The race includes protected starting spots for the champions of each of the NASCAR Developmental Series. The move of the race from the Fall to January allows for increased preparation and provides greater exposure for the teams and drivers.
“This is the weekend that launches major U.S. motor sports each year,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations. “This move represents a tremendous opportunity to build upon the successes of past NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdowns, broaden the scope of potential participants, and allow competitors additional time to gear up for this huge event.”
In addition, the all-star weekend will include a pair of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races: The 150-lap Super Late Model race and, new this year, a 75-lap Late Model race that will be run under common West Coast rules.
Toyota and the track also announced today a sponsorship agreement for naming rights to the facility as the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
“Toyota is proud to continue its long-term partnership with NASCAR and the Toyota Speedway to feature stars of American short-track racing,” said Les Unger, national motorsports manager, Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A.,Inc.
Last season’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown featured Joey Logano, a rising star for Joe Gibbs Racing, holding off the challenge of another top young driver, Peyton Sellers, in a green-white-checkered finish.
Logano’s victory added to a growing legacy of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown that started with Austin Cameron’s emotional win in the inaugural event in 2003 that capped a season in which he missed four races while undergoing cancer treatments.
In 2004, eventual race winner Mike Johnson drove from 24th starting spot to the front. David Gilliland’s victory in 2005 started him on a road that has led to a seat with Robert Yates Racing’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. In the 2006 classic, two-time Showdown runner-up Matt Kobyluck emerged the victor of a spirited duel over the final laps with young driver Sean Caisse and West champion Eric Holmes.
Former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Greg Pursley added to the legacy last year when he went door-to-door with Irwindale track champion Rip Michels en route to winning the Super Late Model race.
“We’re not only honored to host the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown but we are
extremely excited that the event will be held in January,” said Bob DeFazio, Toyota
Speedway at Irwindale track operator. “It’s a prestigious event. It’s important to us,
and we know it’s important to NASCAR, and we can’t think of a better way for race
fans and NASCAR short track racing’s elite to spend their winter.”
The exciting competition on the fast half-mile has become a staple of the NASCAR
Toyota All-Star Showdown. The graduated banking — between six and 12 degrees
— at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale produces multiple racing grooves that make
for thrilling side-by-side racing.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown weekend features two nights of live coverage
on SPEED, which has broadcast the event in each of its first five years. It will be part
of a packed weekend on SPEED that includes the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown main event — contested in NASCAR
Camping World Series cars — is open to any driver approved to drive on a half-mile
or longer tracks in the NASCAR Camping World Series.
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers such as Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., and Gilliland launched their careers in the NASCAR Camping World Series. The series is the top development step for drivers looking to make the jump to one of NASCAR’s national series.
Each race winner during the 2008 NASCAR Camping World Series season will become eligible for a protected starting spot in the sixth running of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The 2008 series champions of NASCAR’s regional touring series — the NASCAR Camping World Series East, NASCAR Camping World Series West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, and NASCAR Mexico Series — and the 2008 national champion for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series are also eligible for protected starting spots.
Last year’s expanded eligibility format drew a record entry of 106 cars for the two races. It also drew drivers from across North America, including 2007 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion Andrew Ranger and 2006 NASCAR Mexico Series Rookie of the Year Antonio Perez.
In addition to eligible 2008 race winners and series champions, the starting lineup will be determined through time trials, limited provisionals for NASCAR Camping World Series regulars, and the last-chance “Open” race that provides drivers one final chance to make the final starting grid for the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’