SWS: Cajon: Round three preview

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Teams Return to Cajon Speedway for 23rd Time EL CAJON, Calif. (March 30, 2004) - For 44 years, Cajon Speedway has showcased motorsports entertainment to San Diego area race fans. For the 19th ...

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Teams Return to Cajon Speedway for 23rd Time

EL CAJON, Calif. (March 30, 2004) - For 44 years, Cajon Speedway has showcased motorsports entertainment to San Diego area race fans. For the 19th consecutive season, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to the unique 3/8-mile paved oval Saturday, April 3 for the running of the Coors Light "125". The Coors Light "125" marks the 23rd Southwest Series event at the track.

Cajon Speedway has hosted 22 AutoZone Southwest Series races since 1986, with several drivers collecting two wins each on the 3/8-mile paved oval. But Cajon Speedway is not a track where a driver can simply dominate over the years. You have to have plenty of luck on your side. Only M.K. Kanke has collected more than two wins at Cajon Speedway since the Southwest Series began.

Cajon Speedway is a track that demands a great qualifying lap or a driver will have a long night ahead, having been relegated to the non-qualifiers race. So a good qualifying lap will be at a premium as drivers of the Southwest Series attempt to qualify for one of 24 starting positions in Saturday's 125-lap race and vie for their share of $44,765 in posted awards.

The tricky layout of Cajon Speedway means that drivers must give something up to be fast. Turns one and two are very different than turns three and four; therefore a car must have good forward bite in order to be fast. One driver looking to use his experience, and a little luck, is three-time race winner M.K. Kanke, of Frazier Park, Calif.

"The track is tough," said Kanke. "I like the old tracks because they have character, and Cajon has a lot of character. We have struggled with electrical problems I hope we have them worked out by this weekend."

Kanke will need to count on his experience as he has an entirely new team this season. "Everyone on the team is new," Kanke said. "We are coming together and I know by the second half of the season we will hit our stride. I am confident in our qualifying package; we just need to work on the race program."

With experience on his side, Kanke is optimistic about his chances on Saturday. "I think we will do real well," Kanke said. "I have a few wins there and Cajon is a track that suits my style."

Another driver that has some optimism, and who currently sits third in the AutoZone Southwest Series point standings, is Craig Raudman, of Bakersfield, Calif. Raudman is fresh off a victory this past Sunday in round three of the Southwest Series schedule at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield. Raudman has scored the Bud Pole Award in three out of the last five visits to Cajon Speedway along with scoring wins in 1995 and 1999.

"Cajon is a great track," Raudman said. "It's old and tried, but it produces great races. I have always qualified well there and that will be important as we have several great teams on the series this year."

Defending Southwest Series champion Auggie Vidovich from nearby Lakeside, Calif., likes his chances at Cajon despite only running a partial schedule in 2004. "I would like to win at home," Vidovich said. "We are not running every race this year so where ever we run I want to win."

Current Southwest Series point leader Jim Pettit II - who has not finished outside the top three in three events this season - wants simply to see his string of success continue. "We have had things go our way so far this season," Pettit said. "Luck has been on our side and we will need a little at Cajon. I am so confident in our team right now; I know we'll be ready to race."

The Coors Light "125" is set to take the green flag at 8:30 pm PST this Saturday where age and experience may well be the important factor over youth and enthusiasm.


* The race within the race ... Rip Michels tops the Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year standings after three events over Todd Burns and Nick Lynch.

* How many cars? More than 35 cars have pre-entered the COORS Light "125" with several hometown heroes from the El Cajon area. Drivers include Randy Nelson, Joe Herold, Eddie Bryans, Don Kerr, Todd McLauchlan, Mark Meech, and Jeff Seifert.

* M.K. Kanke has won the back-to-back trips to Cajon Speedway in 2001 and 2002. He is the only three-time race winner in Southwest Series competition at Cajon Speedway

* The Coors Light "125" will be the 1300th event staged at Cajon Speedway since it opened for operation on July 15, 1961.

* Driver to keep your eye on: Mark Meech won the race last season for his second career series victory. Meech, a long-time competitor at Cajon Speedway has won two-track championships and currently competes on a part-time basis.

* Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division in 2004 and will award 32 tires to eligible car owners at each series event. Hoosier will also award two tires to the highest eligible Rookie-of-the-Year candidate's car owner.

* AutoZone Southwest Series contingency sponsors include: Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Featherlite Trailers, Five Star, Flowmaster, G-Force, Goody's Headache Powder, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JR Pistons, Mac Tools, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, MSD, Penske Shocks, Powerade, Quarter Master, Quick Car, Raybestos Brakes, "76" Race Gasoline, and Wix Air Filters.


* Ben Walker has moved into the NASCAR Top 10 after three races with finishes of 12th, 15th, and 8th. Walker currently sits 6th place in the championship standings 120 points behind point leader Jim Pettit II.


* "The track (Cajon Speedway) changes more than any other track we go to. It races a lot different then it practices." - M.K. Kanke (No. 33 K&M Motorsports Chevrolet).


Several drivers have won two races at Cajon Speedway in NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series competition, Roman Calcyznski (86, 88), Troy Beebe (87, 88), Dan Press (89, 90), Rick Carelli (91, 92), Chris Raudman (96, 97), Craig Raudman (95, 99) but it is M.K. Kanke who has won three times on the tricky 3/8-mile paved oval (93, 01, 02).

Fast Facts

What: COORS Light "125". Race 3 of 14 for the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series.
Where: Cajon Speedway, El Cajon, CA.
When: 8:30 p.m. PT, Saturday, April 3.

Track layout: 3/8-mile banked paved oval.
Race length: 125 laps, 46.875 miles.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): 10:00 am Haulers Enter, 11:00 am Registration and Inspection begin, 12:30 pm Mandatory Rookie Driver's Meeting, 12:45 pm Mandatory Driver's and Crew Chief's Meeting, 1:00 pm Qualifying Draw, 1-3:00 pm Practice, 5:00 pm Time Trials, 7:30 pm Non-Qualifiers Race, 8:30 pm COORS Light "125"


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Drivers Rick Carelli , Joe Herold , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Auggie Vidovich , Ben Walker , Rip Michels