NWS: Wenatchee: Round four preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES NEWS AND NOTES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2006) -- Gary Lewis enters this Saturday's Holiday Inn Express 125 at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval, located in East Wenatchee, Wash., having won the...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2006) -- Gary Lewis enters this Saturday's Holiday Inn Express 125 at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval, located in East Wenatchee, Wash., having won the last two NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series events. By virtue of the two victories and a second-place effort, Lewis has built a 40-point lead in the championship point standings over Travis Bennett.

Bennett, the 2004 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, slumped a bit in 2005, but has rebounded to collect three top-five finishes of his own this year.

The logjam in the points starts with the third-place driver, Wilbur Bruce, and goes down to Shane Harding in 16th. Just 100 points separate those 14 drivers.

Lewis has his sights set on the Northwest Series record of four straight wins, a feat he accomplished in 2000. John Dillon originally set the record that he shares with Lewis with four consecutive wins in 1990.

THE TRACK: Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval is hosting its 37th 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 16 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 (Bruce, Dillon, Eaton, Garrett Evans, Pete Harding and Lewis) are expected to race this weekend. Evans holds the mark for most Bud Poles won with nine.

NEW FACE IN VICTORY LANE: Both times the Northwest Series visited Wenatchee in 2005 the winner was eventual series champion Jeff Jefferson. In fact, Jefferson has won three of the last four and four of the last seven events at the picturesque track situated in the mountains of Central Washington. Two of the other three wins in the last seven races there have been captured by Lewis.

LAP COUNTER: Despite being just three races into the season and putting just 400 laps in the books, only Bennett, Bruce and Lewis have logged them all. Lewis has led 205 of the 400 total laps to be the far and away leader in that category.

THE ROOKIES: The battle for the Northwest Series' Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year award will be one to watch all season long. A large rookie class that has 12 drivers vying for the title will undoubtedly go down to the wire. Currently, Mike Longton leads the way with 22 points followed closely by Jay Sauls and B.J. Tidrick with 21 each. Jason Fraser is next with 19 points. Local Wenatchee standout Shane Mitchell has 16 points with Shane Harding right behind him at 15. Another familiar Wenatchee name, Brent Harris, is tied with Troy Tramell with 12 points each. Darren Rupinski (11), Zan Sharp (8), Bryan Warf (6) and Joey Decker (2) round out the list. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year will be awarded to the rookie driver with the highest finish in 75% of the events respective to the other rookie contenders.

ALUMNI REPORT: Former Northwest Series competitor Greg Biffle made his way into the top 10 in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings after a slow start. He finished fourth last weekend at the tough road course of Infineon Raceway. Biffle currently sits in ninth place 467 points off the pace of leader Jimmie Johnson. Biffle also is currently eighth in the NASCAR Busch Series standings. Mike Bliss, another Northwest Series product, jumped up four spots to sixth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings. The surge forward in the standings was fueled by a second-place effort last weekend at The Milwaukee Mile.

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


What: Holiday Inn Express 125 (Race No. 4 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series)

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

When: 9:00 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, July 1, 2006

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

Posted awards: $55,913

2005 winner:  Jeff Jefferson.

2005 polesitter: John Bender.

Top 10 in points: 1. Gary Lewis -- 530; 2. Travis Bennett -- 490; 3. Wilbur Bruce -- 436; 4. Brandon Riehl -- 427; 5. B.J. Tidrick - 411; 6. Jeff Barkshire -- 410; 7. Mike Longton -- 408; 8. Jay Sauls -- 401; 9. Garrett Evans -- 372; 10. Shane Mitchell - 362

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 6/17 - 12:00 p.m. Registration opens; 3:00-4:45 p.m. Alternating Practice; 6:00 p.m. Time Trials; 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Race (if necessary); 9:00 p.m. Holiday Inn Express 125.


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Drivers Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Shane Mitchell , Jeff Jefferson , John Bender , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire