SES: Kentucky II: Round eight preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES ROOKIE DRIVER EDDIE STIVERS LEARNING THE RACING ROPES IN 2005 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 7, 2005) -- NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series rookie driver Eddie Stivers doesn't ...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 7, 2005) -- NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series rookie driver Eddie Stivers doesn't have the experience and track time that a lot of his fellow competitors do, but what he does have is a burning desire to learn what it takes to get better at each and every race.

"We're using old equipment and running on a limited budget," Stivers says. "We've had motor problems at both of the superspeedway races this year and that's hurt us because we were running in the Top 10 both times. The mechanic issues have really hurt us this year because we're not a real big team that has a back-up car that we can unload from our hauler if something goes wrong in practice. It's been a tough and long year to be honest, but that doesn't mean that we're not working hard and trying to get better.

"Even though this year has been difficult, it's been one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever gone through. We were determined to run the whole Southeast Series season and that's what we've done."

Stivers, a native of Columbia, S.C., will get his next chance to step up to the plate this Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway when the Southeast Series returns to action in the Charlie Daniels Fall Classic 150 at the 1.5-mile oval in a combination race with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series. Championship points between the two series will be awarded for each respective series driver, relative to the drivers in their "home" series. The highest-finishing Midwest Series driver will receive first-place points towards the Midwest Series title and likewise for the Southeast Series. Drivers will not receive points outside their regular series.

A very successful businessman in the Columbia area, Stivers insists his venture into the Southeast Series isn't just a hobby for him.

"I think it's more of a passion that I have and a commitment to racing in a NASCAR touring series," Stivers says. "If you're going to compete in a series like the caliber of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series, it's a lot more than just a hobby because these guys are good. For a lot of guys in the Southeast Series, their whole life outside of working for a living revolves around racing in this series. It takes a lot of time and effort from a lot of different people.

"The Southeast Series is cool because there are a lot of volunteer crew members that work on these cars every night when they get off work. So it's not just the drivers who devote their time and effort to go racing on the weekends like we do. I really don't think a lot of people grasp how much time and effort goes into racing like this."

Stivers and crew chief Jay McKinney head to Kentucky on Saturday night sitting 11th in the Southeast Series standings in hopes of improving their best finish of the season which is 13th on three different occasions.

"We've had our share of frustrations this year, but then again a lot of other teams have had some trouble," Stivers says. "Even though I've woken every morning and been frustrated with how my season has gone, I have never considered quitting. I've just had some bad luck and that's a part of racing, but sooner than later the racing Gods are going to shine down on us and we're going to achieve the success this team deserves. The Southeast Series has been a lot more competitive than we expected. It's just a fact that it takes time for new drivers to come in and be successful right from the start."

There are exceptions to the rule, Stivers admits, like current Southeast Series point leader J.R. Norris who won the 2004 Rookie-of-the-Year title.

"J.R. Norris is extremely talented, plus he's with one of the best teams in the business and they operate out of a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series operation," Stivers says. "Guys like J.R. Norris, Jeff Fultz and Allen Karnes have helped me so much it's just been unreal. It's been a steep learning curve but I've had a ball so far and can't wait to see what we've got for them at Kentucky. I really am looking forward to the rest of the season and I think it's going to be a blast. We've had some good times and some bad times, but all in all this has been a tremendous experience for me."

Not only has Stivers been a busy man with his racing career and running a myriad of different businesses, he has devoted a great deal of his spare time doing various AutoZone store location appearances to sign autographs for race fans. He lets the fans actually sit behind the wheel of his No. 66 Wynn's Oil Chevrolet to have their picture taken.

"Next to actually racing, to have the chance to interact with the fans has been wonderful," Stivers says. "I went to a tool show last week with Kenny Wallace and we got the chance to really brighten up the day of this neat little boy who was in a wheelchair. To be able to see the smile on his face was worth the eight hours I spent there. It can't be lost on us that if it wasn't for the fans there wouldn't be racing."

Fast Facts

What: The Charlie Daniels 150 (Race No. 8 of 12 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series).

Where: Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Ky.

When: Saturday, Sept. 12 at 8:00 p.m. (EST)

Track layout:  .1.5-mile oval

Race length: 100 Laps (150 miles)

Posted awards: $111,806

Top 10 in Southeast Series points: 1. J.R. Norris 1,247; Dusty Williams 1,216; Jeff Fultz 1,210; Gary Helton 1,186; Jason Hogan 1,171; Kevin Prince 1,149; Justin Wakefield 1,125; Greg Pope 1,101; Allen Karnes 1,098; Robert Richardson 1,032.


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Drivers Kenny Wallace , Jeff Fultz , Robert Richardson Jr. , J.R. Norris
Teams Williams