Hoppe, Jefferson, Schendel, Norris, Moore, Lynch & Much More
“I don’t think anyone was holding back,” said Kelly Moore (Busch North), who finished third in the first Grand National race. “We are all running for position to start in that feature race. We were running just about as hard as I could. I was running just about as hard as I could. There wasn’t much left.”
“People want to make sure they have a good car for tomorrow,” said West Series champion Mike Duncan, who came home seventh in the first Grand National race. “Tomorrow is where it pays the money. You just want to get an idea of how the car is handling tonight.
FOUR RACES, 200 LAPS, NO CAUTIONS
An amazing feat, but not for 70 “All Stars.”
All four of Friday night’s qualifying races were run with no caution flags. One race saw none of the cars in the even lapped, while only a few were lapped in each of the other races.
“I think it is a testament to these drivers,” said Austin Cameron (West). These are the best of the best here. It really shows. They are all good. It is not easy to pass any single one of them.
“I think you are going to see a pretty clean first 100 laps on Saturday and that last 50 is when it s going to get wild.”
“Fun, fun fun,” said Jeff Jefferson (Northwest). “I have never had so much fun on a race track.”
Most guys thought it wasn’t surprising, especially for the inexperience most guys have at the half-mile track.
“Any good race team is going to be able to adapt to a new track and it showed here tonight in each race,” said Brett Thompson (West), who finished second in the second Grand National event. “I think everyone did a good job at it and it was a fun race. We are all clean racers for the most part.”
NORRIS LOST AFTER LAST-PLACE FINISH
Kelly Moore (#47) praised the drivers for their clean racing. (51 Photos)
JR Norris looked to factor in as one of the top runners all weekend long coming into the Showdown, but after the second Elite Division qualifying race on Friday night, Norris looked “out to lunch.”
Norris and the entire team, with Robert Hamke helping them this weekend as car owner and crew chief Richie Wauters is in Darlington (SC) for the Craftsman Truck Series race, were thrashing on the car until the garage closed.
“I’m getting the thing set up so I can come out here and win the dang thing tomorrow,” said a very frustrated Norris, the
Southeast Series Rookie of the Year. “This is terrible. All day we had a good car. We were in the top-five and top-10 on the speed charts. We came out here and it was completely different. I don’t know what it was. I know the setup we came here with though will be good if the track stays like it was tonight. We have a 75 lap run and we can come in and, if I have to make a change, I’ll do it.”
PETTIT HAS TOUGH NIGHT
JR Norris has got a lot of work to do.
good today. That is just part of this game. We’ll just have to play our way back up.
“We didn’t get the Powerade Championship for coming from the back so much last year for nothing. We’ll be alright.”
CAMERON BANGS HIS WAY TO FOURTH
Jim Pettit (Southwest), who finished second in last year’s Showdown, struggled to just a 17th-palce finish in the second Elite Division race on Friday night.
“We missed our set up big time,” said Pettit, the 2004 Southwest Champion. “We freed it up too much. We are pretty positive of what we did. We couldn’t run the top like I needed too.
“I’m not too worried thought. We’ll have plenty of time to come back through the field. We have double the race distance as tonight. We were good last year and we were
Last year’s Showdown Grand National winner, Austin Cameron (West), started out slow, but eventually moved up to fourth in his qualifying race.
It didn’t come easy and the right side of Cameron’s #16 showed the war scars.
“That was a lot of fun,” said a smiling Cameron. “I knew we were going to have a lot of good guys to race with. I’m just happy for these guys to finish fourth. That isn’t too bad. That is where we thought we’d end up.
“We were bumping and banging all the way through. They were good with me and I was good with them. It was just good racing.”
WILLIAMS HAS ASA HELP
Dusty Williams has all kinds of things different out in California.
He is driving the Wakley Motorsports Pennzoil-sponsored #40, a Wakley Motorsports car and not won of Williams regular cars.
In addition, Williams has the help of Gary Crooks in California, who is helping the team out for the weekend. Crooks is Travis Kittleson’s regular crew chief in the ASA National Tour.
Austin Cameron's car was a little banged up after last night's race.
Jim Pettit (#03) was even loose during practice on Friday.
MICHELS CALLS OUT SOUTHWEST SERIES
Southwest Series Rookie of the Year Rip Michels called out his series teammates for Saturday night’s feature event.
“First and foremost, the Southwest Tour guys have to put it together,” said Michels. “This is our track, our house. We can’t have these Midwest coming in and kicking our ass.”
And Michels, who finished fourth in his qualifying race, had a good time.
“Was that some awesome racing or what?”
GILLILAND LOOKING TO CONTINUE TO IMPRESS “BIG GUYS”
David Gilliland (West) was part of the “Gong Show” for Roush Racing’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver search. Although it hasn’t been announced, Gilliland is one of the 10 still eligible for the Roush Racing ride.
If he hasn’t impressed them while testing, he surely impressed them with a dominating run last night in the first Grand National qualifying race.
“We are just looking for another strong run,” said Gilliland of his Saturday night expectations. “I’ve been doing some testing for some teams back east and I know they were watching tonight and they are going to watch tomorrow. So hopefully we can put on a good show.”
David Gilliland has been atop the speed charts much of the weekend.
HOPPE GOES ONE WAY, FULTZ THE OTHER
Two of the best in their respective series, Brian Hoppe (Midwest) and Jeff Fultz (Southeast), had totally different nights on Friday.
Hoppe was struggling on Thursday and couldn’t find the speed they were looking for. On Friday night, Hoppe came from 13th to sixth in his qualifying race and looked to be even faster than just sixth.
“The car was a lot better today than it was yesterday,” said
Hoppe. “We made some big changes. Now I just want to make a couple more changes so we can get the car just a little bit better. If we do, I think we can run with these guys. We are much closer than we were yesterday.
Meanwhile, Jeff Fultz, the 2004 Southeast Series champion, has struggled all weekend and continued to on Friday night, where he finished 18th after starting 18th.
“The car was alright in the beginning,” said a dejected Fultz. “Then we got a right rear flat and we just had to ride it out. It was slowly losing pressure. It was down to nine pounds when we came it. It was all we could do.”
BENNETT SURVIVES RUN IN WITH DIERCKS
DO CARS LIKE TRACKS?
Doug McCoun trailed Burney Lamar in practice on Friday and not again in the first Elite Division qualifying race that night.
But McCoun, who was the last qualifier from the Southwest Series, looks like his could be a factor in Saturday night’s feature.
“That was fun,” said McCoun of his race. “It was three- and four-wide the whole time. I stayed too low to the bottom. Is should have moved up a bit. You have to do whatever you can to get it down there and go forward.”
When asked of his fast times all weekend long…
“The car just likes the track. You go to some tracks and the car just like it. This car likes this track.”
Northwest Series Rookie of the Year Travis Bennett survived a run in with Midwest Series champion Justin Diercks to finished just 16th in his qualifying race.
“We worked on the bottom all day long today. That was the plan to go down there and pass some cars. But the top groove opened up so that is where we went. Something happened right at the start finish line. A bunch of guys bounced off each other. Justin Diercks and I got together and it bent something in the rear. The car got tight from there. After all that though, the car actually worked better on the bottom.”
IF THE PAST RULES, HOLMES MIGHT
Eric Holmes (Southwest), who won the second Elite qualifying race, knows that if the past says anything, he’s got a good shot at the Showdown championship.
“This is a good car,” said Holmes. “The first time out, it won the pole, led every lap and won the race by 10 seconds at Phoenix. Last week at Phoenix, I finished second and passed Ken Schrader for second on the last lap. Here tonight, it won again. It is a good car.”
Travis Bennett ran a soild race, but needs to find some more speed.
Scott Lynch was surprised on Friday night after his second place run in the Grand National qualifying race.
“We weren’t very good in practice, so I’m pleasantly surprised with how good we were here tonight.”
Two Grand National drives got their Saturday mornings off to rough starts.
Dale Quarterly (Busch North) and Carl Harr (West) both had to change engines Saturday morning and wil be forced to start at the rear of the Grand National feature.
Quarterly was slated to start sixth after finishing third in the second qualifying race on Friday night. The team found metal shavings in the filter.
Scott Lynch (#08) leads two other Grand National drivers.
TIM SCHENDEL TO RACE WITH TRUCK SERIES
Midwest Series driver Tim Schendel will partner with Curb/Agajanian Racing and fellow Wisconsin driver Johnny Sauter to compete in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday, November 19th.
Sauter and Schendel both began their racing careers at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem (WI).
Schendel will run the #43 truck with TexPar Energy and
Schendel's car will look like a truck at Homestead (FL).
Mathews Archery as his sponsors. It will be his third Craftsman Truck Series start of the 2004 season.