SWS: Irwindale II: Round 11 preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES SET FOR IRWINDALE SHOWDOWN THIS WEEKEND * Irwindale Event Prelude to Showdown * Points Leader Jim Pettit II Still Rolling * Ten Down and Four To Go * Pursley Primed for Victory * Former...


* Irwindale Event Prelude to Showdown

* Points Leader Jim Pettit II Still Rolling

* Ten Down and Four To Go

* Pursley Primed for Victory

* Former Champ Raudman Returns with a Cause

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 3, 2005) -- With the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown a little more than three months away, competitors on the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series are anxious for a return to Irwindale Speedway, located just East of Los Angeles. The 150-lap Stock Building Supply sponsored event is race eleven in the 14-race championship series and fourth race in as many weeks.

Greg Pursley from Canyon Country, Calif. won the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national championship competing at Irwindale Speedway and hopes his recent success on the Southwest Series will continue as he returns to the track that he has dominated over the last couple of seasons.

Pursley left Colorado with two fourth place finishes and a fifth place in the overall Southwest Series standings with four races to go on the Southwest Series schedule. Solidly in the top ten and a bid for an invitation all but assured, Pursley still has plenty to accomplish this season and that is to win.

"It has been a long time since I have won on the tour," Pursley said. Pursley's last trip to victory lane in Southwest Series action was back in 2000 at Irwindale. "The Star Nursery team is ready to win and the last two races we have had great runs with great cars. I am confident we can win."

Another past Irwindale Speedway regular who now competes in the Southwest Series is Rip Michels from San Fernando, Calif. Michels won the 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series regional title and has amassed more than thirty wins at the half-mile paved oval, more than any other driver since the track opened in 1999.

"This series is tough," Michels said. "You just don't come in here and dominate. I am really looking forward to this weekend at Irwindale. My sponsor Stock Building Supply is sponsoring the race and a special home improvement show for the fans. This is the race I really want to win."

Pursley and Michels finished second and third respectively to current series point leader Jim Pettit II when the series visited the marquee facility back in June. Since June, Pettit from Prunedale, Calif. has stayed on top of the point standings with top ten finishes including three wins. His only blemish is a 15th place effort on the road course at Infineon Raceway.

"It has been a fantastic year for us so far," Pettit said. "I couldn't be more proud of my team and all of their hard work and dedication. The trip to Colorado was tough and we did what we needed to do. These last four races are important and we just have to finish and finish well. Burney (Lamar) and Auggie (Vidovich) are tough racers and can win at any track. I just have to keep them both in sight, hopefully in the rearview mirror."

Returning to the series this weekend is 2001 Southwest Series champion Craig Raudman. Over the winter Raudman moved his family from Bakersfield to Redding, Calif. where he grew up. He purchased a pipe and hose fitting business and set his sights on rebuilding a winning team.

"It has been tough to be away," Raudman said. "I have really missed being at the track and around my friends. This series is so much fun and I wish I was in the middle of the points battle. But this weekend is all about winning with no pressure. I have been smiling all week and can't wait to get to the track."

Raudman will carry colors on his Chevrolet from Power Automotive group, the largest automotive retailer of new and used cars. Raudman will also reunite with his former championship car Dave Reed in a partnership that will hopefully bring the former series champion back full-time in 2006.

With ten races down and four events to go all teams are squarely focused good finishes that will put them solidly inside the top ten for an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown that will be staged back at Irwindale in November. While the top five are secure, Rip Michels, and Thomas Martin need to avoid the trouble that has beset their teams the last two races. Bob Lyon and Don Campbell hope to race their way into the top ten as they both sit 79 and 126 point outside the top ten respectively.

The Stock Building Supply home improvement show at Irwindale this weekend will have displays from many of the nation's largest manufacturers and distributors of the top brand name power tools, windows, doors, decking, siding, fasteners, connectors, paint, and more, will be the prelude to a great night of Southwest Series stock car racing at Irwindale Speedway running from 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM Saturday night.

"We're trying something completely different with this event sponsorship and home improvement show combination," said Rick Smith, Director of Motor Sports Operations for Stock Building Supply. "This is a very different approach to our normal marketing pattern and we believe that the fans are going to get tremendous value for their hard-earned money. We've been working on this special event with the team at Irwindale for many months now and they've been as enthusiastic as we have at Stock. We really appreciate all their efforts."


* Alumni Spotlight... 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and 1999 Southwest Series champion Kurt Busch used his weekend off to visit the Hungarian Grand Prix get up close and personal with Formula One.

* Points ... Jim Pettit II has an average finish position of 4.4 over the first ten races of the season and needs to only average a fifth place finish in each of the final four races to clinch the title.

* Bud Pole Awards...Craig Raudman 29 career Bud Pole Awards to lead all series drivers. Burney Lamar has 14 career fast times and has scored three Bud Poles this season.

* Rookies... Don Campbell is the only Sunoco rookie competitor to start all ten races so far this season and sits in 12th place in the overall standings heading into the final four races of the season. Dustin Jones, Stephan Sadler, Ryan Foster and David Mayhew have only run selected races this season and will also be in action this weekend at Irwindale.

* 282 and Counting...That is how many career Southwest Series starts Bob Lyon from Aqua Dulce, Calif. has. Lyon has started more races than any other competitor in series history. His Southwest Series career started back in 1987.

* Winning at Irwindale...David Gilliland has three victories at Irwindale since it opened in 1999 M.K. Kanke and Burney Lamar have two wins apiece six other drivers claiming one victory.

* Track Records...Bryan Germone holds the qualifying record at Irwindale with a quick lap of 17.363 seconds, while M.K. Kanke holds the 150-lap race record after his victory in 2001.

* History Lesson...David Gilliland edged Kevin Vernon to claim his fourth of the 2003 campaign. Eric Holmes, Eddy McKean, and Auggie Vidovich rounded out the top five finishers in the 150-lap event. Vernon was the top finishing rookie competitor in a race that was completed in just under one hour. Vernon also won the Bud Pole Award with a quick lap of 17.931 seconds around the ultra-fast half-mile paved oval. Vidovich left Irwindale with a 72-point advantage over Jim Pettit II with for races left on the schedule. Vidovich went on to win the series title in 2003.

Fast Facts

What: Stock building Supply "150"

Where: Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif.

Who: NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series

When: Sat., August 6 at 8:30 p.m.. (Pacific Time).

Posted awards: $57,394

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

Pre-Race Schedule (All Times Local): Haulers Enter 9:00 a.m., Registration begins 10:00 a.m., Practice 1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.(Alternating), Bud Pole Qualifying 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. On-Track Autograph session, Stock Building Supply "150" 8:30 p.m.

Tickets: $25 for adults.
Online Info: irwindalespeedway.com or nascarregionalracing.com


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About this article
Drivers Kurt Busch , Greg Pursley , Don Campbell , Eric Holmes , Bryan Germone , David Gilliland , Burney Lamar , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Thomas Martin , Ryan Foster , Rip Michels , David Mayhew