NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Drivers Return To Action at Madera
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 8, 2004) - Since 1987, Madera Speedway has hosted the West coast's premier Late Model Touring series 12 times and only M.K. Kanke and Eric Holmes have been able to post multiple wins on the tricky one-third mile layout . This Saturday, March 13, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to Madera Speedway for the first of two races this season in the running of the AutoZone "125" presented by Star Nursey.Com.
It would stand to reason that track experience would make the biggest difference at Madera Speedway, but racing luck and a good starting position may see a first time winner as several locals attempt to upstage the series regulars. The AutoZone "125" has Southwest Series team's returning to action after a six week layoff following the season opening event at Phoenix Int'l Raceway in January.
More than 35 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 $44,726 in posted awards in race two of the 14-race championship series.
Jim Pettit II, of Prunedale, Calif., has multiple wins and a championship at Madera Speedway while running the old Tri-Track series and currently sits third in the Southwest Series championship standings after round one. Pettit says you have to have a car that works on the outside groove and is hoping experience will pay off this Saturday as he looks for his second career victory.
"Madera is an exciting place to race," Pettit said. "In this series all the teams are so close in qualifying, so you really have to have your act together. We have not been very good with our qualifying package this season, but we are gaining on it. You can come from the back of the field, but you have to be smart about it."
2003 Southwest Series champion Auggie Vidovich, of Lakeside, Calif., may only run a partial schedule and knows that in order to win a second championship he will have to perform at the top of his game and have solid finishes at each race.
2003 Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year JR Patton, of Las Cruces, N.M., is looking forward to Madera Speedway. "I did not finish well last season at Madera," Patton said. "We know what to expect at Madera and it is going to be important to qualify well in order to have a good finish. Since we did not finish well at Phoenix, this race is critical to get our season back on the right track."
Other notable drivers that are looking for a solid finish at Madera Speedway including Dan Holtz, of Pacific Palisades, Calif., who continues to make a statement on the race track's of the Southwest Series. Burney Lamar,of Sacramento, Calif., has teamed up with 2001 Southwest Series champion Craig Raudman in a team car and plans an all out assault for the championship after three top ten final points finishes.
The AutoZone "125" presented by Star Nursery.Com is set to take the green flag at 6:00 pm this Saturday. Several of the series regulars have tested at Madera over the past many weeks in hopes of findings that competitive edge that will lead to victory. Or will luck prevail in the version of March madness.
THE INSIDE LINE
*The race within the race . Mike Price tops the Rookie-of-the-Year leader board for the after the opener in Phoenix. Price finished 17th to lead fellow Rookies Todd Burns (2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series ShorTrack Division national champion), Nick Lynch (younger brother of 2003 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series champion Scott Lynch), Rip Michels (2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Sunbelt Region champion), John Moore, and Johnny Antonino.
*How many cars? More than 35 cars have pre-entered the AutoZone "125" presented by Star Nursery.Com.
*Seven current drivers have victories at Madera Speedway. Drivers include: Burney Lamar, Eric Holmes, Bryan Germone, and M.K. Kanke. Kanke and Holmes are tied with two wins at the track.
*Eddy McKean dominated the opening event of the season at Phoenix leading 99 of 100 laps.
*Pettit and Doug McCoun will make special appearances at two AutoZone stores on Friday, March 12 from 6-9pm. Each driver will sign autographs for fans and display their race cars and haulers. Jim Pettit will be at the AutoZone store located at 211 N Gateway Drive, Madera, Calif. 93637, and Doug McCoun will be at the AutoZone store located at 4031 N. Marks Ave., Fresno, Calif. 93722.
*Driver to keep your eye on: Eric Holmes has two wins at Madera Speedway with his last victory coming in July of last year.
*Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR 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, G-Force, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JE Pistons, Mac Tools, MEchanix Wear, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, Powerade, Quarter Master, Raybestos Brakes, and Timken. MOVING UP
*Todd Souza, of Aromas, Calif., has joined Fred Penney Racing for the 2004 season in the Sierra Mist/Golfland Chevrolet. Souza is searching for his first career win after three years in the series.
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.
What: AutoZone "125" presented by Star Nursey.Com. Race 2 of 14 for the
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series.
Where: Madera Speedway, Madera, CA.
When: 6:00 p.m., Saturday, March 13.
Track layout: Third-mile paved oval.
Race length: 125 laps, 41.666 miles.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday 3/13 8:00 am Haulers Enter and Registration, 8:30 am Inspection Begins, 9:00 am Mandatory Rookie Driver's meeting, 9:15 am Mandatory Driver's/Crew Chief's Meeting, 9:30 am Qualifying Draw, 11:00 am-12:45 pm Practice, 2: 00 pm Mandatory Scorer's Meeting, 2:30 pm Time Trials (2 Laps), 4:00 pm Non-Qualifiers Race, 4:45 pm Mandatory Spotter's Meeting, 6:00 pm AutoZone "125" presented by Star Nursery.Com
Ticket information: Call (559) 266-7223 or log onto www.maderaspeedway.com