SWS: 2006 final schedule announced

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES CONTINUES FINAL SEASON MAY 13 AT SHASTA RACEWAY PARK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series got a huge headstart on the 2006 racing season at...

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES CONTINUES FINAL SEASON MAY 13 AT SHASTA RACEWAY PARK

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 3, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series got a huge headstart on the 2006 racing season at the Copper World Classic Jan. 22 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. After a three-month break, the Southwest Series returns to action May 13 at Shasta Raceway Park in Anderson, Calif. The 2006 season marks the final year for the Southwest Series, as NASCAR has announced restructuring plans for its regional racing series.

For many fans and drivers, the Shasta race marks the true beginning of the championship competition, as the current points battle shows non-series regulars Matt Crafton, Ken Schrader and Tim Schendel atop the standings after their top-five finishes at Phoenix. With the visitors gone, Southwest Series regulars Eric Holmes and Rip Michels, who also finished in the top five at Phoenix, will battle for points against the rest of the top-10 title contenders including Eddy McKean, Jason Fensler, M.K. Kanke and Auggie Vidovich. Reigning series champion Jim Pettit II finished 31st at Phoenix after experiencing engine problems, but is expected to mount a strong defense of his title when the season resumes.

The Southwest Series schedule includes eight races at seven tracks. Two races -- June 3 and Aug. 19 at Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colo. -- are combination events with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series. The Southwest Series will close the history books on the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, with a Nov. 9 finale at Phoenix.

Citing declining support and rising costs for the Elite Division, NASCAR has announced it will focus its efforts on Divisions that will build a better developmental program for the future. Following the 2006 season, the four series that comprise the Elite Division -- including the Midwest, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest Series -- will be discontinued.

Beginning in 2006 and continuing in 2007, NASCAR will implement several rule changes in the NASCAR Grand National Division, in an effort to reduce the cost of competing in the Busch East Series and the AutoZone West Series. These changes include a less-costly "spec" engine, as well as composite bodies.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Matt Crafton , Eric Holmes , Jim Pettit II , Auggie Vidovich , Tim Schendel , Rip Michels