WWS: BNS: Countdown to the showdown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 15, 2003) - The first week of November will find the top teams in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series following the footsteps of the pioneers as they trek westward. Unlike the settlers of two...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 15, 2003) - The first week of November will find the top teams in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series following the footsteps of the pioneers as they trek westward. Unlike the settlers of two centuries ago, they will have interstate highways to travel, and their big rigs provide a vast improvement over the covered wagon. Like their forbearers, however, they will be out to stake their claim; in this case, the claim to both individual and team victory in the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown against their opposite numbers from the Winston West Series.

The Toyota All-Star Showdown is set for Nov. 6-8 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, the ultra-modern half-mile track located just outside Los Angeles. After practice on Thursday, Nov. 6, teams will be mixed in a pair of 50-lap qualifying races on Friday. The Showdown's main event takes place Nov. 8 before a live SPEED Channel television audience, in a 125-lap feature with a twist. The race will be stopped after 100 laps and the team championship awarded at that time. The drivers will then race a final 25 laps in traditional fashion, with bragging rights on the line. Prize money will be paid to the team champions as well as for individual positions.

Although he is in the midst of a tight battle for the Busch North Series regular-season title, two-time series champion Mike Stefanik would be ready to hit the road tomorrow. "It sounds cool to me because I always like going to new venues and racing against different people," Stefanik said. "I have to learn a little bit about the competition, but I think it's a big move for our series. It shows NASCAR is behind the Busch North Series making a move like that to make the series grow."

Matt Kobyluck, who took the initiative to race in Winston West races at Phoenix and Las Vegas this spring, is just as enthusiastic. "We're always looking forward to it," Kobyluck said. "It will be a great event to be able to showcase our team's ability and the series as a whole against the Winston West teams to show what we've got on live television. Everybody's starting to get psyched up about it."

Always the showman, Kobyluck hinted the TV audience will have no trouble picking out his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet on their screens. "It's likely we'll have a special paint job for the Showdown. I like the idea of being able to showcase something new on live television and giving people something to talk about," Kobyluck said.

Defending Busch North Series champion Andy Santerre has raced in Southern California before, with the NASCAR Busch Series at California Speedway, which gives him a more analytical outlook. "I need to look more into what the track's like out there at Irwindale, to see what car we're going to take," Santerre said. "Hopefully we can show them what we've got in this series."

No one faces a longer haul than father and son team of Kelly Moore and Ryan Moore. The main-highway route from their shop in Scarborough, Maine, to Los Angeles, is over 3,100 miles. That doesn't dull the anticipation for either driver.

"I think it will be great. We've never raced on the west coast before but we'd like to get out there, especially for Ryan to get him some more experience and exposure, since it's a live TV show. It's also a great opportunity to showcase all our sponsors," said Kelly, who has added to his all-time Busch North Series records for race wins and Bud Poles to 25 and 47, respectively, during the first half of the 2003 season.

Looking at the competition from the home team, Kelly added, "I think we've got a little deeper series right now. Of course those guys will be competitive because they've raced on the track and we haven't, bit it's similar to some of the tracks we have so I think the Busch North teams will have a good showing."

Not surprising for a driver who just celebrated his 20th birthday, Ryan Moore looks at the off-track side of the California trip, but not just for himself. He sees the chance to reward the crew members and families who labor through a season with much more grease and sweat than glamour. "I'm excited. I think it will be a real neat deal, especially for the crews. Maybe some of those guys can get their families out there, making it an experience for them too, seeing the sights in California," he noted.

"I'm impressed with what NASCAR's putting into it with the live TV. There's a lot of people spending a lot of time. Everybody in my organization appreciates it and we're excited to go out there and put on a good show for all our fans in the northeast. The points race will be over, so we'll just go, race hard, and have a good time."

3Fast Facts

What: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Where: Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway
When: Nov. 6-8, 2003

Who: Top 10 NASCAR Elite Division drivers from four series - Featherlite Southwest, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest, Kodak Southeast, Raybestos Brakes Northwest. ... Top 15 Grand National Division drivers from two series - Busch North and Winston West.

TV: SPEED Channel, 8 p.m. ET, Nov. 8.
On the Web: www.nascartouring.com/toyota

Posted awards: $500,000.

Race lengths: NASCAR Elite Division 100 laps / NASCAR Grand National Division 125 laps

Track layout: Half-mile oval


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Drivers Matt Kobyluck , Ryan Moore