NWS: Top 10 list 2006-10-16

THE TOP 10 LIST NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 16, 2006) -- The waiting is over and for 10 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series drivers, it's on to Irwindale. This is a glance at the...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 16, 2006) -- The waiting is over and for 10 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series drivers, it's on to Irwindale.

This is a glance at the top 10 drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. The top 10 drivers in each of the four series (Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest) in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division have been invited to compete in the fourth annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, October 20-21 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. This special post-season invitational event will be broadcast on SPEED and awards competitors nearly $500,000 in prize money.

No. 1 -- Gary Lewis, Bothell, Wash. (No. 73 Nutter Racing Engines/Victory Circle Chassis Chevrolet), Team: Moore-Lewis Racing. Points: 1642 Previous ranking: 1. Lewis never bobbled all season long. He began the season with a second-place finish and ended it with a fifth-place effort and in between he won three races and finished outside of the top 10 only twice. It was his second Northwest Series title with the first coming in 1998. He is making his fourth NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown appearance. His best finish was a fifth-place showing last season which is the highest finish for any Northwest Series driver in the event's history.

No. 2 -- Brandon Riehl, Boring, Ore. (No. 69 Aero Exhaust/Darrell's Economy Muffler Chevrolet), Team: Hanson Racing. Points: 1514. Previous ranking: 2. For the second straight season, Riehl finished second in the championship point standings. His four wins this season paced the series demonstrating his ability to be a factor every time out. Additionally, he had three other top-five finishes in 2006. In the last two seasons, he has notched seven wins in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division competition with six coming in the Northwest Series and one in the Southwest Series. This will be Riehl's third NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He finished 27th last season.

No. 3 -- Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash. (No. 33 Bowman's Electro Painting/Knudson Lumber/Farmer's Insurance Chevrolet), Team: DS Racing. Points: 1489. Previous ranking: 3. Bennett bounced back this year from his disappointing 11th-place finish in points in 2005. He was closer to the form he displayed during his rookie season that saw him finish second in the point standings, just a single point behind championship winner Jeff Jefferson. This will be Bennett's second appearance in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He enters the event coming off a pair of top-five finishes to close out the Northwest Series season.

No. 4 -- Jeff Barkshire, Auburn, Wash. (No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Racing Engines Dodge), Team: Barkshire Racing. Points: 1376. Previous ranking: 4. This was a season of "what ifs" for Barkshire and his team. They finished fourth in points and posted six top-five finishes which isn't bad, but he led 277 laps this season, second only to Lewis' 327, but was never able to visit victory lane for one reason or another. This is Barkshire's second NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He finished 37th a season ago after experiencing problems with his brakes. He comes into this event with three top-five efforts in his last five outings.

No. 5 -- Shane Mitchell, Orondo, Wash. (No. 99 Mitchell Trucking & Paving/Coca-Cola Chevrolet), Team: Mitchell Motorsports. Points: 1367. Previous ranking: 7. The 2006 Northwest Series Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year leads a series contingent of four rookies into the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Mitchell snapped a modest streak of two finishes outside the top 10 with a season-best second-place showing in the season's final race on September 16 at the Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval in East Wenatchee, Wash. to seal the top rookie honors.

No. 6 -- Jay Sauls, Puyallup, Wash. (No. 20 Tri-State Restaurant Supply/Canyon Auto Paint Supply Chevrolet), Team: Sauls Racing. Points: 1336. Previous ranking: 6. Sauls went into the final race of the season with a chance to earn the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award, but a disappointing 14th-place finish precluded that. He was able to hold his position in the point standings resulting in his first NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown appearance. His finish of 14th in that final race snapped a streak of three consecutive top-10s for the youngster. Sauls was one of two rookies to win a race this season in the Northwest Series as he took the checkers on July 1 in Wenatchee.

No. 7 -- Garrett Evans, East Wenatchee, Wash. (No. 64 Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Financing Chevrolet), Team: Evans Racing. Points: 1325. Previous ranking: 5. Finishing 19th is not how the four-time champion wanted to end his season, but just a handful of races earlier Evans sat outside the top 10 in points. He then rattled off three top-five efforts in four outings including a season-best second-place finish on September 3 in the Aero Exhaust 200 at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway to move back into the top 10 with the sub-par season-ending performance not impacting the point standings that greatly. The 50-time Northwest Series winner has started 296 of the series' 312 races and is making his third NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown appearance.

No. 8 -- Mike Longton, Moxee, Wash. (No. 37 Key Financial/Owens Enterprises Chevrolet), Team: Longton Motorsports. Points: 1305. Previous ranking: 11. Longton was on the outside looking in entering the season's final race by holding the 11th position in points. How did he respond to the pressure? He simply went out and posted a season and career-best finish of fourth. It was also the first top five of his season and career. He closed out the season with three straight top-10 finishes. This will be the first NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown appearance for the rookie driver.

No. 9 -- Wilbur Bruce, Lakewood, Wash. (No. 8 Quality Rentals/Rent 'N Roll/Six Robblees Chevrolet), Team: Neil Weiner Racing. Points: 1295. Previous ranking: 10. Bruce went into the season's final race looking to re-establish the consistency he demonstrated earlier in the season before experiencing a pair of motor failures in the mid-portion of the year. He was able to accomplish that with a pair of sixth-place showings in the final two races. This will be Bruce's second NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. In his first attempt, a season ago, he finished eighth after starting 15th. HH

No. 10 -- B.J. Tidrick, Yakima, Wash. (No. 72 Winner's Choice/CBT Slotcars & Hobbies Chevrolet), Team: Tidrick Racing. Points: 1284. Previous ranking: 8. Tidrick did not follow up his big win in the Aero Exhaust 200 in Yakima on September 3 the way he wanted to. He finished 18th and over 30 laps off the pace. As a result, he barely clung to his position in the top 10. He edged 11th-place Steven Howard by just 2 points. The rookie driver has three top-10 finishes in his last five starts as he heads into his first NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Shane Mitchell , Jeff Jefferson , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire