WS: Phoenix: Round two preview

*Mayhew Excited About Being Teamed With G.G.R.T. In 2008 *Circuit Prepares For Traditional Stop In The Valley Of The Sun *Large Field Expected Again This Year At Phoenix Mayhew Packs Plenty of Confidence in Preparing for PIR Race David Mayhew...

*Mayhew Excited About Being Teamed With G.G.R.T. In 2008
*Circuit Prepares For Traditional Stop In The Valley Of The Sun
*Large Field Expected Again This Year At Phoenix

Mayhew Packs Plenty of Confidence in Preparing for PIR Race

David Mayhew (No. 21 BayBioDiesel Chevrolet) was in a position to possibly win at Phoenix International Raceway a year ago, in only his second start in the NASCAR Camping World Series. That victory eluded him, however, as his car began to fade from the lead with mechanical problems near the finish of the race.

Mayhew returns to Phoenix this year with a renewed confidence, as the NASCAR Camping World Series West heads to PIR this week for the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 on Thursday, April 10. The $210,926 race, a companion event at PIR with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will be televised to a national audience live in high definition on HDNet. In addition, SPEED is to provide an enhanced replay.

"Last year, we were a one-car team with one motor, a borrowed transmission and borrowed everything pretty much just to get there," Mayhew recalled of his effort of a year ago by a family team. He returns to the Valley of the Sun this year as the driver of the Golden Gate Racing Team entry for car owner Jim Offenbach. "It's a lot different, going there prepared and knowing what you've got -- compared to just showing up and hoping everything works out. I'm really looking forward to it."

While last year's team had good equipment, they did not have all the resources, according to Mayhew. "We've got guys at the shop working on the cars all the time," said the 26-year-old driver from Atascadero, Calif., who recorded two top-five and four top-10 finishes in his seven career starts last year in the NASCAR Camping World Series. "So, I'm not out trying to find sponsorship to go run the car, trying to find somebody to get the car there and trying to find a trailer to put the car in to take it there. Everything's in place. Before we even get there, we're more focused on driving and not worrying about if everything's going to go good and if we're going to make it to the race," Mayhew said. "This year, we know everything's going to get there just fine. We're going to have a back-up car in the trailer and a back-up motor in the trailer. It's a lot more comfortable feeling going to the races in a situation like this."

Adding to Mayhew's confidence this season is his crew chief Steve Portenga, who set the current record of 129.394 mph at PIR in 2000. "Steve's always run well, pretty much everywhere," Mayhew said. "I've got a pretty good mentor and teacher in Steve, with all his knowledge from the different tracks. He's still got the track record at Phoenix and knows how to get around there. Hopefully, we can put everything together and go win us a race."

Mayhew is part of a driver development program between the Golden Gate Racing Team and Richard Childress Racing. While he admits to feeling an extra bit of pressure to do well there, with RCR in attendance at Phoenix, Mayhew remains philosophical about it.

"Whatever's going to happen will happen," he said. "So everybody just needs to do their best. I believe in Steve and Jim and the team. I think we'll have good cars all year."

After being named to drive the GGRT entry late in the season last year, Mayhew responded with back-to-back podium finishes in the last two races. He hopes to carry that momentum over into this season. He started with a runner-up finish in the season opener.

"I think we can continue it," Mayhew said. "Running in the top three or top five every race is what it's going to take. The wins will come with podium finishes. We'll concentrate on making all the laps and having the car there at the end of the race. That's what it takes."

The race -- This event is the second race on the NASCAR Camping World Series West schedule for 2008 and the only visit by the series to Phoenix International Raceway this season.

The track -- PIR is a one-mile superspeedway with turns one and two banked 11 degrees, turns three and four banked nine degrees and two degrees of banking in the dogleg. The track has hosted 22 stand-alone events for the NASCAR Camping World Series West.

The records -- Qualifying: Steve Portenga, March 18, 2000, 129.394 mph, 27.822 sec.; Race: Scott Lynch, Oct. 5, 2003, 114.262 mph, 1 hour 18 minutes 46 seconds.

Ickler returns -- The entry list for Phoenix includes West Coast driver Brian Ickler (No. 55 Ickler Motorsports Chevrolet), who is running the NASCAR Camping World Series East full-time this year after competing in the NASCAR Camping World Series West the past two years.

Johnson set for debut -- Jarit Johnson (No. 09 Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet) is set to make his NASCAR Camping World Series debut at PIR. Johnson, the younger brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, has raced late model stock cars and has two career starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Kobyluck makes annual visit -- This event is becoming an annual trek for veteran NASCAR Camping World Series East driver Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet). He is slated to make the cross- country trip from his Uncasville, Conn., home for his seventh appearance at Phoenix. He has finished third at PIR twice (2004, 2006).

Others from the East -- In addition to Kobyluck, several other drivers from the NASCAR Camping World Series East are making the trip to Phoenix. The entry list also includes Marc Davis (No. 92 Slim Jim Toyota), who finished second in this event last year; Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 95 Dodge); Max Dumarey (No. 06 Chevrolet) and James Buescher (No. 31 Coca-Cola Chevrolet).

Showdown spot -- Race winners in the NASCAR Camping World Series have an added bonus by gaining a starting spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. With his victory in the season opener in Roseville, Eric Holmes became the first driver this year to clinch a spot in the prestigious post-season event.

Leading winners -- With four victories, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ken Schrader has the most wins at Phoenix.

Most poles -- Mike Duncan has four pole awards at Phoenix, to lead that category. He set the fast mark in this event the past three years, as well as in October of 2004.

Top fives -- Bobby Allison holds the mark for the most top-five finishes at Phoenix, with six. He is followed on that list by Neil Bonnett and Austin Cameron (No. 18 NAPA Auto Care Toyota), with five each.

Top tens -- Cameron has the most top-10 finishes at PIR, placing 10th or better in nine of his 11 starts at Phoenix - including a win in 2002. Cameron also leads in PIR winnings with $77,584.

How they compare -- Of drivers who have competed in four or more races at Phoenix, Neil Bonnett had the best average finish of 2.2. Among current active drivers with four or more races at PIR, the average finish of 7.66 by Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford) ranks highest, compared to 8.09 for Cameron.

Birthdays -- Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of April include David Gilliland, who turned 32 on the 1st; Nick Lynch, who turned 26 on the 7th; Jonathan Hale, who turns 18 on the 12th; and Rick Wall, who turns 29 on the 26th.

Borneman Also Entered in NASCAR Nationwide Series Race at PIR Johnny Borneman (No. 8 Twisted X Boots/Red Line Oil Ford) plans to pull double-duty at Phoenix. The NASCAR Camping World Series West veteran is also entered in the NASCAR Nationwide Series event, which runs on Friday. Borneman has raced in two NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season -- Las Vegas and Fontana.

Annual visit to PIR attracts large field

The list of drivers pre-entered for this event represent 11 states, as well as Canada and Belgium. California has the most representation, with more than 20 drivers hailing from the Golden State.

Last year's event ...

Two 16-year-old drivers for Joe Gibbs Racing swept the top two spots in this event a year ago.

Joey Logano appeared to have the car to beat throughout the event. He started from the outside of the front row and took the lead on lap four from two-time West champion Mike Duncan, who had won the pole award. Andrew Myers, who notched his first career series victory with a win at PIR in 2006, mounted a strong challenge to Logano. Myers led laps 39-57, but an oil leak later necessitated a green flag pit stop and relegated him to a 26th-place finish. Logano, meanwhile, paced the field until pitting for fresh tires and fuel during a caution on lap 72.

David Mayhew, who had pitted during an earlier caution period, quickly moved to the point and began to pull away as Logano was left to work his way through the front runners. Although he initially reeled in Mayhew, the margin between first and second increased as the leaders worked their way through traffic. Mayhew's hope for victory faded, however, as his car began to slow. After relinquishing the lead to Logano on lap 135, Mayhew dropped out with engine trouble.

Logano held on for the win in a two-lap dash to the finish after a late-race caution extended the race distance for a green-white-checkered finish. Logano's teammate, Marc Davis, finished second, with veteran driver Mike David taking third.

Final Roseville notes

Third win -- The win by Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) at All American Speedway in Roseville on March 29 marked his third career victory.

Another 1-2 combo -- The 1-2 finish at Roseville by Holmes and David Mayhew (No. 21 BayBioDiesel Chevrolet) was a repeat of their 1-2 finish in the season finale last year.

Strong debut -- Jim Warn (No. 10 MJ2 Racing/Gran Prix Imports Chevrolet) was the top finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate at Roseville, finishing eighth in his debut event.

The Race: Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150
The Place: Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway

The Date: Thursday, April 10
The Time: 7:15 p.m. (PT)

TV Schedule: HDNet (Live)
SPEED (enhanced replay) April 23, 12:00 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 1-mile paved
Race Purse: $210,926

2007 Winner: Joey Logano
2007 Pole: Mike Duncan

Schedule: Thursday: Practice 8-9 a.m., 9:15-10:05 a.m., Time Trials 2 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Drivers Ken Schrader , Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kobyluck , Steve Portenga , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Bobby Allison , Eric Holmes , David Gilliland , Austin Cameron , Andrew Myers , Joey Logano , Max Dumarey , James Buescher , David Mayhew , Marc Davis , Brian Ickler , Jarit Johnson
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing