WS: Sonoma Infineon Raceway spotlight - McGriff

Hershel McGriff, 81, Read for Return to Infineon Raceway SONOMA, Calif. (June 11, 2009) -- Eighty-one year old Hershel McGriff has had enough of retirement, and the legendary driver will make his return behind the wheel at Infineon Raceway for...

Hershel McGriff, 81, Read for Return to Infineon Raceway

SONOMA, Calif. (June 11, 2009) -- Eighty-one year old Hershel McGriff has had enough of retirement, and the legendary driver will make his return behind the wheel at Infineon Raceway for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts, on Saturday, June 20.

McGriff walked away from racing in 2002, but he will compete in three road-course events on this year's NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule, including the series' only stop in Sonoma. If McGriff takes the checkered flag, he would become the oldest driver to ever win in one of NASCAR's premier series.

"After I quit in 2002, I often said I'd like to come back and try a short-track race when I was 80," McGriff said. "Well, I missed that."

McGriff has reason to be excited about making his return at the Sonoma Valley road course. He has earned four West Series victories at Infineon Raceway (1983, '85, '87, '89) and still has the track record for most West Series poles with three.

"I heard about the two road-course races at Infineon and in Utah," McGriff said. "I thought it would be nice to fix the car up and run all three. So, that's what we're doing. I'm looking forward to it. I hope I haven't lost my touch."

Perhaps best known for his talent on a road course, it's only natural that McGriff makes his return at the road-course events. McGriff's racing career is one that pre-dates NASCAR and spans seven decades of racing. His first race was at 17 years of age after his family moved to Portland and from there his career took off.

McGriff went on to gain numerous honors both on and off the track, including:

* 1986 NASCAR Camping World Series West champion

* Third on the list of career West Series victories (35)

* Third on the list of career series poles (37)

* His record 12 victories in 1972 still stands as the most in a season -- as does his record that year for winning the most pole positions (12).

* Became the oldest driver to win in the series, at 61 years and four months (Bakersfield, 1989).

In addition, McGriff was presented with the NASCAR Award of Excellence and named one of the 50 Greatest Drivers in NASCAR in 1998. He was also inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in its inaugural year in 2003. McGriff's popularity among fans was indicated by the record 12 consecutive years (1981-1992), that he was named the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Series West.

McGriff will look to build on that success as he makes his return behind the wheel in the Sonoma Valley. With a successful weekend, McGriff could become the oldest driver in track history to enjoy a sip from the Champion's Goblet in the Wine Country Winner's Circle.

INFORMATION: 800-870-RACE, www.infineonraceway.com or www.ticketmaster.com

-credit: ir

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Hershel McGriff