SES: Madera: Round eight preview

Madera Stands as Pivotal Race for Southwest Series Drivers DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 12, 2004) - The one-third mile paved oval of Madera Speedway, located in the heart of California's central valley agricultural region, looms large in the minds...

Madera Stands as Pivotal Race for Southwest Series Drivers

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 12, 2004) - The one-third mile paved oval of Madera Speedway, located in the heart of California's central valley agricultural region, looms large in the minds of every driver as a strong finish could make all the difference on how their season may end up. This Saturday, July 17, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to Madera Speedway for the second time this season in the running of the Star Nursery "125" presented by AutoZone.

Track experience at Madera Speedway may well prove invaluable as series veterans hope to overpower the stellar rookie class and several local hotshoes that look to make their own mark in NASCAR, but racing luck and a good starting position may see a first time winner. The Star Nursery "125" marks the downhill side of the second half of the season and many drivers are scrambling to get their season on track and make it into the top ten in the point standings.

In order to get an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown sheduled in November, drivers will have to finish in the top ten final point standings in their respective series. Through seven races this season, many Southwest Series drivers have been left scrambling as their seasons have gone every which way but planned. More than 30 drivers are expected to attempt to qualify for one of 22 starting positions in Saturday's 125-lap race and vie for their share of $44,894 in posted awards in race eight of the 14-race championship series.

Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif. has multiple wins at Madera Speedway over the years in several different types of cars and currently sits second in the AutoZone Southwest Series championship standings. Pettit says you have to have a car that works on the outside groove. Pettit is hoping experience will pay off this Saturday as he looks for his third career victory.

"Madera is awesome," Pettit said. "It is real fun because the action is slow close and you have to hit the setup right the first time. There are no second chances." Pettit won when the series visited Madera Speedway in March and looks for familiar fortune this weekend. "Craig (Raudman) has been tough all season," Pettit said. "I do not wish him any bad luck, but we need a little help if we are to catch in the standings."

Doug McCoun, the 1985 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Champion, would like to relive those early days as he returns to the familiar confines of Madera Speedway but in an unfamiliar car. McCoun has been assessing his season on a race-by-race basis and after a 12th place finish at Infineon Raceway two weeks ago, McCoun needed to consider his options.

In steps Clarence Broussard, who parted ways with then driver Ben Walker prior to the Infineon event, so McCoun will pilot the #16 CBA Motorsports Chevrolet for the remainder of the season and vacate his personal ride. The pairing will be a victory for both men as McCoun will be able to challenge his peers the remainder of the season and Broussard gets an experienced driver that can lead his team into the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Current Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year leader Rip Michels from Mission Hills, Calif. is looking forward to Madera Speedway. "Every race is a new learning experience for me this season," Michels said. Michels finished 22nd back here in March and expects a much better result this weekend. "I think we are prepared to make a run over the final six events and Madera is a track that I need to do well at."

Other notable drivers that are looking for a solid finish at Madera Speedway including Dan Holtz of Pacific Palisades, Calif. who needs a solid finish at Madera in order to make his way back into the top five after several difficult outings. Burney Lamar of Sacramento, Calif. picked up his first career victory Madera Speedway and plans to challenge for the series title this season after a string of three top three finishes in the last three events. Lamar currently sits third in the season standings.

The Star Nursery "125" presented by AutoZone is set to take the green flag at 8:30 pm PDT this Saturday where Raudman and Pettit hope to continue to serve notice that the championship goes through them, but Madera Speedway and the rest of the field stand in their way.

THE INSIDE LINE

* The race within the race . Rip Michels tops the Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year leader board for the seventh straight race. Nick Lynch and Todd Burns round out this years rookie class.

* How many cars? More than 30 cars have pre-entered the Star Nursery "125" presented by AutoZone.

* Eight current drivers have victories at Madera Speedway. Drivers include: Burney Lamar, Eric Holmes, Bryan Germone, Pettit, and M.K. Kanke. Kanke leads all drivers with two wins at the track.

* Craig Raudman has completed the most laps of all drivers this season. 845 of 846 contested

* Driver to keep your eye on: Joe Herold is still searching for his first series victory but has climbed to fourth in the standings after a strong top ten performance at Infineon Raceway.

* 14 drivers have started all seven races contested so far this season, and the AutoZone Southwest Series has averaged 36 cars per event through the first seven races of the season.

* Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division in 2004 and will award 32 tires to eligible car owners at each series event. Hoosier will also award two tires to the highest eligible Rookie-of-the-Year candidate's car owner.

* AutoZone Southwest Series contingency sponsors include: Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Competition Cams, CV Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Featherlite Trailers, Five Star, Flowmaster, G-Force, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JE Pistons, Mac Tools, Mechanix Wear, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, Powerade, Quarter Master, Raybestos Brakes, and Timeken.

MOVING UP

* Rip Michels of Mission Hills, Calf. has moved into the NASCAR Top-10 for the first time this season after an impressive finish of 10th in his first every road course event at Infineon Raceway two weeks ago. Michels has one top five and four top ten performances in seven starts this season.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

* "You do not know hot until you have been to Madera in July." - Jim Pettit II (No. 03 California Hot Wood Ford).

PAGE FROM THE PAST

16 years ago on May 14 Troy Beebe his second win of the 1988 season with a two car length victory over Loren Kelley in the Budweiser "100" at Madera Speedway. The race took 31 minutes to complete to set a new race record at the time. There were four caution flags for 18 laps and the race averaged 64.516 mph. Roman Calczynski led the first 80 circuits before Beebe took control of the race on lap 81. Jon Paques finished third, with Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jim Thirkettle rounding out the top five. Loren Kelley was the fast qualifier with a quick lap of 14.615 seconds/82.107 mph. Beebe left Madera with a 36 point lead over Calcyznski heading into the event at Shasta Speedway. Ray Hooper Jr. led the rookie standings. Chevrolet had won all six races thus far in the season.

Fast Facts

What: Star Nursery "125" presented by AutoZone. Race 8 of 14 for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series.

Where: Madera Speedway, Madera, CA.
When: 8:30 p.m. PDT, Saturday, July 17.

Track layout: Third-mile paved oval.
Race length: 125 laps, 41.666 miles.

2003 winner: Event not Held
2003 Bud Pole winner: Event Not Held

Qualifying Record: Lance Hooper, Chevrolet, 13.910 seconds, 86.269 mph, July 22, 1995.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday 7/17 10:00 am Haulers Enter, 10:00 am Registration, 11:00 am Inspection Begins, 11:45 am Mandatory Rookie Driver's meeting, 12:00 noon Mandatory Driver's/Crew Chief's Meeting, 12:15 pm Qualifying Draw, 1:00-2:30 pm Practice, 4:30 pm Time Trials (2 Laps), 6:00 pm Qualifying Race, 8:00 pm Star Nursery "125" presented by AutoZone.

Ticket information: Adult tickets are $22, children (6-12) tickets at $10

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Lance Hooper , Eric Holmes , Bryan Germone , Joe Herold , Dan Holtz , Burney Lamar , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Ben Walker , Rip Michels