SWS: Altamont II: Title chase preview

Michels Tops Southwest Series Point Standings Heading Into Final Event DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (September 21, 2006) Rip Michels from San Fernando, Calif. has had a breakthrough year in his third season on the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division,...

Michels Tops Southwest Series Point Standings Heading Into Final Event

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (September 21, 2006) Rip Michels from San Fernando, Calif. has had a breakthrough year in his third season on the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series by leading the point standings much of the season. Michels collected his first Southwest Series victory last month at his home track of Irwindale (CA) Speedway and would like to close out the 2006 season with a win this Saturday night in the final point's race of the season at Altamont Motorsports Park located outside Tracy, Calif.

Michels leads Eric Holmes by eleven points and Eddy McKean by 45 points heading into the 150-lap event to be staged on the fast and tricky half-mike paved oval. Series legend M.K. Kanke holds down the fourth spot in the standings 122 points in the rears and has an outside shot at the title.

The championship scenario is pretty simple for the top three. Michels needs to finish ahead of Holmes and McKean and he will be the champion. Holmes needs to finish ahead of both Michels and McKean by at least four positions and he is the champion. McKean needs to score 46 more points than Michels and Holmes. In order for Kanke to claim the title, well he'll have to repeat as the winner and hope all three ahead him have back luck and finish at the tail end of the field.

While Michels will try to fend off Holmes and McKean, Thomas Martin, Kevin Clark, and Kevin Vernon will attempt to keep their position in the top ten. Only 83-points separate Martin in eighth place from Eric Richardson in 12th place in the standings, and all five drivers are vying for a final top ten points positions and an invite to the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be held next month at Irwindale Speedway.

No. 1 -- Rip Michels, San Fernando, Calif. (No. 12 Stock Building Supply/Victory Circle Chassis Chevrolet), Team: Stock Racing. Points: 1155 Previous ranking: 1. Michels is seeking his first Southwest Series title and has done so thus far by being consistent His average finish this year is 3.2. He has claimed one win and six top five finishes in seven races and is the only driver to complete all laps contested this season (866).

No. 2 -- Eric Holmes, Escalon, Cali. (No. 62 Sunoco Race Fuels/Paul Oil Chevrolet), Team: Beebe Racing. Points: 1144 (-11). Previous ranking: 2. Except one DNF that occurred at Altamont back in July, Holmes has finished six times in the top ten including a win at the last series event at Colorado National Speedway last month. Five of his finishes this season has been in the top three.

No. 3 -- Eddy McKean, Jerome, Idaho (No. 19 Wide World of Maps/Magic Valley Pipe & Steel Pontiac), Team: McKean Racing. Points: 1110 (-45). Previous ranking: 2. With seven finishes in the top ten in all seven races thus far this season, McKean continues to be one of the drivers to beat at each series event. McKean has completed 865 of 866 laps run this season and is looking to close his sixth season on the series with a win. McKean finished 4th at Altamont back in July.

No. 4 -- M.K. Kanke, Frazier Park, Calif. (No. 33 Sims Trucking/RPM Motorsports Chevrolet), Team: RPM Motorsports. Points: 1033 (-122). Previous ranking: 4. Though Kanke has never claimed a Southwest Series title, he does hold nearly every statistical record in the series including wins (22). He has three top five finishes this season including two wins. Kanke won the race at Altamont back in July.

No. 5 -- David Mayhew, Atascadero, Calif. (No. 226 Attune Systems/Bryco Funding Chevrolet), Team: Mayhew Racing. Points: 958 (-197). Previous ranking: 5. Mayhew has all but locked up the 2006 Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors on the strength of seven top ten qualifying efforts this season and four top ten finishes. Mayhew finished 12th at Altamont back in July.

No. 6 -- Greg Voigt, Santa Barbara, Calif. (No. 9 Auto Pro Racing Engines Chevrolet), Team: Voigt Motorsports. Points: 922 (-233). Previous ranking: 6. Voigt is quietly having another solid year on the Southwest Series. He has five top ten finishes in seven races. Voigt finished 10th at Altamont back in July and will head to the Showdown for the third straight year.

No. 7 -- Jim Pettit II, Prunedale, Calif. (No. 03 Racing for the Missing Ford), Team: Pettit Racing. Points: 912 (-243). Previous ranking: 8. Pettit is the two-time southwest Series champion and 2006 was supposed to be a three-peat, but after a 31st place finish in the season opening race at Phoenix his year continued to go sideways via mechanical challenges. Pettit has rebounded with two top five finishes and is looking to close out the year on a high note with a win Saturday night.

No. 8 -- Thomas Martin, Auburn, Calif. (No. 28 Strictly Toy-Ondas Chevrolet), Team: Martin Motorsports. Points: 877 (-278). Previous ranking: 7. Martin has three top five finishes including a season best of fourth. Martin finished fifth at Altamont back in July. Martin will need another solid run in order to secure his top ten point's position as 8th-12th in the standings are separated by only 83 points.

No. 9 -- Kevin Clark, Colorado Springs, Colo. (No. 07 Sirius Satellite Radio Chevrolet), Team: Clark Motorsports. Points: 826 (-329). Previous ranking: 10. Kevin Clark is completing in his first full-time season on the Southwest Series although he has been a familiar face at many series events over the past decade. Clark has struggled much of the season with his qualifying package and that struggle caused him to miss the show at Shasta earlier this year. Since that time, Clark has claimed four top ten finishes to put him in contention for an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Clark had a disappointing 15th place finish at Altamont in July after a suspension failure caused him to fall out late in the race.

No. 10 -- Kevin Vernon, Bakersfield, Calif. (No. 36 Jim's Towing Chevrolet), Team: Vernon Racing. Points: 823 (-332). Previous ranking: 9. Though Vernon has no top ten finishes this season he has been to every event and ran well only to have late race trouble derail his fine efforts. Vernon holds a slim 15-point advantage over 11th place heading into Altamont this weekend.

On the bubble:

No. 11 -- Stephan Sadler, Brea, Calif. (No. 04 Padco Chevrolet), Team: Sadler Racing. Points: 808 (-347). Previous ranking: 13. Sadler spent much of the first half of the season in the top ten only to see his season fall out from underneath him right here at Altamont with an 18th place finish. He has one top ten finish and is seeking his first invitation to the Showdown.

New to the top 10: None
Dropped out of the top 10: None

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Eric Holmes , Jim Pettit II , Thomas Martin , Rip Michels , Kevin Clark , David Mayhew