NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES NEWS & NOTES -- COLORADO * Rookie Mike Gallegos Looks Forward To Homecoming At Colorado National Speedway * Four Races At CNS -- Four Different Winners * Series Makes First Return To Colorado Since...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES NEWS & NOTES -- COLORADO
* Rookie Mike Gallegos Looks Forward To Homecoming At Colorado National Speedway
* Four Races At CNS -- Four Different Winners
* Series Makes First Return To Colorado Since 2004
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 30, 2007) -- This year's freshman class of drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series face a big learning curve in their challenge for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, racing on many tracks they have never seen before.
One of those rookies, Mike Gallegos (No. 77 King Taco Ford), is looking forward to competing on familiar territory as the West Series heads to his home track for the NAPA 150 at Colorado National Speedway north of Denver on Saturday, June 2. The event will be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, SPEED is to provide an enhanced replay.
"It's good for our team because it's the only track I have experience on, besides Phoenix," said Gallegos, who raced in the Late Model class at the 3/8-mile track between 2001 and 2004. "It gives us something to look forward to. It's going to give us a fair shake to see where we need to improve on our program. It's nice to go someplace you're familiar with."
Gallegos is cautious about making too much of his experience at CNS, however. "Although it's my backyard, I don't necessarily think I have any advantage, because the drivers are so good in the West Series," said the 24-year-old driver from Wheat Ridge, Colo. He admitted, meanwhile, that his knowledge may help him predict how changing track conditions may dictate changes to the suspension of his race car.
Gallegos is in 10th place among a large field of talented first-year drivers in the West Series. A strong performance on his home track could give him a boost in his challenge for the prestigious Sunoco rookie title.
"Unfortunately, I think we're so far behind in the rookie race that it's going to be hard to catch up, but we're going to try," Gallegos said. "It should be a good race for us. The rookie field is so talented this year. They're all going to be up on the wheel. It's going to be a good race."
The race could also serve as an overall turning point for Gallegos and his team.
"If we can get some momentum here and we can get some confidence, I think it definitely could help out," Gallegos said. "It's a race track where I've had success. So, if we can have success, we know we're capable. If we don't have success, I think we're going to be able to evaluate where we need to work on. It's going to be a good deal for us."
Gallegos is in his third season of participating in the Drive for Diversity program. He raced in the Late Model class at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway in 2005 and was part of the D4D program again in 2006 -- competing in the NASCAR Elite Division, Midwest Series and finishing seventh in the championship standings.
In addition to racing in the Late Model class at Colorado, Gallegos has competed there while racing in the Elite Division, known by many as "the tour." "We ran probably six or seven tour races there and I don't believe I've ever qualified outside the top 10," he said. "Several years ago I led 75 laps of a tour race there. I broke a rocker arm with four laps to go."
NEWS & NOTES
* The race -- The NAPA 150 is the sixth of 13 races on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series schedule for 2007.
* The track -- Colorado National Speedway is a 3/8-mile paved oval with four degrees of banking in the straights and progressive banking of six to 12 degrees in the corners. The West Series has visited Colorado National Speedway four times, with the most recent in 2004.
* Local drivers to make series debut -- Two local drivers are slated to make their debut in the West Series at Colorado. Ed Vecchiarelli Jr, (No. 09 Midgley Racing Chevrolet) of Brighton, Colo., competes with his father in the modified class at CNS and currently leads the standings. He is coming off a win there over the Memorial Day weekend. Third-generation driver Darren Robertson (No. 11 Furniture Row Chevrolet) of Arvada, Colo., also had a successful holiday weekend at CNS -- winning both 50-lap twin feature races in the Late Model class. His father, Jerry Robertson, has competed in all three national series' of NASCAR -- as well as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, where he won two regional championships (2000 and 2003) while racing at CNS. Darren's grandfather, Odie Robertson, was a tough competitor in his day, as well.
* Competing for Showdown spot -- Competitors at Colorado hope to add their name to that of Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford) and Scott Lynch (No. 29 Jasper Engines Dodge) as the only West Series regulars so far this year to gain a starting spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Under a new format introduced this year, NASCAR Grand National Division race winners earn a starting spot in the prestigious post-season event. Only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way in.
* Four races, four different winners -- The four series races at CNS produced four different winners -- Mike Chase, Ron Hornaday Jr., Steve Portenga and Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet).
* Four different Bud Pole winners -- The three visits to Colorado also produced three different Bud Pole winners -- Garrett Evans, Butch Gilliland, Scott Lynch and Sean Woodside.
* No repeat marks -- No driver has finished in the top five in series competition at CNS more than once. Joe Bean, Austin Cameron and Sean Woodside -- with three each -- are the only drivers with multiple top-10 finishes at Colorado.
* Most money -- With winnings of $13,250 for his victory in 1996, Ron Hornaday Jr., leads competitors in terms of money won in series competition at the Colorado track.
* Running out front -- Mike Chase has led the most laps of series competition around the 3/8-mile oval, running out front for 172 laps.
* Stat of the race -- A West Series race at Colorado National Speedway has never been won by the Bud Pole winner.
* Running out front -- Mike Duncan has led the most laps of competition so far in 2007, running out front for 168 circuits. He has led in four of the five races this season.
* Big field of rookies -- Jason Bowles (No. 22 Sunrise Ford/Turbo Torq Ford) leads the battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He tops the list of first-year drivers registered for the program, with 42 points. Alex Haase (No. 88 Motorway Auto Group of El Paso Chevrolet) is second with 32, followed by Ryan Foster (No. Golden Gate Petroleum Chevrolet) with 27 and Eric Richardson (No. 20 NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet) with 26. Others challenging for the freshman award include David Mayhew (No. HPS/Victory Circle/Attune Systems Chevrolet) with 18, Moses Smith (No. 18 HASA Pools Products Chevrolet) with 16, Stan Silva Jr. (No. 65 A&S Metals/Stan Silva Jr. Trucking Chevrolet) with 15, Jamie Dick (No. 88 Motorway Auto Group of El Paso Chevrolet) with 15, Rick Wall (No. 42 Xiser.com Ford) with 11, Mike Gallegos with 9, Lloyd Mack with 8, Brandon Riehl with 6, Thomas Martin with 5 and Garland Self with 1.
Drivers celebrating a birthday in the month of June include Thomas Martin, who turns 29 on the 4th; Darrell Midgley, who turns 47 on the 5th; Jason Small, who turns 28 on the 7th; Anthony "Lloyd" Mack, who turns 25 on the 16th; Brett Thompson, who turns 30 on the 17th; Candace Muzny, who turns 26 on the 18th; Tim Smith, who turns 39 on the 19th; Bruce Betts, who turns 59 on the 19th; Eric Hardin, who turns 25 on the 22nd; and Johnny Borneman, who turns 30 on the 30th.
What: NAPA 150,
NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Race #6
Where: Colorado National Speedway, Erie, Colo.
When: 8 p.m., Saturday, June 2.
Track layout: .375-mile paved oval.
Distance: 150 Laps, 56.25 miles.
Posted Awards: $114,039
TV: HDNet (Live)
SPEED (enhanced replay, June 13, 2:30 p.m. ET)
2006 winner: Event not held.
2006 polesitter: Event not held.
Records: Qualifying: Butch Gilliland, July 13, 1996, 78.484 mph, 17.201 sec.; Race: Mike Duncan, Oct. 9, 2004, 60.859 mph, 54 min 43 sec
Pre-race schedule: Saturday -- Practice, 12:30-2:00 p.m. Qualifying, 5 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.