2007 opens new era, announces schedules

NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION EMBARKS ON NEW ERA IN 2007 * Schedule Includes New Venues for Busch East Series and West Series * Combination "Interleague" Races Set * Spec Engines and Composite Bodies Offer Cost-effective Options ...


* Schedule Includes New Venues for Busch East Series and West Series

* Combination "Interleague" Races Set

* Spec Engines and Composite Bodies Offer Cost-effective Options for Teams

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2006) -- So much is new, some might even say revolutionary, regarding the NASCAR Grand National Division in 2007.

But the original, long-standing premise remains -- tours offering developmental opportunities for up-and-coming drivers, in a first-rate, big-time competitive environment.

"It's shaping up to be an incredible 2007 season," said NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations George Silbermann.

For example:

The Grand National level will include the Busch East Series and the West Series, with a new, expanded schedule featuring 14 races for each series designed to further showcase the two series nationally -- a total of 17 states are involved. Each series schedule will have 13 championship points races and the fifth annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, an invitational event that includes the top drivers from both series.

It will be the first full season for the series to use NASCAR's new spec engines and composite bodies, optional components designed to provide cost-effective alternatives for teams. In addition, the minimum age requirement for NASCAR's Grand National Division and its two Modified Tours will be 16 years old beginning next season, a move designed to attract the increasingly large number of young competitors.

The engine and body products, which have both lower initial costs and lower maintenance costs, were introduced in 2006. The use of the spec engines and composite bodies is expected to continue in 2007 as new teams enter the Grand National Division and current teams rebuild or replace equipment.

"Not only is this new approach exciting and intriguing -- it also just makes good economic sense for the teams," Silbermann said. "We are committed to striking a balance between creating a highly competitive environment and keeping things cost-effective.

"We also want a product that will be entertaining for fans not just next year, but for years down the road."

The 2007 schedule includes many traditional tracks and events, all-new combination races in the American Heartland and several races in conjunction with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekends. Select races will be televised, with details to be announced at a later date.

And, in what amounts to a NASCAR version of "interleague" play, the East and West competitors will race side-by-side at Elko (Minn.) Speedway on May 18 and Iowa Speedway (Newton, Iowa) on May 20. It is the first time the two series will compete together in this format during the regular season, in what will be a "tune-up" for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

The West Series returns to Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Tex. (March 31), Phoenix International Raceway (April 19), Altamont Motorsports Park in Tracy, Calif. (April 28 and Sept. 15), Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. (June 30), Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway (July 21) and Evergreen Speedway (Aug. 4).

Several West Series events will take place at familiar venues -- with exciting changes planned. The Evergreen event will be 300 laps, renewing a West Series tradition of long-distance races at the .646-mile oval located at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Wash. The event at California Speedway moves to the facility's road course and will be held in conjunction with the Ferrari Challenge Series. Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colo., which has not hosted a West Series event since 2004, returns to the calendar June 2.

On the East Coast, the Busch East Series will return to Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C. (April 28), Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn. (June 8), New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (June 29 and Sept. 14), Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway (July 14), Adirondack International Speedway in Beaver Falls, N.Y. (July 28), Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. (Aug. 18) and Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Sept. 21).

Events at Phoenix, New Hampshire and Dover are scheduled in conjunction with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. These high-profile events offer aspiring Grand National Division racers a chance to showcase their talents in front of national sponsors and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams.

Other schedule highlights and new tracks include:

*Miller Motorsports Park, a 2.2-mile road course near Salt Lake City, which hosts the West Series for the first time on Sat., July 14.

*South Boston (Va.) Speedway, which hosts the Busch East Series on Sat., June 2.

*Music City Motorplex in Nashville, which hosts the Busch East Series on Sun., July 22

*Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway, which hosts the Busch East Series on Sat., Aug. 25 in a special event that will also include the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

The two series that comprise the Grand National Division serve as a developmental series for NASCAR's three national series. Many of today's top drivers began their careers in the Grand National Division, including Brendan Gaughan (2000-01 West Series champion), David Gilliland (West Series), Kevin Harvick (1998 West Series champion) and Martin Truex Jr. (Busch East Series).

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Brendan Gaughan , Martin Truex Jr.