NWS: Wenatchee II: Pre-race notebook

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES WENATCHEE VALLEY'S SUPER OVAL NOTEBOOK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2006) - Even though, Gary Lewis has taken the drama out of the championship for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division,...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 14, 2006) - Even though, Gary Lewis has taken the drama out of the championship for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series, there is still plenty on the line at this Saturday's Wenatchee 125 at the Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval in East Wenatchee, Wash.

THE TRACK: Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval is hosting its 38th Northwest Series event. The first race run in Wenatchee was on July 23, 1988 in which Ron Eaton took the checkered flag. There have been 17 different Northwest Series winners at WVSO with Eaton and Gary Lewis leading the way with five wins victories each. Of those 16 winning drivers, six (Wilbur Bruce, Eaton, Garrett Evans, Pete Harding, Lewis and Jay Sauls) are expected to race this weekend. Evans holds the mark for most Bud Poles won with nine. Ken Kaltschmidt holds the one-lap qualifying record at the 1/4-mile oval. He posted a lap time of 12.577 seconds on August 21, 1999 which translated to an average speed of 71.559 mph.

LAST ONE IS NOT A ROTTEN EGG: This is the final race of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series and there are, at least, a dozen drivers competing in this event who have not won a NASCAR Northwest Series event and would very much like to include that on their resume. "We have been good enough to win a couple of these, but things never worked out just right," says Jeff Barkshire. "We would like to win the final race under the NASCAR banner." Travis Bennett added, "We've been so close, but haven't been able to get over the hump. I really want to win a NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series race." How many of the drivers, who have won before, would like to win the final chapter?

THE CHAMPIONSHIP: Lewis needs to simply take the green flag on Saturday night to secure his second Northwest Series title with his first coming in 1998. He has seven top-three finishes this season in nine outings and has quite simply been dominant this season. However, don't expect Lewis to take the green flag and head to the garage area to sip champagne. He's not wired that way. If he is behind the wheel of a racecar, then he is racing to win.

WHAT'S AT STAKE?: Plenty. First of all, the final top 10 in the championship point standings will earn an invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on October 20-21. This special post-season event will be broadcast on SPEED and awards competitors nearly $500,000 in prize money. Only the top four drivers are virtually guaranteed to remain there, the rest of the spots are up for grabs. Matt Hall ranked 16th in the point standings is still very much mathematically alive for a top 10 position.

ALSO STILL UP FOR GRABS: The battle for the Northwest Series' Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year award has been one to watch all season long and it was no secret that it would come down to the final race and perhaps the final lap. It was a large rookie class in the Northwest Series this year that numbered 12 strong. Five still have a shot at this coveted award that will hold great meaning this year in light of the stiff competition. Shane Mitchell brings a two point lead into the race over Sauls with Jason Fraser, Mike Longton and B.J. Tidrick lurking and ready to pounce. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year will be awarded to the rookie driver with the highest finish in eight of the 10 events respective to the other rookie contenders meaning that each contender's worst two finishes will be thrown out of the equation.

STROLL DOWN MEMORY LANE: While there have been recent announcements regarding the future of tour cars racing in the Northwest, this race will be a bittersweet event for many. The curtain will come down on 22 seasons of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series ending an unforgettable era of racing in this part of the country. At this event, a minimum of eight of the 12 former NASCAR Northwest Champions will be on hand. Four (Eaton, Evans, Harding and Lewis) will be racing in this historic race. Joining them will be Tobey Butler, Kevin Hamlin, Jeff Jefferson and Kelly Tanner. The only greater assembly of racing talent this weekend just may be at New Hampshire International Speedway, the site of this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event.

Ticket information for the Wenatchee 125 can be obtained by calling the track at (509) 884-8592 or by logging on to: www.wvso.com.

Fast Facts

What: Wenatchee 125 (Race No. 10 of 10 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).

Where: Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval, E. Wenatchee, Wash.

When: 8:30 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, Sept. 16, 2006

Track layout: 1/4-mile oval
Race length: 125 laps/31.25 miles.

Posted awards: $52,833

2005 winner: Jeff Jefferson.

2005 polesitter: Brandon Riehl.

Top 10 in points: 1. Gary Lewis-1487; 2. Brandon Riehl- 1334; 3. Travis Bennett-1324; 4. Jeff Barkshire-1264; 5. Garrett Evans-1219; 6. Jay Sauls-1215; 7. Shane Mitchell-1197; 8. B.J. Tidrick-1175; 9. Steven Howard-1148; 10. Wilbur Bruce-1145

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 9/16 - 12:00 p.m. Registration opens; 3:00-4:45 p.m. Practice; 6:00 p.m. Bud Pole Qualifying; 8:30 - Wenatchee 125

-credit: nascar

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Drivers Shane Mitchell , Jeff Jefferson , Kevin Hamlin , Gary Lewis , Matt Hall , Jeff Barkshire