NWS: Jim McVey - NASCAR spotlight

THE ADVERSITY OF 2004 HAS JIM McVEY READY FOR THE 2005 NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 6, 2005) -- After years of racing motorcross, Hobby Stocks and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series events, Jim McVey was...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 6, 2005) -- After years of racing motorcross, Hobby Stocks and NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series events, Jim McVey was ready to move up to the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series for the 2004 season.

"We felt it was time to make the move," said McVey, a resident of Port Orchard, Wash. "We had success in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and in other Late Model events, but what we didn't know were the hurdles we were going to face and how big of a jump this was, in terms of the caliber of competition."

The McVey family has a long history of racing, almost as long as the Roman numerals following the name of every James in the family. Jim is a VI, his son is a VII, and, of course, his father is V. It is James McVey V, whose poor skydiving landing one year and a vacation the next is the reason that James VI got the chance to drive the family racecar.

"My Dad started off in demolition derbies and then moved into Hobby Stocks and one year he had a little accident on a skydiving landing so I finished up the season in the Hobby Stock," stated McVey. "The next year, he went on vacation and I was just filling in, but when he returned, the crew said that I drove it faster so I stayed in the driver's seat."

Eventually, the McVeys moved to a Late Model car and in 1999 they took a run at the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series racing at South Sound Speedway in Tenino, Wash. It was an experiment with successful results. McVey went on to finish second in the track championship standings and his crew chief, Jim Mays, a former Northwest Series official, won the Craftsman Mechanic-of-the-Year Award which also might explain why McVey's car won the Best Appearance Award. More importantly, though, he finished 19th in the highly competitive Great West Region of the Weekly Series. That told the McVeys that Late Model racing was the place for Jimmy.

After running various Late Model events at the likes of South Sound and Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., they set out to build a team and a car for the Northwest Series. They went into 2004 with high expectations only to find obstacles. However, these obstacles could turn out to work in McVey's favor.

Last year at the season's first event at Tri-City Raceway in West Richland, Wash., Northwest Series teams convened with the same purposes -- to win the championship, to finish in the top ten in points and, for the rookies, to win that coveted Rookie-of-the-Year prize -- but McVey got caught up in an accident during practice which set a sour tone for the season.

More damage would be inflicted on the car two races later at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway contributing in a failed qualifying effort at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho two weeks later. Not wanting to throw in the towel, McVey loaded up the car and headed to the familiar confines of South Sound Speedway to shake the car down and zero in on the problems. Ordinarily, that would have been a great idea, but the motor expired during that test session. Now, it was time to take a step back and recoup.

"That was not at all what we had in mind, but we needed to re-evaluate the entire program. It was very disappointing," said McVey.

Despite the poor turn of events, there was an upside for McVey. Valuable lessons were learned and by virtue of racing in just four events McVey would, once again, be eligible to race for the Sunoco Northwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year Award.

Racing with the likes of Garrett Evans, Jeff Jefferson, Gary Lewis and Pete Harding taught McVey to most important lesson of all in 2004. "Be ready. You had better bring your 'A' game to every race," he said.

Additionally, he felt it was more fun to race in the Northwest Series than any other he had been a part. "Every driver is a professional. They didn't care that I was a rookie and would come up to me and say, 'Hey, you might want to try this because it worked for me.' I think that is really cool."

McVey enters the 2005 season with the same goals as last year; to finish in the top ten in points and win the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award. He does feel, though, that they are a little more tangible this year. He has reason to believe this as even though the beginning of the 2004 season was a nightmare, his team regrouped for last season's final race at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval in East Wenatchee, Wash. He finished the race running and in 11th place and, by improving his position 10 places over the course of the race, he won the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award thus sending he and his team into the off-season with a great measure of optimism.

"I'm ready to go. I feel very confident," McVey stated in no uncertain terms. Northwest Series drivers and teams have had a little longer winter than they had planned after the season-opening event at Evergreen Speedway was postponed due to inclement weather. Now, they must wait for the Okanogan Seattle Transport 125 to be held at Yakima Speedway on May 28. "We spent all winter getting ready for the season and with this break in the schedule it's like winter again, but we'll be into the meat of the schedule before too long."

For McVey, it has been a winter of discontent. It will soon be over, giving the anxious and determined driver the opportunity to close the book on 2004 and make the complete step up to the Northwest Series.


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Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Gary Lewis