MWS: Rookies at a glance 2003-08-21

NASCAR Rookies at a Glance A look at the NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series 2003 Victory Circle Chassis Rookie Standings DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 20, 2003) -- The following is a glance at the 2003...

NASCAR Rookies at a Glance
A look at the NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series 2003 Victory Circle Chassis Rookie Standings

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 20, 2003) -- The following is a glance at the 2003 NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Victory Circle Chassis Rookie standings. The NASCAR Midwest Series next travels to Dells Motor Speedway in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Sunday September 14 before finishing the campaign off at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, October 4-5 for the running of the annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend.

No. 1 -- Eric Fransen
(No. 16 Sonya's Rose Chevrolet), Team 16. Fransen has been atop the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year program from the season opener. Mechanical problems at Pikes Peak allowed Jeremy Lepak to close within two points of Fransen, but at the most recent event, Lepak had a DNF and Fransen finished eighth, allowing the 34 year-old Fransen to widen the gap once again.

No. 2 -- Jeremy Lepak
(No. 45 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet), Dave Stammer Motor Sports. Lepak had great runs at the "Big" tracks, Gateway and Pikes Peak, and had inched his way back into the rookie battle. But at Wisconsin International Raceway, he was the innocent victim of a multi-car incident and suffered his first DNF of the season. It now appears as though Lepak will finish the 2003 season behind the wheel of a Jerry Gunderman owned ride, abandoning the Dave Stammer owned entry he had been campaigning. Relations between Lepak and Stammer had become strained and apparently boiled over after WIR. Stammer has indicated the his ride is for rent the final two shows. Lepak drove briefly for Gunderman in Midwest Series action in 2002 and has been behind the wheel of his weekly-car on a handful of occasions in 2003.

No. 3 -- Clint Bowyer
(No. 79 Sonic Drive Ins Chevrolet), Bob Morton Enterprises. Bowyer has come on strong in Midwest Series action, but it will likely be too little, too late to net him the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year crown. Bowyer posted his first career series top-10 at Pikes Peak and was running in the top-10 at WIR before a shunt with a lapped car sent him to the pits for repairs and netted him an 11th place showing.

No. 4 -- Mark Voigt
(No. 30 Bilstein Shocks Chevrolet), Voigt Racing. After posting a top-10 finish in the season opener, Voigt continues to struggle to make the adjustment from dirt racer to asphalt shoe. In the Mid-Season Rookie Report Card, Voigt commented that unfamiliarity with the tracks the series travels to has really slowed his progress. The Midwest Series next travels to The Dells on September 14 and marks the only track the series goes to more than once in 2003. The race should give Voigt a chance to learn from him previous visit and post another solid run.

No. 5 -- Dan Bedard
(No. 77 Information Technology Group Chevrolet), Bedard Racing. Bad luck bit Bedard again at WIR. A crash early in the race at Gateway cost the team money, sleep and a trip to Pikes Peak. Instead they focused on the WIR event. Bedard qualified well at WIR and was running strong only to have a rear end go sour half-way into the 300-lap grind. Bedard had stated on his Mid-Season Report Card that they hadn't been tearing up equipment and had been fairly happy with the progress they had made as a team. Perhaps he jinxed himself.

No. 6 -- A.J. Rhoads
(No. 97 Dakota Rhoads Masonry Chevrolet), Rhoads Racing. After failing to qualify for three of the first four races, Rhoads has improved the second half of the season. He impressed many with solid runs at his first visits to Gateway and Pikes Peak. While the Victory Circle Chassis rookie title is out of reach, a top-20 spot in the championship standings is a very strong possibility.

No. 7 -- Dave Bean
(No. 32 Badger Environmental Chevrolet), Black Jack Racing. Bean had a decent run at Pikes Peak end against the turn two wall just as the rains came and brought a premature halt to the race. Bean was running at the end of the most recent race, at WIR, and has made great strides toward his mid-season goal of qualifying into the races and getting more track time.

Fast Facts

NASCAR Rookies this week: 1) Eric Fransen, 93; 2) Jeremy Lepak, 86; 3) Clint Bowyer, 76; 4) Mark Voigt, 6444; 5) A.J. Rhoads, 44, 6) Dan Bedard, 38; 7) Dave Bean, 30

Weeks at No. 1: Eric Fransen, 10.

Victory Circle Chassis offers a season ending bonus of $5,000 to the top finishing rookie at the season ending banquet in October. Each rookie competitor earns rookie points for each race they start. No rookie points are awarded for races a rookie fails to qualify for. Points are awarded on a declining scale with the top finishing rookie receiving 10 points then 9,8.7 and so on.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Clint Bowyer