WS: Mesa Marin II: Round 12 preview

* DeFazio looks forward to returning to Mesa Marin Raceway * Big weekend of NASCAR racing for annual October Classic * Sellers plans for his 30th series race at Bakersfield facility DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct.

* DeFazio looks forward to returning to Mesa Marin Raceway

* Big weekend of NASCAR racing for annual October Classic

* Sellers plans for his 30th series race at Bakersfield facility

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2004) - Nick DeFazio (No. 77 Mission Foods/So Cal Pipes Trades Ford) has experienced many ups and downs this year as a rookie in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. One of the high points for the 21-year-old driver from Newport Beach, Calif., was early in the season when he finished seventh at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif.

DeFazio hopes to notch another top finish when the series returns to the high-banked, half-mile track for the STARNURSERY.COM 150 on Sunday, Oct. 17. The race, which is part of the annual October Classic at Mesa Marin Raceway, will be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, SPEED Channel will provide an enhanced replay Dec. 18.

DeFazio, who says he favors short tracks on the circuit such as this, attributes much of his success earlier this year at Mesa Marin Raceway to experience he gained there in the final race of 2003. It was one of two races he entered last season in preparation for his rookie campaign. "I was fortunate to have Auggie (Vidovich) Jr. spot for me and Terry Henry was calling the shots in the pits," DeFazio said. "That really helped me figure out the heavier car on that track. I had only been there with a late model before."

He also credits his Performance Motorsports team for providing him with a fast race car at Bakersfield. "The (No.) 77 car has always been fast there," he stressed.

To remain fast throughout a 150-lap race at Mesa Marin Raceway, however, it often requires drivers to alter their racing line through the corners, according to DeFazio. "From race to race you pretty much start off on the bottom and then it gradually gets so greasy down there, from everybody running, that you have to move up during the course of the race," he said. "It goes through the same cycle pretty much every race."

In addition to learning to adapt to changing conditions on the track, DeFazio has also quickly learned to deal with the some of the ups and downs he has experienced as a young rookie in the series this year. "The downs have all been the kind of things out of my control," he said. "So, even if we have a part failure or get in a wreck, I try to learn from it. I chalk the whole year up to experience. It's all experience pretty much at this point."

Part of his education as a series rookie has been learning how to best communicate to his crew as to what adjustments are needed on the race car. In fact, DeFazio considers that communication to his crew to be a major accomplishment this year. "What I've really been working on is the feedback," he explained. "The biggest thing I've learned is trying to get my information right in my head before I communicate it to my guys. I'm trying to get the information as precise as I can get it, to make the changes that I want. I'm trying to perfect that information I'm feeling in the seat."

DeFazio is one of five talented freshman drivers battling for the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award this season in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series.


* The race ... This event is the 12th of 13 races on the series schedule for 2004. It is the second of two series visits this year to Bakersfield.

* The track ... Mesa Marin Raceway is a high-banked, half-mile paved oval with turns banked 17 degrees and seven degrees banking in the straights. The track has hosted 42 West Series races, including one earlier this season.

* Last year's event ... A dominant performance on his home track led Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) to victory last fall at Mesa Marin Raceway. After winning the Bud Pole Award in qualifying, Duncan went on to lead the first 97 laps of the race. Johnny Borneman (No. 8 Borneman Plastering/Red Line Oil Ford) took over the lead after opting not to pit during a caution midway through the race. After a couple of later caution periods bunched the field, Duncan was able to catch Borneman and charge past for the win.

* Multiple wins ... Bill Sedgwick, with six victories, has the most series wins at Mesa Marin Raceway. He reached victory lane there in 1990, 1991, 1992, twice in 1993 and in 1995.

* Most poles ... Sedgwick set the fast time in qualifying more than any other, with seven Bud Pole Awards at the Bakersfield track. Butch Gilliland is second on the list with five.

* Top marks ... Bill Schmitt holds the record for the most top-five finishes in series competition at the half-mile track, with 15. He also holds the record for the most top-10 finishes, with 19.

* Big money ... Sedgwick leads in terms of money won in West Series events at Mesa Marin. His winnings for the 23 races he competed in on the half-mile track total $106,821.

* Running out front ... Sedgwick also leads in terms of laps led in series competition at the track. He was out front for 1,820 laps around the high-banked facility.

* How they compare ... Among drivers who have competed in four or more series races at Mesa Marin Raceway, Jim Insolo has the best average finish of 2.75 in four races. Rick Carelli is second on the list with an average finish of 3.67 in six races, followed by Doug George with an average of 5.17 in six races and the late Roy Smith with 5.22 in nine races.

* Return performance ... When Jack Sellers (No. 75 Aramark Pontiac) takes the green flag at Mesa Marin on Saturday, it will mark his 30th series race at the Bakersfield facility - more than any active driver in the series. His record on the half-mile track includes three top-10 finishes.

* Familiar with victory lane ... Drivers entered in this event who have visited victory lane at Mesa Marin Raceway include three-time winner Sean Woodside (No. 3 Jerry Springer Pontiac), who won in 1997, 1998 and 1999; Mike Duncan, who won last year; and David Gilliland (No. 88 Chevrolet), who won earlier this year.

* Manufacturers' battle ... Chevrolet leads in manufacturer wins at Mesa Marin Raceway with 20, including the last three.

* Stat of the race ... Twelve of the 42 series races at Mesa Marin Raceway were won by the Bud Pole winner, including last year's event.

* Significant race for series veteran ... This event will have special significance for Austin Cameron (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet). He will be competing in his 80th race in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. The El Cajon, Calif., driver is the leading career money winner in the series with $817,900. One other note about Cameron ... with his runner-up finish at Colorado, he now has finished first or second at every track on this year's schedule.

* One other note from Colorado ... The Bud Pole Award won by Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/Orleans Racing Dodge) at Colorado was the fourth of his career.

* Tight championship battle ... The chase for the championship continues to be a close battle, with Mike Duncan leading Austin Cameron by just 58 points - 1,787 to 1,729.


Drivers celebrating a birthday this week include Sean Woodside, who will turn 34 on the 16th.


On Oct. 17, 1993, Bill Sedgwick edged Dirk Stephens by less than a second to win a 300-lap West Series portion of the October Classic at Mesa Marin Raceway. It was the 13th event in a 14-race series schedule that year. Rick Carelli, who went on to win the 1993 series championship, finished third - followed by Harry Gant and Jimmy Spencer.


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Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Rick Carelli , Jack Sellers , Scott Lynch , David Gilliland , Austin Cameron , Harry Gant