NWS: Evergreen: Jeff Jefferson - NASCAR spotlight

JEFF JEFFERSON LOOKING TO MAKE HISTORY IN 2005 * NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Season To Get Underway On March 26 * Evergreen Speedway Hosts Its 56th Northwest Series Race DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 24,...


* NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series Season To Get Underway On March 26

* Evergreen Speedway Hosts Its 56th Northwest Series Race

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 24, 2005) -- Reigning two-time NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson is going racing in 2005 wherever he can. Jefferson has intends to run a full season in both the Northwest and Southwest Series this year. That would have him in a racecar 22 weekends this year.

It's all part of the master plan, which has Jefferson competing for a championship in two series in the same year. He believes it to be plausible. "Yes, I think it's possible or it's not worth talking about."

The fact that Jefferson will race both series with two separate race teams works to his advantage making the logistics more manageable. The Northwest team will run the familiar Chevrolet while the Southwest team is running a Dodge. But Jefferson doesn't fear the difference. "The two cars were built side-by-side and are identical in every way possible," he said.

The Naches, Wash. native would like to make history one way or the other in 2005. One way is to win the two championships in the same year and the other is to win an unprecedented third consecutive Northwest Series title. Last season, Jefferson joined Kelly Tanner (1996 & 1997) and Kevin Hamlin (2001 & 2002) as the only drivers to win back-to-back Northwest Series crowns.

"I know that's out there and that is definitely one of the goals as we head into the season," Jefferson stated.

Right now, though, he is focused on the March 26 Northwest Series season opener at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. "That race is going to be huge from a points standpoint with the way the schedule is laid out." Jefferson said. The Big O Tires 125 is expected to draw over 30 cars creating a large disparity in points from finishing with the leaders to finishing at the rear at the field. "The key will be finishing that race. With that many cars and not a lot of room for error, you'll have to finish that race."

Jefferson feels that Evergreen is the ideal place to open the season. "It's the fastest track the Northwest Series goes to and there is room to pass. It's one of my favorites," he said. He says that despite winning there just once. That win came on July 13, 2002, but there have been other opportunities for wins that haven't worked out for one reason or another. He finished third last June in the series' only outing on the .646-mile oval.

"There's really very little that I don't like about that track. It's very conducive to racing in these cars," stated Jefferson.

There will be at least 10 drivers participating in this race who were not there last June when the Northwest Series visited Evergreen Speedway. Jefferson respects every driver in the Elite Division, especially longtime foes Garrett Evans and Pete Harding, but in his estimation the man to watch out for on Saturday is Gary Lewis. "Gary has a great car and always has a tremendous feel for what he has underneath him. He knows how to pass and knows how not to get passed when that time comes."

While Jefferson has the quest for history in the back of his mind, he prefers to focus on a "one race at a time" mentality. "I don't know what will happen over the course of the season because there are so many variables. I do know what I would like to happen and that is what will drive my race teams over the next six or seven months."

The Big O Tires 125 will kick off the 2005 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series this Saturday and tickets are still available. Further information can be obtained by calling Evergreen Speedway at (360) 805-6100 or by visiting www.evergreenspeedway.com.


What: Big O Tires 125 (Race No. 1 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series)

Where:  Evergreen Speedway, Monroe, Wash.

When: 8:30 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, March 26, 2005

Track layout:  .646-mile oval

Race length: 125 laps/80.75 miles.

Posted awards: $49,874.

2004 winner:  Event not held.

2004 polesitter: Event not held.

Top 10 in points (2004): 1. Jeff Jefferson 1,687, 2. Travis Bennett 1,686, 3. Jason Jefferson 1,646, 4. Garrett Evans 1,635, 5. Gary Lewis 1,628, 6. Pete Harding 1,622, 7. Brandon Riehl 1,589, 8. Wes Rhodes 1,575, 9. Joe Benedetti 1,546, 10. Steven Howard 1,538.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 9:30 a.m. Registration opens, 1:00-2:00 p.m. Practice, 2:30-3:00 p.m. Practice, 4:45 p.m. Time Trials.


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Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jason Jefferson , Gary Lewis