NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES GETS EXTRA CHALLENGE WITH KENTUCKY COMBINATION RACE SEPT. 10 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 7, 2005) - When NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway officials designated the Sept. 10 Bluegrass 150 as a combination...
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES GETS EXTRA CHALLENGE WITH KENTUCKY COMBINATION RACE SEPT. 10
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 7, 2005) - When NASCAR and Kentucky Speedway officials designated the Sept. 10 Bluegrass 150 as a combination race with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series and Midwest Series, it opened a whole new realm of possibilities for Midwest title contenders. One more points race means one more opportunity to increase their lead - or catch up to the leaders.
The track, located in Sparta, Ky., has been a regular host to NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series events in recent years, however the Midwest Series has not faced the 1.5-mile speedway in a championship points race. The combination format was announced in July, adding one additional points race to the Midwest Series schedule. The event will be administered in the same format as the Midwest Series' earlier combination events with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series. Drivers will earn Midwest Series championship points, based on their finishing position relative to the other Midwest Series drivers.
For some drivers, such as Eddie Hoffman - a 2001 race winner at the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, it's a chance to showcase their superspeedway skills. For others, it's a shot in the dark - taking on a track they've never seen.
Nine-time series champion Steve Carlson, of West Salem, Wis., admits he'll need to do some additional preparation for this event. Despite Carlson's decades of racing experience, the largest track he's ever raced on is the 1.25-mile Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.
"I'm going to make some phone calls and ask a lot of questions," Carlson said. "Maybe get help with a [chassis] setup. That will be the biggest track I've ever raced at. They say this track is pretty fast - you don't lift [off the throttle}, just ride around with your foot to the floor. It'll be different."
Ironically, one of the Midwest Series drivers with the most superspeedway experience is also one of its youngest. Dexter Bean, 18, has raced at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway and 2.0-mile Michigan International Speedway with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) RE/MAX Series.
"I've never seen Kentucky, except for some races on TV," said Bean, a resident of Westby, Wis. "I see that it's wide and it's big. It should be pretty similar to Michigan I think; a lot of of space to race. I think my [superspeedway experience] will help, mainly in the draft and aero pushes, stuff like that. I learned a lot of that at Michigan.
"In the draft, coming off the corner, you're tight. You've got to lay off a little bit or you'll put it in the fence coming off. I caught myself a few times at Michigan."
Bean's knowledge of the intricacies of aerodynamics may play a big part in delivering a breakthrough performance for the young driver. In seven Midwest Series starts, Bean has logged four top 10 finishes. He trails Andrew Morrissey in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings and is ranked seventh overall in the Midwest Series championship point standings.
At the front of the pack, meanwhile, defending champion Justin Diercks, of Davenport, Iowa, leads Carlson by a 44-point margin (1,154-1,110) with two championship points events remaining. After their combined event at Kentucky, the Midwest Series will wrap up its 2005 schedule at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway - Carlson's home track - on Oct. 8. The top 10 drivers in the final point standings will be invited to the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, Nov. 10-12 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.
What: Bluegrass 150 (NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series-Midwest Series combination event).
Where: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.
When: Saturday, Sept. 10 at 8:00 p.m. (EST)
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race length: 100 Laps (150 miles)
Posted awards: $111,806
Top 10 in Midwest Series points: 1. Justin Diercks 1,154, 2. Steve Carlson 1,110, 3. Tim Schendel 1,039, 4. Andrew Morrissey 1,035, 5. Eddie Hoffman 975, 6. Brent Kirchner 951, 7. Dexter Bean 939, 8. Josh Bauer 917, 9. Greg Fowler 884, 10. Russ Blakeley 882.