NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES RETURNS TO RACEWAY PARK JULY 15 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2005) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series visited Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn., President Ronald...
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES RETURNS TO RACEWAY PARK JULY 15
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2005) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series visited Raceway Park in Shakopee, Minn., President Ronald Reagan was in office, the Minnesota Twins were World Series champions and Dale Earnhardt won the second of his seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championships. The year was 1987 and the Midwest Series, well, wasn't even the Midwest Series at all.
The former ARTGO Challenge Series raced at the quarter-mile Shakopee track on three occasions -- twice in '83 and again in '87. Dick Trickle won the inaugural event, while Mark Martin and Butch Miller won the next two. The series came under the NASCAR banner in '98 and today it is one of four Late Model touring series that comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division.
The series returns to Raceway Park on Friday, July 15. A lot has changed since the era of Martin and Miller, yet plenty of regional racing stars are still striving to make a name for themselves in this highly-competitive series.
Twenty-seven year-old Josh Vadnais, of White Bear Lake, Minn., is one such driver. The 2002 Midwest Series rookie of the year spent time racing four-cylinder Modifieds at Raceway Park, and says fans are in for a real experience when the Midwest Series returns to the track.
"That is going to be one heck of a short track race," said Vadnais. "It's a tight, tight quarter-mile track. If you can pass cars there you've got a really good car and a really good driver. It should be some really competitive racing."
Vadnais raced full-time on the Midwest Series in 2002 but scaled back his efforts the following year. The Raceway Park 150 will mark Vadnais' 40th career start in the Midwest Series.
"We had a couple of races where parts failures took us out early," said Vadnais. "When you start having finishes of 21st, 22nd and you're the first car out of the race, it really makes it tough to get to the next race."
"We're fortunate enough to have a lot of help from friends and family to get through the season. In 2003 we hurt the car pretty bad and that set us back."
Vadnais' No. 11 Chevrolet is owned by his father, Joe Vadnais, and sponsored by local companies including Discount Taxi, General Repair Service and Northern Racing Products.
After making 10 starts in 2004, Vadnais says he's still not 100 percent committed to racing the full Midwest Series schedule, but admits there is a big incentive to stay on track. Vadnais is ranked third in the Midwest Series standings, behind former series champions Justin Diercks (No. 29 Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation Chevrolet) and Eddie Hoffman (No. 8 Lisa Thomas Salon Chevrolet). While enjoying his best-ever showing in the standings thus far, Vadnais would very much like to stay in the top 10 and receive an invitation to the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The $500,000 invitational event will once again be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, on Nov. 10-12.
"Even this year is a race to race schedule," said Vadnais. "When you can run up front, though, it really helps you make it to the next race. Right now, we're looking pretty strong."
"That's one of the things we're working real hard at, is to finish in the top 10 in points at get invited to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown," said Vadnais. "I know the first year they went out there, the Midwest Series did really well and they struggled a little bit last year. Hopefully, we can have a chance to go out there and see how we stack up against the other series."
What: Raceway Park (Race No. 3 of 8 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite
Division, Midwest Series).
Where: Raceway Park, Shakopee, Minn.
When: Friday, July 15 at 8:30 p.m. (Central Time)
Track layout: 1/4-mile oval.
Race length: 150 laps / 37.5 miles.
Posted awards: $49,522.
Top 10 in points: 1. Justin Diercks 360, 2. Eddie Hoffman 335, 3. Josh Vadnais 316, 4. Steve Carlson 311. 5. Tim Schendel 305, 6. Andrew Morrisey 294, 7. Brent Kirchner 280, 8. Josh Bauer 278, 9. Russ Blakeley 258, 10. Greg Fowler 256.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): 12:00 p.m. registrations and inspections begin, 3:30-5:00 p.m. practice, 7:30 p.m. time trials (2 laps).