SES: Lakeland USA International pre-event notes

LAKELAND, FLA. (April 7 2001) - The Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring teams will roll into USA International Speedway on April 21 sporting new and old names in the world of short track asphalt racing, all looking for the checkered flag in...

LAKELAND, FLA. (April 7 2001) - The Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring teams will roll into USA International Speedway on April 21 sporting new and old names in the world of short track asphalt racing, all looking for the checkered flag in the $56,700 Discount Auto Parts 200.

Thirty-six drivers will take the green flag on Saturday night in probably the strongest field of cars ever entered with this NASCAR division at the .750-mile super fast speedplant that will include five past champions. Never in the history of the series has there been five former series title holders challenging for another championship.

2000 Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Champion Billy Bigley Jr. of Naples, Fla., a legend in Florida racing annals, has entered this event since he has an off weekend with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Bigley, driving the Peerless Woodworking Chevrolet, was a contender for the win at USA International Speedway in 2000 until a wheel bearing forced his car to the pits for repairs and an eventual 21st place finish.

"That's just racing," said Bigley. "No one can predict a parts failure but it sure did cost us a good finish last year after we were in the hunt and had led many laps."

Joining Bigley as past champions for this event will be three-time Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring Champion Jody Ridley, who has returned to the series that he dominated in 1991 - '92 and '93. Ridley, without a doubt one of the most popular drivers in the south, is seeking a fourth title in his Craig Motorsports/Black Hawk Builders Ford.

Wayne Anderson, Wildwood, Fla. is back with the series in 2001 with his Jani- King Chevrolet. Despite finishing sixth in points in 2000, Anderson led all drivers with five stops in victory lane, four Bud Pole starts and led 892 laps or 29.0% of the total run.

Stanley Smith, 1989 NASCAR All American Challenge Series Champion, will be competing at this track for the first time. Smith, a very successful businessperson, is in his first year competing with any NASCAR short track division since 1990. He moved up to NASCAR Winston Cup competition in 1991.

Darrell Brown, is competing full-time with the series for the first time. Brown, a successful Birmingham, Al. businessperson won the 1984 All Pro Super Series National Title and is one of the toughest competitors around.

The will be third appearance for the Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring at USA International Speedway. There have been two different winners and two different Bud Pole winners in the previous two events. Jeff Fultz, with his C & C Boilers/Cleaver Brooks Chevrolet will be in the field to defend his 2000 record setting run. Also joining Jeff will be third year driver Brian Smith who set a new track qualifying record 128.602 mph in 2000.

Eight Rookie-of-the-Year candidates will be attempting to make the 36-car starting field with local fans watching Chris Fontaine in his Discount Auto Parts sponsored Chevrolet. Fontaine, with a very impressive record prior to moving into NASCAR touring competition, failed to make the first event of the season at Mobile International Speedway but feels very confident coming back to his home track.

"We are still learning," said Fontaine after missing the race at Mobile. "Touring drivers are much tougher and there is so much to learn about setup and handling at a new racetrack. We certainly were not discouraged and coming back to USA International will give our team a big boost."

Qualifying for the 36-car field will start at 5:00 p.m. with The Discount Auto Parts 200 taking the green flag at 7:00 p.m. For information on ticket prices contact the speedway office at 800-984-7223.

The Gatorade All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series that blanket the United States, bringing special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses. NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks. Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include R. J. Reynolds, Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, Goody's Headache Powders, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes and RE/MAX International, Incorporated.


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Drivers Billy Bigley , Jeff Fultz , Wayne Anderson , Chris Fontaine