Southwest Series Showdown preview

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Ready For Showdown Homecoming DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 5, 2004) - Last season the rising stars of NASCAR converged on Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway for the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star ...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Ready For Showdown Homecoming

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (November 5, 2004) - Last season the rising stars of NASCAR converged on Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway for the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown that invite the top 10 points finishers from each of the four NASCAR AutoZone Elite Divisions (Southwest, Northwest, Midwest, and Southeast) to participate in this one-of-a-kind NASCAR event. The Midwest drivers left with bragging rights in 2003 but this season the Southwest Series is ready to defend their "home" turf November 11-13.

This All-Star 40-car event brings together the finest regional series drivers that will compete for over $500,000 in prize money, as well as, the opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a live national television audience with SPEED Channel supplying the coverage.

Additionally, the top 15 drivers from the two NASCAR Grand National Divisions - Busch North Series and West Series - will be on hand to test their skills against each other in an event on the same race card.

This seasons roster representing the Southwest Series include: Newly crowned champion Jim Pettit II from Prunedale, Calif.; 2001 series champion Craig Raudman from Bakersfield, Calif.; 2002 series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho; Burney Lamar from W. Sacramento, Calif.; Eric Holmes from Escalon, Calif.; Joe Herold from Poway, Calif.; Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year winner Rip Michels from Mission Hills, Calif.; Greg Voigt from Santa Barbara, Calif.; Todd Souza from Aromas, Calif.; and Doug McCoun from Prunedale, Calif.

Last season the Southwest Series contingent was led by Pettit who finished runner-up to Showdown winner Ron Breese Jr. Pettit feels that he has some unfinished business this year. "We were so close last year," Pettit said. "Wining the championship this season has been the number one goal, but winning the Showdown is something we have been planning for since the checkered flag fell last season."

The top five in the final Southwest Series standings this season were at the inaugural event but had mixed results (Pettit 2nd, Lamar 6th, Raudman 12th, Holmes 14th, and McKean 26th), so the focus for the series this year is a better showing by all drivers.

Some have said that the Southwest Series may have an advantage because the series visits the track during the season, but Eddy McKean disagrees. "I don't really think the track favors us," said McKean. "All these guys are champions and great racers. Last season proved that. All I know is it will be a great race to compete in and a great race to watch on TV."

The Toyota All-Star Showdown begins Nov. 11 with a full day of practice for participating teams. On Friday night, Nov. 12, each division (NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division and NASCAR Grand National Division) will hold twin 50-lap preliminary races. The results of these short distance races will establish the starting lineups for Saturday's feature races, with the 50-lap race winners starting up front in the main events. On Saturday, Nov. 13, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division all-star field will race for 125 laps, followed by the NASCAR Grand National Division all-stars (from the Busch North Series and West Series) in a 150-lap showdown. Friday's and Saturday's events will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel.

The Toyota All-Star Showdown includes a unique feature not found in any other NASCAR event - a "team" competition between each participating series. For the first 75-laps of the Saturday feature event, drivers from each of the four respective series are scored as "teams" and the "team" with the highest cumulative point total, based on the running order after the opening segment, is declared the "team" winner and the "team" will split additional prize money.

Then, after a 10-minute break, the cars will be inverted to begin the final 50-lap segment to determine the race winner. The race winner will have his name etched in a trophy that will be on permanent display at Daytona USA as well as bragging rights for the next year.

2004 Southwest Series Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year winner Rip Michels has been waiting for this event since watching it in the stands last season. "It has taken me most of the season to get these cars figured out," Michels said. "We are ready and I can't wait to battle with guys I have only read about over the years. This is truly a one-of-a-kind race."

Although the best of the best from NASCAR's AutoZone Elite Division will showcase their talents this weekend, the driver's from the Southwest Series are looking to make their homecoming a night to remember.

Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown

Where: Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway
When: Nov. 11-13, 2004

Who: Top 10 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division drivers from four series - Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest. . Top 15 NASCAR Grand National Division drivers from two series - Busch North Series and West Series

TV: SPEED Channel

Posted awards: $570,000

Track layout: Half-mile oval

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Drivers Eric Holmes , Joe Herold , Burney Lamar , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Todd Souza , Rip Michels