MERIDIAN SPEEDWAY: AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY FOR 2006 NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2006) -- A handful of NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series teams went to Meridian (Idaho) Speedway last...
MERIDIAN SPEEDWAY: AN UNKNOWN QUANTITY FOR 2006 NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 26, 2006) -- A handful of NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series teams went to Meridian (Idaho) Speedway last week to test for the April 29 Stock Building Supply NASCAR 150 presented by The Susan G. Komen Foundation's "Race for the Cure" and AutoZone. The consensus was that it will be an exciting race due to the prevailing lack of experience at that track.
The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series last visited Meridian in June 1991, and has had just five events there in the series' 22 seasons.
Brandon Riehl, last season's runner-up in the championship point standings, got in an hour of work on older tires just wanting to get a feel for the racing surface.
"I have never raced any kind of car there, so I just wanted to get an idea of what we're facing," said the Boring, Oregon-based driver. "I think we can get a handle on it, but we have to find some forward bite."
Port Orchard, Washington's Jim McVey echoed Riehl's findings on front-end grip. Like Riehl and the predominance of the field, McVey has never raced at the track situated just outside of Boise, Idaho.
"We found that our car was pretty good, but it will be a little different with more cars out there when the green flag drops," said McVey.
While the turns can be a tad cozy, McVey liked that he could carry speed into the turns and the way that his car rolled into them. "The turns are pretty tight at the apex, but the car did not get upset at all," he said.
McVey also noted that for the most part it is a one-groove track, but felt that with more cars out there during the race slowing things down a little the second groove might be more usable.
Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year contender Troy Tramell, out of Yakima, Wash., believes that the key will be patience and the reward will come to those who save their equipment. "The driver who can save his right rear tire will be in great shape at the end of the race," he said.
Along with Riehl and McVey, Tramell came away from the test session with optimism. "The track is a little narrow and slick, but that is not something new to any of us. We'll use every practice session to get the car set up for the race and get a good qualifying run to get up front."
More importantly, the other common theme expressed by those drivers who tested at the speedway was that it will be a race not lacking in the excitement department.
"It will be the closest of short-track racing and certainly will be an action-packed night," says Riehl.
McVey said, "There are going to be a lot of cars out there fighting for the same spot on the track and that will lead to an interesting night for the drivers, but an extremely exciting night for the fans."
Tramell reiterated those same sentiments, but added the level of anticipation is high among series drivers was very high after the postponement due to inclement weather of the scheduled season opener on April 1 at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. "I'm ready to go racing and I'm sure I'm not the only one. This is going to be a tough track to get a hold of, but that will make a great show for the fans."
Ticket information for the Stock Building Supply NASCAR 150 presented by The Susan G. Komen Foundation's "Race for the Cure" and AutoZone can be obtained by calling Meridian Speedway at (208) 888-2813 or by logging onto www.meridianspeedway.com.
What: Stock Building Supply NASCAR 150 (Race No. 1 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series)
Where: Meridian Speedway, Meridian, Idaho
When: 8:30 p.m. MDT (approx.), Saturday, April 29, 2006
Track layout: 1/4-mile oval
Race length: 150 laps/37.5 miles.
Posted awards: $52,558
2005 winner: Event not held.
2005 polesitter: Event not held.
Top 10 in points (2005): 1. Jeff Jefferson 1,423; 2. Brandon Riehl 1,372; 3. Garrett Evans 1,348; 4. Wilbur Bruce 1,325; 5. Pete Harding 1,321; 6. Jeff Barkshire 1,289; 7. Jeff Bailey 1,240; 8. John Dillon 1,236; 9. Gary Lewis 1,221; 10. John Bender 1,218.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 4/29 - 9:00 a.m. Registration opens; 1:00-1:25 p.m. Practice; 2:00-2:25 p.m. Practice; 3:00-3:25 p.m. Practice; 5:15 p.m. Time Trials; 8:30 p.m. Stock Building Supply NASCAR 150.