NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Drivers Look Ahead To NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 4, 2004) - News that the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will return to Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway in November has teams in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series looking ahead to this year's event for a variety of reasons.
Although West Series driver Austin Cameron (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet) scored the overall win in last year's race, teams from the Busch North Series captured the team title for the Grand National portion of the event.
This year's race will offer Cameron an opportunity for a repeat victory, while series champion Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/Orleans Racing Dodge) is looking for a little redemption. He was put out of contention early after contact with the wall in last year's race. Meanwhile, Mike David (No. 2 Injury Helpline.com Ford) is hoping to be a part of the big post-season event, after watching from the sidelines last November.
The top 15 drivers in the final 2004 series point standings will be invited to take part in the invitational event on Nov. 11-13. The competition, which brings together the best NASCAR Touring drivers in the country, will be televised live on SPEED Channel and features more than $500,000 in prize money.
Cameron, whose first career win in the West Series came at Irwindale in 1999, is enthusiastic about the event returning to the half-mile Southern California track for 2004. "I think it is great," he said. "It's a great facility to race. The fans there are great and the track offers accessibility to them."
The El Cajon, Calif., competitor has another reason to like the location. "It's an hour and a half from home," he said. "So, all my friends and family will be able to see the event. Being the first year last year, some people missed it. They heard so much after I won it, that I don't think they will miss it again."
Lynch had a similar response to news that the event will return to the state-of-the-art facility. "I'm really excited about it," he said. "It's definitely a first-class facility and I really don't think the guys back East mind coming out and racing at the track. It offers not only two-by-two racing, but sometimes three-wide racing."
After being sidelined early in the inaugural race, Lynch would like to make it to the finish this year. "From winning the West Series race there in July (of 2003), we had high expectations," he said of last November's race. "Hopefully, this year we will be a little more lucky and take the Yerf-Dog Dodge right to the front."
David, meanwhile, looks forward to being a part of the post-season event. He raced a limited series schedule in 2003 and, consequently, missed making the field last year. The Modesto, Calif., competitor echoed the sentiments of his colleagues about the event returning to Irwindale. "It's great for us," he said. "We don't have to travel so far and it's a good track for our team. It would definitely be a goal of ours, to make the showdown. I think we can do well there."
All three drivers offered praise for the inaugural post-season event. "I thought it was a complete class act," said Cameron. "Everything that was done by Toyota and NASCAR was great." In particular, was the reception and breakfast that gave drivers and crewmembers from each series an opportunity to meet and visit with each other, he said.
"Picture perfect" is how Lynch described the first event. "That's where you get to see where you are, compared to other drivers in the United States," said the 23-year-old driver from Burley, Idaho. "It really gives you a good look at your team, to see how they compare. And it gives you a chance to compare equipment to see some new ideas out there. It's just a great opportunity not only as a learning experience, but to evaluate how your racing program is run."
David, meanwhile, was impressed by all the talent. "I thought it was a great race, anytime you get that many good cars on the track," he said.
In terms of a repeat win, Cameron expects the competition in this year's event to be just as difficult. "The first one was tough as nails to get and I don't imagine this one will be any easier," he said of the win. "I know those (Busch North) guys did their homework. They came out there and beat us in the team competition and they had never been on the track. This time I think they're going to be just as good, if not better."
In addition to $26,000 in prize money for his win, Cameron received the use of a Toyota Tundra pickup truck for one year. The trophies, meanwhile, which were presented to Cameron and NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division winner Ron Breese Jr., are now on display at Daytona USA, the Official Attraction of NASCAR.
The top 15 drivers of the West Series will again face off against the top 15 drivers of the Busch North Series in the Grand National Division portion of the invitational event. In addition, the top 10 drivers from each of the four series that comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division - which includes NASCAR's Midwest Series, Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series - will compete in a single race.