SES: Valdosta: Pre-race notes

GEORGIA-BASED NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHEAST SERIES DRIVERS LOOK TO IMPRESS AT SOUTH GEORGIA MOTORSPORTS PARK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2005) --There will be more than a few drivers with a home state advantage in their favor...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 20, 2005) --There will be more than a few drivers with a home state advantage in their favor heading into the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series' inaugural Big Mac 200 this Saturday night, Sept. 24, at South Georgia Motorsports Park in Cecil, Ga. As a matter of fact, almost one-third of the field either is a Georgia native or resident.

"It's nice that a few of us get the chance to race in our home state every once in a while," says Jason Hogan, who resides in Cleveland. "South Georgia is well within driving distance for a lot of our fans so they get a chance to come watch us in person.."

Six drivers -- Hogan, Allen Karnes, Dusty Williams, Justin Wakefield, Alex Garcia and Michael Britt -- are Georgia residents who will be doing battle Saturday night for the first time at the South Georgia short track.

"It is a beautiful facility that they've done a good job of building," Hogan says. "I think we're going to put on a heck of a race for all the fans that come out to watch us. It's going to be real important to get a good couple of laps of qualifying in so we can start up towards the front. It's a tough little track that provides for some really good racing."

To help kick off the series' first visit to the track, Hogan and other drivers will be in the Valdosta area making personal appearances. Hogan and Karnes are scheduled to appear and display their race cars at the McDonalds in Valdosta on Thursday night from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

"It's always pretty cool when we have the chance to meet and spend some time with our fans," says Hogan, who along with Karnes and Williams, are slated to be on hand from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Valdosta AutoZone store, located at 3109 Perimeter Park, on Friday evening. "I know all the race fans in the South Georgia area are talking about our race as well as the Southeast Series returning to that area for the first time in a few years.

"I'm excited about this weekend's race as well as meeting a lot of great fans. Getting the chance to meet those fans is what it's all about. The Southeast Series drivers are all easily accessible to the fans, but the cars aren't. I know they love the chance to actually sit behind the wheel for a couple of minutes."

Williams, sitting third in the Southeast Series championship standings, is one of several drivers that tested at South Georgia in preparation for Saturday night's Big Mac 200.

"You don't see tracks as nice as South Georgia Motorsports Park being built everyday," Williams said. "It is very nice and all the folks with the track have done a fine job in building such a nice facility for us to compete at."

Unfortunately for Williams, the Garden City driver found out how tricky the South Georgia track was last Friday when he backed his No. 40 Pennzoil Chevrolet into the outside wall during a test session.

"The test was going good for us for a little while until I got a little carried away in the oil-dry stuff and knocked the back half of the car off," Williams explained. "I'm okay and we'll just work hard to get that car rebuilt in time for Saturday night's race. I think we're going to be really good when we get back there and put on a good show for all the fans in that area who really love their racing.

"For me being a Georgia driver, I probably will put a little more emphasis on this weekend's race because I will have a lot of fans from the Savannah area that will come out to watch us. You always want to do good in front of the home crowd. I went to the first race they had there and the crowd was unreal. It was crazy how much those people love their racing. I'm really looking forward to Saturday night's race."

Karnes also tested at South Georgia with Williams last Friday, and he too walked away impressed at the facility that will open its doors to the Southeast Series competitors this weekend for the first time.

"South Georgia Motorsports Park is the nicest short track I've ever been to in my life," said Karnes, who hails from the nearby town of Sharpsburg. "The track is so clean and nice that it's unbelievable. The surface of the race track is very smooth and very racy. I can tell you that if you want to watch a race, you'll not find too many places that can compare to South Georgia Motorsports Park."


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Drivers Alex Garcia
Teams Williams