NWS: Series drivers ready for All-Star Showdown

Toyota All-Star Showdown brings new meaning to "top ten" in NASCAR Elite division, Raybestos brakes Northwest Series. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 29, 2003) -- Last weeks monumental Toyota All-Star Showdown announcement that the NASCAR Grand ...

Toyota All-Star Showdown brings new meaning to "top ten" in NASCAR Elite division, Raybestos brakes Northwest Series.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 29, 2003) -- Last weeks monumental Toyota All-Star Showdown announcement that the NASCAR Grand National and Elite divisions would compete for national recognition and over $500,000 in posted awards was truly a history-making moment for every driver racing the NASCAR Elite Division. Prior to this all-star event, "Top Ten" in NASCAR touring meant little more than another notation on the racing resume.

Two feature races will be held, first a 100-lap race for the Elite Division, then a 125 lap race for the Grand National Division cars. Making this entirely unique, is that they will be run in two segments and include a "team" prize to the regional series that has the best overall performance in the first segment.

In the first segment (75 laps for the Elite Division, 100 laps for the Grand National Division), the drivers of each individual series will be considered as a single "team." Points will be awarded to each driver based on their position following the first segment, and the "team" with the most points will receive a bonus award that will be divided equally among the drivers. The winning Elite Division "team" will receive a $20,000 bonus.

Excitement in the northwest is building for this event. Two-time defending Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Champion, Kevin Hamlin, of Snohomish, Wash. looks forward to the long pull. "I'm really excited about it. I think it'll be a lot of fun. It's great for NASCAR and Toyota to put putting this on for us. It's definitely worth the tow, but we're not coming from back east. If they were having this in the Midwest or in the south - we'd still be going. I've ran Winter Heat at Tucson a couple of times when we first got started with the touring series in 98-99. That was great to run against competitors from across the country. This event will make this even more fun."

Jason Jefferson, of Yakima Wash. the current Northwest Series point leader and Victory Circle Rookie-of-the-Year point leader is looking to compete against the best. "That what it's all about right there trying to move up to the next level. The best people in the country will be there and that's what we're shooting for."

Joe Benedetti, who hails from Auburn, Wash., has been a consistent top ten competitor on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series the last four seasons. He finished second in the championship point race in 2001. Benedetti is currently second in the Northwest Series point race. "It generates a lot of excitement; it really dangles a carrot out there in front of all of us. I'm really looking forward to it a lot. Now I have some incentive to make it to the end of the season on a shoestring budget. It looks like it will just be a blast, we'll get to race against the best from across the country and it's a no pressure deal. It's just for bragging rights and money."

The top 15 drivers in the two NASCAR Grand National series -- Busch North and Winston West -- will be invited along with the top 10 drivers in each of the four series in the NASCAR Elite Division. The Elite Division consists of the Featherlite Southwest Series, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Kodak Southeast Series and Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. The Toyota All-Star Showdown will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel, beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Nov. 8.

The inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown, will be held Nov. 6-8 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. This invitation-only event will bring together the top teams in NASCAR's Grand National and Elite divisions, for national recognition and over $500,000 in posted awards.

The all-star event builds on Toyota's relationship with NASCAR, which includes plans to enter the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004. Toyota Tundra trucks will make their racing debut at Daytona International Speedway in Feb. 2004. As many as six Toyota Tundra race trucks may be entered for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition. Toyota Tundras are assembled exclusively in Princeton, Ind.

ABOUT THE TRACK -- Irwindale Speedway, which participates in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and is a regular host to Featherlite Southwest and Winston West Series events, was recently named "the nicest short track in America" in Dick Berggren's Speedway Illustrated magazine. The half-mile asphalt oval first opened in 1999 and is located only 18 miles from downtown Los Angeles.

Along with an adjacent drag strip, Irwindale boasts a state-of-the-art sound system, luxury suites and close proximity to major freeways in the area. For tickets or track information, call (626) 358-1100 or visit www.irwindalespeedway.com.


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Drivers Jason Jefferson , Kevin Hamlin