DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 10, 2003) - In only six years as a regular stop for the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho has fast become a favorite track for many of the drivers.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 10, 2003) - In only six years as a regular stop for the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho has fast become a favorite track for many of the drivers. This Saturday, September 13, the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series returns for the seventh time in the running of the NAPA "150" at Idaho's only NASCAR sanctioned facility.
This past April, NASCAR, Toyota, and Irwindale Speedway announced the Toyota All-Star Showdown that will pit the best of the best from all four of series in the NASCAR Elite Division November 6-8 at the Southern California short track. The event will be broadcast live Saturday, November 8 on SPEED Channel.
With a top ten final points finish an invite to the Toyota All-Star Showdown on the minds of the drivers, the battle for the series title will only intensify the action. Through the first twelve races this season, consistency and luck has been story in the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series and this race at Magic Valley Speedway has several drivers looking to keep luck on their side. Saturday's 150-lap race will have driver's vie for their share of $50,422 in posted awards in race thirteen of the 14-race championship series.
The long tow to Magic Valley Speedway's third-mile at the end of a long season may make some weary, but this race stands between championship and thinking about next year. Add into the mix several local drivers that are fresh and only have winning on their mind, a recipe for excitement is blended.
Chris Hart of Yakima, Wash. has held the top spot in the championship standings for much of the season, but a couple of costly incidents in the past two races has allowed Jeff Jefferson of Naches, Wash. to narrow the gap to just 26 points. Back in June, Hart finished fifth and Jefferson finished sixth, and both drivers now that luck may well deal the final hand.
"I learned a lot about how to race the track," Jeff Jefferson said. "I was disappointed the last time we were here and was very lucky to finish in sixth. I can't count on that type of luck again, and the way Chris has run all season you know he and his crew will be prepared and ready to race. I know we have a shot at the championship and it is Chris's (Hart) to lose."
After seeming invincible all season, Chris Hart showed he is human in the last two events. "We kind of made a couple of mistakes that set us back a bit," Hart said. "We know what we have to do and we have been real good at both Magic Valley and Wenatchee, so we are pretty confident."
Gary Lewis of Bothell, Wash. hopes to pick up his second win of the season at a track where he has three Bud Pole Awards and is the current track record holder. "I love the place," Lewis said. "I have always been fast there and enjoy coming to town. The fans are great and really make us feel at home."
With the championship contenders ready to duke it out for the title, several drivers are simply looking to secure their place in the NASCAR Top 10 in order to get the invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in November.
After staying in the NASCAR Top 10 all season, Steven Howard of Roy, Wash. is hanging on to tenth place by a thread after three straight races where his luck turned from steady to bad. "We keep fight fighting, but we have really struggled lately," Howard said. "My whole team wants to make the trip to Irwindale, but we have to have a solid finish this weekend in order to make that happen. I know we can race good here and I look forward to another top ten finish."
Nipping at Howard's heels are six driver's that eye the tenth and final invitation position. Brandon Riehl of Boring, Ore. sits just 28 points out of tenth and has steadily improved his point's position after each race all season. Ed Watson of Mount Vernon, Wash. is 49 points out of tenth in the 12th position. Watson finished 11th at Magic Valley last season. Rod Schultz Sr. holds down the 13th position in the standings as is just 10 points behind Watson. Jerry Fink of Woodinville, Wash., a long-time supporter of the series, is 14th in the standings and sits 71 points out of tenth. Rod Schultz Jr. and Travis Powell are within 90 points of the prize.
Defending Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho likes his chances returning to his home track. "We went back to our old car and we know we'll be good," McKean said. "We have a lot of laps at Magic Valley and after a runner-up finish in June, we are looking for better."
Other notable drivers that have experience at Magic Valley Speedway include Idaho drivers Nick Lynch, 1990 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series champion John Dillon, and former track champion Bruce Quale who will attempt to make his first career Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series start in one Eddy McKean's new cars.
The NAPA "150" is set to take the green flag at 9:00 pm MDT this Saturday as hometown favorites look to steal the thunder from the series regulars.
THE INSIDE LINE
* The race within the race . Jason Jefferson tops the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader board twelve five events with one win and eight top five performances. Jeff Bailey, Ken Smith, Brian Saling, and Rod Schultz Sr. round out the top-five Rookies.
* How many cars? More than 25 cars have pre-entered the NAPA "150" with several Idaho drivers looking to make the show in front of their hometown fans. Drivers include 2002 Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean, Nick Lynch, Brett Thompson, Chris Schrade, Bruce Quale, Russell Butler, and 1990 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series champion John Dillon.
* Point's leader Chris Hart holds a 26 point advantage over Jeff Jefferson after 12 events. Jason Jefferson sits 46 points behind Hart in third. Jason Jefferson drives the only Dodge in the series.
* Gary Lewis has two wins at Magic Valley Speedway and was the race winner when the series visited back in June.
* Several top Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers will be in town early on Friday, September 12 to participate in the NAPA Auto Parts "150" charity golf tournament held in Jackpot, Nevada.
* Driver to keep your eye on: Brandon Riehl has climbed to 11th place in the point standings on the strength of five top ten performances and closed to within 28 points of the NASCAR Top 10.
* Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR Elite Division in 2003 and will award 32 tires to eligible car owners at each series event. Hoosier will also award two tires to the highest eligible Rookie-of-the-Year candidate's car owner.
* Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series contingency sponsors include: Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Featherlite Trailers, Five Star, Flowmaster, G-Force, Goody's Headache Powder, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JR Pistons, Mac Tools, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, MSD, Penske Shocks, Powerade, Quarter Master, Quick Car, Raybestos Brakes, "76" Race Gas, Victory Circle Chassis, and Wix Air Filters.
* Rick Suran of Boring, Ore. has moved into the NASCAR Top-10 and currently sits 8th in the standings. Suran has one top five and six top ten performances through twelve races.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
* "We really have to dig the last two races if we want to get to the top ten. It is going to be a dog fight at Magic Valley". - Rod Schultz Sr. (No. 01 RES Investments Chevrolet). PAGE FROM THE PAST Current NASCAR Winston Cup Series rookie Greg Biffle won the inaugural race at Magic Valley Speedway the fall of 1997. In six events staged since 1997, Garrett Evans and Gary Lewis are the only repeat winner's on the one-third mile oval.
What: NAPA "150". Race 13 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos
Brakes Northwest Series.
Where: Magic Valley Speedway, Twin Falls, Idaho
When: 9:00 p.m. MDT, Saturday, September 13.
Track layout: 1/3-mile banked paved oval.
Race length: 150 laps, 49.9 miles.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): 10:30 am Registration opens, 12:00 noon Haulers enter and Inspection begins, 1:30 pm Mandatory Crew Chief's Meeting, 1:45 pm Qualifying Draw, 2:30-4:30 pm Alternating Practice, 4:45 pm Mandatory Driver's and Crew Chief's Meeting, 5:00 Mandatory Rookie Driver's Meeting, 6:00 pm Time Trials, 6:30 pm Autograph Session, 7:00 pm Non-Qualifiers Race, 9:00 pm NAPA "150".
Ticket information: Tickets are available at the track. Log on to www.magicvalleyspeedway.com for additional information.