NWS: Magic Valley: Round six preview

NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers prepare for Gem State Clash. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 2003) - In only six years as a regular stop for the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series,...

NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers prepare for Gem State Clash.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 12, 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, June 14, the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series returns for the sixth time in the running of the Pepsi "125" at Idaho's only NASCAR sanctioned facility.

Last month, NASCAR, Toyota, and Irwindale Speedway announced the Toyota All-Star Showdown that will pit the best of the best in all four of NASCAR's Elite Divisions November 6-8 at the Southern California short track. The event will be broadcast live Saturday, November 8 on SPEED Channel.

In order to get an invite to the Toyota All-Star Showdown, drivers will have to finish in the top ten final point standings in their respective series. Through the first five races this season, luck has been story in the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series and this race at Magic Valley Speedway has several drivers looking to turn their luck around. Saturday's 125-lap race will have driver's vie for their share of $44,472 in posted awards in race six of the 14-race championship series, and a climb up the point standings.

The long tow to Magic Valley Speedway's third-mile is a home coming of sorts for a couple of driver's and a new experience for several others. With Magic Valley Speedway being a favorite stop on the series, many drivers are looking to get their season back on track.

Garrett Evans of E. Wenatchee, Wash. is a three-time winner at Magic Valley Speedway and hopes to turn his disappointing season around at a track where he has experienced recent success. "Magic Valley (Speedway) is a fun track to race," said Evans. "I have been real good there because it is the type of track I love to race on. I hope to use this race a spring board and a solid finish this weekend will put us back in the top ten."

While Evans has been left to do a bit of soul searching at the conclusion of the races this season, he knows that his luck is bound to change. Over the years he has conquered all challenges that stood before him. The race this weekend holds significance for Evans as he seeks a fourth win at MVS and 50th career series victory. "I am really focused on turning this season around," Evans continued. "The competition on the series is tough and Magic Valley is a track where I can shine."

Gary Lewis of Bothell, Wash. hopes to pick up his first 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."

Luck has always been a factor in racing and a couple of drivers looking for some good luck in their first visit to Magic Valley Speedway are Travis Powell and Brandon Riehl. Powell is in his second full season while Riehl is in competing for Victory Circle Chassis rookie of the year honors.

"I have never seen the place," Powell said. "The competition on this series is awesome and the travel to new tracks makes it a lot of fun. My goal this year is to finish the season in the top ten and a good finish at Magic Valley Speedway is critical if we hope to make that a reality."

Powell, who calls Snohomish, Wash. home, currently sits 16th in the standings and just 82 points out of the top 10. "The challenge is what makes this fun," Powell continued. "We have struggled at times, but all the guys on the series are willing to help out and give us advice and tips for the tracks. I'll probably be asking a few questions this weekend."

Like Powell, Brandon Riehl of Boring, Ore. is looking for answers to turn his season around. "We have been really bad this season," Riehl said. "This season has been all about learning. These "Tour" cars are so different from a Late Model that the learning curve has been huge. We are getting closer, but I am struggling with telling the crew what the car needs, I am just trying to get comfortable."

Facing a new track for the first time doesn't phase Riehl; it is just another adjustment he has to make. "You have to be on your game in this series," Riehl stated. Being a new track doesn't bother me; all the tracks are new to me in this type of car. We really do not have any notes, but once I figure this car out, I know we will be good."

Defending Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho likes his chances returning to his home track. "We continue to learn new things about our car," McKean said. "We have a lot of laps at Magic Valley, but luck just has not been on our side in Northwest Series races in the past. I hope to change that this weekend."

Other notable drivers that have experience at Magic Valley Speedway include Idaho drivers Nick Lynch, Brett Thompson, and 1990 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series champion John Dillon.

The Pepsi "125" is set to take the green flag at 9:00 pm MDT this Saturday with the Garrett Evans looking to see if 4 and 50 are his lucky numbers.

THE INSIDE LINE

. The race within the race . Jason Jefferson tops the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader board after five events with one win and two 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 Pepsi "125" with several Idaho drivers looking to make their first start of the season. Drivers include 2002 Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean, Nick Lynch, Brett Thompson, and 1990 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series champion John Dillon.

. Points leader John Bender holds a six point advantage over Chris Hart after five events and is the only repeat winner so far in 2003.

. Garrett Evans has three wins at Magic Valley Speedway in Napa "150" held in September, and looks to get his season back on track. Evans is a four-time series champion and seeks his 50th career victory Saturday night.

. Several top Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers will be in town early on Friday, June 13 to meet and great the fans at area businesses. There will also be a Go-Kart Challenge at NAZZKART Indoor Karting Center at 353 3rd Ave, South starting at 6:00 pm to christen the new facility. Drivers will also be at selected Twin Stop locations from 2-5pm.

. Driver to keep your eye on: Gary Lewis has climbed to 6th place in the point standings on the strength of three top ten performances. Lewis has one victory at MVS in September of 2000.

- Area race fans can stop by participating Twin Stop Chevron station and purchase two adult tickets and receive a free event cap. Drivers will also be displaying their race cars from 2-5pm Friday, June 13.

. 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.

MOVING UP

. Steven Howard of Roy, Wash. has stayed in the NASCAR Top-10 through five events and currently sits 7th in the standings.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

. "Travel makes the Northwest Series fun." - Travis Powell (No. 87 Bailine Pontiac).

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 five events staged since 1997, Garrett Evans is the only repeat winner with three trips to victory lane (98, 99, 02).

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Greg Biffle , Brett Thompson , Jeff Bailey , Jason Jefferson , John Bender , Gary Lewis