Golden Opportunity: Six Drivers Make First Trip to Gold Cup Chico, CA--September 5, 2006 -- Drivers come from far and wide to compete in the Gold Cup Race of Champions. Some have been coming to the event for as long as they can remember, while...
Golden Opportunity: Six Drivers Make First Trip to Gold Cup
Chico, CA--September 5, 2006 -- Drivers come from far and wide to compete in the Gold Cup Race of Champions. Some have been coming to the event for as long as they can remember, while for others it will be their maiden voyage to the storied race.
For six World of Outlaws Sprint Series competitors this weekend will mark the first time they visit Silver Dollar Speedway, and take part in the Gold Cup. They know the history, aura, and prestige behind the event as well as what it would mean to be one of the 24 starters to start the main event on Saturday night that will pay an event record $50,000 to-win.
One of these first timers's will be Jeremy Campbell, who is currently second in the battle for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt. Though he calls Monroe Mich., home the youngest drive on tour with the World of Outlaws, has taken a quick liking to the Golden State.
In his first ever visit to Calistoga Speedway last weekend he finished fifth in the Harvest Classic after lining up for the A-Feature in the 20th spot. This came on the heels of securing the last transfer spot in the B-Main with a late pass to move himself into the feature event. He quickly made his way to the front in the 30-lap finale, using the high side of the track to build momentum and power his way to his third top-five finish of the season.
Campbell looks to carry this momentum to the Gold Cup, when he takes to the track for his qualifying night. With a field of over 90 cars expected, two qualifying nights are in store, and Campbell will turn his first laps Friday on the quarter-mile.
"When there is a bunch of cars on-hand, you have to be on your game for qualifying," said Campbell, driver of the Americas Best Value Inn Maxim. "That's what it is all about, qualifying well, so you can start up front."
Becca Anderson is another driver that enters the Gold Cup with momentum on her side. The native of Houston, Del., earned her first fast time honor in the finale of the Harvest Classic on Sunday at Calistoga Speedway, also in her first ever visit to the West Coast.
After putting a fresh engine in a new car they built last week, Anderson and her Woodring Racing team are confident as they head to the high-banked quarter-mile at Silver Dollar Speedway. Earlier in the season, Anderson picked up her first career Top-10 finish in a World of Outlaws event at Tri-State (Ind.) Speedway, another tight and fast high-banked quarter-mile.
"It is a big deal out here," said Anderson, driver of the Upstate Kenworth Maxim. "It is the 'Knoxville Nationals of the West Coast.' When you come out here, you know you have the best in the business here. You want to put a good deal together. Chico is a little big of a smaller track and that should be right up our alley hopefully."
Anderson will not have to wait long to get on the track, as she will take part in Thursday's qualifying night as she seeks to secure a spot on Saturday night in the finale. She knows the competition will be tough, but she is accustomed to that having cut her teeth racing on the always competitive short tracks of the East Coast, as well as many nights in Pennsylvania.
"It's tough coming over here," she said. "It's similar to going to the East Coast, you have your top local guns. These guys know how to get it done out here. You just hope that you can put a good weekend together and get some good runs."
Chad Kemenah, who is currently leading the chase for the Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year Award Presented by Maxim Racing and ButlerBuilt, has raced at many tracks in his career, but for him too this was his first trip to the Golden State.
The four-time All Star Circuit of Champions titlist aboard the RacinSoles.com Eagle, started his West Coast trip very well picking up a solid fifth in the finale at Skagit Speedway. He backed that up with a 10th in the Harvest Classic at Calistoga.
With the added incentive of $50,000 on the line for the win, the native of Findlay, Ohio knows that the intensity level will be at a peak level. With only a few laps to get up to speed, he will rely on his knowledge from the other quarter-mile tracks that he has raced on as, as well as closely watching the other competitors when they take to the track.
"Anytime there is that much money on the line everyone steps it up," said Kemenah. "We always try hard whether it is $50 on the line or whatever. $50,000 is a lot of money. It's kind of a Knoxville type format from what I hear, so lady luck had better be on your side. We'll see when we get over there."
Kemenah will hit the track on Thursday to take part in the first qualifying night. He knows how important turning two good qualifying laps will be, as well as a good finish in his heat race. He is confident his team has the right set-up for the quarter-mile, having finished in the Top-15 in all five races on quarter-miles this season.
"I don't usually worry about that type of stuff (car counts)," he said. "It's going to be different having never seen the race track, while all these guys out here have seen it so many times. I think we'll be all right and get it figured out pretty quickly. They say it gets pretty sticky so that is something different."
Brian Carlson in his first year of traveling full-time with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series is looking forward to his first trip to the Gold Cup. Growing up in Pennsylvania he knows the history of all the big sprint car events, and he includes the Gold Cup when he talks about any of the prestigious events from the Midwest or the East Coast.
"Anytime you go to an event for the first time, it's a learning experience," said Carlson, driver of the Lincoln Electric Maxim. "A rookie will have a little bit of a learning curve out here on the road to begin with. When you go to a race that is as big and prestigious as this, with two days of qualifying similar to Knoxville it will be tough. We'll just have to run hard each night."
Justin Henderson is enjoying his first trip the Golden State after a very strong showing at the Harvest Classic. In his maiden voyage to the demanding half-mile he finished a strong seventh. He currently is third in rookie points, and ninth overall. Being a self-proclaimed 'History Buff,' he is very aware of the aura that goes with the Gold Cup and the pageantry that leads up to it as well.
"There is definitely a lot of money on the line," said Henderson. "It is a nice short race track. I like short race tracks. Generally we are good on the shorter tracks like that, and we'll see what we can bring to the table."
Jason Martin in the midst of his first season with the World of Outlaws is gaining more experience and momentum every race. After missing the first couple months of the season after suffering a neck injury the day before the season opener, he is certainly making up for lost time. He enjoys racing on tight high-banked tracks and has made a few changes to the car over the last couple weeks on the short tracks.
"I'm pretty excited for the Gold Cup," said Martin, driver of the NOS Energy Drink/Mafia Motorsports Maxim. "It sounds like it will be a format like the Knoxville Nationals. It will be tough and you have to make sure you do good the first few laps on the race track, and that will set your whole weekend."
For ticket information about tickets the Gold Cup Race of Champions call 916-969-7484 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or visit johnpadjenmotorsports.com/silver_dollar. On Thursday reserved tickets will be $35.On Friday reserved tickets will be $35. On Saturday reserved tickets will be $45
.*Note: Three-day tickets are available for $115.