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NASCAR Series prepares for new era as 2003 season begins at Phoenix. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2003) -- A new era will get under way for the NASCAR Winston West Series when the curtain goes up on the 2003 season at Phoenix International ...

NASCAR Series prepares for new era as 2003 season begins at Phoenix.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 27, 2003) -- A new era will get under way for the NASCAR Winston West Series when the curtain goes up on the 2003 season at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, Feb. 2.

The event will be the first for the series under what will be known as the NASCAR Grand National Division. The new division will be comprised of the Winston West Series, along with the Busch North Series. As the Grand National division, the two series' will now compete under the same set of rules.

Entries for the season-opening Bosch Spark Plug 150 at Phoenix include drivers representing 10 different states, as well as Canada and Japan. The $146,650 event will be televised to a national audience on the SPEED Channel cable network on a tape-delay basis. The race is slated to air at 8 p.m. ET on March 3.

Heading the list of entries is NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ken Schrader, who won the event in 2001. Series veterans on the entry list include Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif.; Austin Cameron of El Cajon, Calif.; Jeff Davis of Anaheim, Calif.; Mike Duncan of Lamont, Calif.; Scott Gaylord of Lakewood, Colo.; Wayne Jacks of Las Vegas; Steve Portenga of Sparks, Nev.; Kevin Richards of Spokane, Wash.; Jack Sellers of Sacramento, Calif.; and Brett Thompson of Jerome, Idaho.

Two well-known drivers who plan to run the full series schedule in 2003 are Jimmy Kitchens of Hueytown, Ala., and Jim Inglebright of Fairfield, Calif. Several drivers who have competed in the series on a limited basis in the past are also entered. They include C.T. Hellmund of Austin, Texas; Scott Lynch of Burley, Idaho; Brandon Miller of Bakersfield, Calif.; Scott Schmidt of Fort Lupton, Colo.; Clint Vahsholtz of Woodland Park, Colo.; and Gene Woods of Ontario, Calif.

The entry list also includes local area drivers Jeff Barrister of Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Bobby Hillis of Phoenix.

Carl Harr and his son, Daryl, are expected to return to the series in 2003 with their two-car team from Alberta, Canada. Meanwhile, Takuma Koga is to make the trek from his home in Nagoya, Japan, to compete at Phoenix.

Drivers traveling cross-country from the East Coast include Paul Wolfe of Mooresville, N.C., and Busch North Series driver Matt Kobyluck of Uncasville, Conn. The entry list also includes Ken Weaver of Dallas.

NEWS OF NOTE

* He's back ... Steve Portenga returns to the Winston West Series. Portenga, who finished in the top five of the series championship standings three consecutive years -- 1999-2001, raced full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2002. He will pilot the Performance Motorsports Ford.

* Familiar paint scheme ... The Jelly-Belly-sponsored yellow paint scheme of Jim Inglebright, familiar to race fans in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Featherlite Southwest Series, will be a regular in the Winston West Series this year. The number 20 Chevrolet will be one of two full-time entries from Bill McAnally Racing.

* Alabama connection ... Jimmy Kitchens of Hueytown, Ala., is slated to run the full schedule of events in the Winston West Series in 2003 -- driving the Pontiac owned by Christina Adair. Kitchens, who competed in the NACAR Busch Series on a limited basis in recent years, previously raced in two Winston West Series races -- notching a top-10 finish at California Speedway in 1998.

* Blow out the candles ... Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of February include Billy Kann, who turns 41 on the 4th, John Metcalf, who turns 55 on the 14th, Wayne Jacks, who turns 54 on the 21st, C.T. Hellmund, who turns 33 on the 24th, and Butch Gilliland, who turns 46 on the 25th.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

* Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/Mr Gas Dodge) closed out the 2002 season with his first major NASCAR victory by winning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Burley, Idaho, driver hopes to keep the momentum rolling into 2003.

* Jack Sellers (No. 15 Aramark/Dayco Belts Chevrolet) will be entering his 19th consecutive season in the NASCAR Winston West Series.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

* On Nov. 29, 1981, Richard Petty closed out his 1981 season by winning a NASCAR Winston West Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Richard Petty , Paul Wolfe , Matt Kobyluck , Jimmy Kitchens , Steve Portenga , John Metcalf , Jim Inglebright , Bobby Hillis , Scott Gaylord , Jack Sellers , Brett Thompson , Brandon Miller , Scott Lynch , Carl Harr , Kevin Richards , Gene Woods , Ken Weaver , Clint Vahsholtz , Austin Cameron