SWS/MWS: Colorado: Face off preview

NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES AND SOUTHWEST SERIES STARS FACE OFF JUNE 4 AT COLORADO NATIONAL SPEEDWAY * Auto Trader 150 Stages Best of the Best in Combination Event *Points Leader Jim Pettit II Hopes to Repeat at CNS *Jeff...


* Auto Trader 150 Stages Best of the Best in Combination Event

*Points Leader Jim Pettit II Hopes to Repeat at CNS

*Jeff Jefferson Eyes Top Spot for Hometown Car Owner Finley

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 2, 2005) -- The top drivers from NASCAR's AutoZone Elite Division Southwest and Midwest Series' will stage a prelude to this year's Toyota All Star Showdown. The Auto Trader "150" is a combination race where drivers will compete in a race within a race.

The highest-finishing Midwest Series driver will be credited with a Midwest Series victory and receive first-place points towards the Midwest Series championship, regardless of their overall finish in the event. The second highest-finishing Midwest Series driver will receive second-place points and so on. Likewise, the highest-finishing Southwest Series driver will be credited with a Southwest Series victory and receive first-place points towards the Southwest Series championship, and so on.

Drivers will be credited with championship points for their respective series, based on whichever series they have previously obtained a NASCAR license for. Drivers will not be credited with a start or championship points outside their "home" series for which they are licensed for.

The two series, which use identical race cars under identical rules as part of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, have both raced at Colorado National Speedway, located 25 miles north of Denver in Erie, Colo., on several previous occasions. Saturday's Auto Trader marks the first time they are being brought together in a combined format.

Qualifying will be at a premium as only thirty-two starting positions are available for the 150-lap event, where a full contingent of the each series regulars will vie for their shot at victory in this unique format. Several local NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series drivers will attempt to qualify, led by multi-time track champion Roger Avants.

Current Southwest Series point leader Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif. took over the series point's lead after a dominating victory at Mesa Marin (Calif.) Raceway three weeks ago and eyes a return trip to the winner's circle at CNS after claiming the top spot last season.

"I love racing at Colorado National," Pettit said. "It is a long tow and hard on the teams, but the racing is always some of the best all year and the fans are incredible. I have always ran real well there and hope that I am there at the end this weekend. It is going to be a tough race to win as the best of the Midwest will make it one of the more competitive fields all season."

Two-time and defending Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson of Yakima, Wash. is hoping he can deliver the victory for local car owner Tony Finley. Finley owns Tri-County Parts and has supported racing efforts at CNS for several years before embarking on a full Southwest Series campaign with Jefferson this season.

"Tony has put a lot of effort into this team and he wants to win," Jefferson said. I could not think of a better place to put Tony in the winner's circle."

Another competitor from the Northwest is Brandon Riehl of Boring, Ore, who claimed his first career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division victory last Saturday night in Yakima, Wash. Riehl is riding the momentum that comes with a first win. "It was special for me to win at Yakima last week," Riehl said. "I have had good cars all season but my finishes have not been there. I am looking forward to Colorado, but it is going to be tough with all the top guys there. This could be the toughest race of the season."

The Auto Trader "150" is the fifth race of the season for the Southwest Series and the second event for the Midwest Series. The two series' will meet up again at Pikes Peak Int'l Raceway in Fountain, Colo. for a second combination event in July.


* Alumni Spotlight... NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Stars Kevin Harvick finished 14th while Kurt Busch was 43rd in the Coca Cola 600 this past weekend at Lowes Motor Speedway. In NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series action Matt Crafton finished 9th with Ron Hornaday finishing 11th and Brandon Whitt finishing 23rd at Lowes Motor Speedway. All these drivers cut their stock car teeth in the Southwest Series.

* Points ... As a combination race with the Midwest and Southwest Series, the Auto Trader 150 will award full championship points for drivers in both series, based on the finishing order respective to other drivers from their series. All participating drivers will be credited with a start in their series.

Fast Facts

What: Auto Trader 150

Where: Colorado National Speedway, Erie, Colo.

Who: NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series and Southwest Series

When: Sat., June 4 at 8:10 p.m. (Mountain Time).

Posted awards: $66,982.

Race length: 150 laps, 43.75 miles
Track layout: 3/8-mile oval.

Pre-Race Schedule (All Times Local): Registration begins 8 a.m., Practice 12-2 p.m., Bud Pole Qualifying 4:50 p.m.

Tickets: $18 for adults, $6.00 for youth (10-14), Under 10 free with paid adult.


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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jeff Jefferson , Brandon Whitt , Jim Pettit II