NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Drivers Eye Top 10 Points Position Heading into Stockton DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) -This Saturday, July 31, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to the historic...
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Drivers Eye Top 10 Points Position Heading into Stockton
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2004) -This Saturday, July 31, the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series returns to the historic Stockton 99 Speedway for the 22ND time since 1986 in the running of the AutoZone "125" presented by Havoline, JM Environmental, and CL Bryant.
For 59 years Stockton 99 Speedway has showcased some of the best Late Model racing on the West coast and has been a fixture for the for the AutoZone Southwest Series. Stockton 99 Speedway stands as the West's oldest continually operated racing facility.
Stockton 99 Speedway is a track the favors experience and series point's leader, Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif. has logged more laps than any series regular on the tight and tricky quarter-mile paved oval. More than thirty drivers from the Southwest Series will attempt to qualify for one of 22 starting positions in Saturday's 125-lap race and vie for their share of $44,894 in posted awards in race nine of the 14-race championship series.
Stockton 99 Speedway's quarter-mile produces side-by-side racing almost at the drop of the green flag, which makes the 125-lap distance a sprint race and a test of will. Pettit, coming off a victory two weeks ago at Madera (CA) Speedway earned his first series win at Stockton last season.
"Stockton is a special place for me," said Pettit. "The track creates a lot of passing opportunities. You have to know the characteristics of the track and how to use them to your own advantage. When the sun goes down and the crowd gets into it, this place is electric."
Joe Herold, from Del Mar, Calif. is quietly enjoying his best season on the series and currently sits fifth in the point standings. Herold suffered suspension problems and finished 19th here back in May and looks to solidify his position in the top five. "Stockton is tough there is no doubt about it," Herold said. "We have been fairly consistent this year, but a good run here this weekend will be a real boost."
Danny Burson from Albuquerque, NM has struggled this season on the series' short tracks and needs a solid finish in order to climb back within sight of the Top 10. Burson finished 22nd at Stockton in May.
"It seems that we are always learning something," Burson said. "We were real disappointed at Madera two weeks ago. We just want to run all the laps and hopefully that means a good finish."
Craig Raudman, of Bakersfield, Calif., has been leading the series' point standings since the fourth race of the season and sees nothing but the winner's circle Saturday night. "Stockton is a blast to drive," Raudman said. "There is a line around that place and if you're on it, then you are going to be fast. We ran real good in May and will essentially use the same set up. I am looking forward to the race."
"The local guys are always hard to beat at a place like Stockton," Raudman said. "They have a lot of laps around that place, especially Jim Pettit, and that will make it tough for the rest of us."
Former (2002) Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho likes his chances at Stockton. "We had a great car in May and just got bit by dumb luck," McKean said. "We are going to use the same car we used in May and hopefully this time we'll come out on top."
Other notable drivers that have experience at Stockton include Doug McCoun of Prunedale, Calif. who recently joined Clarence Broussard's team. Escalon, California's Eric Holmes who sits sixth in the series standings and won the event back in May, and series Ironman Bob Lyon from Aqua Dulce, Calif. who finished fourth in May and is poised for a return to the winner's circle. Greg Voigt has maintained a top ten point's position over the last four races and looks to improve upon his sixth place performance May 8.
The AutoZone "125" presented by Havoline is set to take the green flag at 9:00 pm PST this Saturday, where fan favorite Jim Pettit II will try to wrestle the point's lead away from Craig Raudman.
THE INSIDE LINE
The race within the race . Rip Michels (2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Sunbelt Regional champion) tops the Auto Meter Rookie-of-the-Year leader board after four events. Nick Lynch, Todd Burns (2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series ShorTrack Division national champion), and Stan Silva Jr. complete the standings.
How many cars? More than 30 cars have pre-entered the AutoZone"125" with several hometown heroes from the Stockton area. Drivers include Phil Perry, Tracy Bolin, and John Moore. Series regulars Doug McCoun, Eric Holmes, and Jim Pettit II are also familiar names at Stockton.
On a Roll: Burney Lamar from West Sacramento, Calif. has four straight top three finishes in the last four races. Lamar finished third at Stockton May 8.
Drivers to keep your eye on: Joe Herold from Poway, Calif. Herold had a career best finish of second at Cajon Speedway on April 3 and has vaulted into 5th place in the point standings. Herold is in his fourth year on the Southwest Series. . Craig Raudman owns the series record for Bud Pole Awards (29). Raudman already has four poles this season. M.K. Kanke returns to the series after a one race hiatus to finish his new car. Kanke will debut a brand new Victory Circle Chassis at Stockton this weekend..In 2004, drivers will once again be competing for an invitation to the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown November 11-13 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. This invitational only event is for drivers who finish the season in the top ten in the final point standings in each of the four series which comprise the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division.
Hoosier Racing Tire is the official tire of the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division in 2004 and will award 32 tires to eligible car owners at each series event. Hoosier will also award two tires to the highest eligible Rookie-of-the-Year candidate's car owner.
AutoZone Southwest Series contingency sponsors include: Anheuser-Busch, Auto Meter Products, Competition Cams, CV Products, Edelbrock Intake Manifolds, Featherlite Trailers, Five Star, G-Force, Holley Carburetors, Hoosier Tires, JR Pistons, Mac Tools, Mechanix Wear, Mobil 1 Oil, Moroso, Powerade, Quarter Master, Raybestos Brakes, and Timken.
Todd Souza of Aromas, Calif. moved into the NASCAR Top-10 with a second place performance at Madera Speedway July 17. Souza sits 8th in the standings with five races to go.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"It's hot. It's exciting, and when the sun goes down, look out." - Darrell LaMoure (No. 94 Racing for the Missing Chevrolet).
PAGE FROM THE PAST
Back on May 11, 1991 Jon Paques took a 1.6 second victory over Ron Hornaday Jr. in a race that took just 29 minutes and 7 seconds to complete. Ken Boyd finished third followed by Steve Johnson and Rick Carelli. Hornaday topped the speed charts in qualifying with a quick lap of 13.443 seconds/66.949 mph. Paques took the lead on the opening lap from his third starting position and was never challenged. Rick Carelli left Stockton with a 47 point lead over Paques. To date, Carelli and Paques were to only drivers to complete every lap contested (500).
What: AutoZone "125" presented by Havoline
Where: Stockton 99 Speedway (Stockton, Calif.)
When: 9:00 p.m. PST, Saturday, July 31.
Track layout: 1/4-Mile Paved Oval
Race length: 125 laps/31.25 Miles.
2004 Point Standings: Craig Raudman, 1239; Jim Pettit II, 1226; Burney Lamar, 1176; Eddy McKean, 1048; Joe Herold, 1039.