SWS: Shasta: Round two preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 8, 2006) -- Saturday, May 13 the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to Northern California for the second straight year with the running of the NARI Records "125" presented by BECCA at Shasta Raceway...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 8, 2006) -- Saturday, May 13 the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to Northern California for the second straight year with the running of the NARI Records "125" presented by BECCA at Shasta Raceway Park located in Anderson, Calif. The event at Shasta will be the second event of the 2006 campaign as the boys of summer prepare for action after a four month layoff.

Last season, the series returned to the Northern California oval after a 16 year hiatus, Auggie Vidovich claimed the victory over Rip Michels, Nick Lynch, Eddy McKean, and Jim Pettit II. Vidovich is squarely focused on adding a second series title to his resume' and looks for a repeat performance at Shasta. Vidovich will also gain seat time this season competing in the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series driving for a new team.

Vidovich's victory at SRP last season was his fourth win of the year and the 10th career triumph for the Lakeside, California native. After starting fifth, he took the lead heading into lap 85 and led the final 40 laps at the 3/8-mile oval. Rip Michels finished second after leading the race's first 84 laps. Nick Lynch, the Bud Pole winner, started eighth after the invert and worked his way to a third-place finish. Eddy McKean crossed the line in fourth followed by Jim Pettit II. Greg Pursley, M.K. Kanke, Ryan Foster, Brandon Riehl and Keith Spangler rounding out the top 10.

This season the cast of characters change a bit but the action will be the same. Coming off his second straight series title, Jim Pettit II from Prunedale, Calif. has a large hole to climb out of after a disappointing 31st place finish at Phoenix. Pettit is mired deep in the standings and will need top five performances the rest of the season in order to hope for a three-peat.

"I am looking forward to the race at Shasta," Pettit said. "We had a good car last season and we are very hungry for a win after our disappointment at Phoenix."

Another former champion hoping for a second trophy to place on the mantle is 2002 titlest Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho. McKean had a solid top ten run at Phoenix and looks to back up his fourth place finish at SRP last fall in pursuit of that second title.

"We have come a long way with our short-track program," McKean said. "We are really focused on consistency and I think we have a car to beat. George Wade and his staff treated us all real well last year and we look forward to the race next weekend."

There are seven registered Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year competitors this season led by Cody Pruitt of Bakersfield, Calif. Pruitt assumes the seat vacated by former ROTY champion Burney Lamar and finished with an impressive 12th place finish at Phoenix to start his rookie campaign.

Brandon Riehl from Boring, Oregon will join the Southwest Series regulars after picking up his third career Northwest Series victory April 30 at Meridian (ID) Speedway. Riehl has one Southwest Series win which came last year at Colorado National Speedway outside Denver.

"I have a great sponsor in Aero Exhaust and I plan on racing as much as I can this year," Riehl said. "I love racing with the Southwest Series guys and I really look forward to Shasta this weekend."

There have only been two repeat winners at Shasta Raceway Park over the years in Southwest Series competition, Ron Esau (86, 87) and Mike Chase (86, 87), both drivers claimed victories in the first four series races held when the facility was configured as a third-mile oval.

The NARI Records "125" presented by BECCA may only be the second race of the season but it looms as one of the most important races in this year's championship chase. The green flag is set to wave at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13.

NARI Records 125 presented by BECCA NEWS & NOTES

* Alumni Spotlight... Burney Lamar, former Southwest Series star and current driver of the Dollar General Chevrolet for KHI on the NASCAR Busch Series, continues to impress as he continues to finish races and complete laps in his first full season on the NASCAR Busch Series. Lamar is 14th in the standings and is the leading Rookie-of-the-Year competitor.

* Points ... Matt Crafton leads the current 2006 Southwest Series standings after the event at Phoenix in January with Eric Holmes the first series regular following Crafton.

* Bud Pole Awards...Craig Raudman 29 career Bud Pole Awards to lead all series drivers but M.K. Kanke (28 poles) looks to take that record back this season. The track qualifying record at SRP is 15.500 seconds/87.097 mph set by Nick Lynch last September.

* Rookies... Cody Pruitt leads the current Rookie-of-the-Year standings after a 12th place performance at Phoenix. Other Rookie contenders this season include Travis McCullough, David Mayhew, Eric Richardson, Danny Mientka, Bobby Latham, and Brandon Loverock. All of which will be visiting Shasta Raceway Park for the first time.

* 287 and Counting...That is how many career Southwest Series starts Bob Lyon from Aqua Dulce, Calif. has. Lyon has started more races than any other competitor in series history. His Southwest Series career started back in 1987. Lyon finished 14th at Shasta last season. Lyon lost his long time crew chief Tony Prusa last month to illness.

* Celebrity Status... NARI Recording artist BECCA joins forces with Shasta Raceway Park beginning with Southwest Series event. BECCA's first CD release titled "BECCA" is filled with Solid Country as BECCA blends in everything that is crazy good about blues, Soul, Folk, gospel and rock. It's a unique sound BECCA calls LA COUNTRY.

* History Lesson...Dan Press held off a determined Roman Calczynski to win the Stroh's 100 at the then 1/3-mile layout. Ron Hornaday, Mike Chase, and local star Roger Gannon rounded out the top five finishers. The race took just 36 minutes to complete with five caution periods for 22 laps. Calczynski started on the pole but Press past him on lap six and never looked back. Randy Laskowsky was the top finishing rookie with a 16th place effort. Ray Hooper Jr. and Dan Press were tied atop the point standings after three events in the 20-race campaign. Press went on to claim the title that year by 103 points over Mike Chase.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series NARI Records "125" presented by BECCA

Where: Shasta Raceway Park, Anderson, Calif.

Who: NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series

When: Sat., May 13 at 8:30 p.m.. (Pacific Time).

Posted awards: $50,731

Race length: 125 laps, 46.875 miles
Track layout: 3/8-mile oval.

2005 Race Winner: Auggie Vidovich
2005 Bud Pole Winner: Nick Lynch 15.500 seconds/87.097 mph

2006 Championship Standings: (After Round one) 1. Matt Crafton 180; 2. Ken Schrader 170; 3. Eric Holmes 165; 4. Tim Schendel 160; 5. Rip Michels 155.

Pre-Race Schedule (All Times Local): Saturday, May 13- Registration begins 9:30 a.m., Haulers Enter 10:00 a.m., Practice 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.(Alternating), Bud Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., NARI Records "125" presented by BECCA 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: Available by calling (530) 378-6789
Online Info: www.shastaracewaypark.org

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Matt Crafton , Eric Holmes , Burney Lamar , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Auggie Vidovich , Tim Schendel , Ryan Foster , Rip Michels , David Mayhew