WWS: Douglas County: Brandon Ash - NASCAR spotlight

Ash looks for short track victory in NASCAR Winston West Series Race at Roseburg. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2002)-- Brandon Ash has always considered short track racing to be the stronger part of his NASCAR Winston West Series program. It...

Ash looks for short track victory in NASCAR Winston West Series Race at Roseburg.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 16, 2002)-- Brandon Ash has always considered short track racing to be the stronger part of his NASCAR Winston West Series program. It was on a superspeedway, however, that the 25-year-old driver from Umpqua, Ore., gained his first career series win earlier this year.

Ash hopes to match that first victory with a short track win before the season is complete. He will get his chance when the series travels to his home-state and Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg on Saturday, Sept. 21, for the NAPA Auto Parts 200 Presented by NAPA Belts & Hoses and Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil.

The $112,959 event marks the first visit by the series to the speedway in more than three decades. The fairgrounds track has been expanded twice since it last hosted a NASCAR Winston West Series event as a quarter-mile oval in 1971. It was initially lengthened to one-third of a mile, before a recent $400,000 renovation expanded it to a half-mile oval.

For Ash, the opportunity to race so close to home is something of a dream come true. "I never expected that Winston West would ever come to Roseburg," Ash said of the speedway that is only about 20 miles from his home. "It's so close that we're going to get to stay home and sleep in our own beds. We'll go down there and race and be home early. It will be pretty unusual.

"We're going to have family from Southern California here, as well as family members from Oregon attending," he said. "So, we should have a real big fan base there."

He expects the event will feature plenty of exciting door-to-door racing. "We should be able to widen the groove out and make it two-wide, so we can run side-by-side," he said. "It should be a real competitive race."

Ash, who has competed at the track in a late model stock car, hopes his experience there will be beneficial. "I know the line around the racetrack," he said. "We should be able to get up to speed real quick and know what adjustments to make. I feel real good about my chances there."

Getting his Ford Taurus to grip the racetrack will be the key to success at Roseburg, according to Ash. "The race track is pretty flat. So, you're going to need a lot of forward bite," said the second-generation driver-- whose father, Ed, serves as his crew chief. "Whoever gets their car to turn in the corner and get up off the corner is going to be tough to beat. On these flat short tracks, whoever can get the power to the ground and get hooked up off the corner is going to have a big advantage."

The NAPA Auto Parts 200 is the ninth event of a 10-race series schedule for 2002. Ash is currently eighth in the championship standings, with six top-10 finishes this season in the Little Trees/Fuji Film/Auto Marine Ford.

With a superspeedway win under his belt, Ash says a short track victory would make things complete for his family-owned race team. "We would love to finally get a win on a short track," he stressed. "It seems like we've been close so many times. We would come full circle if we could win on a short track, especially near our home town."

Ash has experienced success this year, despite driving for a team on a small budget. He attributes hard work and "a lot of heart" with allowing the team to compete against better financed teams in the series. "We put everything we can into it," he said. "Everybody has their heart in the right place. We're all looking at the same goal, which is to be successful and be competitive. It's very rewarding."

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Brandon Ash