NWS: Magic Valley II: Pre-race notebook

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES MAGIC VALLEY SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 3, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series makes its 12th and final visit to Magic Valley Speedway this Saturday...

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES MAGIC VALLEY SPEEDWAY NOTEBOOK

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 3, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series makes its 12th and final visit to Magic Valley Speedway this Saturday for the Platt Electric 200. Gary Lewis, winner of the June 10 Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley, brings an 88-point lead over Travis Bennett in the championship point standings into the event.

THE TRACK: Magic Valley Speedway is a banked 1/3-mile oval that ranks as a favorite for many Northwest Series competitors. The 50' wide track has 294' straights with seven degrees of banking and 586' turns with 12 degrees of banking. The previous 11 events have produced six different winners. As is the case virtually everywhere the Northwest Series travels, Garrett Evans leads the way with 4 victories with his last series victory coming there on June 12, 2004. Lewis collected his third win on the track earlier this season. Other previous Magic Valley Speedway winners expected to participate in this event are John Bender and Wilbur Bruce, the two winners of the 2005 races there. Lewis also holds the one-lap qualifying record for the Northwest Series on the southern Idaho track. He traveled the 1/3-mile track in 13.638 seconds which translates to an average speed of 87.901 mph.

HOME GROWN IN IDAHO: No, not the famous potatoes, but seven drivers who call Idaho home are expected to be on hand for the Platt Electric 200. They are: John Dillon (Eagle), Bobby Latham (Twin Falls), Nick Lynch (Burley), Eddy McKean (Jerome), Dave Minegar (Nampa), John Newhouse (Twin Falls) and Darren Rupinski (Rathdrum).

A LITTLE LONGER TRIP: The 200-lap race this Saturday at Magic Valley Speedway is a longer race than the usual 125 laps that has become the norm in the Northwest Series. Fuel was the big concern last week in the 150-lap event on the .646-mile oval at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. Some stopped and some didn't. Pete Harding did not stop for gas and drove to victory lane. Fuel won't be an issue this week as one 22-gallon tank of 112-octane racing fuel will be more than enough to carry the cars the distance. Tire wear is what will be occupying the minds of drivers this week. Tire wear is a factor at every race, but even more so with 200 laps around the 1/3-mile oval. The key will be to have a suspension set-up to maintain lap times after the tires begin to fall off. Consistent lap times will be the key while negotiating 800 corners over the course of the event. Abusing the equipment early in the race will not be a good strategy in this event.

SUNOCO STANDINGS: The battle for the Northwest Series' Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year award is every bit as compelling as the chase for the series title. This is a battle that undoubtedly will not be resolved before the conclusion of the season's final race. Shane Mitchell held on to the top spot following last Saturday's race at Evergreen. He sits atop the standings with 51 points. Right on his heels is Jay Sauls with 45 points. Then come Brent Harris and Jason Fraser with 43 and 39 points, respectively. Mike Longton (36), Zan Sharp (34), B.J. Tidrick (34), Shane Harding (33), and Troy Tramell (33) are still in the mix. Rupinski with 27 points is losing sight of the leader, and rounding out the list of rookie contenders are Joey Decker, Jr. (6) and Bryan Warf (6). This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year will be awarded to the rookie driver with the highest finish in 8 of the 10 events respective to the other rookie contenders.

ROUND AND ROUND THEY GO: To date this season, the Northwest Series has run 933 laps and no one will complete each one. Bennett had been on the lead lap this season, but he missed five last Saturday at Evergreen. The new lap leader is Lewis who has completed 932 laps this season, just one off the limit. Mitchell (911) and Tramell (902) join those two as the only series competitors to complete over 900 circuits around the track this season. Lewis paces the field with 327 laps led this year, including 125 earlier this season at Magic Valley. Lewis has turned in three victories as a result of his time at the front. Jeff Barkshire (277) has led the second-most number of laps this season, but has been denied a visit to the winner's circle, so far.

OUT AND ABOUT TOWN: Four race teams will have cars on display in Twin Falls on Friday, August 4.

* Appearing at the AutoZone located at 688 Blue Lakes Boulevard on Friday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 p.m. is Troy Tramell. The Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year contender out of Yakima, Wash. will have his No. 5 Yakima Implement/Magic Metals Chevrolet on hand for an up-close look. Tramell currently holds 12th place in the championship point standings.

* John Bender, winner of the 2005 Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley Speedway, and his Snohomish, Washington-based No. 18 Oso Lumber/Reese Asphalt & Paving Chevrolet will be at the Twin Stop Chevron location at 688 Pole Line Road from 12 noon-- 2:00 p.m. Also on hand there will be Darren Trimble's No. 81 Oso Lumber/Trex Decking Chevy.

* NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series driver Eddy McKean out of Jerome, Idaho will make an appearance with his No. 19 Wide World of Maps/Magic Valley Pipe and Steel Pontiac at the Twin Stop Chevron located at the corner of Washington and Addison from 4:00-6:00 pm Friday afternoon. McKean was the 2002 Southwest Series champion and is currently second in the 2006 point standings in that series just five points behind leader Rip Michels. The local Idaho driver participates in Northwest Series events at Magic Valley Speedway when the Southwest Series schedule allows.

ALUMNI REPORT: Former Northwest Series competitor Greg Biffle continues his quest to make The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. He currently sits in 12th place and is just 44 points behind Tony Stewart, who currently holds the 10th and final spot for a chance at the title as they head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Biffle also is currently eighth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings. Unfortunately, two-time Northwest Series champion Kevin Hamlin experienced motor problems during qualifying last week in St. Louis in the No. 12 car out of the FitzBradshaw Racing stable and was not able to compete. Mike Bliss, another Northwest Series product, occupies 11th place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings at the moment. Three-time Northwest Series title winner Jeff Jefferson placed fourth last weekend in the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series during their annual visit to Evergreen Speedway.

Ticket information for the Platt Electric 200 can be obtained by calling Magic Valley Speedway at (208) 734-3700 or by logging onto www.magicvalleyspeedway.com.

FAST FACTS

What: Platt Electric 200 (Race No. 8 of 10 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).

Where: Magic Valley Speedway, Twin Falls, Idaho.

When: 9:00 p.m. MDT (approx.), Saturday, August 5, 2006.

Track layout: 1/3-mile oval.
Race length: 200 laps/66.66 miles.

Posted awards: $54,013.

2005 winner:  Wilbur Bruce.

2005 polesitter: Jeff Jefferson.

Top 10 in points: 1. Gary Lewis -1157; 2. Travis Bennett--1069; 3. Brandon Riehl--1048; 4. Jeff Barkshire--992; 5. Shane Mitchell--949; 6. Jay Sauls--935; 7. Garrett Evans--922; 8. Wilbur Bruce--889; 9. Steven Howard--876; 10. Brent Harris--859

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 10:00 a.m. Registration opens, 2:30-5:00 p.m. Practice, 6:00 p.m. Bud Pole Qualifying, 9:00 p.m. Platt Electric 200.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Mike Bliss , Shane Mitchell , Jeff Jefferson , John Bender , Kevin Hamlin , Rip Michels , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire