WS: Irwindale: Round six preview, schedule

* Lynch hopes to repeat dominant performance at Irwindale Speedway * Duncan looks to extend string of top-10 finishes * Local drivers scheduled to compete in West Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2004) - A year ago,...

*         Lynch hopes to repeat dominant performance at Irwindale Speedway

* Duncan looks to extend string of top-10 finishes
* Local drivers scheduled to compete in West Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 26, 2004) - A year ago, Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/Orleans Racing Dodge) used a dominant performance at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway to launch him toward a championship in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. Lynch, currently fifth in the championship standings, is looking to gain that momentum again this season as the series heads to Irwindale on Saturday, July 31, for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by Southern California Pipe Trades. The $103,972 event is to be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, SPEED Channel will provide an enhanced replay on Sept. 11. Lynch dominated the competition at the Southern California half-mile track last year - winning the Bud Pole Award, leading three-quarters of the laps and winning the race. He attributes his success in that event to several things, including a test session at Irwindale prior to the race. "We were able to spend a test there," Lynch said of the limited number of tests teams are allowed. "That was one of our first test sessions that we went to. And we were finally able to catch up a little bit in the shop."

There is one other reason why Lynch looks forward to this event. "I've always run well there," he said of the track where he recorded two top-five and three top-10 finishes in four West Series races. "It is one of my favorite tracks. Irwindale is where I got my first start in a West car. I've also run well there in the (NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division) Southwest Series. It's just an awesome facility. It's great racing. You run the high groove; so, you have to pass going to the bottom. But there are three different lanes to run. You can run the high, middle or bottom groove. It provides some great side-by-side action."

Lynch said he is hopeful of another strong performance in this year's event. "We're just going to have to find the sweet spot like we did last year," he said of the chassis setup for the car.

Unlike past events, this year's race will be 150 laps and will be run in two segments. It will require a little different approach by the teams, according to Lynch. "This year we're going to have to be a little more conservative on our setup, because we're going to be using those same tires for 150 laps," said the 24-year-old driver from Burley, Idaho. "You're going to have to save the tires and take care of the equipment."

Last year's Irwindale victory served as a springboard to launch Lynch toward his championship title. While he is hoping for similar results this year, he knows he has a bigger deficit to make up in the point standings. As the series headed to Irwindale last year, Lynch was 35 points out of the lead in third. This year he is 109 points back in fifth.

"We're still in the championship hunt," Lynch said. "I told my crew chief the only way we're going to have a good shot at coming back from this is if we win races - not finishing second or third. We need to win races and lead laps. This is where we want to dominate. We dominated last year. It's definitely going to be a good opportunity for us to bounce back and come full steam ahead for the championship."

Lynch's drive for a second consecutive title will come without championship crew chief Charlie Wilson, however. He was recently selected as the crew chief on the Orleans Racing entry in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, with Robert Strmiska taking over the crew chief duties on the West Series car. Meanwhile, Lynch has plenty of confidence in Strmiska, who goes by the nickname of Junebug or Bugger, and the rest of the crew. "With the new team, we have a lot of work to do," he said. "I'm up for it and the team is up for it."

Although not completely satisfied with their seventh-place finish in their first race together at Monroe, Wash., Lynch said he was pleased with the overall outcome. "Monroe went very smooth, even though we didn't finish exactly where we wanted to," he said. "I was really surprised at how well the team worked together. I communicated well with Bugger. It was fun. We had a good time there and I believe we can carry that on to Irwindale."

NEWS & NOTES

* The race . This event is the sixth of 13 races on the series schedule for 2004. It is the first of two series championship points events at Irwindale Speedway this season. The series will return to Irwindale for its season finale in October.

* The track . Irwindale Speedway is a half-mile paved oval with blended banking of six, nine and 12 degrees in the corners and banking of six degrees in the straights. The track has hosted 10 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series events.

* Consecutive top 10s . Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) will attempt in this event to extend his string of top 10 finishes. Duncan - the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all five races so far this season - has 16 consecutive top-10 finishes, dating back to the second race of the 2003 season.

* Earnhardt entry . Kerry Earnhardt (No. 20 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet) made his debut in the West Series at Monroe, Wash., with a fourth-place finish. It was announced earlier this month that Earnhardt would be competing in the West Series in a Bill McAnally Racing entry.

* Special entry . Chris Oddo (No. 32 Make-A-Wish Chevrolet), a competitor in the Super Late Model Division of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Irwindale, will make his West Series debut in a special entry. In addition to being a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Oddo's program for this race will host 20 young Make-A-Wish guests with a catered party in one of the speedway's luxury suites.

* Local competitor . Another competitor in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Irwindale who is slated to make his West Series debut in this event is Tony Bruncati (No. 22 Sunrise Ford Ford). He is second in the track standings for the Super Late Model Division.

* Long haul . Two West Series regulars traveled east to compete in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway on Saturday, July 24. Jack Sellers (No. 75 Aramark Pontiac) finished 26th and David Eshleman (No. 11 Fleet Refinishes/Cardenas Markets Chevrolet) was credited with 34th.

* Last year's Irwindale event . Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/Orleans Racing Dodge) began his march to the championship in the second half of the 2003 season with a dominant run at Irwindale Speedway in July. After winning his second Bud Pole Award of the season in qualifying, he paced the field around the half-mile track. Although several other drivers ran up front through the mid-stages of the race, Lynch was back out front for good by lap 112. He held command to the finish, with a margin of victory of .702 seconds over Kevin Richards and Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford).

* New distance . The 10 series events at Irwindale have ranged from 200 laps to 300 laps in distance - with seven 250-lap races, two 200-lap races and one 300-lap race. This will be the first 150-lap event and it will be the first series event at Irwindale to be run in two segments.

* Most wins, Gaughan . NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Brendan Gaughan tops the list of West Series winners at Irwindale, with three. Austin Cameron (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet) and Bobby Dotter have two wins each; while Lynch, Joe Bean and Steve Portenga each have one victory at Irwindale.

* Top money, lap leader . Gaughan also won the most money in series competition at Irwindale, with $71,690, and led the most laps, running out front for 674 laps.

* Top-five finishes . While Gaughan also has the most top-five finishes at Irwindale, with six, Richards is close behind with five.

* Top-finishes . Gaughan is tied with Portenga for the most top-10 finishes at Irwindale, with seven each.

* Eight different Bud Pole winners . The 10 visits by the series to Irwindale resulted in eight different drivers winning a Bud Pole Award. Cameron and Sean Woodside (No. 3 Jerry Springer Pontiac) are the only multiple winners of the award, with two each.

* Widespread competition . Seventy-nine different drivers have taken the green flag in the 10 series races at Irwindale Speedway. Only two drivers - Cameron and Richards - competed in all 10 of those events.

* How they compare . Among drivers who have competed in four or more series races at Irwindale Speedway, Dotter has the best average finish of 4.0 in four races. Lynch tops active drivers with an average finish of 6.25 in four races.

* Manufacturers' battle . Chevrolet has been in victory lane for eight of the 10 series races at Irwindale, although Dodge won the most recent race.

* Stat of the race . Three of the 10 series events at Irwindale were won by a driver starting from the Bud Pole position, including last year's victory by Lynch.

* Leading the pack in '04 . Duncan continues to lead the competition in terms of laps of competition led so far this year, running out front for 345 laps.

* Most laps this season . David Gilliland (No. 88 RaceCarCeilingFans.com Chevrolet) has completed the most laps of competition, running 750 out of the 751 possible so far.

* Best average finish . Duncan holds the mark for the best average finish in the first five races this season - with an average of 5.0.

* Leading rookie . Gilliland continues to lead the standings in this year's competition for the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award. He was the top finishing rookie in all of the first five races this season.

* All-Star Showdown . In addition to Irwindale Speedway hosting two West Series events this season, top drivers in the series and from other NASCAR Touring Divisions throughout the country will return to the state-of-the-art facility for post-season action in the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown on Nov. 11-13. Cameron won the Grand National portion of last year's inaugural event.

BIRTHDAYS

Drivers celebrating a birthday during the first part of August include Rocky Nash, who turns 49 on the 7th; and Scott Gaylord, who turns 46 on the 12th.

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On July 31, 1955, Tim Flock rolled into victory lane in the Carl Kiekhaefer-owned Chrysler at the one-mile dirt track of Bay Meadows Speedway in San Mateo, Calif. Johnny Kieper was credited with second place - followed by Danny Letner, Marvin Panch, Buck Baker and Lee Petty.

Fast Facts

What: NAPA AUTO PARTS 150, by Southern California Pipe Trades
NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Race #6 of 13

Where: Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif.
When: 8:00 p.m., Saturday, July 31.

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

TV: HDNet (Live)
SPEED Channel (tape-delay, Sept. 11, Noon ET)

2003 winner: Scott Lynch.
2003 polesitter: Scott Lynch.

Pre-race schedule: Saturday - Practice, Noon-12:45 p.m., 1:15-2 p.m. Qualifying, 4 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

Records:
Qualifying: Butch Gilliland, June 19, 1999, 100.722 mph, 17.871 sec.
Race: To be established at this distance

-nascar-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Bobby Dotter , Kerry Earnhardt , Brendan Gaughan , Steve Portenga , Marvin Panch , Scott Gaylord , Jack Sellers , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Kevin Richards , David Eshleman , David Gilliland , Tim Flock , Lee Petty