DAYTONA BEACH, Florida --The sun will set on the NASCAR AutoZone
Elite Division, Southwest Series this Thursday under the lights at
Phoenix International Raceway located in Avondale, Ariz. just west
of downtown Phoenix. With all four of the AutoZone Elite Division
championships already decided and champions crowned, the Konica
Minolta “125” is all about bragging rights.
Leading the Southwest Series contingent into Phoenix is three-time
race winner and 2002 Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean from
Jerome, Idaho. Next to Ken Schrader, McKean has achieved the most
consistent success at the fast one mile paved oval. To go along with
his three victories, McKean has scored eight top three finishes
“I always love racing at Phoenix,” McKean said. “The track seems to
really suit my driving style. With this race being the last for us I
am really focused on picking up another winner’s trophy.”
The $111,417 event will draw more than 45 of the top regional racers
from around the country who will vie for one f 42 starting positions
in the 125-lap event slated for Thursday evening at 7:00 p.m.
Fresh off his first Midwest Series championship and victory in the
fourth annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown is Tim Schendel from
Sparta Wisc. Schendel has two straight fourth place finishes at
Phoenix in Southwest Series competition and was the Bud Pole Award
winner back in the January.
“Phoenix is just one of those racetracks that you grow up hearing
about and dreaming to race at,” Schendel said. “We have been coming
out here for the past couple of years and have always been fast. We
hope we can put it all together and score the final win out there.”
Long-time series veteran M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. Is the
all-time Southwest Series win leader with 22 victories but has never
won at Phoenix and he is hoping to change that statistic Thursday.
“We started the season wanting to win at the tracks we’ve never won
at,” Kanke said. “We crossed two off the list and all that is left
is Phoenix. The competition is so tough in this series and with all
the top guys from the other series here it is going to be tough.”
Former Southwest Series champion (2003) Auggie Vidovich who has
successfully made the transition to the NASCAR Busch Series this
season will return to pilot his familiar #11 Centrifugal
Technologies Chevrolet. Also returning to his former mount is Burney
Lamar who has also competed this season in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Joining these former series regulars is 2001 Southwest Series
champion Craig Raudman from Redding, Calif. who will make his return
to the driver’s seat this week after serving as crew chief for Brian
Ickler on the NASCAR Grand National Division, AutoZone West Series
“I can’t wait to get to Phoenix,” Raudman said. “It has been a long
time and I have wanted to race all season but we just did not have
time to finish the car. I have missed racing with these guys and
really look forward to the race this week.”
Raudman was one of the most prolific drivers in the series during
the late 90’s until his championship season of 2001 scoring 15
victories and 29 car Bud Pole Awards. Raudman’s best finish at
Phoenix was back in 2004 where he finished second.
2006 Southeast Series champion JR Norris from Hueytown, Alabama will
be making his third trip to Phoenix Thursday and is definitely one
of the drivers to beat.
Rounding out the regional field is a strong contingent from the
Northwest Series that includes two former series champions.
Returning to the driver’s seat after six years is two-time Northwest
Series champion Kelly Tanner from Auburn, Wash. Joining Tanner is
1990 champion John Dillon out of Eagle, Idaho. Also representing the
Northwest Series is 2006 Sunoco Rookie-f-the-Year Shane Mitchell
along with fellow rookie Jay Sauls along with Jeff Barkshire, Zan
Sharp, and series runner-up Brandon Riehl.
“Phoenix is the biggest track that many of us will ever race on,”
Riehl said. “Just to race at Phoenix is a big accomplishment, but to
go there and win, well. That is what it is all about.”
Other notable drivers who are entered in the race include Roger
Avants from Littleton, Colo. Avants is a multi-time track champion
at Colorado National Speedway outside Denver and a two-time NASCAR
Dodge Weekly Series Regional champion. Avants holds the distinct
honor of winning the very first Southwest Series race staged at the
famed Saugus (CA) Speedway back in 1986.
Leilani Munter of Mooresville, NC who will be driving the Konica
Minolta sponsored Chevrolet, is a recognizable face that has worked
with NASCAR.Com over the past couple of season and has developed
into a top racing talent.
The Southwest Series “ironman’, Bob Lyon of Agua Dulce, Calif. has
started more Southwest Series races (292) than any other competitor
and has been a fixture on the series since 1987.
The all-time win leader at Phoenix is Ken Schrader of Fenton, MO
with 25 victories; six of those coming in the Southwest Series.
Schrader is the defending champion of this event.
The stage has been set for truly an all-star event that will close
the books on an exciting chapter of racing for the NASCAR AutoZone
Elite Division. While champions have been crowned and trophies
mounted in places of prominence, all that is left is who will win
bragging rights as the top regional racer in the country.
What: Konica Minolta "125" (Race No. 9 of 9 in the NASCAR AutoZone
Elite Division, Southwest Series).
Where: Phoenix Int'l Raceway, Phoenix, Ariz.
When: 7:00 p.m. PT (approx.), Thursday, November 9, 2005.
Track layout: One-mile paved oval.
Race length: 125 laps/125 miles.
Posted awards: $111,417
2005 winner: Ken Schrader
2005 pole sitter: Ken Schrader
2006 Final Championship Standings: 1. Rip Michels 1325, 2. Eric
Holmes 1324, 3. Eddy McKean 1228, 4. M.K. Kanke 1198, 5. David
Mayhew 1113, 6. Greg Voigt 1082, 7. Jim Pettit II 1062, 8. Thomas
Martin 1007, 9. Kevin Clark 960, 10. Kevin Vernon 950.
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Wed. 11/8: 11:00 a.m. Haulers
Enter, 11:30a.m. Registration opens, 12:00 p.m. Inspection only.
Thurs. 11/9: 8:00 a.m. Garage opens, 9:30 a.m. Qualifying draw, 9:30
a.m. Rookie meeting, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Practice, 12:00 p.m. - 1:00
p.m. Practice, 1:30 p.m. Driver's/Crew Chief meeting, 4:00 p.m.
Qualifying (2-laps), 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. Konica Minolta "125".