WS: Kyle: Round three preview

David Hoping For Another Solid Finish At Thunder Hill 3 Previous Visits To Texas Resulted In 3 Different Winners Rivalry Renewed Between Long-Time Friends, Champions David Returns To Lone Star State Aiming For Another Top Finish Thunder Hill...

David Hoping For Another Solid Finish At Thunder Hill

3 Previous Visits To Texas Resulted In 3 Different Winners
Rivalry Renewed Between Long-Time Friends, Champions
David Returns To Lone Star State Aiming For Another Top Finish

Thunder Hill Raceway's 3/8-mile track features some of the tightest side-by-side racing on the NASCAR Camping World Series West circuit. However, it's a track that perfectly suits 2007 champion Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford).

David began his title campaign with a runner-up finish at the short track in Kyle, Texas, a year ago. He hopes for similar results this season when the NASCAR Camping World Series West travels to the Lone Star State for the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 on Saturday, April 19.

The event, the third on the 2008 schedule, will be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, an enhanced replay will air on SPEED.

"Texas is probably one of our favorite tracks," said David, who sits atop the championship standings after two races. "It seems to suit my driving style and the team as a whole. It seems like we do well every time we go there. So, we look forward to going."

David, one of seven drivers to make all three visits by the NASCAR Camping World Series West to Thunder Hill Raceway in the past three years, registered a top-five finish there each time. He was leading on the last lap in 2006, when contact from another car sent him spinning and left him to finish fifth.

David credits handling with being the key to a good finish at this and other short tracks on the circuit. "When it's that tight of racing and you have that many good cars, if you can make the car handle for every lap on a long run on tires, that's the key," said the 41-year-old Modesto, Calif., competitor who is in his eighth year driving for car owner Randy Lynch.

A year ago, David followed up his runner-up showing at Kyle with three more podium finishes. He attributes his success last season to those consistent finishes, which put him into the lead in the points and ultimately to the championship.

"I think history shows that it's not always the guy that wins the most races that wins the championship," he said. "It's the guy that finishes in the top five the majority of the time. So, consistency was definitely the key to our success last year."

Although he knows he faces a tough battle, David hopes to win a second consecutive championship this year. "That's our goal, to repeat," he said. "It's never easy. It wasn't easy the first time. I'm excited about giving it a try, but it won't be easy."

In addition, David points to a continued increase in the level of competition this season. "This year we have a couple more hurdles," he said. "There's two or three drivers coming back in the series or starting in the series with good teams that are really well funded that will hard to beat."

Moving their team into a new shop has also added to their challenge, David said. "We moved the team during the winter," he said. "So, we're still trying to get caught up on cars and getting organized. We'll have our work cut out for us, but we've got a good bunch of guys led by crew chief Mario Isola and they'll be up for the challenge."

Holmes' Return Renews Long-Time Rivalry Between Two Most Recent Champions

The return of Eric Holmes to a full-time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Series West has set the stage for his rivalry to be renewed with long-time friend Mike David.

Both drivers are second-generation competitors who hail from California's Central Valley -- Holmes from Escalon and David from Modesto.

Holmes edged David by 83 points to capture the 2006 championship. While Holmes concentrated on competing on the East Coast last year, David took an early lead and maintained that margin en route to winning the championship.

David is out to defend his championship this season, remaining with the car owner Randy Lynch. Holmes, meanwhile, returned to the circuit with a different team and sponsor -- joining the Bill McAnally Racing team as the driver of the NAPA Auto Parts entry.

The last time they competed together at Thunder Hill, they were running 1-2 on the final lap, with David out front, when contact between the pair left David's car spinning and Holmes taking the win.

The race -- This event is the third in a 13-race series schedule this year for the NASCAR Camping World Series West. It marks the only visit to the state of Texas in 2008.

The track -- Thunder Hill Raceway is a 3/8-mile D-shaped paved oval with nine degrees banking in turns one and four, 12 degrees banking in the turns two and three, six degrees banking in the front straight and five degrees of banking in the back straight. This marks the fourth annual visit to the track.

The records -- Qualifying: Mike David, Sept. 30, 2006, 89.994 mph, 15.001 sec.; Race: Scott Lynch, March 31, 2007, 42.264 mph, 1 hour 22 minutes 31 seconds.

Special celebrity race featured -- This year's Allstate Texas Racefest at Thunder Hill Raceway will feature a special "Allstate Celebrity Challenge presented by Mercedes-Benz of Austin." Celebrity participants include Olympic Gold Medalist Ian Crocker; Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson; actor Brad Leland of NBC's "Friday Night Lights;" businessman Paul Carrozza; University of Texas Athletics CFO Ed Goble; and singer-songwriter Paula Nelson. They will race 10 laps, competing for bragging rights and prize money that will be donated to the charity of their choice.

Family attractions -- This year's Texas event will again feature plenty of family attractions. Included will be a "pit stop" challenge, a chance to ride in the pace car and live music by local Austin favorite George DeVore.

Three races, three different winners -- The three visits to Thunder Hill have resulted in three different race winners -- Steve Portenga in 2005, Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) in 2006 and Scott Lynch in 2007.

Three different pole winners, too -- There has yet to be a repeat pole winner. The three drivers to set fast time in Texas were Scott Gaylord in 2005, Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford) in 2006 and Mike Duncan in 2007.

Return visits -- Seven drivers made all three visits to Thunder Hill in 2005, 2006 and 2007. They were Mike David, Mike Duncan, Scott Gaylord, Andrew Myers, Jack Sellers (No. 15 Coca-Cola Chevrolet), Brett Thompson (No. 61 Pets Best Chevrolet) and Tim Woods III (No. 54 Chino Hills Ford Ford).

Multiple top-five finishes -- With top-five finishes in all three visits, Mike David is the only driver with multiple top-fives at Thunder Hill. In addition, no other active driver finished in the top 10 in all three events.

Best average finish -- Of the seven drivers who competed in all three races at Thunder Hill, Mike David has the best average finish with 4.0. Leading laps -- Steve Portenga has a slight edge over Mike David in terms of leading the most laps at the South Texas track. Portenga had led 113 laps, compared to 111 for David.

Leading money winner -- Mike David is the leading money winner at Thunder Hill. His winnings in three races total $15,182.

Final Phoenix notes

Moving on out -- Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Toyota) took the win in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10. The victory, which marked David's seventh career win, propelled him into first in the championship standings.

First pole -- Ryan Foster (No. 41 Glen Haven Beach Resort Ford) scored his first career Coors Light Pole Award, with a lap of 127.982 mph around the one-mile D-shaped oval at Phoenix. Career best finish for Lynch -- Nick Lynch (No. 29 Mr. Gas Dodge) had a career-best finish, taking the runner-up spot at PIR. His older brother, Scott, has also done well at Phoenix -- with two wins and two poles.

Solid debut -- James Buescher (No. 31 Coca-Cola Chevrolet), who has four starts in the NASCAR Camping World Series East, made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Series West with a sixth-place finish at Phoenix.

Career-best mark -- Mike Gallegos (No. 34 RTD Motorsports Chevrolet) charged from 19th on the grid at Phoenix to finish eighth, matching his career-best mark. He is one of two Drive for Diversity drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series West.

Familiar faces return -- Two drivers familiar to the NASCAR Camping World Series West returned to competition after a long absence. Tony Toste (No. 91 ACE/Papich Construction/MMI Chevrolet) finished ninth at PIR. Toste had registered a runner-up finish among 20 starts he made in 1998 and 1999. The return of Billy Kann (No. 78 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) was not as successful, however. Kann, who made 19 starts between 1995 and 1999, encountered engine trouble during practice at PIR and was not able to qualify.


The Race:                          Allstate Texas Thunder 150

The Place: Thunder Hill Raceway, Kyle, Texas

The Date: Saturday, April 19
The Time: 8:30 p.m. CT

TV Schedule: HDNet (Live)
SPEED (enhanced replay) May 7, 12:00 p.m. ET

Track Layout: .375-mile paved
Race Purse: $120,282

2007 Winner: Scott Lynch
2007 Pole: Mike Duncan

Saturday: Practice 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1:30-2 p.m., Time Trials 5 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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Drivers Jimmie Johnson , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Scott Gaylord , Jack Sellers , Brett Thompson , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Eric Holmes , Andrew Myers , Ryan Foster , James Buescher , Tony Toste , Mario Isola