* Series veteran Jack Sellers celebrates milestones at Evergreen Speedway * Big night of racing features 500 laps of competition among 3 divisions * Three-Time Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson return to AutoZone West Series * ...
* Series veteran Jack Sellers celebrates milestones at Evergreen Speedway
* Big night of racing features 500 laps of competition among 3 divisions
* Three-Time Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson return to AutoZone West Series
* Brazilian champion slated to make NASCAR debut at Monroe
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 24, 2006) -- At an age when many people are slowing down, Jack Sellers (No. 75 Aramark Pontiac) is still charging ahead. Although the long-time veteran stock car driver talked of cutting back his racing schedule more than a year ago -- he is still competing on a regular basis in the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series.
He will commemorate two milestones in his life this week. On Thursday, he will celebrate his 62nd birthday. Then on Saturday, July 29, Sellers plans to compete in his 200th race in the AutoZone West Series as the circuit travels to Monroe, Wash., for the NAPA Auto Parts 250 presented by AAA at Evergreen Speedway.
"It's hard to believe that I've been to that many races," Sellers said of the 200 races that have spanned 22 seasons in the series. "That's over a third of my life I've spent with NASCAR. I didn't start until I was 40. I started where most people were quitting," he said with a chuckle.
Sellers looks forward to celebrating his 200th event at Evergreen Speedway. It's a track he knows well. He has taken the green flag for 17 AutoZone West Series events there -- more than any other active driver in the series.
"I've always liked going there," said the Sacramento, Calif., driver who is known to many as the Coca-Cola Cowboy. "Although lately, we've just had one problem after another. We're hoping to get there early this year and maybe we can get rid of the 600-pound gorilla we've got hanging on our back every time we go up there."
Sellers' best finish on the .646-mile oval was ninth in 1991, one of 31 career top-10 finishes he has registered since joining the series in 1985.
While the race distance for the past eight series events at Monroe has been 200 laps, this year's race has been extended to 250 laps. The longer distance is fine with Sellers. "I'm looking forward to a little longer race," he said. "In fact, I wish some of our other races were a little longer. It seems like about the time we get going, that's the end of the race. So, we're looking forward to 250 laps."
Looking back, it's understandable why 250 laps at Monroe might seem routine to Sellers. He competed in the legendary 500-lap races held annually at Evergreen Speedway from 1985 through 1993.
"When I first started going to Monroe, the races were 500 laps," Sellers recalled. "It was a three-day event. I remember we would bring all the tires we could bring. They just changed tires left and right. It seems like the sun rose on us and set on us and we were still racing."
"It was really a big deal," Sellers continued. "I was sorry to see that go away, but I don't know if I could go 500 laps again."
With his 199 starts, Sellers is currently third on the overall career list of most races started in the modern era (since 1970) of the series -- behind Bill Schmitt, with 237, and Hershel McGriff, with 236.
NEWS & NOTES
* The race -- This is the eighth event of a 12-race series schedule for 2006. It is the only visit by the series to the state of Washington this year.
* The track -- Evergreen Speedway is a semi-banked .646-mile paved oval with turns banked eight degrees and four degrees banking in the straights. The track has hosted 48 NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series races since 1964.
* Big night of racing -- The AutoZone West Series race is part of a big NASCAR night of competition at Evergreen Speedway that features 500 laps of competition, known as the Washington 500. In addition to the 250-lap AutoZone West Series race, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Super Stock class will run 100 laps and the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series will race for 150 laps.
* Three-race swing -- The Evergreen Speedway event on July 29 falls in the middle of three consecutive weekends of racing for the AutoZone West Series. The series visited Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on July 22 and will head to Stockton 99 Speedway, in Stockton, Calif., on Aug. 5.
* Media luncheon -- Members of the media will get a special opportunity to meet many of the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series drivers during a media luncheon at Evergreen Speedway from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, July 28. Later in the day, the speedway is hosting an open practice session.
* Bonus money --The championship standings will have added emphasis at Monroe. Following this race, a combined $50,000 in prize money will be paid out through the second portion of the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series Leader Bonus Program to 15 drivers, based on their finishes in the four races that comprise the second leg of the schedule.
* Does success at Monroe lead to championship? -- In four of the past six years, the winner at Monroe went on to win the series championship. Before graduating to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Brendan Gaughan won back-to-back races at Evergreen Speedway in 2000 and 2001, while also winning back-to-back championships. Eric Norris won at Monroe in 2002, en route to winning the series title that year. Mike Duncan scored his first win at Evergreen Speedway last year and then went on to win his second consecutive series championship.
* Move over Montoya -- Juan Pablo Montoya is not the only Brazilian driver making the move to NASCAR. Giuliano Losacco, a two-time stock car champion in Brazil, is slated to make his NASCAR debut at Monroe on Saturday, competing in the No. 07 Chevrolet from Bill McAnally Racing. After initially racing go-karts, Losacco's career path has included Formula Ford, Formula Uno, Formula Chevrolet, Formula Renault Europe and Formula 3/South America prior to turning to stock cars.
* Familiar face -- The No. 61 Thompson Motorsports entry will have a different driver behind the wheel at Monroe, but someone well-known to race fans throughout the Pacific Northwest -- Jeff Jefferson. The three-time Northwest Series champion from Naches, Wash., last competed in the AutoZone West Series in July of 2004 -- finishing second at Monroe. Including that runner-up finish, he has three top-five and four top-10 finishes in six starts there.
* Last year's event -- Although Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) won the Budweiser pole position, it was David Gilliland who shot from his starting position on the outside of the front row to pace the early laps in last year's event. Duncan charged by Gilliland on lap 65, but relinquished the top spot five laps later to pit for fuel and fresh tires during a caution. Gilliland, one of only three lead lap cars to not pit during that caution, regained the lead. The pair continued to swap the lead before pitting on lap 111, leaving Sarah Fisher in command. Duncan charged back out front on lap 118, however, and paced the field to the finish. Gilliland, who restarted fifth following a pit stop, steadily moved to the front and it appeared he might rally for the win. Duncan held him off, however, to take the victory by a margin of 1.604 seconds.
* Many different winners -- Twenty-four different drivers have won a series race at Evergreen Speedway since 1971. Brendan Gaughan was the last repeat winner, in 2000 and 2001.
* Big winners -- Ray Elder has the most wins at Evergreen Speedway, with five. He visited victory lane in 1971, twice in 1972 and twice in 1975. Other multiple winners include Ron Eaton (1979, 1980 and 1982), Chad Little (1986, 1988 and 1989), Brendan Gaughan (2000 and 2001), Butch Gilliland (1996 and 1998), Harry Jefferson (1974 and 1977), Neil Newberry (1976 and 1979), Jim Robinson (1983 and 1984) and Bill Sedgwick (1990 and 1992).
* Most poles -- Eaton and Bill Elliott share the distinction for winning the most Budweiser Pole Awards at Monroe, with four each. Eaton won his in 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1985 -- while Elliott won his in 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990.
* Best finishes -- The late Roy Smith leads the lists for most top-five finishes (nine) and top-10 finishes (14) in series competition at the track since 1971.
* Most money -- Bill Sedgwick leads in terms of money won in series events at Evergreen Speedway in the modern era. He has winnings of $108,351 in 10 races.
* Out front -- Chad Little has led the most laps of series competition around the Monroe track since 1971, staying out front for 1,183 circuits.
* High marks -- Mike Duncan has had podium finishes at Monroe for four consecutive years. In addition to his victory there last year, he finished second there in 2003 and third there in 2002 and 2004. Not surprisingly, Duncan has the best average finish among active drivers with four or more starts at Monroe. His average in five events is 3.2.
* Manufacturers' battle -- Ford tops the list of manufacturer wins at Evergreen Speedway, with 10. Chevrolet, which won the most recent, is close behind with nine.
* Stat of the race -- Duncan's victory last year marked the first time a series race was won from the Budweiser Pole position at Monroe since 1987. Five of the past 10 races were won by the driver who started fourth on the grid. Only nine of 38 winners at Evergreen Speedway since 1971 started from the pole.
* Etc. -- A total of 300 different drivers have competed in the 38 series races at Evergreen Speedway since 1971.
What: NAPA Auto Parts 250 presented by AAA NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series Race #8
Where: Evergreen Speedway, Monroe, Wash.
When: 8:15 p.m., Saturday, July 29.
Track layout: .646-mile paved oval.
Distance: 250 Laps, 161.5 miles.
Posted Awards: $124,153
2005 winner: Mike Duncan.
2005 polesitter: Mike Duncan.
Records: Qualifying: Mark Krogh, June 29, 1996, 99.589 mph, 23.352 sec.; Race: Ray Elder, Sept. 3, 1972, 80.449 mph, 1 hr 56 min 32 sec
Pre-race schedule: Saturday -- Practice, Noon-1 p.m. Qualifying, 3:30 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.
NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series Top 10: 1. Mike David 1,042, 2. Eric Holmes 1,041, 3. Peyton Sellers 1,022, 4. Steve Portenga 983, 5. Mike Duncan 968, 6. Jim Inglebright 956, 7. Justin Lofton 913, 8. Scott Gaylord 906, 9. Brett Thompson 904, 10. Brian Ickler 894.