MWS: Pikes Peak: Round eight preview

Russ Blakeley Returns To Pikes Peak, But This Time it's Behind The Wheel of a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Midwest Series Ride DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) - Russ Blakeley (Premier Real Estate Development Chevrolet) will travel to Pikes...

Russ Blakeley Returns To Pikes Peak, But This Time it's Behind The Wheel of a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Midwest Series Ride

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) - Russ Blakeley (Premier Real Estate Development Chevrolet) will travel to Pikes Peak this weekend to race. The last time he strapped in a race car at Pikes Peak was 1993 and he was racing up the famous mountain in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. This weekend, July 30-31, Blakeley will be at Pikes Peak International Raceway behind the wheel of a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series car for the running of the Freedom 150.

Blakeley, from Whitewater, Wisconsin lived in Cripple Creek, Colorado for about 10 years as a youngster. It was there that the hill climb bug bit him.

"My dad raced when I was a kid," says Blakeley. "When we lived in Colorado he became good friends with Bob Regester. And it was through Bob that we got involved in hill climb racing."

Today, Blakeley is a top rookie on the Midwest Series, one of the premier late model touring groups in the nation. He heads to PPIR fresh off his best career Midwest Series run; a seventh place showing at Lake Geneva (Wis) Raceway.

"We feel good heading to Pikes Peak," said Blakeley. "We had some rotten luck to start the season, but we feel like we're headed in the right direction and are ready to make a run at the Rookie of the Year title."

Qualifying for the Freedom 150 is slated for Friday, July 30 at 11:15 a.m. (MT). Forty cars are scheduled to take the green flag for the 150-lap main event, at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 31.

"It's interesting to note how different the hill climb is from this sort of racing," says Blakeley. "In the Midwest Series you're out there rubbing fenders with guys and going at it side-by-side for 150 laps, but at the hill climb you're only racing the clock. On the Midwest Series, we're family and we'll help each other out when we can, but at the hill climb it is really a family atmosphere and there are never any hard feelings."

At Pikes Peak International Raceway, the Midwest Series will run in support of the NASCAR Busch Series. PPIR is located south of Colorado Springs, on I-25, in Fountain. For more information, call (719) 382-7223 or visit them online at www.ppir.com.

NEWS OF NOTE

* 2004 marks the 30th year of racing for the Midwest Series and seventh under the NASCAR banner. The series was most recently known as the International Truck and Engine Corporation, Midwest Series and previously the RE/MAX Challenge Series. Prior to that it was known throughout the Midwest as the ARTGO Challenge Series.

* The Midwest Series has competed at PPIR since 1998 and has contested seven previous races. Only Travis Kvapil (1999 and 2000) has visited victory lane more than once. Other winners have been Jim Inglebright (1998), Rick Carelli (1998), Jon Lemke (2001), Tim Schendel (2002) and Steve Carlson (2003).

* The most recent Midwest Series event was held July 24 at Lake Geneva Raceway, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Justin Diercks (Iowa-Illinois-Taylor Insulation Chevrolet) took the lead from Erik Darnell (AMI Trailer Leasing Chevrolet) on lap 50 and cruised to his fifth win of the season ahead of Steve Carlson (XP Performance Lubricants Chevrolet), Brian Hoppe (Gildan Activewear Chevrolet), Tim Schendel (Mathews Archery Chevrolet) and Darnell. Carlson was the Bud Pole fast qualifier.

* In this event last year, Steve Carlson prevailed in a race that was rain-shortened to 120 laps. Jon Lemke (K.C. Colors Chevrolet), Justin Diercks, Rick Carelli and Eddie Hoffman (Lisa Thomas Salon Chevrolet) rounded out the top five. Joey Miller (Great Clips Chevrolet) captured the Bud Pole fast qualifier award.

* Bryan Roach (Big D's Take and Bake Pizza Chevrolet) (7th), A.J. Rhoads (U.S. Marines Chevrolet) (9th) and Erik Darnell (10th) are all poised to score their best career Midwest Series point finishes. A top-10 placing in the points would earn them an invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, November 11-13 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Nathan Haseleu (G&M Auto Ford), currently 8th in the championship standings, is on track to also earn a trip to Irwindale after falling one position short of the trip in 2003.

* Justin Diercks has been a regular on the Midwest Series since April, 1998 (the day he turned 18 years of age). He has seven series wins to his credit, but five have come this season. He currently leads the championship standings by 30 points over Steve Carlson.

* Hoosier Tire returns as the tire of choice for the Midwest Series in 2004. The Indiana based company will provide over $4300 worth of their rubber at every series event. Other contingency sponsors include AutoZone, Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Gauges, Competition Cams, CV Products, Edelbrock, Featherlite, Five Star, G-Force, Holley, JE Pistons, Mac Tools, Mechanix Wear, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, POWERade, Quarter Master, Raybestos Brakes, and Timken.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

* July 26, 1998-Colorado racing hero Rick Carelli held off a hard charging Eddie Hoffman to win the Midwest Series race at PPIR. The win was Carelli's second career Midwest Series triumph and was wildly popular among the partisan crowd. Brian Hoppe, Justin Diercks and Sean Monroe rounded out the top five.

Fast Facts

What: Freedom 150 (NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, Race 8 of 13).
Where: Pikes Peak (Col) International Raceway.

When: 10:30 a.m. MT, Saturday, July 31.

Track layout: 1.0-mile banked paved oval.
Race length: 150 laps, 150 miles.

Posted awards: $102,294.

2003 Event Winner: Steve Carlson.
2003 Bud Pole Fast Qualifier: Joey Miller.

Current Championship Standings: 1) Justin Diercks 1220; 2) Steve Carlson 1190; 3) Tim Schendel 1099; 4) Brian Hoppe 1091; 5) Eddie Hoffman 1005; 6) Ryan Hanson 959; 7) Bryan Roach 912; 8) Nathan Haseleu 903; 9) A.J. Rhoads 880; 10) Erik Darnell 877.

Schedule: July 30, 6:00 am (MT), Garage opens; 8:00 am to 10:00 am, Practice; 11:15 am, Qualifying; 5:30 to 6:15 pm, Practice; July 31, 10:30 am, Freedom 150.

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Rick Carelli , Jim Inglebright , Tim Schendel , Joey Miller , Erik Darnell , Justin Diercks , Steve Carlson , Travis Kvapil