Countdown to the Showedown: Joey McCarthy spotlight

Countdown To The Showdown: Joey Mccarthy Has Unfinished Business at The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 27, 2004) -- At the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in November 2003, New Jersey's Joey McCarthy etched...

Countdown To The Showdown: Joey Mccarthy Has Unfinished Business at The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 27, 2004) -- At the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in November 2003, New Jersey's Joey McCarthy etched his name in the record books as the first lap leader of the 125-lap NASCAR Grand National Division event. McCarthy led the next 99 laps, but wound up seventh in the final results.

How? The Toyota All-Star Showdown -- held at California's Irwindale Speedway -- features a mid-race break and an inversion to spice things up during the final leg. Luck of the draw relegated McCarthy to sixth place for the restart, after a random drawing inverted the top six cars for the race's final segment.

For McCarthy, finishing seventh was bittersweet.

"I knew what the format was going into it," McCarthy said. "I had a great race car and it was kind of hard not to run out front, in clean air, not knowing what the draw was going to be."

Following a 10-minute competition break, teams were sent back out to complete the final 25 laps. West Series driver Austin Cameron, of El Cajon, Calif., blazed to the $26,000 victory ahead of Busch North Series driver Andy Santerre, yet McCarthy couldn't make up the distance in the final sprint.

"Thinking back on it, there might be a few things I might change during the break," said McCarthy. "With everybody on new tires, we were all basically the same speed. It was hard to pass because nobody was sliding around anymore."

Despite the personal disappointment, McCarthy's performance helped the Busch North Series teams claim the event's "team" championship for best overall performance by a series (Fifteen Busch North Series and 15 West Series drivers compete in this event, and prior to the 10-minute break, a points breakdown determines which series has the best overall performance).

"All in all, winning my qualifying race, starting on the pole and leading every laps up to that point, I definitely have no regrets about anything that we did out there," McCarthy said. "In racing, you can't think about 'what-ifs'."

McCarthy joined a new team in 2004 and the results have been equally impressive. In 2003, McCarthy earned his invitation to the Toyota All-Star Showdown after finishing sixth in the Busch North Series standings. Today, McCarthy is ranked eighth after recording three top-five finishes in 11 starts. Barring major problems over the remainder of the schedule, McCarthy should finish among the top 15. He plans to again represent the Busch North Series this November.

"I definitely want to go back," said McCarthy. "I love the facility, l love the track and I feel that I could be competitive again. You don't know what can happen at the end."

Along with the top 15 drivers from both the Busch North Series and the West Series, the Toyota All-Star Showdown will feature the top 10 drivers from each of the four series that comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division -- which includes NASCAR's Midwest Series, Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series -- competing together in a single race.

To receive an invitation, NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division drivers must finish in the top 10 of the point standings for their respective series, which provides in a 40-car field for the Elite Division portion of the event. In the NASCAR Grand National Division race, the field will be 30 drivers -- 15 from the Busch North Series and 15 from the West Series, who also will be invited based on the final 2004 point standings for each series.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Where: Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway

When: Nov. 11-13, 2004

Who: Top 10 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division drivers from four series -- Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. ... Top 15 NASCAR Grand National Division drivers from two series -- Busch North Series and West Series.

TV: SPEED Channel

Posted awards: $500,000.

Track layout: Half-mile oval

On the Web: www.nascarregionalracing.com/toyota

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Austin Cameron