NWS: Yakima III: Pre-race notebook

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES AERO TURBINE MUFFLERS 200 NOTEBOOK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Just two events remain in the 2005 season for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. The first of which is...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 1, 2005) -- Just two events remain in the 2005 season for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series. The first of which is the Labor Day weekend spectacular at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway.

On Saturday, September 3, the teams will practice and qualify. Bud Pole qualifying will consist of standard two-lap time trials getting underway at approximately 6:00 pm PDT. Those results will set the field for two 25-lap qualifying races which in turn will set the grid for Sunday's main event.

Teams will be permitted one practice session on Sunday before the start of the Aero Turbine Mufflers 200. The main event is scheduled to start around 7:30 pm PDT and will consist of 200 laps on the 1/2-mile oval.

The cars may not be able to travel the 100 miles on one tank of gas, so NASCAR officials will throw a caution flag somewhere between laps 90 and 110 and bring the cars down the outside of pit road to refuel them. No other work can be done on the cars at this time. Any stops teams decide to make either before or after this break are live pit stops in which they can change tires or make any other adjustments they feel are necessary with the exception of adding fuel.

THE TRACK: Yakima Speedway is hosting its 37th Northwest Series event since the inception of the series in 1985. The inaugural race was run on June 22, 1985 with Ron Eaton collecting the win. Jeff Jefferson has been the most successful driver as of late by winning three of the last five events at his home track. Seven participants in the Aero Turbine Mufflers 200 have won previously at Yakima. Joining Jefferson are John Bender, Garrett Evans, Roger Habich, Pete Harding, Gary Lewis and Brandon Riehl.

LAST TIME OUT: The last race for the Northwest Series was Saturday, August 20 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. Former NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean led 128 of the 202 laps, but it was Wilbur Bruce who ended up with the victory. It was Bruce's first win in the series since 1998.

POLE-ING DATA: Both Jefferson and Travis Bennett have won two Bud Pole Awards this season to lead the Northwest Series. Jefferson is now fifth all-time in the series in poles won with 15. One of those came in the season's first race at Yakima. Jefferson and Eaton each have won a series-best six poles at Yakima Speedway.

TRAFFIC REPORT: No driver will finish the 2005 season having completed every lap that has been raced this year. Jefferson and John Dillon had completed every lap heading into the last event, but circumstances precluded them from holding on to that distinction for another week. Dillon is just one lap off the pace at 951 out of a series-maximum of 952 laps completed. Evans has completed 950 followed by Bruce's 949. Bender still leads the season in laps led this season with 202 garnered in his two wins while Jefferson has paced the field for 159 laps.

POINTS ARE THE POINT: Harding closed Jefferson's points lead to just 13 after the Magic Valley Speedway event setting up another exciting chase for the championship. However, everyone should look beyond Jefferson and Harding and include Riehl and Evans. Why? Last season with two races to go, the eventual champion, Jefferson, sat in fourth place 83 points off the pace. Actually, Bruce could be included in those discussions as he is currently 84 points behind. The other points race is to stay in the top 10. Bennett currently sits in 10th, but Lewis is just 10 points behind. Using the above rationale, Ed Watson, who has three top 10s in his last four outings, is still very much in the mix at 14th, 67 points behind Bennett. The same holds true for Steven Howard and Habich, who are 12th and 13th respectively. The top 10 drivers in the final point standings will be invited to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which will be held Nov. 10-12 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.

THE ROOKIES: Jeff Barkshire, the leading rookie in the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Award standings, was not the top-finishing rookie for the first time in six races, but still holds the lead. Darren Trimble led the rookie class at Magic Valley. The top-finishing rookie in each event is awarded 10 points while the next highest gets nine and so on. At the end of the year, each candidate's best nine finishes will be used to determine the winner. Barkshire currently has 66 points and is being pursued by Jim McVey's 49 points. Trimble is third with 36. He is trailed closely by Ed Thomsen with 33 points, Troy Tramell with 29 points, Mike Longton with 25 and Erick Hargraves' 24. Marty Sokulski (11), and Dennis Wurtz (6) round out the list. However, each candidate gets to remove his worst finish from the final standings meaning the final standings may not necessarily reflect the running totals of the season.


What: Aero Turbine Mufflers 200 (Race No. 8 of 9 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).

Where:  Yakima Speedway, Yakima, Wash.

When: 7:30 p.m. PDT (approx.), Sunday, Sept. 4, 2005.

Track layout:  1/2-mile oval.

Race length: 200 laps/100 miles.

Posted awards: $58,165.

2004 winner:  Jeff Jefferson.

2004 polesitter: Jeff Jefferson.

Top 10 in points: 1. Jeff Jefferson 1113, 2. Pete Harding 1100, 3. Brandon Riehl 1077, 4. Garrett Evans 1050, 5. Wilbur Bruce 1029, 6. John Bender 997 7. John Dillon 978, 8. Jeff Barkshire 949, 9. Jeff Bailey 941, 10. Travis Bennett 931.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat. 9/3: 10:00 p.m. Registration opens, 2:30-4:30 p.m. Practice, 6:00 p.m. Bud Pole Qualifying, 7:30 p.m. 2 25-lap qualifying races. Sun. 9/4: 2:00 Registration opens, 4:00-4:30 Practice, 7:30 Aero Turbine Mufflers 200


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Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jeff Bailey , John Bender , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire