ES: Greenville-Pickens: Round one preview

* Historic Greenville Hosts Season Opener * Development Teams For Gibbs, DEI, RCR, Hendrick * Wide Open Quest For First-Time Champion in 2008 22nd NASCAR Camping World Series East Season Opens April 19 The NASCAR Camping...

*       Historic Greenville Hosts Season Opener

* Development Teams For Gibbs, DEI, RCR, Hendrick
* Wide Open Quest For First-Time Champion in 2008

22nd NASCAR Camping World Series East Season Opens April 19

The NASCAR Camping World Series East opens its 22nd season Saturday, April 19 at historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C. An exciting and unpredictably competitive season is forecast for the 13-event schedule, which takes the series to a dozen tracks in nine states.

The departure of 2007 series champion Joey Logano to the NASCAR Nationwide Series assures a first-time series champion in 2008. An outstanding rookie class is assembling. Determined veterans, meanwhile, are primed for a run at the championship. Other variables to monitor are new driver/team combinations and the performances of four NASCAR national series teams fielding efforts for seven drivers.

The championship race is wide-open.

Joe Gibbs Racing returns with a single-car team for second-year driver Marc Davis, 17, of Mitchellville, Maryland. Davis will drive Slim Jim Toyotas accompanied by team-mate Logano's 2007 championship winning crew, including crew chief Scott Sibley. Davis finished ninth in series points last year, with four top-fives and six top-10 finishes.

Powerhouse team Andy Santerre Motorsports has a new driver lineup for his two Chevrolet teams.

Young star Peyton Sellers, 24, of Danville, Va., slides behind the wheel of ASM's No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet. That's a huge change for Sellers, who used one modestly budgeted family-owned car for the entire 2007 season. Sellers finished third in the 2007 point race, and capped the season by finishing second to Logano in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown.

Sellers has a notable rookie teammate at ASM. Austin Dillon, 17 of Lewisville, N.C., will drive the No. 3 Garage Equipment Supply Chevrolet as a Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award candidate. Dillon is the son of former NASCAR driver Mike Dillon and grandson of NASCAR championship team owner Richard Childress. Driver Dillon and Richard Childress Racing have partnered with Andy Santerre Motorsports in much the same way that Dale Earnhardt, Inc. partnered with ASM in 2007. DEI has taken its driver development program in-house for 2008.

DEI has assigned Jeffrey to its No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Foundation Chevrolet this year. Joining the DEI roster is Trevor Bayne, 17, of Knoxville, Tenn., who will drive the No. 1 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet. Jesus Hernandez, 28, of Fresno, Calif., joined the team last year when his former Ginn team was acquired by DEI.

Another two-car team that will be followed closely is one owned by Hendrick Motorsports and fielded from Ken Schrader Racing's stables. Jamie Hayes, who finished eighth in points last year, returns to the No. 52 Hendrick Chevrolet. Joining the effort will be rookie Ricky Carmichael, 28, of Clearwater, Fla. in the No. 4 Monster Energy Drink Chevrolet.

NASCAR national series veteran Steve Park, 40, of East Northport, N.Y., returns to the NASCAR Camping World Series East in 2008. Park is driving Robert Torrriere's No. 35 Waste Management/Recycle America Chevrolet.

Park has won in six NASCAR divisions: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (2), NASCAR Nationwide Series (3), NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (1), NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (16), NASCAR Camping World Series East (2), as well as in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series weekly racing at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway.

This season marks the first Park has competed full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Series East. In 1996, he made 11 starts and posted two wins (New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Nazareth (Pa.) Speedway), five top-fives and six top-10s.

Tracks on the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series schedule where Park has won include New Hampshire (NCWSE) 1996, (NWMT) 1994, 2 wins in 1995, 1996; Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International (NSCS, 2000); Music City Motorplex (NNS, 2000); Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway (NWMT, 1991, 2 NWMT wins in 1995, 3 NWMT wins in 1996); and Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway (NWMT 1995).

To study NCWSE tracks at which he's never competed, Park and team did pre-season testing at Greenville-Pickens and South Boston, Va.

News & Notes

The Race: This event is the first of 13 races on the NASCAR Camping World Series East schedule. It is the third consecutive year Greenville-Pickens Speedway has hosted the series season opening event.

The Procedure: The starting field is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (75.00 miles).

The Track: Greenville-Pickens Speedway is observing its 63 season in 2008. It pre-dates the founding of NASCAR by three years. The .500-mile asphalt oval hosted 29 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events between 1951 and 1971. Richard Petty holds the most G-P wins with six. Petty won the final G-P NSCS race on June 26, 1971. Bobby Isaac won the April 10, 1971 200-lapper at G-P. It was the first NSCS race to be network broadcast live flag-to-flag by ABC Sports. The track also hosted a pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series events, won by Jack Ingram and Butch Lindley, in 1983. It also hosted four NASCAR Convertible Series events (1956-1959).

Competing For A Showdown Spot: NASCAR Camping World Series East race winners and NASCAR development series champions win guaranteed starting spots in the 2009 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. All other entrants must race their way into the rich and prestigious event. The race date has been moved to January 23 and 24, 2009.

Ralph Earnhardt's Legacy At Greenville-Pickens Speedway

Legendary Earnhardt family patriarch, Ralph Earnhardt, is honored in perpetuity at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Earnhardt's name appears on the speedway's retaining wall, honoring his 1965 and 1966 track championships. He also won NASCAR Sportsman Division titles in 1956 and 1961.

East Trio Goes West for Phoenix Johnson Foundation 150

A trio of NASCAR Camping World Series East drivers made the long haul to Phoenix International Raceway to compete in one of their western brethren's marquee events.

In the end, 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series West champion Mike David won the April 11th Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 at Phoenix. Nick Lynch was second followed by Jeff Jefferson, Brett Thompson and Jeff Barkshire.

But East drivers made their presence known.

Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet) qualified 15th and finished tenth, rebounding from an unscheduled pit stop for tire replacement.

Marc Davis (No. 92 Slim Jim Toyota) qualified second-fastest and led four times for a total of 45 laps. He had a late race cut tire and finished 17th. Davis finished second in the 2007 version of the event.

Max Dumarey (No. 76 Chevrolet) qualified 11th-fastest for the 37-car field. He was involved in an accident on lap 105 and finished 27th.

Season's First Race At Greenville-Pickens A Proven Barometer For Outcome Of Title Chase

A phenomenon has occurred since the NASCAR Camping World Series East began opening its season at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. The results of the series opener at the historic track have served as a barometer for the outcome of the season's championship points race.

The series champion in both 2006 and 2007 opened the season with a top-five finish at Greenville.

In 2006, Sean Caisse won the 150-lap event over Brian Hoar, Mike Olsen, Matt Kobyluck, and Bryon Chew. All five made the top-five in the series final point standings. Olsen won the championship followed by Caisse, Chew, Hoar and Kobyluck.

In 2007, Joey Logano won the Greased Lightning 150 over Sean Caisse. At season's end, Logano also won the series championship over Caisse. Peyton Sellers finished fourth in the 2007 event, and took third in the final point standings.

Here's another potential clue to the outcome of the 2008 championship: The Coors Light Pole Award. Both Olsen (2006) and Logano (2007) won the award as a prelude to their title.

On The Horizon: "The House That Rusty Built" In Iowa, "Peyton's Place" In Virginia

The next three races on the NASCAR Camping World Series East schedule are highlighted by three diverse tracks.

Following the An American Revolution 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet at Greenville-Pickens Speedway, the series travels to Iowa Speedway, a high-banked intermediate sized .875-mile tri-oval in Newton, Iowa, for the US Cellular 200 on May 18; and then to the .400-mile short-track of South Boston (Va.) Speedway for the 150 on May 31. After attracting a sellout crowd at the new track in 2007, the NASCAR Camping World Series East and West teams -- not to mention the enthusiastic Iowa fans -- have been anxious for the series' return. The track was designed by 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Rusty Wallace. The 200-lap race is a mid-continent NASCAR racing showcase. Last year's event featured a spectacular race-long duel for supremacy between eventual winner Joey Logano and Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne has entered this year's event.

The series then moves to South Boston, Va., for a 150-lap May 31 event. Last year's inaugural appearance produced a thrilling battle for the win between series veteran Matt Kobyluck and hometown hero Peyton Sellers from nearby Danville. Sellers won the pole for the event, and finished a close second to Kobyluck in the race. Sellers won the 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship racing at South Boston Speedway. Sellers returns "home" this year driving for four-time series champion Andy Santerre, who also fields a car for Richard Childress Racing development driver Austin Dillon this year.

2008 Watch List: A Kobyluck Breakthrough At New Hampshire Could Bring Elusive Championship

One of the NASCAR Camping World Series East's most popular drivers, Matt Kobyluck, has finished in the top-five of the series point race for three consecutive years (3rd, 2005; 5th, 2006; and 4th, 2007).

Kobyluck, 38, of Uncasville, Conn., owner-driver of the No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet, made his first NCWSE start at NHMS in 1998.

His racing relationship with the track has been contemptuous ever since. Despite being a 12-time series winner on short tracks, superspeedways and road courses, NHMS has been a frustrating spot on his schedule. He's won a pole there in 2005, and has a best finish of third in 2002, but only three career top-five finishes.

This year, if Kobyluck can maintain his pace of at least two wins a year, finishing in the top-five in 50 percent of the races and in the top-10 in 75 percent of the races, and can convert the two NHMS starts into top-five finishes, Kobyluck could create his best chance yet to capture the elusive series championship. The series is scheduled to appear at New Hampshire for 125-lap events on June 27 and September 12.

Comprehensive TV Coverage of NASCAR Camping World Series Continues On HDNet, SPEED

2008 television coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Series East begins with SPEED TV's taping of the April 19 Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at South Carolina's Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

It is the first televised East event in a comprehensive television broadcast schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series. Eight East events will include live coverage in high definition on HDNet and enhanced replays on SPEED.

Veteran announcer Mike Hogewood returns to call the action, with color commentary by Dan Pardus. They will be accompanied by Natalie Taylor, who will report on action from the pits.

High definition pioneer HDNet will telecast 16 races in 2008, continuing a partnership with NASCAR that began five years ago and provided the NASCAR Camping World Series with its first live television package.

HDNet coverage includes the first eight races of the NASCAR Camping World Series West season, as well as the season-finale Oct. 18 at the new Kern County track in Bakersfield, Calif.

The NASCAR Camping World Series East television schedule on HDNet will pick up with the July 19 race at Music City Motorplex in Nashville and run through the final seven races of the season, culminating with the live broadcast at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway Sept. 28.

HDNet's broadcast schedule will also include the mid-season combination race between the East and the West at Iowa Speedway May 18.

In addition, SPEED's enhanced replays will carry 24 races as part of its Racing Across America series, re-airing all 16 of HDNet's live events while originally producing eight others.

SPEED will provide coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Series East opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C. on April 19. SPEED will also televise the NASCAR Camping World Series East races from South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as well as the NASCAR Camping World Series West second race at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.

SPEED's schedule also includes live coverage of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The prestigious event, which has grown into the 'Daytona 500 of short-track racing' in just five short years, will be held Jan. 23-24, 2009 at Irwindale.

The Race: American Revolution 150 Presented By Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet

The Place: Greenville-Pickens  Speedway, Greenville, S.C.

The Date: April 19

The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: SPEED (delayed)

Track Layout: .500-mile paved
Race Purse: $129,650

2006 Winner: Joey Logano
2006 Pole: Joey Logano

Schedule: Saturday: Practice 1-3 p.m., Time Trials 6:00 p.m. Race 8 p.m. (all times EDT)

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Rusty Wallace , Steve Park , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Trevor Bayne , Richard Petty , Kasey Kahne , Matt Kobyluck , Jeff Jefferson , Brett Thompson , Mike David , Peyton Sellers , Joey Logano , Sean Caisse , Max Dumarey , Jeff Barkshire , Marc Davis , Jamie Hayes , Bryon Chew , Austin Dillon
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing