NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES CHAMPION JUSTIN DIERCKS TO RACE IN SOUTHEAST SERIES SEASON OPENER DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 28, 2005) -- Justin Diercks could be a very busy man over the course of the 2005 racing season....
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES CHAMPION JUSTIN DIERCKS TO RACE IN SOUTHEAST SERIES SEASON OPENER
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 28, 2005) -- Justin Diercks could be a very busy man over the course of the 2005 racing season. Diercks is not only defending his NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series championship, but he is also planning on competing in at least the first two Southeast Series races as well.
The 2005 Southeast Series campaign kicks off Saturday night at the famed Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway and Diercks will be trying to open the Southeast Series season in the same fashion he did in the Midwest Series opener at Rockford (Ill.) Speedway -- by winning the race.
"That was a pretty cool way to start the season off in the Midwest Series," Diercks says. "Hopefully we can have that same success at Greenville. That would be awesome."
Diercks heads into the 'Rock 101' 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet looking to end a three-race winning streak that has seen defending Southeast Series champion Jeff Fultz take a stranglehold on victory lane at the Greenville short track.
"I've never been to Greenville-Pickens before but I did watch a race from there on television the other night trying to pick up some things like how those guys were getting around the track and where the good passing spots were," Diercks says. "So I've just tried to do my homework on the track that way. I've also talked to a lot of people that have raced at Greenville before to get their thoughts. I'm really looking forward to it and I've heard about how much the race fans in that area embrace the races at Greenville because they really take it seriously."
The way it stands now, there are no scheduling conflicts between the Midwest and Southeast Series races, and Diercks is planning on running in at least the first two Southeast Series events. There is a slim chance that Diercks could conceivably compete in all the Midwest and Southeast Series races.
"We're not planning on doing both divisions right now," Diercks cautions. "I've raced in the Southeast Series before and had a lot of fun. All the officials and competitors in the Southeast Series are just great to work with. It's been three or four years, but I've always wanted to come back to the Southeast Series to run a few races. This year we as a team thought it was important to get to some of the Southeast Series races to see what it's like here. I think we'll be able to run in the top-five, gain some experience, be competitive and just help put on a good race."
So what if Diercks were leading the point standings in both divisions, would the chances increase of him actually running all the Midwest and the Southeast Series races and going for both titles?
"If I were leading the points in the Southeast Series I'd definitely stick with it," Diercks says. "If I was in that situation, I'd go for it. You've got to go for it if it's out there in front of you. That'd be a good deal for me to get the chance to race against guys like Jeff Fultz, Wayne Anderson and Charlie Bradberry. Plus the Southeast Series has a lot of young guys coming back like J.R. Norris who are going to be tough.
"Erik Darnell raced in both divisions last year and he got a lot of attention for it. I just want to throw my name out there and see how well we stack up against the best Southeast Series drivers. I'm just hoping to do the best I can and learn as much as I can."
As the old saying goes, to be the best you've got to beat the best. That's the philosophy that Diercks and the regular Southeast Series competitors have heading into Saturday as they try to snap Fultz's three-race winning streak at Greenville.
"We're going to go into the race with the hopes of doing the best we can, but we've also got to keep our eyes on the big picture which is the championship," says Fultz, the all-time win leader in the Southeast Series. "I'm really excited about getting back to Greenville not only because I've had a great deal of success there, but the fans in that area are absolutely great and they love their racing. If we can make it four in a row, that would be great.
"The history behind Greenville-Pickens is unreal. To see the names of past track champions painted on the wall like Ralph Earnhardt and David Pearson is pretty special. It's just a fun place to race but what makes it the most fun are the fans. The atmosphere around that track gets everybody fired up and excited."
Though they have competed in different divisions, Fultz and Diercks got the chance to spend some time together last December at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series awards banquet when all of the NASCAR champions got together for various media opportunities.
"I'll never forget when we were on board the aircraft carrier [the Intrepid] and they had a flight simulator on one of the decks," Diercks says. "It was a two-person simulator and it ended up with me and Jeff going in at the same time. He got me in there and I swear we were upside down more than we were going in the right direction. When we got done and they opened the hatch and we got out, everybody was rolling around laughing because we were spinning around so much. Jeff wouldn't let me drive, but I was dumb about it because I got in the wrong seat and he got in the driver's seat. That was pretty wild.
"Jeff and I hit it off right away. I got to spend some time with Jeff and his wife and they are both very extraordinary people. We had a lot of fun and got to joke around a lot. Hopefully when we get to Greenville we can pick up where we left off in New York. I've got a lot of respect for that guy."
Fultz admits that his talents behind the wheel of a stock car far outweigh his future as a pilot.
"We had a blast in that simulator," Fultz says. "Justin laughed the whole time we were in that thing. I had the thing upside down and Justin was just screaming and laughing. That was the first time I'd ever got the chance to meet and spend some time with him away from the track. Justin is a really good racer who drives for a very good team. He will definitely be somebody to contend with. They definitely have a first-class operation."
AUTOZONE DRIVER APPEARANCE: For race fans in the Greenville area who want to get the chance to see several Southeast Series cars and get a few autographs, the AutoZone store in Easley, S.C. will have drivers Chris Davidson, Eddie Stivers and Dusty Williams on hand Thursday evening from 5:00-8:00 p.m. The store's address is 5554 Calhoun Memorial Highway, Easley, SC, 29640.