WWS: Phoenix II: Round eleven preview

Inglebright looks for positive finish at Phoenix DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2003) - After starting the season strong, Jim Inglebright (No. 20 Jelly Belly/NAPA Chevrolet) found himself trying to overcome a string of bad luck in his first full...

Inglebright looks for positive finish at Phoenix

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2003) - After starting the season strong, Jim Inglebright (No. 20 Jelly Belly/NAPA Chevrolet) found himself trying to overcome a string of bad luck in his first full season in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston West Series.

He hopes to turn his season around when the series returns to Phoenix International Raceway for the Phoenix 150 on Sunday, Oct. 5. The $143,514 event is to be televised to a national audience on the SPEED Channel cable network - airing on a tape-delay basis at 9 a.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 25.

Inglebright began the season with a third-place finish in the season opener at Phoenix in February. The 41-year-old driver from Fairfield, Calif., followed that up with a win in Las Vegas in April - propelling him into first in the championship standings. He failed to crack the top five in the next seven races, however, and slipped as far as ninth place in the point standings.

"We've just struggled," Inglebright said. "It's not that we're not running well. I've been running top five and just had things happen. The only place we just flat missed the set up was Monroe. Every place else, I think there's been contributing factors."

Inglebright says there is only one way to deal with a run of bad luck in racing. "You've just got to keep your head up and keep marching," he stressed. "That's what I keep telling my guys. It's not that we're doing anything wrong. It's just the way it is. There is so much in this sport that you cannot control.

"A lot of guys come unraveled once they start running on some bad luck," Inglebright said. "There's a lot more bad luck in racing than there is good luck. You've just got to keep digging."

Based on his success in other NASCAR divisions at Phoenix International Raceway, Inglebright may find a return to PIR a perfect remedy to turn his season around. He won a major NASCAR event there in the NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series in 1999 - as well as scoring three other top-five finishes in that series at PIR between 1995 and 1998. He has also competed at Phoenix twice in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

"Phoenix was the very first track where I raced a Southwest Series car," Inglebright recalled. "We ran well there. For some reason I have adapted well to that race track."

The key to getting around the one-mail, D-shaped track is maintaining momentum, said Inglebright. "You've got to keep momentum. I don't use a lot of brake at Phoenix. You've got to let it roll. With these heavier cars, you 've got to roll out of the gas a little earlier. It's all about getting through the corner."

Getting a good finish requires some added care, meanwhile, Inglebright said. "You need to keep the fenders on it and stay out of trouble," he stressed. "We actually struggled at the first of the year there. We were dead last and were able to work on the car and get it up to third. You've got to take care of your car. You've got to be patient there. You have to stay focused. If you can keep your concentration all day and hit your marks, then you usually do pretty good."

Although he is familiar with PIR, Inglebright will get his first look at some recent changes made to the track in turn two. "I know they moved the wall out in two. I think it's going to be a lot faster. That will pick us up, because you will be able to carry more speed into turn one. That's going to be interesting. I'm looking forward to it."

Inglebright says the alteration should be a welcome change for most competitors. "I think it's going to be a lot nicer for a driver," he said. "That wall coming off turn two was real intimidating. At least it was for me. I've hit it a couple of times and it didn't feel very good. So, I'm real glad they've moved that."


* The race . This event is the 11th of 13 races on the series schedule for 2003. It is the second of two series visits to Phoenix International Raceway this season.

* The track . PIR is a one-mile superspeedway with turns one and two banked 11 degrees, turns three and four banked nine degrees and two degrees of banking in the dogleg. The track has hosted 14 stand-alone Winston West Series events.

* New look . The track has undergone several major changes since the series visited in February. The track has been widened from the middle of turns one and two through the dogleg. The track now features a 60-foot width all the way around - except for the front stretch, which remains 50 feet wide. In addition, an infield tunnel has also been constructed under turn four.

* Two visits in 2003 . This marks the first year in which the Winston West Series visits PIR twice in one season.

* Multiple wins . Richard Petty holds the record for the most series victories at PIR, with three. Wins by Ken Schrader in 2001 and 2003 make him the only other driver with more than one series victory at the one-mile track.

* Most poles . Petty also has won the pole the most times in series competition at Phoenix - 1978, 1979 and 1980.

* Top marks . Austin Cameron (No. 16 NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet) holds the mark for the most top-five finishes among active drivers in the series. He has finished in the top five in four of the last five series visits to Phoenix. His PIR finishes include fourth earlier this season, first in 2002, third in 2001 and third in 1999. Cameron and Kevin Richards (No. 85 Monaco Enterprises/Jerry Springer Chevrolet) are tied for the most top-10 series finishes, with five each.

* Show me the money . Cameron has hauled home the most in series winnings at Phoenix, with $50,271. Richards is close behind with $47,451.

* Running out front . Petty has led the most laps of series competition at the Phoenix, meanwhile, running out front for 361 circuits.

* Return performance . Scott Gaylord (No. 00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet) has taken the green flag at PIR more than any other driver in the series. The veteran driver has competed in six stand-alone Winston West Series events and seven combination races with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.

* Manufacturers' battle . Chevrolet has the most wins at Phoenix International Raceway among automobile manufacturers, with seven. A Pontiac was in victory lane earlier this year, however.

* Stat of the race . The last two winners at Phoenix have come from the second spot on the grid.

* Etc. . Ten Winston West Series teams are slated to participate in a special promotion from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, at the Home Depot in Avondale. Teams will display their race cars and drivers will be available to greet the public and sign autographs . Race fans will also have an opportunity to meet the drivers and get autographs during an autograph session at the track on the morning of the race.

* Leading laps . Despite missing four races earlier this season, Cameron has led the most laps of competition so far this year. He has had the NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet on the point for 423 circuits.

* Completing laps . Series rookie Scott Lynch (No. 08 Yerf-Dog/The Orleans Dodge) has completed the most laps of competition, running 1,777 of the 1,782 possible.

* Most money won . Steve Portenga (No. 77 King Taco Ford) tops the competition in terms of money won so far in 2003, with $62,028 in winnings.

* Best average finish . Portenga has the best average finish in the first 10 races this season. His average finish so far is 5.8, compared to 5.9 for Lynch.

* Leading rookie . Lynch has dominated the competition in this year's chase for the Raybestos Brakes Rookie of the Year Award. He was the top finishing rookie in nine of the 10 races completed.

* Battle among car owners . The chase for the championship among the car owners continues to be very tight. In the car owners' points standings, the top four are separated by just 36 points and the top seven are covered by only 120 points.

* Blow out the candles ... Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of October include Tim Woods III, who turns 29 on the 11th; Eric Holmes, who turns 29 on the 12th; Brandon Whitt, who turns 21 on the 15th; and Sean Woodside, who turns 33 on the 16th.

* From the archives . On Nov. 25, 1979, Neil Bonnett took the win over Bobby Allison and Richard Petty in a NASCAR Winston West Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.

Fast Facts

What: Phoenix 150, NASCAR Grand National Division, Winston West Series Race #11 of 13
Where: Phoenix International Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
When: 2:00 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 5.

Track layout: 1-mile superspeedway.
Distance: 150 Laps, 150 miles.

TV: SPEED Channel
(tape-delay, Oct. 25, 9 a.m. ET)

Pre-race schedule: Saturday - Practice, 9:30-10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Qualifying, 2 p.m. Final practice, 4:30-5 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

Field: 30 cars possible. Fastest 25 through time trials. Two provisional positions based on 2003 Winston West Series championship owner point standings, one position based on 2003 Winston West Series championship driver standings, one provisional position to Winston West Series champion, one additional position based on 2003 Busch North championship owner standings.


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Drivers Ken Schrader , Richard Petty , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Brandon Whitt , Scott Gaylord , Scott Lynch , Kevin Richards , Bobby Allison , Austin Cameron