MAGIC VALLEY SPEEDWAY IS THE SITE OF 300TH NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES EVENT DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 18, 2005) -- When the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series pays a visit to Magic Valley Speedway in Twin...
MAGIC VALLEY SPEEDWAY IS THE SITE OF 300TH NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES EVENT
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 18, 2005) -- When the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series pays a visit to Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho for this Saturday's Magic Valley Pipe 200 presented by AutoZone it will be the 300th race in its 21-year series history.
The Northwest Series came into being on May 5, 1985 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. An anxious group of 40 drivers started this race with Garrett Evans taking the first checkered flag.
Evans is still an active driver in the series as is Wilbur Bruce, who raced in that inaugural event. Other names of interest in that first race are Mike Bliss, Derrike Cope, Chad Little and Ron Hall, whose family-owned Hall Motorsports will field a pair of cars in Twin Falls this Saturday.
In 21 seasons with Northwest has visited tracks all over the Pacific Northwest and western Canada. Places like Tahoe-Carson Speedway in Carson City, Nevada, Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Montana, Portland (Ore.) Speedway, Yakima (Wash.) Speedway, Victoria Speedway in British Columbia, Canada and many, many others.
Over 50 drivers have won a race with Evans leading the way with 50 all-time wins. By the same token, over 50 drivers have notched a Bud Pole Award in their careers with current youngsters Travis Bennett and Troy Tramell joining that club this season.
Twelve different drivers have been crowned as series champion. Evans went on to win the first title, as well as, three more. Ron Eaton has garnered three crowns. Two-time champions include Kevin Hamlin, Kelly Tanner, and Jeff Jefferson, who is making a bid this year of joining Eaton as a three-time winner. Other past champions include Tobey Butler, John Dillon, Monte English, Pete Harding, Gary Lewis, Kirk Rogers and Dirk Stephens.
A testament to the dedication to the Northwest Series is that six (Dillon, Eaton, Evans, Harding, Jefferson and Lewis) of those past champions have participated this season.
Two of those championships were decided by a single point with the most recent being last year when Jefferson nudged out Bennett of the championship ring. Evans slipped by Lewis in 2000.
Several former series competitors have gone on to acclaim in some of auto racing's most visible series. Greg Biffle already has both a NASCAR Busch Series and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title under his belt and is looking to add the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series trophy to his mantle thus becoming the first driver to win all three of those National Series. In addition to many starts in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Cope won the granddaddy of them all, the Daytona 500, in 1990.
In 300 races, the winning margin has been as small as .0001 seconds when Evans nosed out Hershel McGriff, Jr. on March 31, 1990 at Evergreen Speedway and as big as a lap when Dillon lapped the field at the former Portland Speedway on June 3, 1989.
The Northwest Series has been and continues to be the premier racing series in the Pacific Northwest. It has provided countless memories of both joy and heartbreak, but the common thread among the many drivers, crew members, officials and fans is they are all part of the family that is the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series.
Several Northwest Series teams will be making appearances in the local area on Friday, August 19. Race fans of all ages are invited to stop in at any of these locations to meet some of the finest drivers that short track racing has to offer and see the racecar up close and personal.
* Appearing at the AutoZone located at 688 Blue Lakes Boulevard on Friday afternoon from 4:00-6:00 p.m. is Ed Thomsen. The resident of Pasco, Wash. will have his No. 1 Thomsen Racing Chevrolet on display, as well. Thomsen is a Northwest Series Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year candidate.
* John Bender, winner of this year's Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley Speedway, will be at the Twin Stop Chevron location at 688 Pole Line Road from 12 noon-- 2:00 p.m. His Snohomish, Washington-based No. 18 Oso Lumber/Natural Concepts Landscaping Chevrolet also will be on hand. The 2001 Northwest Series Rookie of the Year is on the hunt for his third straight NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown invitation.
* Two-time defending series champion and current points leader Jeff Jefferson, out of Naches, Wash. will be at the Lynnwood Chevron located at 506 Blue Lakes Blvd. North with his No. 42 LeMay Museum/Morgan Transport Chevrolet from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Jefferson is looking to become the fist driver to win three Northwest Series titles in a row.
* Steven Howard, from Roy, Wash., will be at the Twin Stop Chevron at 108 Addison Avenue West with his No. 38 Great Northwest Homes Chevrolet from 4:00-6:00 p.m. Howard, one of the series youngest competitors, is a two-time participant in the NASCAR Toyota Showdown and is looking to make it three in a row this season.