DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 4, 2003) - In only five years, Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway has become the marquee motorsports facility on the West coast, and this year the races on this half-mile paved oval will add great significance for the NASCAR...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 4, 2003) - In only five years, Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway has become the marquee motorsports facility on the West coast, and this year the races on this half-mile paved oval will add great significance for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series drivers. This Saturday, June 7, the Featherlite Southwest Series returns for the 11th time in the running of the King Taco "150".
In April, NASCAR, Toyota, and Irwindale Speedway announced the Toyota All-Star Showdown that will pit the best of the best in all four of NASCAR's Elite Divisions November 6-8 at the Southern California short track. The event will be broadcast live Saturday, November 8 on SPEED Channel.
In order to get an invite to the Toyota All-Star Showdown, drivers will have to finish in the top ten final point standings in their respective series. Through four races this season, qualifying has been key in the Featherlite Southwest Series and this race at Irwindale is no different with more than 45 drivers expected to attempt to qualify for one of 30 starting positions in Saturday's 150-lap race. Drivers will vie for their share of $53,721 in posted awards in race five of the 14-race championship series.
The wide-open spaces of Irwindale Speedway's half-mile means there is plenty of room for passing, which will produce non-stop racing action. With Irwindale Speedway being a favorite stop on the series, many drivers are looking to get their season back on track.
Craig Raudman of Bakersfield, Calif., the 2001 winner of the August event, likes his chances after a successful test last week. "Irwindale is a fun track to race," said Raudman. "The track is wide and smooth. It drives like a speedway, but forces you to be aggressive on the wheel. We have had some unfortunate luck this season and a solid finish at Irwindale will put us back in the top ten."
The most recent winner on the series, Jim Pettit II from Prunedale, Calif., would not trade his victory at Stockton 99 Speedway in April, but would like nothing more than to back it up with a win this weekend. "We are still riding pretty high after Stockton," Pettit said. "I finished fourth there last year and the crew tells me they have chased all the gremlins away. I am confident we'll race well, but it will all come down to qualifying."
David Gilliland, of Riverside, Calif. picked up his first career victory in last year's event and knows that his season hangs in the balance as he fights to move into the top ten in the point standings. "The win last season was a big confidence builder for me," said Gilliland. "This season my team is even stronger and more prepared thanks to Rich Fountain."
Dan Holtz, who hails from Pacific Palisades, Calif., has added several Super Late Model races to his schedule this season as he chases his first series championship. "Running the late model is about seat time," Holtz said. Holtz hopes to continue his streak of top ten finishes and knows every lap around Irwindale Speedway will greatly benefit the second year series driver.
Burney Lamar, of Arcadia, Calif., who won last year's race, has made several changes over the past month in preparation for the Irwindale event. Lamar parted ways with CBA Motorsports in favor of a reunion with Junior Joiner and his 2002 championship runner-up team. "Getting back with Junior (Joiner) was the best thing for me to do," Lamar said. "I know I can win and be competitive and finishing in the top five at the end of the season is my ultimate goal. I am not going to miss the Showdown."
Defending Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean, from Jerome, Idaho, likes his chances at Irwindale. "We continue to learn new things about our car," McKean said. "We are pretty good at Irwindale, but luck just has not been on our side. I have a new car that I know will race real well. You have to have your best stuff at each race, and I am bringing the best."
Other notable drivers that have experience at Irwindale include Bryan Germone, of Winsor, Calif. who holds the one lap qualifying record of 17.363 seconds set back in May of 1999. Ben Walker, from nearby Sun Valley, Calif., fills the seat vacated by Lamar in the #16 CBA Chevrolet. Walker has several wins at Irwindale Speedway over the past few seasons and will be a car to beat along with Chatsworth, California's Keith Spangler, who always is a tough competitor when the series comes to town.
The King Taco "150" is set to take the green flag at 8:30 pm PDT this Saturday with the Ron Strmiska Jr. looking to see if lightning indeed strikes twice.
THE INSIDE LINE
. The race within the race . Thomas Martin tops the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader board after four events. JR Patton, Frank Deiny Jr., Greg Voigt, and Kevin Vernon, round out the top-five Rookies.
. How many cars? More than 45 cars have pre-entered the King Taco "150" with several drivers looking to make their first start of the season. Drivers include Zach Niessner, Greg Potts, Shawn Calderwood, and Bob Lyon.
. Zach Niessner has 3 top three finishes at Irwindale Speedway including a runner-up finish in 2000.
. Darrell LaMoure of Phoenix, Ariz. welcomes NAPA Auto Parts and Yerf-Dog Fun Karts as sponsors to his team in 2003. LaMoure continues to bring awareness regarding missing children to fans through his Racing for the Missing program. At each series race this season LaMoure and Yerf-Dog will raffle a Yerf-Dog Fun Kart at the race. Proceeds will be spilt between the Racing for the Missing program and the track's selected charity.
. Driver to keep your eye on: Dan Holtz has three straight top ten finishes including a win this season. Holtz vaulted into 5th place in the point standings. Holtz is in his second year on the Featherlite Southwest Series.
. Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR Elite Division in 2003 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.
. Featherlite Southwest Series contingency sponsors include: Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Featherlite Trailers, Five Star, Flowmaster, G-Force, Goody's Headache Powder, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JR Pistons, Mac Tools, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, MSD, Penske Shocks, Powerade, Quarter Master, Quick Car, Raybestos Brakes, "76" Race Gas, Victory Circle Chassis, and Wix Air Filters.
. Todd Souza of Aromas, Calif. moved into the NASCAR Top-10 for the first time this season after a career best 2nd place finish at Stockton 99 Speedway April 26. Souza sits 9th in the overall point standings.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
. "Irwindale is where "Chicken Bone" was born." - Jim Pettit II (No. 03 Hall Kinion Ford).
PAGE FROM THE PAST
Kurt Busch won the inaugural race at Irwindale Speedway the spring of 1999. In ten events staged since 1999, nine different drivers have found victory lane with M.K. Kanke the only repeat winner with two wins in 2001.
What: King Taco "150". Race 5 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division,
Featherlite Southwest Series.
Where: Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, CA.
When: 8:30 p.m. PDT, Saturday, June 7.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): 9:00 am Haulers Enter, 10:00 am Registration and Inspection begin, 12:00 pm Mandatory Rookie Drivers Meeting, 12:30 pm Qualifying Draw, 1-2:00 pm Practice, 2:30-3:30 pm Practice, 3:45 pm Mandatory Driver's and Crew Chief's Meeting, 4:00 Mandatory Scorer's Meeting, 5:00 pm Time Trials, 7:30 pm 25-lap Qualifying Race, 8:00 pm Mandatory Spotter's Meeting, 8:30 pm King Taco"150".