WS: Fontana: Round nine preview

* Brett Thompson looks forward to superspeedway competition * 9 Series races at Fontana produce 7 different winners * Wide open title battle heads to Fontana DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2005) - Don't blame Brett ...

* Brett Thompson looks forward to superspeedway competition

* 9 Series races at Fontana produce 7 different winners

* Wide open title battle heads to Fontana

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 29, 2005) - Don't blame Brett Thompson (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet) for smiling a lot when the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series arrives at California Speedway. Thompson has left the two-mile track each of the past three seasons with a top 10 finish. He hopes to do it again this year when the West Series visits Fontana, Calif., for the Relocate Here 200 presented by San Bernardino County on Friday, Sept. 2.

With the race slated to begin at 8 p.m., it will mark the first time for the series to compete under the lights at the Southern California track. The $229,295 event will be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, an enhanced replay will air on SPEED Channel on Oct. 7.

Despite his consistent finishes at Fontana, with his best there being a sixth-place finish in 2002, Thompson hesitates to say the superspeedways fit his driving style. Instead, he points out the advantages of racing on a larger track. "I don't know that it suits my driving style," said the 28-year-old driver from Jerome, Idaho. "We just never qualify well. On these bigger tracks, where there's room to pass, I usually can get back up to the front where I need to be. On some of the shorter tracks, I usually get torn up or involved in something and can't seem to get to the front as easy." Thompson began his racing career near his home on the third-mile paved oval of Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. With a background on short tracks, he admits it took some time to adapt on his first visit to California Speedway. "We went and tested there for a full day and it probably took until the end of the day before I got up to speed," he said.

Thompson believes a driver's attitude is a big part of the approach to competing on superspeedways. "Some of the drivers don't like the big tracks," he said. "They would just as soon stay on the short tracks. I think you've got to go in there with the attitude that you're going to have fun. It shows later in the race."

Thompson is currently sixth in the championship standings, with eight events complete of a 12-race series schedule. He has two top-five and five top-10 finishes, including a fifth-place finish a week ago at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

He is hopeful, meanwhile, that his Thompson Motorsports team can continue to build on the momentum they developed late last season. "The team's definitely working real good together," Thompson said. "We've had some bad luck. We've run in the top three in just about every race, but just can't get those finishes. I think the momentum's there. We need to have some luck."

NEWS OF NOTE * The race . This event is the ninth race on the series schedule for 2005.

* The track . California Speedway is a superspeedway with turns banked 14 degrees, 11 degrees of banking in the front straight and three degrees banking in the back straight. The track has hosted nine West Series events.

* Labor Day Weekend . This marks the first time for the West Series to join with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series on Labor Day Weekend at California Speedway. The annual visit by the West Series to Fontana in previous years was in late April or early May, with the exception of the inaugural event in June of 1997.

* Last year's event . As he had in 2003, Johnny Borneman (No. 8 Borneman Plastering/Red Line Oil Ford) mounted a serious challenge for the win in last year's race at Fontana. Clint Bowyer won the Bud Pole and set the early pace. Borneman started fourth on the grid and quickly chased after Bowyer, taking over the lead on lap 18. Bowyer appeared content to run second, as the pair pulled away from the field. The mid-stages of the race went caution-free for more than 50 laps - leaving competitors to pit for fuel and fresh tires under green-flag conditions. Bowyer turned down pit lane for four tires and fuel on lap 51. Borneman headed to the pits two circuits later, giving the lead over to Ken Schrader (No. 99 Federated Auto Parts Pontiac). Mechanical trouble became apparent on Borneman's car, as his crew had to push him out of the pits due to a problem with the clutch. The lead was shuffled several times as drivers cycled through their pit stops. With stops complete, it was Bowyer who was out front, again. His fortune changed, however, following a caution. His car faltered on the restart, as he encountered trouble with his transmission. Schrader shot to the outside as Bowyer struggled to come up to speed. With Schrader pulling away, Bowyer quickly found himself back in seventh. He was left to mount a charge that would come up just short at the finish line. Borneman, meanwhile, was suffering with trouble of his own. Although he maintained the runner-up spot to Schrader into the closing stages of the event, the problems with his clutch were getting worse and he dropped out of competition with just four laps remaining. Schrader won, with Bowyer second and Scott Lynch (No. 08 Mr. Gas Dodge) in third.

* Seven different race winners . The nine series events at Fontana have produced seven different winners. With three victories, Schrader is the only driver with more than one win (1997, 1998 and 2004). Drivers with a series win at California Speedway include Kevin Harvick, Ricky Craven, Johnny Benson, Brendan Gaughan, Eric Norris and Steve Portenga (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet).

* Bud Pole winners . The nine events featured eight different Bud Pole Award winners. Schrader is also the only driver with multiple poles - setting the fast lap in this event in 1998 and 2000. Others to win a Bud Pole in the series there include Borneman, Bowyer, Harvick, Norris, Austin Cameron, David Green and Mark Reed.

* Top marks . Schrader leads several other categories of series competition at California Speedway. He has the most top-five finishes, with six, and the most top-10 finishes, with seven. With $86,528 in winnings, he has won the most money in West Series competition at the two-mile track. Schrader has also led the most laps, running out front for 243 circuits.

* How they compare . Among drivers who have competed in four or more series races at California Speedway, Schrader has the best average finish. He has an average finish of 2.14 in seven races. Portenga is second on the list with an average finish of 5.75 in four races.

* String of top 10s . Two drivers, Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) and Brett Thompson (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet), have scored three consecutive top-10 finishes at Fontana.

* Return performance . Scott Gaylord (No. 00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet) is the only driver to compete in all nine West Series races that have been held at California Speedway. His best finish there was fourth in 2004.

* Manufacturers' battle . Chevrolet has the most wins at California Speedway among automobile manufacturers, with four. A Pontiac was in victory lane last year, however, and Ford took the two wins previous to that.

* Stat of the race . The Bud Pole winner went on to win the race in three of the nine series events at California Speedway.

* Etc. . The nine series races at California Speedway featured 118 different drivers.

* Wide open title battle . Pursuit of this year's West Series championship has developed into another close battle, with it being anyone's guess as to who will walk away with the hardware at the championship awards ceremony in Las Vegas on Dec. 10. The 2003 champion, Scott Lynch, enters this event with a 58-point advantage over defending champion Mike Duncan.

* Hot streak . Lynch is on a hot steak this season, with seven consecutive podium finishes - including two wins and four runner-up finishes. He hopes to continue his that string at Fontana, where his best finish was third last year. Lynch also has a string of 10 consecutive top-10 finishes, which dates back to October of last season.

* Pursuit of rookie title . Andrew Lewis (No. 18 Teen Arrive Alive Chevrolet) continues to lead in the battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the West Series. The 18-year-old driver from Corona, Calif., was the top finishing rookie in three of the eight races so far this year. He is closely pursued for the title by another Southern California driver - Andrew Myers (No. 44 Toyota of Escondido Chevrolet) of Huntington Beach.

BIRTHDAYS

Drivers who will be celebrating a birthday during the month of September include Todd Burns, who turns 32 on the 4th; Carl Harr, who turns 52 on the 9th; Bobby Hillis, who turns 44 on the 10th; Nick DeFazio, who turns 22 on the 12th; Wheeler Boys, who turns 23 on the 22nd; Dan Obrist, who turns 59 on the 27th; and Zan Sharp, who turns 40 on the 30th.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On April 13, 1980, Roy Smith edged Bill Schmitt and Hershel McGriff in a West Series race at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway. Smith had swapped the lead back and forth with Schmitt and McGriff during the 50-lap event - taking over the top spot for good 10 laps from the finish and winning by an 11-second margin. The series made 11 visits to the 2.5-mile track between 1971 and 1980. Nine of those races were combination events with NASCAR's premier series and two were stand alone events.

Fast Facts

What: Relocate Here 200 Presented by San Bernardino County, NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Race #9

Where: California Speedway, Fontana, Calif.
When: 8:00 p.m., Friday, Sept. 2.

Track layout: 2-mile superspeedway.
Distance: 100 Laps, 200 miles.

Posted Awards: $229,295

TV: HDNet (Live) SPEED Channel (enhanced replay, Oct. 7, 1 p.m. ET)

2004 winner: Ken Schrader.
2004 polesitter: Clint Bowyer.

Records: Qualifying: Mark Reed, April 26, 2001, 181.593 mph, 39.649 sec.; Race: Brendan Gaughan, April 28, 2001, 152.316 mph, 1h 18m 47s

Pre-race schedule: Friday - Practice, 9 a.m.-10 a.m., 10:30 a.m.-Noon; Qualifying, 4:30 p.m. Note: Subject to change.

NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Top 10: 1. Scott Lynch 1,359, 2. Mike Duncan 1,301, 3. Steve Portenga 1,257, 4. David Gilliland 1,233, 5. Mike David 1,150, 6. Brett Thompson 1,095, 7. Tim Woods III 1,057, 8. Andrew Lewis 1,048, 9. Scott Gaylord 1,025, 10. Andrew Myers 1,019.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven , David Green , Brendan Gaughan , Andrew Lewis , Steve Portenga , Mark Reed , Tim Woods , Bobby Hillis , Eric Norris , Scott Gaylord , Brett Thompson , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Carl Harr , Clint Bowyer , David Gilliland , Hershel McGriff , Andrew Myers