SWS: Altamont: Round four preview

HOLMES AT HOME AT ALTAMONT IN NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES COMPETITION DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2006) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series visited Altamont Motorsports Park, located...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 30, 2006) -- The last time the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series visited Altamont Motorsports Park, located outside Tracy, Calif. back in the 2002 season, Eric Holmes mastered the tricky half-mile paved oval for one of his seven career wins. A lot has changed since then.

Over the past year, new ownership has taken the reigns of the facility and given it a facelift, not only in name but in the physical layout. The 1/2-mile paved oval facility will feature more side-by-side racing action on the track with the addition of 12 feet of new racing surface. Several improvements have been added, including stadium lighting, safety walls, new pit area paving, technical facilities, new audio system, new restrooms, updated concession stands, and landscaping.

When Holmes last competed at Altamont he raced in only selected Southwest Series races. This season he is competing full-time in both the Southwest Series and NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series where he is currently second in the point standings. Holmes will have a full plate this weekend as he will compete Saturday night in Roseburg, Oregon in the AutoZone West Series event, then immediately head for Altamont for Sunday's Southwest Series event.

Altamont has been stingy with victories for Southwest Series drivers as only Doug McCoun (97, 98) has claimed more than one triumph on the half-mile paved oval. Craig Raudman, Mark Reed, and Eric Holmes each have one victory apiece.

Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year leader David Mayhew from Atascadero, Calif. is excited about his first visit to Altamont. After competing on the Southwest Series on a part-time basis in 2005, Mayhew feels that he and his team are better prepared for success on this challenging series. "You don't know how tough the competition is until you get out there," Mayhew said. "We have one car and one motor and as long as we continue to finish well we can keep going."

Mayhew is currently holding down the sixth place in the the point standings after three events with two top ten finishes this season. "I am comfortable in the car and feel real good about our chances this weekend."

Looking to continue his rise in the point standings is two-time and defending Southwest Series champion Jim Pettit II from nearby Prunedale, Calif. Pettit has a lot of experience at Altamont and hopes to use that experience to move up in the standings. "It will be very interesting how much the track has changed with the improvements that have been made," Pettit said. "My experience here may not mean much as the surface will be new for everyone. One thing I can tell you is that the race will be a good one."

Whether or not the new racing configuration will play a significant role in the outcome of the race only time will tell, but what is known is that track position is usually always key, placing a big emphasis on qualifying. Also playing a factor in the race will be the start times as the event will start just after 7pm on Sunday night where track temperatures will create and interesting variable.

M.K. Kanke from Frazier Park, Calif. is the track record holder at Altamont with a quick lap of 17.612 seconds set back in 2000. Kanke is also a driver to watch as he eyes two milestones this season. The first is to earn his 29th career Bud Pole Award (he currently is second all-time behind Craig Raudman) and the second task is to find victory lane for the 21st time that would tie him with series standout Rick Carelli for most career wins. Kanke leads just about every other statistical category in the Southwest Series including most top five and top ten finishes.

"I really do not think much about records," Kanke said. "I race to win and that is what our team is focus on." Kanke is currently fifth in the standings just 109 points behind point leader Holmes.

Long-time series veteran Bob Lyon of Agua Dulce, Calif. will make his 289 career start at Altamont Sunday evening, most of any Southwest Series competitor. Lyon is coming off a ninth place finish at the combination event at Colorado National Speedway June 3.

The $56,584 event at Altamont Motorsports Park this weekend will be the first of two races at Altamont this season.

Ticket information for the Altamont "150" can be obtained by calling the track at (209) 383-7671 or by logging on to: www.altamontracing.com.


What: Altamont 150 (Race No. 4 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series)

Where: Altamont Motorsports Park, Tracy, Calif..

When: 7:10 p.m. PDT (approx.), Sunday, July 2, 2006

Track layout: 1/2-mile oval.
Race length: 150 laps/75 miles.

Posted awards: $56,584

2005 winner:  Event Not Held

2005 polesitter: Event Not Held

Top 10 in points: 1. Eric Holmes -- 505; 2. Eddy McKean -- 475; 3. Rip Michels -- 475; 4. Greg Voigt-- 398; 5. M.K. Kanke - 396; 6. David Mayhew* -- 394; 7. Jim Pettit II -- 377; 8. Stephan Sadler -- 345; 9. Thomas Martin -- 341; 10. Bob Lyon- 332.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sun., 7/2 - 7:00 a.m. Registration opens; 9:00 a.m. Inspection Begins; 12:15-1:45 p.m. Practice; 3:45 p.m. Time Trials; 4:45 p.m. Qualifying Race (if necessary); 7:10 p.m. Altamont "150".


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Drivers Mark Reed , Eric Holmes , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Thomas Martin , Rip Michels , David Mayhew