SWS: Sears Point: Event preview

Teamwork and skill is the key at Sears Point. SONOMA, CALIF. (June 17, 2002) -- Doug McCoun knows a little something about teamwork. The Prunedale, Calif. resident has spent the last 20 years as a firefighter for the North County Fire District...

Teamwork and skill is the key at Sears Point.

SONOMA, CALIF. (June 17, 2002) -- Doug McCoun knows a little something about teamwork. The Prunedale, Calif. resident has spent the last 20 years as a firefighter for the North County Fire District where he holds the rank of captain. Leading a team is something that has come naturally for the 1985 NSCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge national champion.

"Trust is the most important thing," McCoun explains. "Whether fighting fires, performing a rescue, or driving a racecar, you have to have a good team behind. I trust my team. That makes all the difference."

McCoun is optimistic about his chances in the Snap-On Tools/Jelly Belly "200" on Saturday, and would like to claim his second victory at the picturesque Sonoma Valley landmark. McCoun won the 1996 Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring event held on the old configuration." I have always liked Sears Point," McCoun said. "You really have to hit your marks each lap or it will cost you. All things being equal, this is a drivers track."

McCoun's team, lead by veteran crew chief Raymond Brown, has resurfaced this season as a championship caliber team after suffering through a disappointing 2001 season. Through six events this season, the Wynn's sponsored team has improved their performances over last year and McCoun gives a lot of credit to his team. "My team is everything." McCoun exclaimed.

The rising stars of the Featherlite Southwest Series will share the stage along side the titans of Winston Cup. All three Richard Childress teams will get a little extra seat time in hopes of upstaging the series regulars. Kevin Harvick, Robby Gordon, and Jeff Green will all trade in the heavier Winston Cup machines for the more nimble fiberglass bodied stock cars. "We're going to run that race to have a good time but we also want to win, plus the extra time on the road course is going to help us for the Winston Cup race the next day," Harvick said.

Jim Inglebright of nearby Fairfield, Calif. has assembled a solid team of his own and looks to make the most of his only appearance in the Featherlite Southwest Series in 2002. Inglebright, the two-time defending champion of the event, looks to make it three. "Nobody has ever had a three-peat at Sears Point for the Featherlite Southwest Series and that's my goal," said Inglebright. "The circle track stuff is hard but a lot of it has to do with setup. Road racing is a lot more about driver ability and skill. I feel in those conditions that I can get the job done."

Brandon Whitt leads a talented group of Rookie competitors into Sears Point Raceway, and whose team optimizes teamwork. The 19-year old currently sits 9th in the overall season point standings after six events.

Dan Whitt, Brandon's father and team owner, likes his son's chances on Saturday. "We have so many new variables to deal with," Whitt explains. "Brandon's year of training at the Elf La Filiere racing school in France should come in handy, but there's a big difference between driving a thousand pound open-wheel car and a 2900 pound stock car. We think, over time, that Brandon's road course training will give him an edge at these type of events, but the technical learning curve for the team is steep, and it may take a few races for everything to gel."

The Sears Point Raceway event will be the third televised race for the Featherlite Southwest Series on the SPEED Channel in 2002. The race will air on Monday, July 15 at 8 pm EST as part of NASCAR's Racing Across America Series. More than 50 drivers will be on hand and attempt to qualify for one of forty-two starting positions at Sears Point Raceway.

The Featherlite Southwest Series is one of eight NASCAR Touring Series that blanket the United States. NASCAR Touring brings special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses. NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks. Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, Gatorade, Goody's Headache Powders, Raybestos Brakes, Hills Brothers Coffee, RE/MAX International, Inc., and R.J. Reynolds brand Winston.

THE INSIDE LINE

* The race within the race -- Brandon Whitt is clearly focused on the Rookie-of-the-Year title but knows consistency on each track is key. Whitt knows how to get around a road course. He was the best of the best in go-karts and was offered a chance to drive in a Formula One development program in France for one season where he finished 6th in the final season standings. Whitt looks forward to squaring off against the best at Sears Point Raceway where this 19-year old can flex his muscle. Whitt is currently 9th in the standings and heads the Rookie class of 2002.

* Welcome Back -- Bryan Germone returns to the Featherlite Southwest Series after a couple of year absence. The 1997 champion has started 168 Featherlite Southwest Series races with 60 top five and 87 top ten finishes, including seven victories. Germone has 10 Bud Pole Awards to his credit with his last award coming here at Sears Point Raceway in June of 1998. Germone has more than $269,000 in career earnings.

* Kevin Harvick, Jeff Green, Robby Gordon, and Boris Said all look to steal the stage in the Featherlite Southwest Series this weekend, but will have to contend series regulars who intend on keeping the headlines for themselves. Series veteran M.K. Kanke looks to score his second victory of the season at Sears Point Raceway, the place the ended is stellar 2001 run for the championship.

* Etc. -- David Gilliland became the sixth different winner in six events this season following his triumph at the last series event at Irwindale Speedway. There have also been six different Bud Pole Award Winners at each of the first six events.

MOVING UP

* Doug McCoun looks to capitalize on strong finishes this season and find Victory Lane on Saturday at Sears Point Raceway. After a disappointing 2001 campaign that left the 1985 Weekly Racing Series National Champion in 10th place in the final standings with only four top-ten finishes in 16 starts, McCoun is back in form. Through six races this season, McCoun has one top-five and three top-tens in five starts and is in sixth place in the championship chase despite not making the grid at Cajon Speedway in March.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

* "This is the biggest win of my career. This means more to me then all the rest." -- David Gilliland (No. 48 Luke's Transmission Chevrolet), describing his first career Featherlite Southwest Series victory.

PAGE FROM THE PAST
Jon Paques is the only Featherlite Southwest Series driver to win three events at Sears Point Raceway. Ron Hornaday, Ken Pedersen and Jim Inglebright each have two victories with Inglebright attempting to make it three in a row on June 22.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Boris Said , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Robby Gordon , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Brandon Whitt , Jim Inglebright , Bryan Germone , David Gilliland , Doug McCoun