WS: Utah: Round 10 preview

Open-Wheel Racing Background Benefits Smith On Road Course Teams Prepare For Return To Miller Motorsports Park In Utah Young Series Newcomer Plans To Take On More Than MMP Smith Looks Forward To Challenges At MMP The 3.06-mile road course at...

Open-Wheel Racing Background Benefits Smith On Road Course
Teams Prepare For Return To Miller Motorsports Park In Utah
Young Series Newcomer Plans To Take On More Than MMP

Smith Looks Forward To Challenges At MMP

The 3.06-mile road course at Miller Motorsports Park is the longest track on the NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule. It features a combination of challenging corners that vary in size, and a long frontstretch that allows drivers to unleash the full horsepower of their stock cars.

The spacious layout is one that many drivers find very accommodating to the big stock cars of the NASCAR Camping World Series West, according to Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pools/White Flyer Toyota).

"Miller has a really good flow for how big our cars are and how much horsepower they have," said the 32-year-old driver from Tempe, Ariz. "There's a lot of racing room and a lot of passing opportunities. It's a really neat track."

The circuit returns to Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, this week for the NASCAR Camping World Series 125 on Saturday, Aug. 2.

The layout of the Utah track has some specific features, including a very long front straightaway and a series of three corners on the back of the course, referred to as the "attitudes." Both elements are challenging to a driver, Smith explained.

"The cool thing about the long straight away is that at the end of the straightaway it's kind of a sweeping turn," he said. "It's not like a 'real hard on the brakes' kind of turn. It makes the straight away even that much longer. It makes Turn 1 that much faster and more challenging."

The corners on the back portion of the course, meanwhile, can offer a chance to make up ground on the competition, Smith said. "We were definitely quick there last year," he said. "There's not a lot of room to pass back there, but there's enough corners to get guys set up or make up ground if you're closing on somebody."

Smith speaks from experience when he talks about getting around a road course. He grew up competing in go-karts and then graduated into the open-wheel ranks of racing, where he eventually won a championship in 2002.

"I've driven tracks all over the country and all I ever drove was road courses," he said. "I hope to take that experience and apply it when we go back to Miller."

As a rookie, Smith competed in the inaugural NASCAR race at Miller Motorsports Park a year ago. Adapting to the heavier stock cars on the road course was a major adjustment, according to Smith. "The biggest challenge overall is getting used to how much those cars weigh," he said. "The cars I've driven in the past weigh 1,500 pounds and these weigh 3,300 pounds. Managing the equipment through the race is definitely on my mind the whole time."

Smith started fourth and finished 11th at MMP last year, in a freshman season in which he encountered more than his share of bad luck. He has turned things around this year. Smith opened the season with his first career top-five finish. He is seventh in the championship standings, credited with seven top-10 finishes.

"I think I'm definitely learning more about the car and gelling with the team," he said of his effort this season." It's been a good year. I'm a lot more confident in my driving. It's really come together."

18-Year-Old Plans To Compete On Saturday In 2 Races In 2 States -- Utah and California

Like most 18-year-olds, Paulie Harraka has big plans for his weekend. His plans are a bit more ambitious than most teenagers, however. He is slated to compete in two stock- car races in two states on the same day.

As if that was not enough of a challenge, Harraka will be making his series debut in the first of those events -- competing in the NASCAR Camping World Series West race at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on Saturday.

He will then catch a flight from Salt Lake City to Sacramento, Calif., and make the quick drive to nearby Roseville -- where he competes on a weekly basis in the NASCAR Whelen All-American late model class at All American Speedway.

Travel is nothing new to Harraka -- who originally hailed from Wayne, N.J., but now lives in North Carolina and will Duke University in the Fall. This is his second straight season of making the cross-country jaunt each week to race for Bill McAnally Racing at All American Speedway as a participant in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program.

This week, however, he will need to adapt as he switches from racing the heavier NASCAR Camping World Series car on the Utah road course to driving his lighter-weight late model on the tight third-mile oval in Roseville. He is third in the standings there, with five wins so far this season.

Harraka began his racing career at 7 years of age in go-karts, where he won 13 national championships and six world titles.

The race -- This event is the 10th race for the NASCAR Camping World Series West in 2008. It is the second of two road-course events this season and marks the only visit to the state of Utah this year.

The procedure -- The starting field is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 41 laps (125.46 miles).

The track -- Miller Motorsports Park is a multi-purpose road course with four possible configurations. The track is located adjacent to Tooele County's Deseret Peak Recreation Complex, approximately 35 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City.

The records -- Qualifying: Mike David, July 14, 2007, 93.225 mph, 118.166 seconds; Race: Jason Bowles, July 14, 2007, 70.384 mph, 1 hour 46 minutes 57 seconds.

Birthdays -- Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of August include Bobby Collister, who turns 24 on the 4th; Garland Self, who turns 57 on the 10th; Scott Gaylord, who turns 50 on the 12th; Pat O'Keefe, who turns 32 on the 14th; Burney Lamar, who turns 28 on the 21st; Travis Powell, who turns 44 on the 26th; John Moore, who turns 45 on the 27th; Brandon Loverock, who turns 31 on the 27th; Martin McKeefery, who turns 21 on the 27th; Brian Richardson, who turns 33 on the 28th; and Brandon Miller, who turns 27 also on the 28th.

***

The Race: NASCAR Camping World Series 125
The Place: Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah

The Date: Saturday, Aug. 2
The Time: 1:45 p.m.

Track Layout: 3.06-mile road course
Race Purse: $179,692

2007 Winner: Jason Bowles
2007 Pole: Mike David

Schedule: Friday: Practice 11 a.m. -- noon, Final Practice 1:45-2:45 p.m.; Saturday:Time Trials 10 a.m.

***

Last year's event ...

Jason Bowles scored his first career win with a victory in this event last year. Series veteran Mike David won the pole, his first on a road course, and paced the field through the first 15 laps. When he opted to pit during the third of four cautions, Bowles inherited the top spot. Bowles relinquished the point a lap later, however, to make a pit stop. Long-time series veteran Scott Gaylord ran out front until Eric Hardin slipped by on lap 27. As the field cycled through pit stops, Bowles progressed back to the front. He closed in on Hardin and charged by him on lap 30 as they headed into a series of turns known as the 'attitudes.' Brian Ickler, who had won the two previous West races, started the race at the back of the pack after his brakes failed in his qualifying run. Pit strategy aided his charge to the front, as he closed in on the lead late in the event. Ickler moved into second with six laps to go and ran 1-1/2 seconds faster than Bowles on lap 35. Bowles responded with the fastest lap of the race and a lap later, Ickler slid off the course and lost several spots. He wound up sixth. Bowles charged on to the win, with Alex Haase in second and Mike David in third.

Final notes from Monroe

First career win -- Rookie Jeff Barkshire (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/Rock Church/SPE Dodge) captured his first career win in the NASCAR Camping World Series West with a victory in the Toyota/Concept Race Cars & Parts 150 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., on Saturday, July 26. Barkshire, the leading Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, is now third in the overall championship standings.

Another pole -- Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) set a track record at Evergreen Speedway, while gathering his fifth Coors Light Pole Award of the season. It was his 10th career pole. He went on to finish the race in second, marking his third runner-up finish of the year.

Another top 10 -- Jim Inglebright (No. 1 Jelly Belly Chevrolet) finished fifth at Monroe, to extend his string of top-10 finishes to seven.

Two-for-two -- Newcomer Jonathan Gomez (No. 36 RTD Motorsports/Heritage Cattle Company Chevrolet) is two-for-two, with top-10 finishes in his first two series starts. After coming home ninth in his debut at Roseburg, he finished eighth at Monroe.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Paulie Harraka , Moses Smith , Jim Inglebright , Scott Gaylord , Mike David , John Moore , Eric Holmes , Burney Lamar , Jason Bowles , Jeff Barkshire , Brian Ickler , Garland Self