YAKIMA'S TROY TRAMELL TAKES AIM AT HISTORY IN NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 19, 2006) -- Troy Tramell's goal for the 2006 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series season is to accomplish...
YAKIMA'S TROY TRAMELL TAKES AIM AT HISTORY IN NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 19, 2006) -- Troy Tramell's goal for the 2006 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series season is to accomplish something never before done. The Yakima, Wash.-based driver is trying to become the first driver in series history to win both the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award and the season points championship.
"I know it's a tall task, but that is what we're gunning for," says Tramell. "The caliber of competition in this series makes it very, very difficult, but we feel we can do it."
The time may be right for Tramell. Two drivers recently came close to turning this double play -- Jason Jefferson in 2003 and Travis Bennett in 2004. Bennett missed pulling off the feat in losing to Jeff Jefferson by just a single point. Jason Jefferson lost the title to his older brother by 25 points. Beyond those two, the only other rookie-of-the-year to come within even a hundred points of the championship was Jerry Bowers in 1987 after he lost out to Tobey Butler by 27 points.
While Tramell is a Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year candidate this season, he did participate in six events last season, just at the maximum to retain rookie status. He raced in just four main events, though.
"Last year was pretty rough for us," said the driver of the No. 5 Express Personnel/Magic Metals/Yakima Implement Chevrolet. "We experienced some growing pains and had our ups and downs."
On the up side was winning the Bud Pole Award for the July 23 event at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway in just his fifth Northwest Series outing. The down was never finishing better than 17th in his four races.
Inconsistency and inexperience are just two of the reasons why a rookie has never won the series crown. "There are just so many little things. It really helps to have some measure of experience as a driver, as well as, a team," said Tramell.
Tramell, to date, has five Northwest Series races under his belt and only time can cure his inexperience. However, joining his team this year, in a consultant's role, is reigning and three-time series champion Jeff Jefferson, who without a doubt has the experience and knowledge to impart upon his willing pupil.
"Having Jeff around is a huge benefit to us," says Tramell. "He knows the tracks really well and how to get around them. He is also very much in tune with the various car set-ups at those tracks. He will prove to be an invaluable member of the team."
Most likely, though, no measure of experience would have helped Tramell at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway in the 2006 season opener on April 30. Trouble found him in the early going, leaving him with a damaged racecar and a 20th-place finish.
"We had a good car. We qualified second and were exactly where we needed to be, but I guess it was not meant to be," he stated after the race.
He was the ninth-highest finishing rookie of those participating in the Sunoco award program. So, he is not only in a hole in the point standings, but also the rookie standings. That does not necessarily spell doom for the team's goal this year, but it does raise the degree of difficulty significantly.
Fortunately, the next stop on the Northwest Series schedule is Yakima Speedway for the May 27 Yakima 125. There are several positive signs for this race team heading into that event. It was the site of his Bud Pole effort last season; the track is right in his backyard, where he undoubtedly has taken advantage of that proximity in terms of practice and testing; and his mentor Jefferson has three wins and six Bud Poles to his credit at the sneaky-fast half-mile oval.
"I really feel good as we head into this year. For the most part, the speeds were in line with top cars last season showing that we can be competitive," he says. "This year, I have an increased confidence in my equipment which should lead to improved performance on the track. Right now, there is no reason why we should not be able to realize our goals. It won't be easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it can be done."
Ticket information for the Yakima 125 can be obtained by calling Yakima Speedway at (509) 248-0647 or by logging onto www.yakimaspeedway.us.
What: Yakima 125 (Race No. 2 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series)
Where: Yakima Speedway, Yakima, Wash.
When: 8:45 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, May 27, 2006
Track layout: 1/2-mile oval.
Race length: 125 laps/62.5 miles.
Posted awards: $51,291
2005 winner: Brandon Riehl.
2005 polesitter: Jeff Jefferson.
Top 10 in points: 1. Brandon Riehl -- 180; 2. Gary Lewis -- 170; 3. Jason Fraser -- 165; 4. Travis Bennett -- 160; 5. Jeff Barkshire -- 155; 6. John Dillon -- 150; 7. Brent Harris -- 146; 8. John Bender -- 142; 9. Wilbur Bruce -- 138; 10. Jay Sauls -- 134
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 5/27 - 11:00 a.m. Registration opens; 2:30-5:00 p.m. Alternating Practice; 6:00 p.m. Time Trials; 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Race (if necessary); 8:45 p.m. Yakima 125.