WWS: Irwindale preview Sat, August 19

Irwindale, Calif. - - Brendan Gaughan, will have the rest of the Winston West nipping at his heals as he leads the NASCAR's top touring coastal pros into round nine of the twelve race 2000 series at Irwindale Speedway on August 19. Gaughan has a...

Irwindale, Calif. - - Brendan Gaughan, will have the rest of the Winston West nipping at his heals as he leads the NASCAR's top touring coastal pros into round nine of the twelve race 2000 series at Irwindale Speedway on August 19. Gaughan has a strong record going in. In his eight starts he has won two races, been in the top five on seven occasions, and never finished out of the top 10. In other words, he's HOT.

The Las Vegas driver would dearly like to put his name on the growing list of Winston West winners at Irwindale Speedway. Last trip here (one of the three that the "West" teams will make to Irwindale this year) he finished second to Busch Grand National veteran Bobby Dotter. This trip, he's only got one more place to move up to for all the points and the big cash payoff. "We're coming back to Irwindale to win this one," Gaughan said. "Our team has what it takes, I love this track … we're ready."

Standing in Gaughan's way are more than a few stalwarts who would much prefer to be heading for the press box as the number one interview for that night. Included in the group are the hard-charging Kevin Richards with one win and a good record of top finishes; Steve Portenga who won the first-ever Winston West race at Irwindale last June; the afore-mentioned Mr. Dotter; the underrated John Metcalf, two-time WW champ Bill Sedgwick, and movie second-unit director Eric Norris. Take it to the bank, none of the above would mind a win at the big "IS" this weekend.

The Home Depot 250 will be a 125-mile race, which will require both fuel and tire stops to complete. A fully-equipped racing pit area will be constructed using the track's infield and 1/3-mile track where hot pit stops will take place right in front of the crowd seated in the grandstands. This feature is unique to Winston West races taking place at Irwindale Speedway. Fans who have only seen this kind of pit action on television are urged to come to the Speedway on August 19 to witness the action "up close and personally".

The NASCAR Winston West Series originated in 1954 when NASCAR expanded to the West Coast and began sanctioning the Pacific Coast Late Model circuit. The NASCAR Winston West Series has recently experienced unprecedented growth. In 1998, the series point fund skyrocketed to $500,000 through the increased involvement of track operators and series sponsor R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1999, the series traveled overseas as it ended its season in Motegi City, Japan. The exploding growth of the NASCAR Winston West Series has not only attracted new drivers and fans, it has created a wealth of sponsorship opportunities for businesses. For NASCAR 2000 the series will see an increased effort from R.J. Reynolds once again, with a $50,000 increase in posted awards and a schedule that brands the series with a mix of superspeedways, short tracks and road courses.

A NASCAR Winston West Series car is virtually the same as one raced on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Both must maintain a minimum weight of 3,400 pounds and have a wheelbase of 110 inches. However, while the NASCAR Winston Cup Series car utilizes a V-8 engine ranging from 350 to 358 cubic inches with a maximum compression ratio of 12:1, the NASCAR Winston West Series car is powered by a 350 to 358 cubic inch V-8 engine with a maximum compression ratio of 9.5:1. Approved models include the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Pontiac Grand Prix and Ford Thunderbird and Taurus.

In the other hot contest for the night, Irwindale's raging NASCAR Late Models will take to the track for the fifteenth race of their 16-race 2000 championship point season. The focus narrows and the fight for the 2000 crown will get super-serious this night. James Weston from Goleta will take a 74-point lead over Riverside's Todd Burns into the night's contest. Weston won last week's race by a whisker while Burns went from the rear row (no qualifying time - bent valve) to a 40-point finish in sixth. Burns is the only driver in the Late Model division who has a mathematical chance of beating Weston to the 2000 title, last week there were five in that position.

Both teams are girding for the final races, both will pull out all stops in this maximum effort and the result is bound to be "very interesting" for race watchers on the nineteenth.

This is a good one for fans to get their tickets for early. Calling (626) 358-1100 will do that, calling up www.tickets.com on the web will do that, as will a trip to the on-site ticket office right at the track. The Winston West experience is a wild one.

Gates open at 4:00 pm and, on inside, fans will find a live band, free car club show, NASCAR Trivia, game and on-track contests, the Alta Dena Milk Chugs Autograph Session, even a chance to win the track's Advantage Ford Mustang GT Convertible Pace Car!

There's plenty to do and see early at Irwindale. The first race goes off at 7 p.m. And, don't forget that the Pits are open to all right after the last race of the evening. It's a great chance to meet the drivers, get an autograph or two, take a photo of your kid sitting in the seat of a real race car, and generally re-live all the night's action all over again among the real heroes of the night, the drivers and their pit crews.

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Drivers Bobby Dotter , Brendan Gaughan , Steve Portenga , John Metcalf , Eric Norris , Kevin Richards