morning and then leave sometime Tuesday to head out for North Carolina."

"We're in the hunt for this Southeast Series championship so we're looking forward to Asheboro even though I've never been there before. It would be nice to have a week or two off, but we try to race as much as we can to get the experience."

Michael Faulk is another of the Southeast Series drivers who will be ready for a break following the race at Asheboro, the third tour race in a 12-day span. Faulk, a Gainesville, Fla. native, will make the drive of over 400 miles to do battle in the AutoZone 150.

"It's definitely the quickest turnaround for us all year long," said Faulk. "Everybody had to be careful at Lanier not to tear their cars up, but sometimes you can't help that in racing. We're not really taking any different kind of approach. Our guys are pretty much used to getting the car ready to go every Monday morning so it's not really going to be more stressful that normal for us. I really don't feel like it's going to be that big a deal for us to be ready for Caraway. I'm excited about it."

Greg Pope is another driver looking forward to the turnaround challenge that Asheboro presents, mainly because of the fact that he lives only about an hour away from the track in Monroe, N.C.

"It's not going to be that big of a problem for us because we've tried real hard to keep our car out of trouble," said Pope. "The reason we've tried to keep our car clean is because that's the only one we have and it would have been hard to fix in such a short amount of time if something did happen to it. I'm really looking forward to Asheboro because our short track program has really been turning the corner lately."

In fact, Pope sees the Southeast Series race at Asheboro as one that very well could play into his favor since he lives only about an hour south of the track while other teams are forced into somewhat of a hurried rush to make the turnaround from Lanier.

"This year's schedule has been wonderful for me, especially with Asheboro being so close to my hometown," said Pope. "The longest distance that I've had to travel has been to Houston, so the schedule has been perfect to me personally."

Following the AutoZone150 at Caraway, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series returns to action July 17 at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Erik Darnell , Michael Faulk