SWS: Mesa Marin: Round two preview

* Mesa Marin Raceway: Pivotal Track in Championship Chase * Southern Exposure: Jeff Jefferson and Brandon Riehl Focus on Southwest Series Run * Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Harvick Tames Thunder Valley DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) -- For...

* Mesa Marin Raceway: Pivotal Track in Championship Chase

* Southern Exposure: Jeff Jefferson and Brandon Riehl Focus on Southwest Series Run

* Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Harvick Tames Thunder Valley

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 6, 2005) -- For 28 years, Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., has been the cornerstone of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series and a place where several of NASCAR's superstars cut their teeth. Mesa Marin Raceway is known for action and has become the most prolific track on the West coast. This Saturday, April 9 the Southwest Series returns for the 60th time in the running of the HPS Mechanical/Victory Circle "150".

Former Southwest Series standouts Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Matt Crafton, Ron Hornaday Jr., and Rick Carelli have all conquered Mesa Marin Raceway before moving up to NASCAR's top three national series'. Mesa Marin Raceway may well be the proven ground for this year's title contenders.

2004 series champion Jim Pettit II, who resides in Prunedale, Calif. to win at Mesa Marin holds special meaning. "This track has been the track on the series for years," Pettit said. "This is a track a driver needs to win at when you run on the Southwest Series. The racing here is so good and just when you think you are going to tame the place, it bites you. I have been close here before and this weekend I am confident about our chances."

More than 35 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 $49,021 in posted awards in race two of the 14-race championship series. The event at Mesa Marin Raceway will also be broadcast live in High Definition on HDNet with Pat Patterson, Mike Hogewood, and Kandace Krueger calling the action.

While wiley veterans like M.K. Kanke, Bob Lyon, and Doug McCoun are the wise masters of the series with a combined 664 series starts, and each has claimed victory on the high-banked half-mile, young protege's like Burney Lamar look to upstage the veterans and etch his name in the series record books.

Lamar recently moved back to North Carolina after signing a development deal to drive for Kevin Harvick Incorporated this season. Lamar will pilot his Les Denherder owned Victory Circle Chevrolet during the Southwest Series campaign, but also drive KHI equipment in selected NASCAR Grand National West Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races this season.

"This is the best opportunity I have ever had in racing," Lamar explained. " Les (Denherder) has provided me with a championship winning car and team, and to work with Kevin (Harvick) is really a dream come true. I know we can win and contend for a championship and the experience of driving the heavily cars will be invaluable."

Lamar won the season opening race at Phoenix back in January.

Leading a contingent of racers from the Northwest Series is two-time defending Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson of Naches, Wash. Jefferson and fellow Northwest resident Brandon Riehl will attempt to contend for titles in both the Northwest and Southwest Series' this season, but neither have turned laps at Mesa Marin Raceway.

"The Southwest Series runs at some real great racetracks," Jefferson said. "I really wanted to do something different this year and with the support of my wife, my crew chief Chuck Carruthers, car owner Tony Finley, and my sponsor The Lemay Museum, we are going to go out and try to do something no one has done. Win two championships."

For Riehl, the motivation is the same but different. "I'm excited about this year," Riehl said. "We are going to run all the races in both the Northwest and the Southwest and then when it comes to the race that conflicts, we will see where we are at. This season is going to be a challenge because I've only raced at Phoenix, Irwindale and Tucson, but I enjoy challenges and I am really looking forward to Mesa Marin. I just want to be competitive and win some races this year. Hopefully that means we do well in the point's."

Joining Riehl and Jefferson this weekend will be former Northwest Series champion Gary Lewis from Bothell, Wash. Lewis won a Southwest Series event at MMR back in 1999. The HPS Mechanical/Victory Circle Chassis "150" is set to take the green flag Saturday, April 9 at 6:30pm PST at the famed high-banked half-mile of Mesa Marin Raceway and will be broadcast live on HDNet. Check local cable and satellite listings for the broadcast schedule in your area.

* Alumni Spotlight: Kevin Harvick, former Mesa Marin Track Champion and Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year, dominated the action this past weekend in Bristol, Tenn. Harvick claimed victory in both the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series events. It was Harvick's first NEXTEL Cup Series win since August of 2003.

* Burney Lamar and team owner Les DenHerder of HPS Mechanical will donate all the winnings from the race this weekend to cancer research. Lamar will also contest the NASCAR Grand National West Series "Lucas Oil 150" driving for team owner Kevin Harvick. It will be Lamar's first race driving for Kevin Harvick, Inc.

* Joe Herold will partner with Racing for the Missing, a division of the Nation's Missing Children Organization (NMCO) for the 2005 racing season. Tammie Michelle Mooney of Las Vegas, NV will appear on the hood of Herold's racecar along with her contact information as part of the "Racing for the Missing" (RFTM) program a division of the Nation's Missing Children Organization. Tammie considered an Endangered Missing Adult disappeared December 16, 2003 last seen at her residence in the vicinity of the 10300 block of Horseback Ave. in Las Vegas, NV circumstances unknown. Tammie is a white female 66 inches tall 140 pounds brown hair and green eyes. Herold from Del Mar, Calif. currently sits 11th in the 2005 point standings and has three career top ten finishes at MMR.

* The 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National champion Greg Pursley returns to the Southwest Series full-time in 2005 driving for Craig Keough's Star Nursery Motorsports team. Pursley finished 12th at Phoenix and has two runner-up finishes at MMR.

* Both Series - The first time in Mesa Marin history, the half-mile oval will host both the NASCAR Grand National West Series and NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series on the same night.

* Television Coverage - Both the NASCAR Grand National West Series "Lucas Oil 150" and the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series "HPS/Victory Circle 150" will be nationally televised live on HDNet.

* Mesa Marin Raceway will hold a press conference featuring the drivers of the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series on Thursday, April 7 at: Superkart Racing located at 7021 B Schirra Ct., Bakersfield, CA 93309--- Directions from Hwy 99: Exit Hwy 99 at White Lane West on White Lane to Ashe Rd.Left on Ashe Rd. 1 block to Schirra Ct. Right on Schirra Ct. 1/4 mile to Superkart Racing on left.

* Mesa Marin will hold a special Media Day and race practice on Friday, April 8 from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Haulers will park at 12 noon.

FAST FACTS

The race: HPS Mechanical/Victory Circle 150. (Race No. 2 of the 2005 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series season.)

The track: Mesa Marin Raceway, Bakersfield, Calif. (Half-mile paved oval.)

The date/time: Saturday, April 9, 6:30 p.m. (PT).

TV: HDNet, 6:30 p.m. (PT). Live

Race length: 75 miles, 150 laps.

2004 winner: Craig Raudman
2004 polesitter: Craig Raudman

NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Top 10: 1. Burney Lamar 180; 2. Ken Schrader 170; 3. Eddy McKean 165; 4. Eric Holmes 160; 5. Jim Pettit II 155; 6. Jeff Jefferson 150; 7. Nick Lynch 146; 8. M.K. Kanke 142; 9. Thomas Martin 138; 10. Greg Voigt 134.

The next race for the NASCAR Southwest Series will be another double header weekend with the NASCAR Grand National West Series at Stockton 99 (Calif.) Speedway Saturday, April 30. -nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli , Jeff Jefferson , Greg Pursley , Eric Holmes , Joe Herold , Burney Lamar , Doug McCoun , Jim Pettit II , Craig Raudman , Thomas Martin , Gary Lewis