Greg Pursley wins 2004 National Championship

Greg Pursley Wins NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Championship Irwindale Speedway Driver Wins $170,000 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2004) -- A veteran race car driving instructor is at the head of the class in NASCAR Dodge Weekly ...

Greg Pursley Wins NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Championship
Irwindale Speedway Driver Wins $170,000

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 22, 2004) -- A veteran race car driving instructor is at the head of the class in NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series competition this year.

Greg Pursley, 36, of Santa Clarita, Calif., has returned the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship to the Golden State for the first time in nearly two decades. Pursley has won the series' national championship by competing and winning at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Doug McCoun, of Prunedale, Calif., last took the series' national champion's trophy to California in 1985.

In the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, eight regional champions are compared to determine a national champion, and Pursley's honors begin with NASCAR's Sunbelt Region, which includes eight tracks in Arizona, California, Nevada, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. As the regional champion, Pursley will collect $45,000 in post-season prize money. National championship bonuses from NASCAR, Dodge and other participating sponsors add up to $125,000, for a total payout of $170,000.

Pursley will be the guest of honor at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards banquet, Oct. 30 in Nashville, and he'll enjoy a V.IP. trip to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet in New York City in December.

Pursley's No. 13 King Taco Monte Carlo shattered old records and set new ones in 2004, including records for feature wins in a single season (11), consecutive wins (five), and a new Late Model track qualifying record (17.817 seconds/101.027 mph).

Although Pursley didn't contend for the regional championship race in 2003, he was a factor at Irwindale, where Rip Michels won the 2003 Sunbelt Region championship. Pursley won the track's Miller Big-10 Championship Series, but finished third in the overall track points race.

"We were really hit or miss through the year. We tried a new set-up, and then tried a couple of other things toward the end of the year, and built on that this year," Pursley said. "This year, the car is where I really like the feel of it, and it's been working great. We have the same crew and we just really got good. It's been like a dream season. It's the best we've ever done."

Winning the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship, Pursley says, wasn't even dream-able.

"We never thought this would happen, I'll tell you that!"

He also says that racing with Michels in 2003 was good for both competitors. Michels advanced to the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series in 2004 while Pursley took aim at Irwindale's Super Late Model ranks.

"We had a lot of good battles," Pursley said. "We ran each other pretty hard, and I think we both stepped up and became better drivers because of that."

Irwindale Speedway bills itself as "L.A.'s Half-Mile Superspeedway," for good reason: it is one of the premier short-track facilities in America. The track's 6,500-seat grandstands provide picture perfect views of action on the multi-banked half-mile oval, as well as the inner third-mile oval. The state-of-the-art facility features 14 corporate sky box suites, along with premium sound and lighting systems.

"It's one of the best tracks I've ever raced on," Pursley said. "It's beautiful. It's well run, and it's competitive. As soon as the track opened, I fell in love with it. It's really fun to drive. It's kind of technical in some places, and not technical in other places. You can run three and four wide here. That makes for some very good racing."

Pursley knows Irwindale Speedway almost as well as the crews who constructed it. His full-time job is as an instructor at the Performance Race Training School, based at the track. The school offers full training for competition, as well as the popular "ride-along." It attracts individuals as well as corporate clients, and some stars from nearby Hollywood as well. Actors Matt Dillon and Breckin Meyer, stars of the 2005 film "Herbie: Fully Loaded" attended the school this year.

"As an instructor, I'm standing by the fence on the radio," Pursley said. "It's a great job for a driver, though. Most of our clients are individuals who want to see what racing is like. We also have a competition class where race car drivers can come and work on their lines and braking points. We even have in-car video cameras."

As a national championship winning NASCAR race car driver, Pursley has his own fast way around Irwindale.

"The biggest thing is to be smooth," he said. "If you can get your car to go around the corner smoothly, and keep the car itself nice and smooth the whole race, you're going to do well here," Pursley said. "The track is so wide it invites you to drive deep into the corner. If you're leading, you can run higher on the track and let the tires cool down.

Pursley's occasional NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series and NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series starts helped him attract sponsorship from King Taco, a popular Los Angeles-area restaurant with a dozen locations specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine. Other sponsors for the team include A-1 Spring, Ringer's Gloves, Watkins Racing Engines, Garrett Custom Trailers, Cowboy Gears, and Speedway Engineering.

In addition to Pursley and owner Dave Hays, team members include crew chief Russ Pursley, Carey Brewer, Kevin Fox, Mike Teeman, and Dusty Fox. Pursley and his wife, Heidi, have two children, Taylor and Tyler. The Pursleys were true childhood sweethearts. As neighborhood kids, they first met at age 8.

<pre> 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Regional champions

Driver          Region          Home Track                      Starts  Wins    Top-5
Greg Pursley    Sunbelt         Irwindale Speedway              18      13      15
Andy Bozell     Heartland       Kalamazoo Speedway              18      8       18
Doug Hoffman    Northeast       Big Diamond Raceway             21      8       19
Charlie Menard  Midwest         LaCrosse Fairgrounds Spwy       18      6       16
Jerry Robertson Northwest       Colorado National Speedway      18      10      15
Steve Blackburn Atlantic        Lonesome Pine Int'l. Raceway    19      14      19
Ricky Wolf Jr.  New England     Lee USA Speedway                18      7       16
Mark Wertz      East Coast      Langley Speedway                21      7       18


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Drivers Jerry Robertson , Greg Pursley , Doug McCoun , Rip Michels , Steve Blackburn