WS: Top 15 at a glance 2004-03-10

'Road To The Showdown' A glance at the Top 15 drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 10, 2004) - The following is a glance at the current top 15 drivers in the championship standings in...

'Road To The Showdown'
A glance at the Top 15 drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 10, 2004) - The following is a glance at the current top 15 drivers in the championship standings in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. The top 15 drivers from each series in the NASCAR Grand National Division - the West Series and the Busch North Series - will be invited to compete in the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Nov. 11-13. The event will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel.

No. 1 - Ken Schrader , Fenton, Mo. (No. 99 Federated Auto Parts Pontiac), Ken Schrader Racing. Points: 185. Schrader finds himself leading the standings in the West Series after winning the season opening event at Phoenix International Raceway in January. It marks the second consecutive year that the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regular won the NASCAR Winter Heat event at Phoenix and, consequently, holds the initial lead in the championship standings for the West Series.

No. 2 - Austin Cameron , El Cajon, Calif. (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet), Bill McAnally Racing. Points: 175. Cameron was the only series regular to finish on the podium at Phoenix. He has maintained the momentum he had in the second half of 2003, when he won two races and scored a big post-season victory with a win in the inaugural NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Cameron, who was diagnosed early last year with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer, was sidelined for four races while he underwent initial treatments.

No. 3 - Matt Kobyluck , Uncasville, Conn. (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort Chevrolet), Kobyluck Motorsports. Points: 165. For the second consecutive year, Kobyluck made the long tow to the Southwest to compete in the NASCAR Winter Heat event at Phoenix. Unlike 2003, when the Busch North Series regular was sidelined after contact with the wall, he scored a 3rd-place finish this year.

No. 4 - Mike David , Modesto, Calif. (No. 2 Injury Ford), Lynch Racing. Points: 165. After running a limited schedule in 2003, David went to Phoenix looking to get a jump on his competition this year. He came away with a fourth-place finish, his best in three starts there. He is now focused on the next event on the schedule at Mesa Marin Raceway, where in his only series start there he finished 19th.

No. 5 - Jim Inglebright , Fairfield, Calif. (No. 25 Cabinet Jack/TOE/Red Line Oil Ford), TOE Performance. Points: 155. Despite starting 20th on the grid, Inglebright came home fifth at Phoenix - giving him three consecutive top-five finishes in series competition on the one-mile track in the Valley of the Sun. Plans for that event came together late and now Inglebright is attempting to solidify his program for the remainder of the year.

No. 6 - Tim Woods III , Chino Hills, Calif. (No. 54 Chino Hills Ford/VOKAL Ford), T-III Motorsports. Points: 150. Woods scored a career-best sixth-place finish at Phoenix; three times prior to this season he had finished as high as seventh in series competition. It could mark the start of his best year in the West Series. During the off-season, he recruited Steve Portenga to serve as the team's crew chief for 2004.

No. 7 - Clint Bowyer , Emporia, Kan. (No. 20 RCR Museum Chevrolet), Bill McAnally Racing. Points: 147. Bowyer - who won the 2002 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series Midwest Region championship and raced in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series in 2003 - will compete on a limited NASCAR Busch Series schedule in 2004, driving for Richard Childress Racing. He made a strong debut in the West Series at Phoenix, running up front until a late-race altercation left him a lap down in 8th place.

No. 8 - Scott Gaylord , Lakewood, Colo. (No. 00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet), Scott Gaylord Racing. Points: 146. A seventh-place finish at Phoenix gives series veteran Gaylord his best start since his rookie season in 1988. Next on the schedule is a stop at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., where Gaylord notched one of two career-best runner-up finishes.

No. 9 - Mike Duncan , Lamont, Calif. (No. 9 Lucas Oil Chevrolet), MB Duncan Motorsports. Points: 139. Duncan experienced his best season in the series last year. After notching a top-10 finish in the 2004 season opener at Phoenix, he heads to his home track in Bakersfield, Calif. - where he tasted victory last October.

No. 10 - Brandon Ash , Umpqua, Ore. (No. 23 Triton Realty Ford), Team Fuerza Motorsports. Points: 138. After attempting to qualify for several races in NASCAR's premier series in 2003, Ash returned to the West Series at Phoenix and notched a top-10 finish in his first race.

No. 11 - David Gilliland , Riverside, Calif. (No. 88 Honda Cars of Corona Chevrolet), MRG Motorsports. Points: 130. Gilliland led a talented crop of rookie contenders to the finish line at Phoenix. The second-generation competitor looks to run the West Series in 2004, along with the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series.

No. 12 - Tavo (C.T.) Hellmund , Mexico City, Mexico (No. 3 Jerry Springer Pontiac), Adair Motorsports. Points: 127. Hellmund opened his campaign for the rookie title with a 12th-place finish at Phoenix. It marked only the second race in seven series starts that he did not finish in the top 10.

No. 13 - Brett Thompson , Jerome, Idaho (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet), Thompson Motorsports. Points: 124. Thompson finished 13th at Phoenix, matching his finish in last year's season-opener. The 26-year-old driver entered 2004 with two full seasons of series competition under his belt.

No. 14 - Carl Harr , Edmonton, AB, Canada (No. 02 WestWorld Motorsports Chevrolet), WestWorld Motorsports. Points: 121. Harr left Phoenix with his best finish in four races at the one-mile track. He and his son, Daryl, are among nine drivers competing for this year's Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award in the West Series.

No. 15 - Nick DeFazio , Newport Beach, Calif. (No. 77 Basha's/Pipe Trades Ford), Performance Motorsports. Points: 118. In his first series start at Phoenix, DeFazio came home with a solid run and a 15th-place finish. He is expected to be a strong challenger for the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award this year.

Fast Facts

<pre> Top 15 this week: 1. Ken Schrader 185 points 2. Austin Cameron 175 (-10) 3. Matt Kobyluck 165 (-20) 4. Mike David 165 (-20) 5. Jim Inglebright 155 (-30) 6. Tim Woods III 150 (-35) 7. Clint Bowyer 147 (-38) 8. Scott Gaylord 146 (-39) 9. Mike Duncan 139 (-46) 10. Brandon Ash 138 (-47) 11. David Gilliland 130 (-55) 12. Tavo CT Hellmund 127 (-58) 13. Brett Thompson 124 (-61) 14. Carl Harr 121 (-64) 15. Nick DeFazio 118 (-67)


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Drivers Ken Schrader , Matt Kobyluck , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Jim Inglebright , Scott Gaylord , Brett Thompson , Mike David , Carl Harr , Clint Bowyer , David Gilliland , Brandon Ash , Austin Cameron
Teams Richard Childress Racing