Greenville Pickens season opener preview

GREENVILLE, SC (March 15, 2002)- The historic Greenville Pickens Speedway, NASCAR's second oldest continually operating facility, will roar to life for a new season of NASCAR weekly racing series action this Saturday, March 20. FOX CAROLINA...

GREENVILLE, SC (March 15, 2002)- The historic Greenville Pickens Speedway, NASCAR's second oldest continually operating facility, will roar to life for a new season of NASCAR weekly racing series action this Saturday, March 20. FOX CAROLINA OPENING NIGHT 2004 will see the green flag drop for a 59th season, with an All American pre-race show, racing in four divisions, and a star spangled firework spectacular after the race.

The speedway has been on the cutting edge during the off season among NASCAR weekly racing series tracks throughout the nation involving the 'coming of the crate engines' for the Late Model feature division, a move designed to make NASCAR's top local racing divisions nationwide more financially accessible for drivers and race teams desiring to field competitive race cars. Many tracks in the division and nationwide are making the switch to the crate engines, with 2004 being a transition year between the crate engines and the Late Model stock engines that have been the standard at Greenville Pickens Speedway for several years. Opening night 2004 will be the debut of the new crate engines at GPS, and initial signs at two previous preseason practice events appears that many drivers have made the switch and the early results are positive. Allowances for the old Late Model stocks will be made to even the field during the 2004 transition. Additionally, 2004 will see an increase in the number of laps for the Late Model feature event, increasing for a regular season event from 35 to 40 laps. Heat races have been eliminated, and Late Model competitors will qualify with the final starting grid determined by a draw and inversion of the qualifiers.

The 'Super Charger' division will make its debut on opening night as well. This new division will now offer advanced Charger drivers a natural transgression without having to make the leap from the 'beginning' ranks to the advanced ranks should they show accelerated progress. In past years, an advancing Charger driver and race team had to make a huge financial investment and move to a top racing division should they want to advance their racing careers. The new 'Super Charger' division now gives advancing and 'career' Charger drivers a natural and affordable transgression to a more advanced racing division. The Super Charger race will consist of a 15 lap feature event.

The Renegade division, which was added last season, has grown to so many competitors that the Greenville Pickens Speedway pit and infield area had to be reconfigured over the off season to accommodate the many new drivers and race teams desiring to compete in this new beginners division. Because of this explosive growth, 2004 will see two Renegade feature events throughout the season.

"Greenville Pickens Speedway's policy of making racing more affordable and accessible to the many drivers and race teams who desire to compete week in and week out has now become somewhat of a mission," said speedway marketing director Keith Cochran. "In past years, costs have skyrocketed to the point that many of the drivers and teams have been shut out, turning our top divisions into almost a yacht club that only the well financed drivers and teams could only hope to field a race car, much less be a top competitor. These moves to make the door swing wider and make the sport more accessible and affordable continue to show promise, and 2004 will be the beginning. We are already seeing many positive results," Cochran said.

Gates will open at 4pm this Saturday, March 20th for FOX CAROLINA Opening Night 2004, with the first green flag set for 8pm. Adult general admission is $10, with children under 12 admitted free with a paying adult. The Greenville Pickens Speedway is located at the intersection of Highway 123 and Highway 124 between Greenville and Easley. For more information, visit their website at greenvillepickens.com, or call the speedway front office at 864-269-0852.

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