MWS: Mansfield: Round four preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES RETURNS TO MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY JULY 31 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 25, 2005) -- Following its Western-most journey to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. last weekend, the...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 25, 2005) -- Following its Western-most journey to Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. last weekend, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series now makes is farthest trip East, to Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway July 31.

For Sparta, Wis. driver Tim Schendel, the lengthy travel is only part of the challenge.

"Last year we had a really good car," said Schendel, who finished second to Justin Diercks when the Midwest Series made its Mansfield debut last season. Schendel started 10th when the field was inverted to start the race. "We won the pole and finished second. It took me quite a while to get up there and get in the top three. Hopefully, we can make the car a little faster. We've been looking for a win all year. It's just eluded us. We've worked hard but had a lot of bad luck."

To get his No. 21 Chevrolet driving faster, Schendel says his team won't need to make any major modifications; they'll just try to improve on the chassis setup they used last year.

"We might change the shocks a little bit," said Schendel. "Actually, the car was really good, we just ran out of time. I'm going to go back with pretty close to what I had last year and just change a few things. Hopefully, it will all come together and we'll have a good run."

A good result would go a long way towards turning Schendel's season around. Since 2002, this 26-year-old driver hasn't finished lower than sixth in the championship standings -- the position he is currently ranked. Schendel admits his season has been "not the greatest" so far. In his first four starts, he hasn't finished higher than fifth.

"Every race we've run into some sort of problem," said Schendel. "We had a brake problem at Rockford, We had a bad qualifying effort and got involved in a little wreck early at Denver, we cut down a tire at Shakopee and last week we broke a rim. We just have to lick our wounds and move on."

In 76 Midwest Series starts, Schendel has two wins and 21 top-five finishes. In addition to racing with the Midwest Series, Schendel made two starts on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series last year.

After winning at Mansfield in 2004, Diercks went on to win two more races and capture his first NASCAR championship. Diercks, of Davenport, Iowa, leads the series once again, with a 39-point margin (700-661) over Steve Carlson in the Midwest Series championship standings.

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series Notes:

* NASCAR driver appearance Saturday at AutoZone ... NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series driver David Finney is scheduled to make an appearance at the AutoZone store, located at 1209 Ashland Road in Mansfield, from 5-7 p.m. Saturday. Finney will display his No. 26 Chevrolet and be on hand to sign autographs and visit with fans.

* Bean leads Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings ... Dexter Bean, of Westby, Wis., currently leads the standings in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year competition. The $1,500 award goes to the eligible rookie driver who collects the most points in the season-long contest. Each rookie receives 10 points as the highest-finishing rookie in a race, nine points as the second-highest finishing rookie and so on. After four events, Bean leads with 36 points, over Josh Bauer (35 points), Andrew Morrissey (29 points) and Nick Schumacher (seven points).

* All top-fives for two ... In the first four Midwest Series races of the season, Justin Diercks and Eddie Hoffman have both recorded four top-five finishes. Diercks' record includes three wins, while Hoffman, of Wheaton, Ill., has logged a second, a third and two fifth-place finishes. Hoffman is ranked third in the standings, 55 points out of first place.

* Ohio overview ... The Midwest Series, formerly known as the ARTGO Challenge Series, made its first Ohio appearance in Oct. 1992, at Toledo Speedway. Last season, the Midwest Series raced at Columbus Motor Speedway and Mansfield for the first time.

* NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division ... The Midwest Series is one of four Late Model series that comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division. NASCAR's Midwest Series, Northwest Series, Southeast Series and Southwest Series feature identical race cars and rules. At the end of the season, the top 10 drivers from each of the four series are invited to compete in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, a $500,000 special post-season event held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway Nov. 10-12.

* Up next: Lake Geneva ... After criss-crossing the country from Colorado to Mansfield, the Midwest Series returns a little closer to home for most of the teams, at Lake Geneva (Wis.) Raceway Aug. 6. The series will be making its 16th visit to Lake Geneva, a third-mile oval, where Justin Diercks is the defending race winner.

Fast Facts

What: Mansfield Motorsports Speedway 150 (Race No. 4 of 8 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series).

Where:  Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway

When: Sunday, July 31 at 4:30 p.m.

Track layout:  half-mile oval.

Race length: 150 laps / 75 miles.

Posted awards: $59,722.

Top 10 in points: 1. Justin Diercks 700, 2. Steve Carlson 661, 3. Eddie Hoffman 645, 4. Andrew Morrissey 582, 5. Brent Kirchner 582, 6. Tim Schendel 559, 7. Russ Blakeley 546, 8. Dexter Bean 528, 9. Greg Fowler 524, 10. Josh Bauer 505.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 8:00 a.m. Registration & inspections begin, 11:00 a.m. -- 1:00 p.m. practice, 2:00 p.m. Time trials (2 laps).


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Drivers Tim Schendel , Justin Diercks , Dexter Bean , Steve Carlson