LAKESIDE, CA -- Recently crowned 22-year-old NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series Champion Auggie Vidovich from Lakeside, CA didn't have time to reflect on his recent championship win as he headed to Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale,...
LAKESIDE, CA -- Recently crowned 22-year-old NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series Champion Auggie Vidovich from Lakeside, CA didn't have time to reflect on his recent championship win as he headed to Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale, CA) last week for the first ever NASCAR Toyota All-Star Show Down. An invite-only event that pitted six NASCAR regional touring series' from across the nation (some teams traveling more than 3000 miles) against each other bringing together 70 aspiring drivers hoping to win the honors of inaugural NASCAR Grand National and Elite Division champion.
Having just won the prestigious NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series championship in a year which began with racing on a race-by-race schedule due to sponsorship and funding, Vidovich dominated the series lead from the second race of the season right down to the final race by finishing 13th at Phoenix International Raceway October 30. "We really did not intend to race the entire schedule this year due to funding when we started out at Phoenix in February, but managed to stay in the series race-by-race after gaining the series lead leaving Mesa Marin in March," quoted Vidovich. "I guess some things happen for a reason. This year has been a real challenge with the lack of money along with a great experience for me, my family and our team of finally winning the championship after having been the series runner up in 2001 and 2000." Vidovich won the title this year despite not having won any races and also completed the most laps this year by any competitor in the series (1880 of 1882).
Vidovich is the second driver from San Diego County since inaugural series 1986 champion Ron Esau to win the Featherlite Southwest Series championship, a stepping stone for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Busch and Winston Cup series'. Although the talented driver won the championship this year, his 2004 plans are still uncertain at this time. Several teams and owners have called to congratulate the champion and also inquire about Vidovich for 2004.J Auggie Vidovich, thoroughly enjoyed the well-thought out NASCAR Toyota All Star Show Down three-day event hosted by Irwindale Speedway (located in the scenic heart of San Gabriel Valley). Champion Vidovich was invited along with the other five series champions for a media day prior to the event. "The pressure of the championship was over and I was able race with the best-of-the-best in NASCAR racing," stated Vidovich. The participating teams also attended a gala dinner event hosted by Toyota along with a huge Arcadia Street Fair with music, food, and displays for the fans including a pit stop challenge by Grand National teams prior to the race.J According to media interviews and first practice session times for the Elite Division, the Featherlite Southwest Series drivers (including Vidovich in the top five) proved they had the setups and experience, but that soon was not the fact when the other Midwest and East coast series' were back up front and posted fast times also during final practice.JVidovich also was selected to run one of a handful of in-car cameras for the races.
Racing at the 1/2-mile track started with two 50-lap Elite Division qualifying races Friday where Vidovich was positioned at the back of the pack (20th) where all champions started including the Featherlite Southwest Series drivers lined up due to track advantage. Vidovich was held up at the beginning of the 50-lap race but quickly moved up lap-by-lap to finish the qualifying race in 10th position.
Vidovich then started the live televised NASCAR Elite Division 125-lap race Saturday night in 20th position of a talented field of 40 cars.JVidovich picked off cars and reached 11th position by lap 100, the 10-minute break point, where all teams were brought into their pits able to change everything but the motor. Vidovich's crew chief, Terry Henry opted to change all four tires along with a spring change. The first 75 laps were a team race with the NASCAR Elite Division finishing second place behind the Midwest series for bragging rights.
Vidovich was then ready for the challenge of the final session with money awarded on individual finish by NASCAR for the final 25-lap shoot out. With the Irwindale six degrees of banking on both straights with progressive banking in the turns created some very competitive and aggressive three-wide racing, Vidovich raced side-by-side for laps, finishing eighth of 40 cars.
"The best short track racing I've ever seen in my life," quoted master of ceremony Darrell Waltrip. That was the comment made by many about the much anticipated event. Hats off to NASCAR, Toyota and Irwindale Speedway for the event of a life time.J Auggie Vidovich has also been invited as a quest to attend the NASCAR Winston Cup Banquet December 5 and then off to Reno, NV for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series Banquet December 13 with his team for the championship awards presentation.
Auggie Vidovich again wishes to thank all his great sponsors this year which included Creative Touch Interiors, CARQUEST, Ransom Brothers Lumber, No Fear, SOBE, SPY, PG Series Trucks, Ron's Rear Ends, DPI, and Sierra Brakes. "Also thanks go out to my family, team and friends that gave me the opportunity to win this year's championship,' replied Auggie Vidovich.