Five Champs set for Tucson Opener

Five champs set for Winston West opener TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 14, 1999) Five NASCAR Winston West Series champions are among a large field of drivers set to compete when the series kicks off its 1999 season with the Winston West 200 at Tucson ...

Five champs set for Winston West opener

TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 14, 1999) Five NASCAR Winston West Series champions are among a large field of drivers set to compete when the series kicks off its 1999 season with the Winston West 200 at Tucson Raceway Park on Sunday.

The event, which will be televised nationally by cable network ESPN2 beginning at 3 p.m. EST, will mark the beginning of the 46th season for the West's oldest stock car racing circuit.

The immense growth and excitement experienced in the NASCAR Winston West Series last year has attracted even more new teams for the 1999 season. It could lead to a record field for a series short-track event at Tucson, topping the 35 teams that entered last year's season-opener.

Five drivers, representing six series championships, have indicated they plan to enter the event. Acton, Calif., driver Bill Sedgwick, who won series titles in 1991 and 1992, is set to compete in the Tim Buckley-owned Chevrolet. The 1993 champion Rick Carelli of Arvada, Colo., is slated to drive for Davy Lee Liniger in the RE/MAX Motorsports Chevrolet. Mike Chase of Redding, Calif., the 1994 champion, will be behind the wheel of Gene Christensen's Chevrolet. The 1996 champion, Lance Hooper of Palmdale, Calif., is set to drive the Coachman Industries/Georgie Boy Motorhome Chevrolet owned by Andy Coyle. Butch Gilliland of Chino Hills, Calif., won the 1997 series championship and is the defending champion of the event. He will drive the Ralph's/Food 4 Less Ford.

They are expected to face plenty of stiff competition from veterans and rookies in the series. Returning for his third season in the series is Sean Woodside of Saugus, Calif. The 28-year-old competitor, who finished as the runner-up in the championship standings the past two years, will drive the NAPA-sponsored Chevrolet owned by Bill McAnally.

Scott Gaylord, who won the Most Popular Driver Award for 1998, will be behind the wheel of the Oliver Gravity Separators Chevrolet of Geoff Burney for another season. The veteran from Lakewood, Colo., has competed in the series since 1988. Kevin Culver of Portland, Ore., is expected to return to the series full time after running a limited schedule last year, as is Joe Bean of San Diego, Calif. Other veteran drivers expected to compete at Tucson include Wayne Jacks of Las Vegas, Nev.; Kenny Smith of El Monte, Calif.; and Jeff Davis of Anaheim Hills, Calif.

Several drivers who had competitive rookie efforts will embark on their sophomore season in the series. Austin Cameron, who won the Sears Point Raceway Rookie of the Year title, will attempt to add to the 11 top-10 finishes he accumulated in 1998. It will mark the first series event at Tucson for the 21-year-old from El Cajon, Calif.

Other drivers beginning their second season in the series include Kevin Richards of Spokane, Wash.; Kelly Tanner of Woodinville, Wash.; Tony Toste of Pismo Beach, Calif.; Brandon Ash of Umpqua, Ore., Ron Burns of Phoenix, Ariz.; Eric Norris of Dallas; and Jeff Streeter of Brawley, Calif.

Poised to challenge for this season's Sears Point Raceway Rookie of the Year Award is another large field of freshman drivers. It includes Brendan Gaughan and Bobby Pangonis, both of Las Vegas; Rick Ware of Greensboro, N.C.; John Metcalf of Aurora, Colo.; Liniger, of Englewood, Colo.; Jerry Cain of Canyon Country, Calif.; Mike Duncan of Lamont, Calif.; David Gilliland of Chino Hills, Calif.; and Bow Carpenter of San Antonio, Texas. Also planning his first full season in the series is Doc Faustina of Las Vegas.

Other drivers expected to enter the season-opener at Tucson include seven-time AMA Motocross champion Jeff Ward of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; two-time champion of the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring Steve Portenga of Sparks, Nev.; Sammy Potashnick of Sikeston, Mo.; and Bobby Dotter of Chicago, Ill.

Drivers will be competing for one of 28 starting positions in this year's field. Twenty-three will qualify for the race based on their speed in Bud Pole Qualifying, while five will fill provisional positions in the field.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series General
Drivers Jeff Ward , Bobby Dotter , Lance Hooper , Rick Carelli , Brendan Gaughan , Steve Portenga , John Metcalf , Eric Norris , Scott Gaylord , Kevin Richards , Jeff Streeter , David Gilliland , Brandon Ash , Austin Cameron