WS: Douglas County: Round six preview

* Thompson looking for strong finish at Douglas County Speedway * Teams hope to build momentum for second half of season * Annual hauler parade, driver autograph session planned DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- The NASCAR Grand ...

* Thompson looking for strong finish at Douglas County Speedway

* Teams hope to build momentum for second half of season

* Annual hauler parade, driver autograph session planned

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 26, 2006) -- The NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series heads to Oregon this week, as Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg hosts the BI-MART Firecracker 150 presented by NAPA Belts & Hose on Saturday, July 1.

The annual event, which for the past four years had been held in September, was moved up on the schedule this year to just before the Fourth of July. As the sixth event in a 12-race schedule, it marks the midway point of the season. Drivers are looking for a strong finish at Roseburg to build momentum to carry them through the second half of the year.

Brett Thompson (No. 61 Thompson Motorsports/Rich Thompson Trucking/Windmill Inn Chevrolet) enters the event ninth in the championship standings -- with one top-five and three top-10 finishes in the first five races. Despite his consistent finishes, Thompson had hoped for a better start this season. "You always expect more," said the 29-year-old driver. "We don't have a win yet and only one top five. So, we're not totally satisfied."

Thompson's team -- based near his home in Jerome, Idaho -- does not plan any major changes at this point, however. "We've had good cars everywhere," he said. "We just haven't had the finishes."

He hopes to change that pattern with this visit to the half-mile Oregon track, where he has qualified well. "We're looking forward to Roseburg. We always have a good run there," said Thompson, whose best finish in four races there since 2002 was fifth in 2004. "We usually qualify well, anyway. Sometimes we get caught up in crashes, but we're definitely looking forward to going there."

There are added reasons why Thompson and others in the series look forward to this event each year. "It's a beautiful area to go visit and the fans are great," he said of the Douglas County Fairgrounds facility, which is nestled adjacent to Interstate 5 along the scenic Umpqua River. "It's a big deal that happens in Roseburg," Thompson said of the small-town atmosphere. "They make a big deal of it. It's a fun one to go to."

While Thompson does not plan any changes for his team in the immediate future, they did make a big change earlier in the season. They became the first in NASCAR to compete with the new composite body in the Grand National Division. The body, being phased into use in the division beginning this year, is aimed at cutting costs for the teams.

Thompson recently admitted that initially he was not totally optimistic about switching from the traditional metal body to a composite body. "I was real skeptical going into this," he said. "After two races, I was totally satisfied. I think that's the best deal ever. We come home, unbolt the body, fix the crush panels and bolt the body back on and we're ready to go racing again. It definitely saves us a lot of time in the shop."


* The race -- This event is the sixth race on the series schedule. It is the only visit by the series to the state of Oregon this year.

* The track -- Douglas County Speedway is a half-mile paved oval with 11 degrees banking in the corners. The track -- located just off Interstate 5 on the Douglas County Fairgrounds in Roseburg, Ore. -- hosted four West Series races between 1966 and 1971, when it was a quarter-mile oval. The series has made four visits to the track since it was renovated and expanded in 2001.

* Annual kick-off festivities in Roseburg -- The annual parade of NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series team haulers is slated to wind its way through Roseburg, Ore., on Friday, June 30. It will be followed by a driver autograph session, which is open to the public, at the BI-MART on NW Garden Valley road from 4 to 5 p.m.

* Special fireworks celebration -- This year's race is to be capped off with a special fireworks show to commemorate the Fourth of July.

* Last year's event -- Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) dominated last year's event at Roseburg, winning the Budweiser Pole Award for the second consecutive year and leading all but one lap around the flat half-mile paved oval. Although out front, Duncan encountered plenty of pressure while working his way through lapped traffic -- with views of Scott Lynch, Steve Portenga (No. 77 King Taco Ford) and David Gilliland in his rear view mirror. Duncan maintained the lead and crossed the finish line with a margin of victory of 2.125 seconds. He was followed by Lynch, Portenga, Gilliland and Tim Woods III (No. 54 Chino Hills Ford Ford).

* Winning pair -- Austin Cameron (No. 88 Chevrolet) and Jack McCoy lead the way in AutoZone West Series victories at Douglas County Speedway, with two each. McCoy's wins were in 1966 and 1969 -- while Cameron's were back-to-back, in 2002 and 2003.

* Budweiser Poles -- The eight AutoZone West Series races at Roseburg featured six different Budweiser Pole winners. McCoy and Duncan lead, with two each.

* Leading the way -- Duncan leads several categories in series competition at Roseburg in the modern era (since 1971). He has led the most laps of competition, running out front 318 laps. He has the most top-five finishes, with four, and the most top-10 finishes, with four. With an average finish of 2.5, Duncan also leads among drivers with at least four starts at Roseburg.

* Top money -- Cameron still has a slight edge over Duncan in money won at Roseburg. Cameron took home $20,990 in three races, while Duncan has collected $20,658 in four events.

* Returning drivers -- Five drivers have competed in all four races at Roseburg since 2002 -- Mike Duncan, Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford), Scott Gaylord (No. 00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet), Jack Sellers (No. 75 Aramark Pontiac) and Brett Thompson (No. Thompson Motorsports/Rich Thompson Trucking/Windmill Inn Chevrolet).

* Stat of the race -- Three of the five AutoZone West Series races in the modern era were won by the Budweiser Pole winner.


Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of July include Gary Smith, who turns 38 on the 6th; Brendan Gaughan, who turns 31 on the 10th; Rick Ruzbarsky, who turns 41 on the 11th; Bobby Dotter, who turns 46 also on the 11th; Michael Mulhall, who turns 26 on the 15th; Brandon Ash, who turns 29 on the 17th; and Jack Sellers, who turns 62 on the 27th.


What: BI-MART 150, presented by NAPA Belts & Hose

NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series Race #6

Where: Douglas County Speedway, Roseburg, Ore.

When: 8:30 p.m., Saturday, July 1.

Track layout: .5-mile paved oval.
Distance: 150 Laps, 75 miles.

Posted Awards: $104,670

2005 winner: Mike Duncan.
2005 polesitter: Mike Duncan.

Records: Qualifying: Austin Cameron, Sept. 20, 2003, 118.632 mph, 15.173 sec.; Race: Will be established for this distance.

Pre-race schedule: Saturday -- Practice, 11:15 a.m.-Noon, 1:15-2 p.m. Qualifying, 5 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series Top 10: 1.Mike David 712, 2. Peyton Sellers 707, 3. Eric Holmes 696, 4. Mike Duncan 694, 5. Jim Inglebright 691, 6. Brian Ickler 683, 7. Steve Portenga 681, 8. Scott Gaylord 628, 9. Brett Thompson 628, 10. Justin Lofton 624


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Drivers Bobby Dotter , Brendan Gaughan , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Jim Inglebright , Scott Gaylord , Jack Sellers , Brett Thompson , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Eric Holmes , David Gilliland , Rick Ruzbarsky , Austin Cameron , Peyton Sellers , Justin Lofton , Brian Ickler