NASCAR K&N Pro Series West -- News & Notes, Infineon Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 Road Racers Invade Series At Infineon DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Call them road-course ringers, road-course warriors or road-race specialists; their approach is...
NASCAR K&N Pro Series West -- News & Notes, Infineon
Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200
Road Racers Invade Series At Infineon
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Call them road-course ringers, road-course warriors or road-race specialists; their approach is the same -- putting their road-racing experience to use competing against regular stock car drivers in road-course events.
Many of these road racers invade the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West when the circuit makes its annual visit to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. This year's event on the twisting 1.99-mile road course is the Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 on Saturday, June 19.
The event -- which will be televised to a national audience on SPEED at 3 p.m. PT on June 24 -- is part of the big NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend of racing at Infineon Raceway.
Although road race specialists have placed in the top five in recent NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races at Infineon Raceway, they have yet to visit Victory Lane there. P.J. Jones took the runner-up spot in 2007, with Boris Said finishing just behind him in that race and then returning last year to finish fourth. Tom Hubert, meanwhile, came away with a fifth-place finish in 2006 and was fourth in 2008.
"I like having the competition," said David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron's Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet), who finished second in this event last year and currently leads the championship standings by 42 points. "It makes everybody in our series step their game up. Going against guys like Boris Said makes it a lot of fun."
For Mayhew, competing on a road course is nothing new.
"I grew up road racing, starting with go-karts and then formula cars," he said. "It's kind of second-nature for me. I definitely look forward to going to the road courses."
Road-course experts joining the field this year will include two-time race winner Jason Bowles, who is running a limited West schedule a year after taking home the title; Andrew Ranger, two-time champion in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobile 1 champion, who has recorded six of his nine wins in that series on road courses and who finished third in last year's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Montreal; and Mattias Ekstrom, who is subbing for Casey Mears in Brian Vickers' No. 83 Red Bull Toyota for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
Although he honed his talent on short tracks in California's Central Valley, two-time series champion Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota) also looks forward to competing against road racers at Infineon Raceway each year.
"I think it's a good thing," Holmes said of being challenged by road racers at Sonoma. "I've never considered myself a road racer, but I've beat Boris Said and P.J. Jones and I know they're pretty awesome road racers. It makes me feel good when I beat them.
"I personally want to win really, really bad," said Holmes, who won the pole and finished second in the event in 2008 and came away third last year.
"It makes it tougher on us, but when I do get to finally win the race, it will be that much better," he said of the challenge.
Bowles Returns Gunning For 3rd Sonoma Win
Jason Bowles (No. 31 Thunder Valley Casino Resort/GGRT/RCR Chevrolet) will return to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, where he won the 2009 championship, to compete in the Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 at Infineon Raceway on Saturday.
Bowles will be shooting for his third consecutive win in the series event on the twisting 1.99-mile road course.
The Ontario, Calif.-native moved to the East Coast last November after clinching the series title. This will mark his second series appearance this season, driving for car owner Patti Offenbach. In his previous start, Bowles finished second at Phoenix.
The race ... The Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 is the fifth race on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule in 2010. It is the first of three road-course events this season.
The procedure ... The starting field is 40 cars, including provisionals. The first 36 cars will qualify through NASCAR road-racing style qualifying. The remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 64 laps (127.36 miles).
The track ... Infineon Raceway is a winding 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course with varying elevation. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West has visited the Sonoma track 29 times since 1969. In addition to the track hosting 20 stand-alone events, drivers and teams competed in nine companion events with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series between 1989 and 1997.
The records ... Qualifying: David Gilliland, June 23, 2007, 91.979 mph, 77.887 seconds; Race: Brian Vickers, June 24, 2006, 67.595 mph, 1 hour 53 minutes 3 seconds.
Big field at Infineon ... Another large turnout of cars is expected at Infineon Raceway. Last year's event attracted 43 entries.
Canadian champion ... Andrew Ranger (No. 35 Waste Management Chevrolet), a two-time champion in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, is set to make his first appearance in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at Infineon Raceway. Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., won the inaugural series title in 2007 and took his second title last year. He is a former open-wheel competitor who was a regular in the CHAMP Car World Series in 2005 and 2006.
Inglebright returns ... Jim Inglebright (No. 1 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet) is set to return to competition at Infineon Raceway It will mark the first appearance in the series this year by the Fairfield, Calif., driver who has competed in 60 races in the series. He finished third in the Infineon event in 2008.
The Race: Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200
The Place: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.
The Date: Saturday, June 19
The Time: 12:30 p.m. PT
TV Schedule: SPEED, June 24, 3 p.m. PT
Track Layout: 1.99-mile road course
Race Purse: $167,169
2009 Winner: Jason Bowles
2009 Pole: Patrick Long
Practice 8:30-9:30 a.m., 10-11 a.m.
Time Trials 1:50 p.m.
Last year's event ...
A wild finish left Jason Bowles in Victory Lane at Infineon Raceway a year ago.
Bowles, of Ontario, Calif., inherited the lead following a last-lap incident between his teammate, Patrick Long, and Joey Logano, who had led 38 of 64 laps in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event.
Logano's car spun out in Turn 11 on the final lap after contact from Long's car. The incident led to a win for Bowles, a 17th-place finish for Logano and a penalty for Long, who was placed 23rd in the final rundown as the final car on the lead lap.
Long, who drove a second entry for car owner Bob Bruncati in two road- course races in 2009, dashed into the lead from the pole position and led the first 19 laps, before making a green-flag pit stop for fuel. Logano, who had opted to stop for fuel earlier during a caution on Lap 14, charged his way to the front after restarting 22nd and took the lead on Lap 26. Long steadily worked his way forward after his stop, eventually gaining the runner-up spot behind Logano on Lap 44. Bowles ran in his wake, with Boris Said and David Gilliland next in line.
Long pressured Logano as the laps wound down, shadowing him around much of the course. A multi-car incident in Turn 11 four laps from the finish scrambled the running order for some of the top 10. Long and Bowles set off in pursuit of the lead as the green flag flew for a two-lap dash to the finish. Long closed in on Logano and the two came in contact as they came through the hairpin turn on the final lap.
The final rundown gave Bowles the win, with David Mayhew second and Eric Holmes third. Boris Said was fourth, followed by Johnny Borneman.
Final Notes From Roseburg
Three-in-a-row for Holmes ... Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Toyota) won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore., for a third straight year -- with a victory in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts Bonus Challenge 150 on June 5. His NAPA-sponsored team has dominated series action at Roseburg, winning seven of nine races. It marked the second win of the season for Holmes and the 11th of his career.
Two straight poles for Mayhew ... David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron's Rear Ends/KHI Chevrolet) won the Coors Light Pole Award at Roseburg with a lap of 15.327 seconds (88.080 mph) around the .375-mile oval. It was his fifth career series pole and his second straight, following his pole run at Iowa.
First podium finish ... Blake Koch (No. 21 Daystar Chevrolet) registered his first career series podium finish by coming home third at Roseburg. His previous career-best finish was fifth last year at Roseville.
Other career-best finishes ... Two series rookies each scored their first top-10 series finish at Roseburg. Troy Ermish (No. 38 Cooks Collision Dodge), making his seventh start in the series, finished eighth. Justin Funkhouser (No. 51 Aramark Chevrolet), in just his second series start, finished ninth.
BMR all in top five ... All three Bill McAnally Racing teams finished in the top five. In addition to Holmes in first, Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pools Toyota) was fourth and Paulie Harraka (No. 12 NAPA Gold Filters Toyota) was fifth.
NAPA recognition ... During pre-race ceremonies at Roseburg, representatives from NAPA Auto Parts were honored for their support of the event.
Up Next: Fireworks Set For Toyota Speedway
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads to Southern California for a visit to Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on July 3. The annual Fourth of July holiday event has quickly become a fan favorite -- with a night of great racing capped off by a spectacular fireworks show. Jason Bowles has dominated the event in recent years, but his departure as a series regular leaves the door open for someone else to capture the spotlight.