WS: Iowa: Round five preview

NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES NEWS & NOTES -- IOWA *Harvick To Compete In Inaugural NASCAR Race At Iowa Speedway *Daytona 500 Winner Returns To Series Where He Won Early Championship *Second Of Back-To-Back Combination Races...


*Harvick To Compete In Inaugural NASCAR Race At Iowa Speedway

*Daytona 500 Winner Returns To Series Where He Won Early Championship

*Second Of Back-To-Back Combination Races Set For Grand National Division

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 16, 2007) -- Kevin Harvick has been on a roll since winning this year's Daytona 500 in February. His fast pace continues this week, as he prepares to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday night and then fly to Iowa for NASCAR's inaugural event at Iowa Speedway on Sunday.

The two events each represent a major part in Harvick's racing career. The annual all-star event on Saturday brings together the best drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, where Harvick has become a star since joining NASCAR's premier series in 2001. Sunday's race, the Featherlite Coaches 200, is a combination event for the NASCAR Grand National Division, where Harvick won his first NASCAR touring championship in the West Series in 1998.

"I'm pretty excited about going to Iowa to run the East-West race," Harvick said. "I've never been to Iowa, but I've heard a lot of good things about the track. It will be nice to go back and run with the series where I basically got my start in heavier stock cars. I learned a lot in the West Series and even won the championship. I feel like it helped prepare me for my future in NASCAR's top series."

A lot has changed for the Bakersfield, Calif., native in the 10 years since he won that title as a 22-year-old in the West Series. Harvick went on to sign with Richard Childress Racing. He won the rookie title in the NASCAR Busch Series in 2000 and a year later won his first of two championships in that series.

Harvick also won the rookie title in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2001, after moving into the premier series following the death of seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt. Since then, Harvick has accumulated 11 wins, 47 top-five and 90 top-10 finishes in 188 starts.

He began racing go-karts at the age of 5 and graduated to Late Model stock cars, winning the championship at his hometown track of Mesa Marin Raceway in 1993. Harvick moved on to the Southwest Series in NASCAR's Elite Division, where he won the rookie title and finished 11th in the overall championship standings in 1995.

Harvick made his debut in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series driving for Spears Motorsports in the final race of 1996 -- starting fourth and finishing 13th in the inaugural NASCAR event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He registered top-10 finishes in two of three series starts he made the following season.

In a sign of things to come in his future, Harvick raced two divisions for Spears Motorsports in 1998 -- running the full West Series schedule as well as competing in all but one race that season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Despite the double duty, he was able to come home with the West Series championship.


* The race -- The Featherlite Coaches 200 is the fifth event on the 2007 schedule for the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. It marks the first visit to the state of Iowa in the 53-year history of the series.

* The track -- Iowa Speedway is a 7/8-mile paved oval with compound banking of 12-14 degrees in the corners, 10 degrees in the front stretch and four degrees in the back stretch. The facility, which opened for operation last year, is located east of Des Moines in Newton.

* Live coverage on HDNet -- Continuing its coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division, HDNet will televise the Featherlite Coaches 200 live in high definition to a national audience. Veteran announcer Mike Hogewood returns to call the action, with color commentary by Dan Pardus. Natalie Taylor will report on action from the pits. In addition the live coverage, SPEED is to provide an enhanced replay on June 6 at 12 p.m. ET.

* Second combo race for Grand National Division -- This event is the second of two back-to-back combination races for the NASCAR Grand National Division, which is comprised of the West Series and the Busch East Series. The division competes at Elko Speedway in Elko, Minn., on Friday, May 18, before traveling to Iowa Speedway in Newton. This weekend marks the first time for the West Series and Busch East Series to compete in the same event for championship points. Top competitors from each series, meanwhile, have faced off in post-season action for the past four years in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

* Competing for spot in prestigious All-Star event -- In addition to the honor of winning the inaugural NASCAR event at Iowa Speedway, the race winner could be assured of a starting spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. 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.

* Bonus money -- The championship standings will have added emphasis for West Series drivers following the Iowa event. A combined $50,000 in prize money will be paid out through the first portion of the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Leader Bonus Program to the top 15 drivers in the championship standings following this race.

* Back in action -- Tim McCreadie (No. 31 Golden Gate/RCR Chevrolet) will return to action in the NASCAR Grand National Division at Iowa. McCreadie -- who is competing in select West Series events as part of a driver development program between Jim Offenbach's Golden Gate Racing Team and Richard Childress Racing -- finished 11th in his series debut at Phoenix last month. In addition to winning the World of Outlaws Late Model championship last year, he also won the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

* Widespread attraction -- This race has attracted drivers from coast to coast. The 57 drivers on the tentative entry list represent 19 states, as well as Mexico and Canada. The largest representation is from California, with 21 drivers hailing from the Golden State. Connecticut is second on the list, with five drivers; followed by North Carolina, with four drivers calling the Tar Heel state home. New Hampshire and Maryland are each represented by three drivers; while Arizona, Idaho and New York each have two drivers listed. Other states represented include Colorado, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Mexico and Canada are each represented by two drivers.

* Diverse field -- As NASCAR moves toward becoming more diverse, the evidence of those efforts are readily apparent in the Grand National Division ranks. Among the minority drivers in the Iowa field is Tim Woods III, who sits second in West Series points heading into the weekend. Ten other minority drivers will also make the trip to Iowa, including Drive for Diversity members Jesus Hernandez and Mike Gallegos, 2006 NASCAR Mexico champion Rogelio Lopez, and 17-year-old Chase Austin. Austin has a bit of a home track advantage -- he is a development driver for Rusty Wallace Inc., and Wallace helped design the Iowa facility.

* Mesa Marin Raceway well represented -- The entry list for this race features four drivers who won championships at Mesa Marin Raceway before the popular high-banked, half-mile track in Bakersfield, Calif., closed at the end of the 2005 season. In addition to Kevin Harvick (No. 33 Featherlite Coaches/Metro-East Development Chevrolet) winning the Late Model title in 1993, Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) won the 2000 championship, David Mayhew (No. 26 HPS/Victory Circle/Attune Systems Chevrolet) won the 2004 championship and Eric Richardson (No. 20 Chevrolet) won the 2005 championship.

* Roots in Iowa -- This will not be Kyle Cattanach's (No. 59 Toyota of Des Moines Toyota) first trip to Newton, Iowa. His grandmother is from Newton and Kyle attended family reunions there as a youngster. He is allowing himself extra time for his visit by arriving early. Cattanach -- the first driver to compete in the West Series in a Toyota -- has scheduled an appearance at a local Toyota dealership, which has come on board as his primary sponsor for this event. Fans will get a chance to meet Cattanach and see his Toyota Camry race car at Toyota of Des Moines from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.


What: Featherlite Coaches 200 NASCAR Grand National Division, Combination Race

Where: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
When: 3:00 p.m., Sunday, May 20.

Track layout: 7/8-mile paved oval.
Distance: 200 Laps, 175 miles.

Posted Awards: $196,872

TV: HDNet (Live) SPEED (Enhanced replay, June 6, 12 p.m. ET)

2006 winner: Inaugural event.
2006 polesitter: Inaugural event.

Records: To be established.

Pre-race schedule: Saturday -- Practice, 5-6 p.m. Sunday -- Practice, 9-10:30 a.m. Qualifying, 1 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick , Tim Woods , Rogelio Lopez , Jesus Hernandez , Tim McCreadie , David Mayhew , Chase Austin
Teams Richard Childress Racing