UNBELIEVABLE YEAR FOR SHOWDOWN WINNER AUGGIE VIDOVICH
LAKESIDE, Calif. (21 December 2005) -- Auggie Vidovich II of Lakeside, California recently summarized his year in racing for an interview stating that he still can not believe what he accomplished in 2005. The twenty-four-year-old racer recorded four wins, nine top-five, eleven top-ten, two back-to-back wins, lead two entire races, won both races held at one track, finished second in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series and more importantly won the esteemed NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in November pitting the best-of-the-best racers in NASCAR's regional touring series today.
Vidovich ended his Southwest Series season at Phoenix International Raceway (Avondale, AZ) November 10, where he finished fifth for the final race of the year. Heading to PIR with a 51-point deficit, Vidovich was on the top of the board with the fastest practice time before qualifying. Vidovich qualified with the potential pole time at 27.715 until NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Kenny Schrader bumped Vidovich off the pole (27.667) as one of the final qualifiers. Excited about racing along side veteran Schrader, Vidovich's day changed when he was hit by another car sending the No.11 into the turn three wall on the first lap. Crew chief, Mike Harvick radioed Vidovich in to view damages, make quick repairs, and sent him back out to finish the 125-lap race on the lead lap for the fifth place finish, 34 points out of first in the point standings. Vidovich has now finished the year-end standings in second three times (2005, 2001 and 2000), more than any other driver in the series history since 1986. Vidovich also lead the most laps in the Southwest Series this year at 423.
Finishing out the year with the most wins (four) for the Southwest Series, the 2003 NASCAR Elite Division, Southwest Series Champion now has ten career Southwest Series wins after the wins at Mesa Marin, Shasta and Stockton twice this year.
Vidovich was excited about his chances for this year's 3rd Annual Showdown after finishing eighth out of 40 entries in 2003, the same year he won the Southwest Series championship. Vidovich started the Saturday night 125-lap main event in eighth, fourth row outside. Finding the quickest way around the 1/2-mile oval moving up to second before the mandatory 10-minute break at lap 75 to take on gas, tires and a couple of small adjustments. Vidovich took advantage of a double-file restart on lap 76 to pass the leader dominating the final 50-lap segment for the win crossing the finish line with a 1.738 second lead. Vidovich was elated to win after coming so close to other Southwest Series victories at Irwindale Speedway but never succeeding. "I've hated this track at times but love it tonight!" exclaimed Vidovich in victory lane.
A very rewarding spotlight of the year was the running of Samantha Palumbo's picture on Vidovich's hood for the final three races including the Showdown race. Rich and Kathie Fountain, owners of the No. 11 Centrifugal Technologies, Ultra Custom Boats, Ransom Brothers True Value Lumber Chevrolet wanted to do this for the beautiful 16-year-old Miss California Junior National Teen, who was involved in a near-fatal accident April 8. Samantha returned home in October with continued therapy and future operations. Samantha made a special trip to Irwindale Speedway to watch Vidovich qualify on Friday night and joined the team in the pits for photos. The Sam and Diana Palumbo family continue to be overwhelmed with the racing community's support for their daughter since Vidovich has been displaying Samantha's picture on the hood. For more information about Samantha Palumbo and her continued challenges, go to www.pray4samantha.com. Vidovich dedicated his big Showdown win to Samantha when interviewed in winner's circle.
Another highlight for the Southern California racer this year was his selection by Roush Racing for the Discovery Channel "Driver X: The Race for the Ride," the 13-part nationally televised reality series awarding the winner with a fully sponsored Roush Racing NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ride in 2006. Vidovich was selected one of the 25 out of 1700 submitted resumes making it down to the finals sensing he did well with his prior on track truck experience. Show filming showed candidates being timed in actual Roush Racing prepared Craftsman Trucks taking place at the Darlington and Martinsville tracks with Vidovich savoring the experience.
Vidovich as also awarded the 2005 Most Popular Driver in the Southwest Series at the recent award's banquet held at The Orleans Hotel and Casino. An award he very much appreciated and has won in 2003 and 2001. Vidovich's crew chief, Mike Harvick, was also awarded the Lunati Cams Crew Chief Trophy for Vidovich's four wins in 2005.
As for next year, Vidovich and the No.11 Centrifugal Technologies team return to Phoenix International Raceway, Sunday January 22 for the first round of the 2006 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series season.