SWS: Mesa Marin: Round thirteen preview

NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series Drivers Ready for October Classic Clash DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 16, 2003) - For 26 years, Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway has hosted the annual October Classic weekend on the ...

NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series Drivers Ready for October Classic Clash

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 16, 2003) - For 26 years, Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway has hosted the annual October Classic weekend on the high-banked half-mile oval, and stands as one of the most prolific tracks on the West coast. The event draws drivers from all over the Western United States and will again feature the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series under the lights this Saturday, October 18 in the running of the October Classic Lucas Oil "150".

For many drivers, a return to Mesa Marin means it is crunch time as drivers and teams jockey for a position in the NASCAR Top 10. But for many it may well be the turning point in their season. The Lucas Oil "150" is a pivotal race in the season and many drivers are scrambling just to maintain their position, while others are searching for a push into the top ten in the point standings. As announced in April, the top ten drivers of each of NASCAR's Elite divisions will get an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

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. With just two events left on the schedule, drivers must put their best foot forward if they hope to receive an invite. More than 35 drivers are expected to attempt to qualify for one of 30 starting positions in Saturday's 150-lap race and vie for their share of $47,621 in posted awards in race thirteen of the 14-race championship series.

"This is by far one of our favorite races of the year at Mesa Marin," stated Mesa Marin V.P., Larry Collins. "We have one of the greatest short-track racing series in the country and a fireworks spectacular that will blow your hair back, it is definitely a winner."

Current 2003 Featherlite Southwest Series point leader Auggie Vidovich Jr. from Lakeside, Calif. has maintained the top spot in the standings since the second race of the season. Vidovich, a two-time series' runner-up, has the championship in his grasp and knows that in order to win the championship he must have a solid performance at Mesa Marin. "The OCTOBER CLASSIC at Mesa Marin is always a big draw and this year is no different. This race is very important to our team as we head into Phoenix at the end of the month," Vidovich said.

Defending Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho is optimistic about his return to Mesa Marin buoyed by his recent success at the series last two stops where he finished first and third. "Mesa Marin has a lot of history for the series," McKean said. "All the big names in this series have won here, in order to get into the top three by the end of the season, I have to do well here."

The hottest driver in the series over the second half of the season has been David Gilliland of Riverside, Calif. Gilliland has won a series leading five races including the series last stop at Phoenix Int'l Raceway just two weeks ago. "We have had some great luck this season," Gilliland said. "These last two races are going to be tough, but we are ready for the challenge. At this point it will be tough to catch Auggie (Vidovich), but the Showdown is what we are looking forward too."

Other notable drivers that are looking for a solid finish at Mesa Marin including Dan Holtz of Pacific Palisades, Calif. who currently sits fifth in the standings and won the race at MMR in March. He has also won the 2001 Late Model championship and is the 2003 Super Late Model champion at Mesa Marin. M.K. Kanke will make his long-awaited return to the series after regrouping from last year's title run in which he fell a few points short. Kanke has four wins and 17 top five performances at Mesa Marin. Eric Holmes from Escalon, Calif. won last year's addition and looks to cut into Vidovich's point lead. Jim Pettit II fell to third place in the standings after mechanical difficulties at Phoenix dashed his title hopes. A solid performance at MMR will boost Pettit's spirits.

The October Classic Lucas Oil "150" is set to take the green flag at 9:00 pm PDT this Saturday. With the season hanging in the balance for some, who will conquer the series' most notable track?

THE INSIDE LINE

* The race within the race . JR Patton tops the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader board for the sixth race in a row after twelve events. Danny Burson, Thomas Martin, Greg Voigt, and Kevin Vernon round out the top-five Rookies.

* How many cars? More than 35 cars have pre-entered the Lucas Oil "150".

* Seven current drivers have victories at Mesa Marin Raceway. Drivers include: Doug McCoun, Eric Holmes, Darrell LaMoure, M.K. Kanke, Auggie Vidovich, Craig Raudman, and Bob Lyon. Mike Chase leads all drivers with eight trips to victory lane.

* Auggie Vidovich Jr. has completed 1605 of 1607 laps contested this season.

* Driver to keep your eye on: Eric Holmes has moved back into second place in the standings after a fourth place finish at PIR two weeks ago. He stands 109 points behind Vidovich.

* 12 drivers have started all twelve races contested so far this season, and the Featherlite Southwest Series has averaged 36 cars per event through the first 12 races of the season.

* 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. MOVING UP

* Danny Burson of Albuquerque, NM. has moved up to 13th in the oval all standings. HE currently sits 118 points out of the NASCAR Top 10. Burson has three top 5 and five top ten performances so far this season. QUOTE OF THE WEEK

* "It is devastating to lose a race you dominate, but heading home will be good medicine" - Dan Holtz (No. 23 Rialto Concrete Products Ford). Describing his PIR performance two weeks ago. PAGE FROM THE PAST Gary Manlow edged Dan Press by a scant one second to win the October Classic 200 October 15, 1988. Jim Thirkettle, Jerry Bowers, and Roman Calczynski rounded out the top five finishers. Ray Hooper Jr. was the top finishing rookie with an 8th place performance. The race took one hour, 17 minutes, and 20 seconds to complete at an average speed of 77.586 mph. Calczynski set fast time with a quick lap of 18.630 seconds/96.618 mph. Following the race, Calczynski topped the point standings by 48 points over Troy Beebe. Ron Hornaday Jr. topped the rookie standings.

Fast Facts

What: Lucas Oil "150". Race 13 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series.
Where: Mesa Marin Raceway, Bakersfield, CA.
When: 9:00 p.m. PDT, Saturday, October 18.

Track layout: Half-mile paved oval.
Race length: 150laps, 75 miles.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday 10/18 8:00 am Haulers Enter, 9:00 am Registration and Inspection Begins, 11:00 am Mandatory Rookie Driver's meeting, 11:30 am Mandatory Driver's/Crew Chief's Meeting, 11:45 am Qualifying Draw, 12:00-12:45 pm Practice, 1:30-2:15 pm Practice, 4:30 pm Time Trials (2 Laps), 6:30 pm Qualifying Race, 9:00 pm October Classic Lucas Oil "150".

Track contact: Larry Collins (661) 366-5711. Ticket information: Adult tickets are $17 & $25 for more information log onto www.mesamarin.com or call (661) 366-5711.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Eric Holmes , Danny Burson , David Gilliland , Dan Holtz , Darrell LaMoure , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich