WWS: Countdown to All-star Showdown notes 2003-08-22

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 22, 2003) - Competing in a major post-season event such as the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown may be a new concept to some drivers, but not Scott Gaylord. The veteran campaigner in the NASCAR Grand National Division,...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 22, 2003) - Competing in a major post-season event such as the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown may be a new concept to some drivers, but not Scott Gaylord. The veteran campaigner in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston West Series has participated in three NASCAR exhibition races in Japan - at Suzuka Circuit following the 1996 and 1997 seasons and at Twin Ring Motegi following the 1998 season.

The 45-year-old Lakewood, Colo., driver is eager to be a part of this year's inaugural showdown that will bring together top drivers from throughout NASCAR's regional racing divisions to compete at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Nov. 6-8. The top 15 drivers in the two NASCAR Grand National series - Busch North and Winston West - will be invited, along with the top 10 drivers in each of the four series in the NASCAR Elite Division, who will compete in a similar format. The race will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel, beginning at 8 p.m. ET, Nov. 8.

"It would be quite an honor to participate in the first showdown," said Gaylord, who is currently fourth in the championship standings in the Winston West Series. "This is a special event. It reminds me of when I drove in the Sports Car Club of America. We had run-offs at the end of the year for the national championship. In a way, this is kind of like that. It kind of gives you another chance for national recognition. The TV exposure and all the competition will bring the cream to the top. I think it's going to be quite an event."

Drivers in the showdown will be competing for their share of $500,000 in prize money, but Gaylord says the money will be secondary for many competitors.

"For me as a racer, winning an event is number one," Gaylord said. "The money is gravy. We need it to continue on. It's part of why we're racing in a professional series."

Gaylord has been a part of the Winston West Series since 1988, running on a limited basis at first and then racing the full schedule beginning in 1995.

While the success of some drivers is measured by their wins, Gaylord's is reflected more by his popularity in the series. He is a two-time recipient of the Most Popular Driver Award, 1998 and 2002 - as well as winning the Most Improved Driver Award in 1995 and the Sportsman Award in 1997. He has finished in the top 10 of the championship standings eight times. In addition to racing in the Winston West Series, Gaylord has competed in selected events in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and the NASCAR Busch Series.

Having participated in three post-season NASCAR events, Gaylord is hopeful his team's experience will benefit them in the showdown. "I would think any experience in the Winston West Series and any post-season races that we have done would be beneficial. Any experience helps.

"One good thing about Irwindale is that everybody has a good chance," Gaylord stressed. "The last race we were at Irwindale we qualified 14th or 15th and I still was not that uncomfortable because there are three or four grooves you can run there. Everyone from the front to the back has a chance to win and I'm glad we're racing there because of that."

While teams going to the showdown will not face the mighty logistical hurdles undertaken by those who traveled to Japan, there will be some concerns. For Winston West Series teams, the challenge will be preparing for an event less than a week after the championship race.

"It can be a little bit tough," Gaylord admitted. "While we're limited with our resources, we are planning on taking our best equipment. Our main goal right now is concentrating on each race and then the Winston West Series championship. But the showdown is a big deal and we want to do the best we can at that event."

The Toyota All-Star Showdown is an invitation-only, non-points event. Drivers will be invited based on their finish in the 2003 point standings for their respective series. Thirty Grand National teams and 40 Elite Division teams will make up the event's starting fields.

The three-day event begins with practice on Thursday, Nov. 6. Teams return for another practice session on Friday, Nov. 7, along with twin 50-lap qualifying races for both divisions. The feature races will be held Saturday, Nov. 8.

Fast 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

Race lengths: NASCAR Elite Division 100 laps / NASCAR Grand National Division 125 laps
Track layout: Half-mile oval


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Drivers Scott Gaylord