The Showdown Lowdown NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2004) - This is a glance at the current top ten drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series.
The Showdown Lowdown
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2004) - This is a glance at the current top ten drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. At season's end the top ten drivers in each of the four series (Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest) in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division will be invited to compete in the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on November 11-13.
No. 1 - Garrett Evans, Ardenvoir, Wash. (No. 64 Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Financing Chevrolet), Evans Racing. Previous ranking: 1. Held on to the top spot despite his lowest finish of the season, sixth at the Evergreen 125 last Saturday at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. The four-time series champion has posted a top-10 finish in each of the first five events in 2004. Last Saturday marked the 186th time that Evans has finished in the top 10 in a Northwest Series race.
No. 2 - Travis Bennett, Ellensburg, Wash. (No. 33 Bowman's Electro Painting/Zeb's Truck Stop Chevrolet), DS Racing. Previous ranking: 2. Like Evans, Bennett has logged a top-10 finish in each of the Northwest Series races this year. His finish of fourth was his third top 5 of the season. He also has been the top-finishing rookie in all five events this season, which may have locked up the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award that he sought as the season began. Just 33 points separate he and Evans.
No. 3 - Pete Harding, Surrey, B.C. Canada (No. 39 L.P. Body Shop/Harding Forklift Chevrolet) Harding Racing. Previous ranking: 4 (tie). Harding finished last in the season's initial race, but has posted four consecutive top-five finishes including a second last Saturday in the Evergreen 125. Over that span, the 1999 series champ has climbed from 25th to third in the championship point standings. Harding has now collected 100 top-10 finishes in his series career.
No. 4 - Wes Rhodes, Lacey, Wash. (No. 6 Knight Fire Protection Chevrolet) Foulkes Racing. Previous ranking: 4 (tie). Rhodes crossed the line in fifth in the Evergreen 125, which was his third fifth-place finish of 2004. His three top-five finishes this year is a personal season-best after not having more than two in any of his previous five seasons.
No. 5 - Jason Jefferson, Naches, Wash. (No. 97 Mike Olson Dodge/SPE Racing Engines Dodge), Simmonson Racing. Previous ranking: 3. Dropped two spots this week as he was, for the second time this season, hounded by mechanical problems. Jefferson lost the motor to the No. 97 Dodge in the first few laps of the first practice session for the Evergreen 125 last Saturday. After seeing that the damage could not be fixed at the track, he had to strike a deal to use older brother Jeff's back-up car. This was the car that Jeff drove to the 2003 series championship and after taping a 97 over the 42 Jason was able to turn a start of 21st into a finish of 12th. That improvement garnered him the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award given to the driver who improves his position the most over the course of the race.
No. 6 - Gary Lewis, Bothell, Wash. (No. 73 Nutter Racing Engines/Sign Factory USA Pontiac) Lewis Racing. Previous ranking: 10. Jumped four spots in the championship points race after collecting his first win in 2004 and the 27th of his career in the Evergreen 125. The victory was Lewis' third straight top-five after poor showings in the season's first two races. He is tied with Jeff Jefferson for the lead in Bud Pole Awards this season with two. Lewis is looking to finish in the top 10 in points for the fifth consecutive season.
No. 7 - Brandon Riehl, Boring, Ore. (No. 69 Aero Turbine/Darrell's Economy Muffler Chevrolet), Hanson Racing. Previous ranking: 6. Riehl slid one spot this week despite posting his fourth top-10 finish of the season with a 10th-place effort last Saturday at Evergreen Speedway. He had worked his way to as high as third in the Evergreen 125, but a spin in turn two pushed him to the back of the lead lap pack.
No. 8 - Jeff Jefferson, Naches, Wash. (No. 42 Sunfair Chevrolet/Morgan Transport Chevrolet) Morgan Racing. Previous ranking: 11. The 2003 season champion won his second straight Bud Pole Award of the season in the Evergreen 125 with a speed of 102.260 mph, but was forced to start in 10th after the unlucky draw of a 10-car invert. Jefferson arguably had the best car in the race. He worked his way to third, but got a little over aggressive between turns three and four on lap 69 and made contact with John Bender causing both drivers to spin costing valuable track position and Jefferson a shot at the win. He was able to recover and speed back through the field for a third-place finish.
No. 9 - Steven Howard, Roy, Wash. (No. 38 Great Northwest Homes/Seddon Marketing Group Chevrolet) Howard Racing. Previous ranking: 8. Howard fell one slot to ninth this week despite notching an eighth-place finish in the Evergreen 125. It was his third top-10 finish of the season. The 22 year-old has quietly gone about his business this season and has been mainstay in the top half of the point standings in 2004.
No. 10 - John Bender, Snohomish, Wash. (No. 18 Oso Lumber/Reece Asphalt Chevrolet) Kearney Racing. Previous ranking: 7. Bender dropped three slots this week. After running in second at the race's midpoint last Saturday, Bender received costly contact from Jeff Jefferson causing him to spin out of contention for the victory. He sustained damage to the suspension and was forced to park the car after 90 laps relegating himself to a finish of 16th.
On the bubble:
No. 11 - Joe Benedetti, Auburn, Wash. (No. 2 Bret Chevrolet/RaceCals Chevrolet) Benedetti Racing. Previous ranking: 9. Benedetti dropped one spot to 11th in the championship points race after making his first appearance in the 2004 top 10 following the Pepsi 125 on June 12.
New to the top 10: Jeff Jefferson
Dropped out of the top 10: Joe Benedetti
Largest jump in the top 15: Gary Lewis (+4)
Largest drop in the top 15: John Bender (-3)