WS: Portland: Round nine preview

News & Notes, Portland - NASCAR Camping World Series West BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 Warn Prepares For Return To Portland International Raceway McGriff Back At Age Of 81 As Defending Race Winner Voting Underway For Most Popular Driver ...

News & Notes, Portland - NASCAR Camping World Series West

BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125

Warn Prepares For Return To Portland International Raceway
McGriff Back At Age Of 81 As Defending Race Winner
Voting Underway For Most Popular Driver Award For 2009

Warn Looks Forward To Returning To Where He Began Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- As a rookie in the NASCAR Camping World Series West last season, Jim Warn (No. 10 MJ2 Racing/GPI Performance.com Chevrolet) spent a lot of time becoming familiar with race tracks he had never seen before and asking veteran drivers for tips on the fast way around the track.

As the series heads to Portland (Ore.) International Raceway this week for the Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 on Sunday, July 19, some of those veterans may be looking to Warn for advice on how to get around the 1.98-mile road course that the series last visited in 1986. Warn, who began his racing career competing in Sports Car Club of America events at Portland International Raceway, is one of the few active drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series West who has raced there.

"It's nice to get back to where you started," said the 25-year-old driver from nearby Aurora, Ore. "I haven't done hardly any racing there since I got out of road racing four or five years ago. So, it's definitely good to go back and race again where you started."

The picturesque facility has some specific features, Warn recalled. "Portland is an interesting track," he said. "It's very flat. There's no banking at all. If anything, it's kind of off-camber stuff on a couple of corners. It's a real momentum track. You've got to be real careful about not bogging the car down, just to keep your momentum up. There's a lot of good passing. The track doesn't have any real, real unique features, but it's got a lot of little things that add up to making a good lap around there."

Warn anticipates his experience on the Portland track will be of benefit in his return. "It's definitely a place that takes a little bit of time to get used to," he said.

"It's kind of technical like Miller (Motorsports Park)," Warn said in reference to the road course in Tooele, Utah that the series visits each year. "But Portland's pretty narrow. It's not as wide as Miller. It just takes a while to kind of get your feet under you there and feel comfortable in the car and know how to keep the momentum going in some of the really tight corners."

Drivers who have never been to the track may not realize how much braking is needed, according to Warn.

"I think their biggest surprise will be just how much braking you have to use there," he said. "A lot of those corners, they look like they can take more than they really can. You've really got to be up on the wheel back there in the carousel, especially down into the chicane. I think the chicane will be where it can ruin a lot of people's day. Getting through there, it will be interesting to see."

There may be some other surprises to first-time visitors to the track, as well, Warn said. "You would be surprised how much you're on the rumble strips there," he said. "You really kind of toss the car around a little bit. It's not similar to any other road course we go to. All of them are pretty much different. They all have their own characteristics. It's just going to be one of those things of get the car going and figure out what you've got and it will slowly come as practice goes on."

Although he has plenty of experience at Portland, Warn acknowledged it will be a big adjustment to transition from the cars he drove there previously to the heavy stock cars of the NASCAR Camping World Series. "It's a pretty big swing from what I drove before," Warn said. "The cars I drove there before were a third of what these cars are. These things are basically three times as big. You use almost three times as much braking. It will definitely be different."

***

News & Notes

The race -- The BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 is the ninth event in a 13-race series 2009 schedule this year for the NASCAR Camping World Series West. It is the second of three road-course races.

The procedure -- The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 63 laps (125 miles).

The track -- Portland International Raceway is a 1.98-mile road course.

The track hosted one NASCAR Camping World Series West event in 1986, with Hershel McGriff taking the win.

The records -- Qualifying: Derrike Cope, Aug. 24, 1986, 98.440 mph, 71.310 seconds.

McGriff returns -- Hershel McGriff will be back as the defending race winner at Portland International Raceway. The legendary driver, who last competed in the series in 2002, returned this season at the age of 81 to race the three road-course events. McGriff was originally from Bridal Veil, Ore., but later moved to Green Valley, Ariz.

New leader -- Jason Bowles (No. 6 Sunrise Ford.com Ford) has taken over the lead in the championship standings. He has a 24-point edge over Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota), who had led the points since June 21, 2008.

Tight points battle -- The points battle is tight throughout the top 10 in the championship standings. Only 112 points separate the six drivers in fourth through ninth in points.

Rookie challenge even -- The battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award is even after eight events, with Paulie Harraka (No. 12 NAPA AutoCare/Adaptive One Brakes) tied with Blake Koch (No. GodSpeaks.com Chevrolet) at 74 points each.

***

Fast Facts

The Race: BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125

The Place: Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore.
The Date: Sunday, July 19

The Time: 2:00 p.m. PT
TV Schedule: SPEED July 30, Noon PT

Track Layout: 1.98-mile road course
Race Purse: $122,340

2008 Winner: Event not held
2008 Pole: Event not held

Schedule: Saturday: Practice 1-2 p.m., 3-4 p.m. Sunday: Time Trials 11 a.m.

***

Final Notes From Irwindale

Winning streak at home -- Jason Bowles (No. 6 Sunrise Ford.com Ford) captured his third consecutive NASCAR Camping World Series victory on his home track of Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) with a win in the King Taco 200 on July 4. Bowles had two wins at the half-mile track in 2008. This marked his third win this season and the ninth of his career, which puts him in a tie with Rick Carelli, Eric Holmes, Scott Lynch and Eddie Pagan on the list of all-time winners in the series.

Another pole -- Bowles also won the Coors Light Pole Award at Toyota Speedway. He turned a lap of 96.185 mph in qualifying for the King Taco 200. It was his third pole of 2009 and the ninth of his career.

Successful return -- Jeff Barkshire (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge) had a strong return to the series with a second-place finish at Toyota Speedway. Barkshire, the 2008 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, is running a limited schedule of events this year. He was the only one to mount a serious challenge at Irwindale, leading 68 laps.

Strong on oval, too -- One race after making his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Series West by nearly winning on the road course at Sonoma, Calif., Patrick Long (No. 9 Sunrise Ford/AASCO Motorsports Ford) turned in a strong performance on the half-mile oval at Irwindale -- finishing fourth.

***

Voting Begins For Most Popular Driver

Online voting is under way for the Most Popular Driver of the Year Award in the NASCAR Camping World Series, as well as each other regional touring series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Fans can vote for their favorite driver in the NASCAR Camping World Series West for the 2009 Most Popular Driver of the Year Award at www.nascarhometracks.com.

Voting continues for the NASCAR Camping World Series West until Sept. 26. Results will be announced at the season-end banquet.

-credit: nascar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Derrike Cope , Paulie Harraka , Rick Carelli , Patrick Long , Scott Lynch , Eric Holmes , Hershel McGriff , Jason Bowles , Jeff Barkshire , Blake Koch