SWS: Mesa Marin II: Round seven preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2003) - Since 1988, Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway has hosted the annual Independence Day race on the high-banked half-mile oval, and has been the most prolific track on the circuit. This Saturday, June 28, the NASCAR ...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2003) - Since 1988, Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway has hosted the annual Independence Day race on the high-banked half-mile oval, and has been the most prolific track on the circuit. This Saturday, June 28, the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series returns to Mesa Marin Raceway for the running of the HPS/Victory Circle Chassis Firecracker "150".

For many drivers, a return to Mesa Marin means many different things. For some, it is like coming home, for others it is discovering another new track. But for many it may well be the turning point in their season. The Firecracker "150" marks the mid-way point in the season and many drivers are scrambling to get their season on track and make it into the top ten in the point standings. As announced in April, the top ten drivers of each of NASCAR's Elite divisions will get an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

In order to get an invite to the Toyota All-Star Showdown, drivers will have to finish in the top ten final point standings in their respective series. Through six races this season, many Featherlite Southwest Series drivers have been left scrambling as their seasons have gone every which way but planned. More than 40 drivers are expected to attempt to qualify for one of 30 starting positions in Saturday's 150-lap race and vie for their share of $47,621 in posted awards in race seven of the 14-race championship series.

"This is by far one of our favorite races of the year at Mesa Marin," stated Mesa Marin V.P., Larry Collins. "We have one of the greatest short-track racing series in the country and a fireworks spectacular that will blow your hair back, it is definitely a winner."

"The Featherlite Southwest Series is a perfect match with Mesa Marin and we have been lucky enough to host the series more than any other track in its history." Collins added.

Having an up and down sophomore season on the series, 2001 Rookie-of-the-Year Brandon Whitt of El Cajon, Calif. knows that every race means making changes and learning something new. "We ran good here in the first race," Whitt said. "The weather will be a lot warmer this Saturday than it was in March, so we'll have to adjust to the track conditions. A good run will depend on the condition of the track surface and finding a set up that works. It will definitely be interesting."

Current 2003 Featherlite Southwest Series point leader Auggie Vidovich Jr. from Lakeside, Calif. has maintained the top spot in the standings since the second race of the season. Vidovich knows that in order to win a championship a driver has to do well at Mesa Marin. "We are looking forward to racing on this challenging racetrack," Vidovich said. "Late June in Bakersfield is always a real test on crews and drivers because we qualify in the high temperatures of the day and race at night. Car set-up and preparation means everything at Mesa Marin Raceway. We have been testing well, running strong, and our team is looking forward to an exciting race Saturday night for all our fans and sponsors who have supported us here at Mesa Marin Raceway."

Defending Featherlite Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho is looking forward to returning to Mesa Marin. "Mesa Marin has a lot of history for the series," McKean said. "All the big names in this series have won here, in order to win another championship I have to do well here."

Other notable drivers that are looking for a solid finish at Mesa Marin including Dan Holtz of Pacific Palisades, Calif. who won the event in March and was the 2001 Late Model champion. Burney Lamar of Sacramento, Calif. nearly won at Mesa Marin in his rookie season in 2001, and has one Bud Pole Award here along with one top five finish.

The HPS/Victory Circle Chassis Firecracker "150" is set to take the green flag at 9:00 pm PDT this Saturday. With the season hanging in the balance for some, who will conquer the series' most notable track.


* The race within the race . JR Patton tops the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Year leader board for the second race in a row after six events. Thomas Martin, Frank Deiny Jr., Greg Voigt, and Danny Burson, round out the top-five Rookies.

* How many cars? More than 40 cars have pre-entered the HPS/Victory Circle Chassis Firecracker"150".

* Seven current drivers have victories at Mesa Marin. Drivers include: Doug McCoun, Eric Holmes, Darrell LaMoure, Auggie Vidovich Jr., Bryan Germone, Craig Raudman, and M.K. Kanke. Kanke leads all active drivers with four wins at the track.

* Auggie Vidovich Jr. is the only driver to complete every lap run this season (777).

* Darrell LaMoure of Phoenix, Ariz. welcomes NAPA Auto Parts and Yerf-Dog Fun Karts as sponsors to his team in 2003. LaMoure continues to bring awareness regarding missing children to fans through his Racing for the Missing program. At each series race this season LaMoure and Yerf-Dog will raffle a Yerf-Dog Fun Kart at the race. Proceeds will be spilt between the Racing for the Missing program and the track's selected charity.

* Driver to keep your eye on: Scott Busby had his best finish of the season this past weekend at Infineon Raceway with a 12th place performance. The finish boosted Busby to 17th in the point standings. Busby seeks his first top five finish at Mesa Marin.

* 17 drivers have started all six races contested so far this season, and the Featherlite Southwest Series has averaged 40 cars per event through the first six races of the season.

* Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR Elite Division in 2003 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.

* Featherlite 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 Gas, Victory Circle Chassis, and Wix Air Filters. MOVING UP

* JR Patton of Los Cruces, NM. has stayed in the NASCAR Top-10 for two straight weeks and moves up to 8th place in the standings. Patton has one Bud Pole Award this season along with two top ten performances. QUOTE OF THE WEEK

* "You do not know hot until you have been to Bakersfield in July." - Jim Pettit II (No. 03 HallKinion.com Ford).

PAGE FROM THE PAST Ten years ago Doug George claimed the victory in the Wrangler Firecracker "100" by .630 seconds over Ernie Cope. George drove a Ford sponsored by MGM Brakes and moved to 2nd place in the standings behind Ron Hornaday Jr. Bryan Germone was the fast qualifier with a time of 18.404 seconds/97.805 mph. The race took 45 minutes and 58 seconds to complete at an average speed of 65.264 mph. Craig Raudman led the Rookie-of-the Year standings at that point in the season by two points over Jim Inglebright.

Fast Facts

What: HPS/Victory Circle Chassis Firecracker "150". Race 7 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series.
Where: Mesa Marin Raceway, Bakersfield, CA.
When: 9:00 p.m. PDT, Saturday, June 28.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday 6/28 9:00 am Haulers Enter, 10:00 am Registration and Inspection Begins, 11:30 am Mandatory Rookie Driver's meeting, 12:30 pm Mandatory Driver's and Crew Chief's Meeting, 12:45 pm Qualifying Draw, 1:00-1:45 pm Practice, 2:30-3:15 pm Practice, 5:30 pm Time Trials (2 Laps), 7:00 pm On-Track Autograph session, 8:00 pm Qualifying Race, 8:30 pm Mandatory Spotter's Meeting, 9:00 pm HPS/Victory Circle Chassis Firecracker "150".


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Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Brandon Whitt , Jim Inglebright , Eric Holmes , Danny Burson , Scott Busby , Dan Holtz , Burney Lamar , Darrell LaMoure , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich