SWS: Phoenix II: Round twelve preview

PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 1, 2003) - October marks the changing of the seasons in most of the country, but this weekend and old fashion Wild West shootout in the hot desert sun is in store at Phoenix International Raceway when the NASCAR Elite ...

PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 1, 2003) - October marks the changing of the seasons in most of the country, but this weekend and old fashion Wild West shootout in the hot desert sun is in store at Phoenix International Raceway when the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series takes to the track for round twelve of the 14 race championship series.

More than forty drivers from across the country who compete in NASCAR's Elite Division will attempt to qualify for one of 42 starting positions in Sunday's 100-lap race and vie for their share of $81,271 in posted awards.

2002 Featherlite Southwest Series champion, Eddy McKean, has three second place finishes in the last four events at PIR and looks to finally find victory lane at the Desert Jewell. McKean from Jerome, Idaho, is a former two-time NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series regional champion that cut his teeth on a third-mile oval, but would like nothing more then to back up his win from Tucson two weeks ago on the series largest track.

With McKean looking to score back to back wins, series point leader Auggie Vidovich Jr. will attempt to keep his "A" train running full steam ahead. Through eleven races this season Vidovich has seven top five and ten top ten performances and has completed every lap run this season (1502).

That kind of consistency has the twenty-two year old Lakeside, California native thinking championship. The Phoenix mile has not been kind to Vidovich in the past, with only one top five finish in seven starts. This past February, Vidovich finished third to begin the season, and with only a partial schedule in mind, that finish has propelled his team into the point lead. A Lead he has maintained since the second race of the season.

Jim Pettit II from Prunedale, Calif. sees this weekend's race as a watershed moment in his bid for the series title. Through eleven races, Pettit has tallied one victory, five top five and seven top ten finishes.

Pettit knows that anything can happen at Phoenix and wishes no bad luck, but a strong finish will go a long way as he enters the final two races. "I feel Phoenix owes us a little," Pettit said. My whole team has worked especially hard for this event and I know this is the place that I need to make up points if I am going to catch Auggie."

While most of the series regulars will be concentrating on a position in the NASCAR Top 10 and an ivitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (CA) Speedway in November, several drivers from across the country will join the fray in this inaugural early October event. Travis Geisler from Pennsylvania, Robert Richardson from Texas, and Joey Miller from Minnesota will attempt to make their first series start, while Austin Cameron from El Cajon, Calif. will try for the daily double competing in both the Featherlite Southwest Series event and the NASCAR Winston West Series race. Cameron will pilot the #28 Napa Auto Parts Pontiac for Dan Whitt.

This NASCAR Doubleheader promises to showcase some of NASCAR's brightest young talent and rising stars. The race this weekend may well serve as the prelude to the series finale that will be contested here in just three short weeks, but first Vidovich, McKean, and Pettit will lay down the gauntlet for the action that is sure to come. The Phoenixraceway.Com "100" is set to take the green flag at 12 noon PST Sunday, October 5.

THE INSIDE LINE

*The race within the race . JR Patton leads Danny Burson in the Victory Circle Chassis' Rookie-of-the-Year race. Thomas Martin, Greg Voigt, Kevin Vernon round out the top five rookies.

* How many cars? More than 42 cars have pre-entered the Phoenixraceway.Com "100".

* Auggie Vidovich Jr. from Lakeside, Calif. is the only driver to complete every lap contested so far this season (1502).

* Eddy McKean has three runner-up finishes in the last four Featherlite Southwest Series races staged at PIR.

* There have been 13 different winners in 26 previous Featherlite Southwest Series races at PIR.

* Darrell LaMoure of Phoenix, Arizona 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.

* Featherlite Southwest Series drivers will meet race fans at the Home Depot at 1489 N. Dysart Road in Avondale, AZ (Corner of Dysart and Coldwater just south of I-10) from 6-8pm Friday, October 3.

* Driver to keep your eye on: Joe Herold, Steve Belletto, Brandon Whitt, and Todd Souza all finished in the top-ten last season and each has the potential to win at any race track.

* The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will feature the top 10 drivers in each of the four series in the NASCAR Elite Division. The Elite Division consists of the Featherlite Southwest Series, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Kodak Southeast Series and Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. The Toyota All-Star Showdown will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel, beginning at 8:00 p.m. (ET) Nov. 8.

MOVING UP
Mike Ledbetter of Ceres, Calif. sits just 54 points out of the NASCAR Top 10 in 12th place with three races left to go on the schedule. Ledbetter has three top ten finishes in eleven 2003 starts.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Live to achieve, not to acquire." - the late Alan Kulwicki

PAGE FROM THE PAST
Ken Schrader and Rick Carelli each have four victories at PIR. Ron Hornaday Jr., Dick Trickle, and Garrett Evans each have two wins at the Desert Jewell. Seven other drivers share one victory apiece. But it is Scott Hansen that leads all drivers in Featherlite Southwest Series competition with five wins on the one-mile oval. Hansen's wins have all come in the fall race with his last victory coming in 1999.

Ron Hornaday Jr. from Palmdale, Calif. driving the M&R Machine Pontiac cruised to victory in the GM Goodwrench 300 November 2, 1991. Hornaday beat Danny Crafton to the line by five seconds in a race that took two hours, 14 minutes, and 21 seconds to complete. It was Hornaday's 4th win of the season but it was not enough to close in on Rick Carelli who won the series title by just 56 points. Brett Bell was the top finishing rookie (10th). The event featured eleven lead changes among 10 drivers.

Fast Facts

What: The Phoenixraceway.Com "100" Race 12 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series.
Where: Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
When: 12:00 noon PDT, Sunday, October 5.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Saturday 10/4 6:00 am Haulers Enter, 7:00 am Registration and Inspection Begins, 9:00 am Mandatory Rookie Driver's meeting, 9:30 am Mandatory Crew Chief's Meeting, 9:30 am Qualifying Draw, 10:30-11:30 am Practice, 12:30-1:30 pm Practice, 3:00 pm Time Trials, 5:00-5:30 pm Final Practice , 6:30 pm Garage Closes, Sunday 10/5 7:00 am Garage Opens, 8:00 am Mandatory Driver's/Crew Chief's Meeting, 10:00 am Mandatory Spotter's Meeting, 10:00 am Mandatory Scorer's Meeting, 12:00 noon Phoenixraceway.com "100".

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Dick Trickle , Ken Schrader , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Rick Carelli , Danny Burson , Joe Herold , Darrell LaMoure , Mike Ledbetter , Jim Pettit II , Steve Belletto , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich , Todd Souza , Travis Geisler , Joey Miller , Robert Richardson Jr. , Alan Kulwicki , Scott Hansen