SWS: Phoenix II: Season finale preview

Phoenix Looms Large in Southwest Series Title Chase DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (November 8, 2005) For Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif., the task is simple, he must finish eleventh or better in the season finale at Phoenix Int'l Raceway this Thursday...

Phoenix Looms Large in Southwest Series Title Chase

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (November 8, 2005) For Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif., the task is simple, he must finish eleventh or better in the season finale at Phoenix Int'l Raceway this Thursday afternoon in order to secure his second NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series title in as many years. The only thing standing in his way are 41 other drivers who will battle for position and glory alongside the 40 year old veteran NASCAR competitor.

"We are ready for Phoenix and primed to win," Pettit said. "After winning at Pikes Peak earlier this year and the strong finishes we have had at Phoenix in the past, I believe we can win at Phoenix and head to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown as champion. We have rebuilt our car after the wreck at Mesa Marin and I feel that we are more determined than ever to win this championship."

One of those drivers hwo aims to make a run at the championship is Auggie Vidovich from Lakeside, Calif. who sits a scant 51-points behind Pettit going into the season finale. Vidovich, the 2003 Southwest Series champion, has won four times this season and looks to catapult himself past Pettit at Phoenix and earn a second trip to New York.

The $123,544 event will draw more than fifty of the top regional racers from around the country who will vie for one of 42 starting positions in the 125-lap Arizona Lottery sponsored event slated for Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.

Pettit has scored four top five finishes at Phoenix including a fifth place effort back in January while Vidovich has two top five performances at the one-mile paved oval. While both drivers have a championship on their minds, several drivers from around the country will join the Southwest Series regulars at Phoenix including 2005 Southeast Series champion Jeff Fultz and Midwest Series standout Tim Schendel.

Rounding out his Southwest Series career and looking for another victory at Phoenix is Burney Lamar who sits third in the standings with one win this season scored in the opening round at Phoenix. In a deal announced last week at Texas Motor Speedway, Lamar will drive full-time for Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) in the No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet NASCAR Busch Series entry in 2006.

"I'm very honored to be competing in the Busch Series in 2006 for Dollar General and KHI," Lamar said. "It's been a life-long dream to get to this level of competition in NASCAR, and I'm very thankful to Kevin and DeLana [Harvick] for giving me this opportunity. I'm excited to represent Dollar General and all of its 60,000 employees. Next year is going to be fun; I just can't wait to get it started."

2002 Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean sits just twenty points behind Lamar in fourth and has eight top three finishes in the last eight Phoenix races including three wins. McKean will finish in the top five final point standings for the fifth straight season but is looking to add another Phoenix triumph to his resume'. McKean is the defending race winner at Phoenix.

Long-time series veteran M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. rounds out the top five in the standings heading to Phoenix and will be making his first trip to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown later this week after running only a partial schedule the last couple of years. Kanke scored his 20th career series victory at Irwindale Speedway back in August and is hoping to change his luck at Phoenix.

Greg Voigt and Nick Lynch are both experiencing their best season in the series in 2005 posting 18 top ten finishes between them through 13 races. Former Irwindale Speedway track champions Greg Pursley and Rip Michels sit eighth and ninth in the standings heading into the final race of the season and need strong finishes in order to secure their invitation. Thomas Martin rounds out the top ten but is perilously close to missing the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown if bad luck strikes at Phoenix.

Sitting just 13 points out of the tenth and final invitation position is Bob Lyon from Agua Dulce, Calif. Lyon who has started more Southwest Series races than any other competitor is coming off his best finish in three with a fourth place performance at Mesa Marin Raceway in mid October and has his sights squarely on a good finish at Phoenix and an invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

With an outside shot at making the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown is the Southwest Series leading Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year competitor, Don Campbell. Campbell holds down the twelfth position in the standings 105 points out of tenth place. Campbell is the only rookie competitor to start all 13 races this season and has been running at the finish of eleven of them. Campbell will need a lot of luck and a solid finish at Phoenix in order to make it to Irwindale Speedway for the "big" event.

The stage has been set and the cards dealt for the final round of the 2005 Southwest Series season. While Pettit and Vidovich battle for series supremacy, the rest of the Southwest Series top drivers will wage war in Phoenix and earn the right to join their NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division betheren to win bragging rights as the top regional racer in the country.


What: Arizona Lottery "125" (Race No. 14 of 14 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series).

Where: Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.

When: 4:00 p.m. PT (approx.), Thursday, November 10, 2005.

Track layout:  One-mile paved oval.

Race length: 125 laps/125 miles.

Posted awards: $123,544.

2004 winner:  Eddy McKean.

2004 polesitter: Burney Lamar.

Top 10 in points: 1. Jim Pettit 2025, 2. Auggie Vidovich 1974, 3. Burney Lamar 1839, 4. Eddy McKean 1819, 5. M.K. Kanke 1812, 6. Greg Voigt 1775, 7. Nick Lynch 1738, 8. Greg Pursley 1663, 9. Rip Michels 1654, 10. Thomas Martin 1540.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Wed. 11/9: 11:00 a.m. Haulers Enter, 11:30a.m. Registration opens, Practice, 12:00 p.m. Inspection only. Thurs. 11/10: 6:00 a.m. Garage opens, 7:00 a.m. Qualifying draw, 7:30 a.m. Rookie meeting, 8:00-10:30 a.m. Practice, 11:00 a.m. Driver's/Crew Chief meeting, 1:30 p.m. Qualifying (2-laps), 3:00 p.m. spotter's meeting, 4:00 p.m. Arizona Lottery "125".


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Drivers Jeff Fultz , Greg Pursley , Burney Lamar , Jim Pettit II , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich , Tim Schendel , Rip Michels