NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES NEWS AND NOTES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2006) -- Rip Michels enters Saturday's AutoZone 100 at Stockton (CA) 99 Speedway leading the points for the first time in his NASCAR AutoZone ...
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, SOUTHWEST SERIES NEWS AND NOTES
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 14, 2006) -- Rip Michels enters Saturday's AutoZone 100 at Stockton (CA) 99 Speedway leading the points for the first time in his NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series career on the strength of three top five and four top ten finishes this season. Michels finished second in the last event at Altamont Motorsports Park two weeks ago and holds a slim ten-point advantage over 2002 Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean.
Frazier Park, California's M.K. Kanke collected his 21st career Southwest Series victory at Altamont tying him with the High Plains Drifter Rick Carelli for first on the all-time win list. Kanke has moved into fourth place in the point-standings with one win, two top fives and three top ten performances so far this season.
McKean is looking to win a second Southwest Series title this season and knows that a solid finish this weekend at Stockton could mean all the difference. "The race at Stockton this weekend means everything," McKean said. "We need to finish like we have all season and we'll be fine, but this track is unpredictable and anything can happen." McKean has four top ten finishes in 2006.
Eric Homes fell to third place in the point-standings after being involved in a late race altercation while leading the race at Altamont. Holmes is looking to get back on track this weekend. Holmes has one win and three top five finishes through the first four races this season.
Holmes is also competing full-time in the NASCAR Grand National AutoZone West Series where he is also third in the standings and hopes to become the only driver to qualify for an invite to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to be staged later this year.
"We have our work cut out for us this weekend at Stockton," Holmes said. "Our car is fix and ready to go and I know I have a great shot at another win." Holmes earned a Southwest Series victory at Stockton back in 2004.
Greg Voigt of Santa Barbara, Calif. is quietly having another solid season and currently holds down the fifth position in the standings collecting three top ten finishes.
The rest of the top ten, which includes Sunoco Rookie Leader David Mayhew, two-time series champion Jim Pettit II, Thomas Martin, Stephan Sadler, and Kevin Vernon, who are separated by just 79 points.
THE PRESSBOX: Charles Joshua Debes missing since December 25, 2003 was safely located and reunited with his family after being profiled at the Southwest Series event at Altamont Motorsports Park two weeks ago. Debes was highlighted on the hood of Jim Pettit's car and he was recognized by a race fan. This weekend Pettit will feature Kathryn Buckley who went missing from the Sacramento area more than a year ago.
THE TRACK: Stockton 99 Speedway is hosting its 24th Southwest Series event since the series was incepted back in 1986. Ron Hornaday holds the record for most Southwest Series wins at Stockton with three. Auggie Vidovich, Craig Raudman, Rick Carelli, Troy Beebe, Ken Boyd, and Dan Press each have two wins apiece. Ten other drivers have one victory on the historic quarter-mile paved oval. Ron Strmiska has the distinction of winning his only Southwest Series race in his only start at Stockton back in 2002.
LOCAL CONNECTION: Brothers Steve and Jeff Belletto will lead a local contingent into the Stockton event that will include Ryan Foster, Angelo Carillo, and Steven Miller. Qualifying will be key for the 22-car starting field rookies and first timers will have to negotiate the tricky layout at Stockton. The local competitors may know a thing or two about the track but Southwest Series regulars have won twenty of 24 races over the years.
COUNTING LAPS: Rip Michels is the only drivers to complete all 511 laps contested so far this season. Eric Holmes has led the most laps in competition so far this season with 109 circuits at the point.
THE ROOKIES: The battle for the Southwest Series' Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year award will be one to watch this weekend. David Mayhew leads a talented rookie class that includes Eric Richardson, Brandon Loverock, Cody Pruitt, Terry Lawrence, Bobby Latham III, Travis McCullough, and Danny Mientka. This year, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year will be awarded to the rookie driver with the highest finish in 75% of the events respective to the other rookie contenders. The trip to Stockton 99 Speedway this weekend will be the first visit for all of these rookie contenders.
ALUMNI REPORT: Former two-time Southwest Series champion Ron Hornaday scored his 29th career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Kentucky Speedway last weekend. Former Southwest Series Rookie-of-the-Year Burney Lamar is leading the rookie standings in the NASCAR Busch Series and sits 15th in the overall standings. Jeff Burton will take over the seat this weekend at New Hampshire providing feedback to the team. Lamar will be back in the seat for the next event. 1999 Southwest Series champion Kurt Busch finished 8th at Chicago to move within 132 points of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top 10.
Ticket information for the AutoZone"100" can be obtained by calling the track at or by logging on to: www.stockton99speedway.com
What: AutoZone "100" presented by Havoline, NASCAR AutoZone
Elite Division, Southwest Series Race #4 of 9
Where: Stockton 99 Speedway, Stockton, Calif.
When: Saturday, July 15 at 9:00 p.m. (approx.).
Posted awards: $ 53,834
Race length: 100 laps, 25 miles
Track layout: Quarter-mile paved oval.
2005 Race Winner: Auggie Vidovich
2005 Race Bud Pole Winner: Burney Lamar
Pre-Race Schedule: Registration begins 10:00 a.m., Practice 2:00 p.m. -- 3:30 p.m., Bud Pole qualifying 5:30 p.m., AutoZone "100" 9:00 p.m.
Top 10 Drivers: 1. Rip Michels 645, 2. Eddy McKean 635, 3. Eric Holmes 629, 4. M.K. Kanke 576, 5. Greg Voigt 532, 6. David Mayhew 521, 7. Jim Pettit II 507, 8. Thomas Martin 496, 9. Stephan Sadler 454, 10. Kevin Vernon 442.