SWS: Phoenix III: Season finale preview

PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 28, 2003) - October marks the changing of the seasons in most of the country, but this weekend an old fashion Wild West shootout in the hot desert sun is in store at Phoenix International Raceway when the NASCAR Elite ...

PHOENIX, ARIZ. (October 28, 2003) - October marks the changing of the seasons in most of the country, but this weekend an 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 five drivers from across the country who compete in NASCAR's Elite Division will attempt to qualify for one of 42 starting positions in Thursday's 125-lap race and vie for their share of $119,271 in posted awards.

2002 series champion, Eddy McKean, has three second place finishes in the last four events at PIR including a third place effort two weeks ago and looks to finally find victory lane at PIR. 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 finally tame the one mile paved oval.

Featherlite Southwest Series point leader Auggie Vidovich from Lakeside, Calif. looks to put the icing on the championship cake after Thursday's race. Vidovich needs a 27th place finish or better to clinch his first series crown. Vidovich has twice been a runner-up in the series final standings (00, 01).

With Vidovich at the point it is up to Eric Holmes from Escalon, Calif. to derail the "A" train. Holmes needs to win and hope Vidovich has problems. Holmes trails Vidovich by 99 points entering the series finale.

"I am going to give it all I can," Holmes said. We have had our chances this season and with 42 cars out there, anything is possible."

While Vidovich and Holmes wrestle for the top spot, Jim Pettit II from Prunedale, Calif. is just looking for a little racing luck and some redemption.

Pettit sits in third in the overall standings and knows mathematically he is still in the fight, but realistically, it is all about pride at this point.

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 season finale. "I feel Phoenix owes us a little," Pettit said. "We had a great car here two weeks ago and racing's bad luck bit us again. We want nothing less then a top five finish."

While most of the series regulars will be concentrating on a position in the NASCAR Top 10, several drivers from across the country will join the fray in order to size up the competition that they will see when they had to Irwindale (CA) Speedway next week for the Toyota All-Star Showdown. Representing the Midwest Series is series champion Steve Carlson along with Tim Schendel and Brian Hoppe. Also making the long tow to Phoenix is newly crowned Northwest Series champ Jeff Jefferson.

This Cruise America 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 Cruise America "125" is set to take the green flag at 3:30 noon MST Thursday, October 30.


*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 45 cars have pre-entered the Cruise America "125" representing 13 different states.

*Auggie Vidovich Jr. from Lakeside, Calif. has completed 1755 out 1757 laps run this season and needs to finish 27th or better in order to clinch his first series championship.

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

*There have been 14 different winners in 27 previous Featherlite Southwest Series races at PIR.

*NASCAR Elite Division's four regional series are represented at PIR for the Cruise America "125", including Midwest Series champion Steve Carlson and Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson.

*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.


*Danny Burson of Albuquerque, NM sits just 57 points out of the NASCAR Top 10 in 12th place entering the finale. Burson is coming off a career best finish of second at Mesa Marin in the series last event.


*"Live to achieve, not to acquire." - the late Alan Kulwicki


Ken Schrader and Rick Carelli each have four victories at PIR. Ron Hornaday Jr., Dick Trickle, and Garrett Evans each have two wins at PIR. Eight 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 this 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 Cruise America "125" Race 14 of 14 for the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series.

Where: Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
When: 3:30 noon MST, Thursday, October 30.
Track layout: 1-mile paved oval.
Race length: 125 laps, 125 miles.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Tuesday 10/28 11:00 am Haulers Enter, 12:00 pm Registration and Inspection Begins, 3:30 pm Mandatory Crew Chief's Meeting, Wednesday 10/29 7:30 am Mandatory Rookie Meeting 7:30 am Qualifying Draw, 8:30-11:00 am, 1:15 pm Qualifying, Final Practice, 3:00 pm Practice, 6:00 pm Garage Closes, Thursday 10/30 7:00 am Garage Opens, 1:00 pm Mandatory Driver's/Crew Chief's Meeting, 1:45 pm Mandatory Spotter's Meeting, 11:00 am Mandatory Scorer's Meeting, 3:30 pm Cruise America "125".


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Drivers Dick Trickle , Ken Schrader , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Rick Carelli , Jeff Jefferson , Eric Holmes , Danny Burson , Jim Pettit II , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich , Tim Schendel , Steve Carlson , Alan Kulwicki , Scott Hansen