JUSTIN WAKEFIELD WINS ROCK 101 "150" AT GREENVILLE-PICKENS SPEEDWAY; J.R. NORRIS CLAIMS NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP Fredrickson's finish sets up ultra-close Midwest Series championship points battle with...
JUSTIN WAKEFIELD WINS ROCK 101 "150" AT GREENVILLE-PICKENS SPEEDWAY;
J.R. NORRIS CLAIMS NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
Fredrickson's finish sets up ultra-close Midwest Series championship points battle with one race remaining
GREENVILLE, S.C. (Sept. 23, 2006) -- Saturday's Rock 101 "150" at Greenville-Pickens Speedway was a fitting farewell to the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series. At the track which hosted more Southeast Series races than any other facility, two of the series' brightest young stars battled bumper-to-bumper for a championship while the series' earliest star, Jody Ridley, guided his driver, Justin Wakefield, to victory.
After 150 laps of racing, Wakefield, of Woodstock, Ga., won the Rock 101 "150", while J.R. Norris, of Mulga, Ala., claimed the 2006 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series championship. It was the first career win for Wakefield, in a special combination race that also included drivers from the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series.
Norris' title was a well-deserved effort, following a close race in which the two title contenders -- Norris and Jason Hogan -- ran nearly bumper to bumper for most of Saturday's race. With 18 laps remaining, a caution period began that setup the final restart -- and championship finish for Norris in fourth place -- with 11 laps remaining. Unofficially, Norris' championship margin was just five points over Hogan, 690-685.
As a combination race with the Midwest Series and Southeast Series, drivers earned points towards their respective series championships, based on their finishing positions relative to the other drivers in their regular "home" series. Fifth-place finisher Dan Fredrickson, of Elko, Minn., was the top Midwest Series regular in Saturday's race. Fredrickson led the first 12 laps and also collected 180 points (equivalent to first place) towards the Midwest Series title. He now leads Tim Schendel, of Sparta, Wis., by two points (832-830) with one Midwest Series event remaining.
Saturday's event marked the final Southeast Series race, closing a chapter in NASCAR short track racing history that began as the All-American Challenge Series in 1984. The Midwest Series concludes Oct. 6 at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway. Both series, along with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series and Southwest Series, are being discontinued at the end of the 2006 season as part of NASCAR's on-going efforts to restructure its regional touring divisions.
That Ridley's driver won in the Southeast Series' final race was an appropriate tribute to his role in the series history. Ridley, who has served as a crew chief and mentor to Wakefield over the past four seasons, was a three-time Southeast Series champion from 1991-93 and also a former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie of the year.
Drivers from each of the four series of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division will have one final chance to compete in the $500,000 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, Oct. 20-21 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. The top 10 drivers in the final point standings from each of the four series are invited to compete in this special post-season event.