Yakima round three preview

B.J. TIDRICK HAVING A BLAST IN NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series is everything B.J. Tidrick expected and more, but what he has looked ...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 13, 2006) -- The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series is everything B.J. Tidrick expected and more, but what he has looked forward to the most is coming this weekend.

"I bought my (Northwest Series) car in 2004 and I have been looking forward to my first race at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway ever since," said the Yakima resident and Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year contender. "I was pretty disappointed that the weather did not cooperate a couple of weeks ago, but maybe it was for the best since I did not sleep a wink the night before."

The Yakima 125 was originally scheduled for May 27, but inclement weather forced a postponement to June 17.

"This race is going to be intense," says Tidrick. "There are so many drivers in the field that know this track inside and out. Everybody is going to be ready for this one."

The sneaky fast 1/2-mile oval at Yakima Speedway is a favorite to many in the Northwest Series and Tidrick is no exception. "I think it is a super fun race track to drive and I feel very comfortable on it. I have thousands of laps under my belt there."

Tidrick is having the time of his life right now and why not, the 2006 Northwest Series season is off to a great start for the No. 72 Winner's Choice Chevrolet team. He finished 16th in the season opener at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway and notched his first series top 10 with a sixth-place finish in last weekend's Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. Those two performances have Tidrick sitting in seventh place in the championship point standings.

"So far, this has been awesome. We've had two pretty solid finishes. It's gotten us off on the right foot," he said. "I'm sure somewhere down the line that we'll have trouble of some sort, but if we're smart and I don't do anything stupid, then we should be in pretty decent shape at the end of the season."

The competition on the track is everything Tidrick expected. Many rookies over the years have been shockingly surprised at the intensity level in a Northwest Series race, but not this one. "I have been to enough Northwest Series races to know. I was at the 200-lap race last year at Yakima and that was an awesome event. These guys are 100% all the time. It is every bit as difficult as I thought it would be. I like it that way!"

Not only is Tidrick proud of his performance, to date, he is equally excited about the success of his fellow Sunoco rookie class that numbers an impressive 12 drivers. "I thought there might be as many as six or eight rookies this year, but 12 is a huge number. Every one of those guys can wheel a racecar. It is going to be almost as difficult to win the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year as it will be to win the overall championship. It's going to be a battle all year long."

The Northwest Series' rookie class currently has four drivers in the top 10 and eight in the top 20 in the point standings. Since the inception of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in 2003 to which the top 10 finishers in points earn an invitation, the Northwest Series has sent a total of four rookies in three years. Tidrick thinks that many could garner spots this year alone. "I am not trying to disrespect any of the veterans, but some of these rookie drivers are really good. It's not hard to imagine that there could be as many as four or five rookies heading to [the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown] at the end of the year."

After that statement, though, Tidrick was quick to point out that he was one rookie who was not going to get too far ahead of himself and count his chickens before they hatched. "There is a long way to go and a whole bunch of talented teams to contend with this season. Our goal is to finish in the top 10 and right now we're on course to do that."

There is a reason that the "one race at a time" mantra is so trite because that is what has to be done. An 11-race schedule does not allow for mulligans. "Like I said, we'll have our day when things go wrong, but we have to minimize the effects of that to reach our goals. This series is the big leagues up here and it is full of tough, tough competitors, but it sure is fun."

Ticket information for the Yakima 125 can be obtained by calling Yakima Speedway at (509) 248-0647 or by logging onto www.yakimaspeedway.us.


What: Yakima 125 (Race No. 3 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series)

Where: Yakima Speedway, Yakima, Wash.
When: 8:45 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, June 17, 2006

Track layout: 1/2-mile oval.
Race length: 125 laps/62.5 miles.

Posted awards: $51,291

2005 winner:  Brandon Riehl.

2005 polesitter: Jeff Jefferson.

Top 10 in points: 1.Gary Lewis -- 350; 2. Brandon Riehl -- 345; 3. Travis Bennett -- 320; 4. Jeff Barkshire -- 310; 5. Jay Sauls -- 280; 6. Wilbur Bruce -- 276; 7. B.J. Tidrick -- 265; 8. John Dillon -- 262; 9. Mike Longton -- 258; 10. Troy Tramell -- 245.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 6/17 - 11:00 a.m. Registration opens; 2:30-5:00 p.m. Alternating Practice; 6:00 p.m. Time Trials; 7:00 p.m. Qualifying Race (if necessary); 8:45 p.m. Yakima 125.


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Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Gary Lewis , Jeff Barkshire