Keeping Pace

Combination Camping World Series Race Attracts Drivers From Coast To Coast

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
Drivers of the NASCAR Camping World Series East and NASCAR Camping World Series West go head to head in their only points-paying combination race of the season.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

NASCAR's top developmental drivers from coast to coast will converge on Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa this week for the Long John Silver's 200 on Sunday, May 17.

Drivers of the NASCAR Camping World Series East and NASCAR Camping World Series West go head to head in their only points-paying combination race of the season.

But there's much more at stake in this annual event than championship points. Just ask Joey Logano, who edged Kevin Harvick to win the inaugural combination race at Iowa in 2007, or Brian Ickler, who topped Kasey Kahne in last year's event.

It's a chance to gain the prestige of beating the best NASCAR Camping World Series drivers from across the country, as well as a star driver from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. This year, Kyle Busch hopes to do what Harvick and Kahne were not able to accomplish – win the race and snatch the top honors.

There are plenty of talented drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series who want to keep that first-place trophy within their own ranks, however.

Ickler is returning to Iowa in hopes of a repeat win. "Everyone picks up their game when you have the two series running together," he said. "Then the Cup guys that win every weekend come in and race with us – it's always fun to run against guys like that."

Ickler raced in the NASCAR Camping World Series West in 2006 and 2007, before moving to North Carolina to compete in the NASCAR Camping World Series East in 2008. Although on a limited schedule, he won the season opener.

A driver not to be overlooked at Iowa is Jesus Hernandez (No. 12 Chivas/Telmex/Z-Line Designs Dodge). As a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Series East the past two years, he was the only driver to finish in the top five in both combination races there.

Austin Dillon (No. 3 Mom & Pop's Country Ham/Camp Debbie Lou Chevrolet) will also be looking for another strong performance at Iowa. Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner Richard Childress, won the Coors Light Pole Award and finished sixth in last year's combination race.

Many of the top competitors from the NASCAR Camping World Series West, meanwhile, have yet to register a top-10 finish in the combination event.

Eric Holmes (No. 20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota), who leads the championship standings of the NASCAR Camping World Series West in his bid to win his third title in four years, is hoping to come home from Iowa with his first good finish there. He finished 38th in 2007 and 27th last year. Also looking for a better outcome at Iowa is Jason Bowles (No. 6 Sunrise Ford Ford), who finished a close second to Holmes in the championship standings last year. Bowles, with Iowa finishes of 22nd in 2007 and 18th in 2008, is currently second in the standings.

Greg Pursley (No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery Chevrolet), who finished 26th at Iowa last year, returned to full-time competition in the NASCAR Camping World Series West this season and is third in the standings. Mike David (No. 2 Bennett Lane Winery Toyota), who is fourth in points, is looking to do better at Iowa after finishing 20th there in 2007 and 15th in 2008. Fifth in the standings is David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Services/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet), who had finishes at Iowa of 13th in 2007 and 42nd in 2008.

Some of the top NASCAR Camping World Series East drivers, meanwhile, are looking forward to taking the green flag for the first time at Iowa. Alan Tardiff (No. 38 Bestway Disposal Chevrolet), who is third in the overall championship standings, tops the list of newcomers.

Other Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates from that series expected to be at Iowa include Kristin Bumbera (No. 94 Wide Open Energy Drink Dodge), Dominick Casola (No. 61 A Casola Farms Chevrolet), Jason Cochran (No. 72 Cochran Realty/Clark Tire Chevrolet), Jarit Johnson (No. 23 Jarit Johnson Racing Chevrolet), Alex Kennedy (No. 37 Media Master Chevrolet), Matt Kurzejewski (No. 10 American Campus Communities Dodge), Brett Moffitt (No. 44 BrettMoffitt.com Chevrolet) and Ryan Truex (No. 00 NAPA Toyota).

Defending series champion Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino Chevrolet) is among a handful of drivers in the series this year that raced in both previous combination races at Iowa. Kobyluck, who is looking to move up from sixth in the championship standings, finished 36th there in 2007 and eighth last year.

Drivers faced a tough challenge just to make the race last year, with 54 cars attempting to qualify for 44 starting spots. Jody Lavender (No. 88 H&R Block Chevrolet), who currently leads the standings in the NASCAR Camping World Series East, was among those who did not qualify last year

Meanwhile, series veteran Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction Chevrolet), who is fifth in the championship standings, hopes his return to Iowa nets a better result than his 37th-place finish last year.

Other drivers in the top 10 of the championship standings in the NASCAR Camping World Series East who are on the entry list for Iowa include veteran driver Steve Park (No. 35 Waste America Recycle America Chevrolet), who finished seventh last year at Iowa; Dustin Delaney (No. 39 Delaney Infrastructure Chevrolet) and Ryan Duff (No. 7 Pine Branch Coal/Laughlin Performance Chevrolet), who were both among last year's non-qualifiers.

Series veteran John Salemi (No. 63 John Salemi Racing Chevrolet) has had mixed results there. He finished 12th in 2007, but failed to qualify last year. Also making his third trip to Iowa is Jonathan Smith (No. 16 Fadden Racing Chevrolet), who finished 14th there in 2007 and 36th last year.

The Iowa entry list also includes a handful of other veteran drivers from the NASCAR Camping World Series West who have been to both previous visits there. Included are Johnny Borneman (No. 8 Borneman Plastering/Red Line Oil Ford), who finished fourth in 2007 and 28th last year; Brett Thompson (No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet), who finished 7th in 2007 and 40th last year; Daryl Harr (No. 71 WestWorld Computers Chevrolet), who finished 17th in 2007 and 34th last year; and Moses Smith (No. 16 HASA Pools Products/White Flyer Toyota), who after not qualifying in 2007, finished 17th last year.

The NASCAR Camping World Series West has several talented young rookies challenging for the Sunoco Rookie title, who will be getting their first look at Iowa Speedway. They are Paulie Harraka (No. 12 NAPA AutoCare/Adaptive One Brakes Toyota), who is currently sixth in the overall championship standings; Blake Koch (No. 21 GodSpeaks.com Chevrolet), who is ninth in the standings; and Jonathon Gomez (No. 60 Heritage Cattle/D4D Chevrolet), who is 11th in overall points. Other series drivers making their first visit to Iowa Speedway are Wes Banks (No. 3 Valvoline Ford), Billy Kann (No. 18 Interstate Battery Center Chevrolet) and Chris Johnson (No. 50 TCR Ford).

Among drivers getting their second look at Iowa are Jason Patison (No. 17 Lucas Oil/E3 Sparkplugs Chevrolet), who finished 16th there last year; Jim Warn (No. 10 MJ2 Racing/GPI Performance.com Chevrolet), who finished 31st last year; and Jamie Dick (No. 88 Viva Auto Group/Johnnie Walker Performance Center Chevrolet), who finished 35th last year.


The Race: Long John Silver's 200 presented by A&W Restaurants
The Place: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa
The Date: Sunday, May 17
The Time: 4:15 p.m. CT
TV Schedule: SPEED, May 28, 3 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .875-mile paved
Race Purse: $182,587
2008 Winner: Brian Ickler (Overall/East), Jim Inglebright (West)
2008 Pole: Austin Dillon (Overall/East), Jeff Barkshire (West)
Schedule: Saturday: Practice 4:30-6 p.m. Sunday: Final Practice 9-10 a.m.; Time Trials 12:30 p.m.
Track Contact: Mike Beecher (641) 791-8000,
mbeecher@iowaspeedway.com


Richard Petty To Serve As Grand Marshal At Iowa Speedway
Richard Petty, known by his legions of fans as "The King," will serve as the Grand Marshal of the Long John Silver's 200 NASCAR Camping World Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, on Sunday, May 17.

Although Petty retired from competition in 1992 with 200 career wins and seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships, he remains as one of the best-known faces in the sport.

"This should be a lot of fun," Petty said. "I know there are a lot of great race fans in Iowa.

"I've seen some races at the track and it looks to be a great place to watch a race," he said. "If I wasn't the Grand Marshal, I'd buy a ticket myself."

Petty's arrival in Iowa for the first of four NASCAR races in 2009 brings unprecedented star power to Iowa Speedway, said Stan Clement, chief executive officer of Iowa Speedway.

"Richard Petty represents the very best in racing and we are honored to have him serve as the Grand Marshal for our NASCAR East-West race here at Iowa Speedway. His name is synonymous with NASCAR and winning and we are privileged to have him with us here in Iowa."

This will not be Petty's first time to be around the NASCAR Camping World Series West. In the late 1970s, he and several other regulars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competed each year in the final NASCAR Camping World Series West race at the end of the season. Overall, Petty had four wins in the series.


News & Notes
The race ...
The Long John Silver's 200 is the annual NASCAR Camping World Series East-West combination race. It is the only East-West combination event this season for the NASCAR Camping World Series.

The procedure ... The starting field is 44 cars, including provisionals. The first 38 cars will qualify through time trials. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 200 laps (175 miles).

Big win for Ickler in 2008 ... Brian Ickler credits his win at Iowa last year for setting the stage for later success in the season by his family-owned team. "That was big for us last year," said Ickler, who is also running the No. 15 entry as a teammate of the No. 51 of Kyle Busch in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Charlotte on Friday before heading out to Iowa. "It was the first win as our own team – it set off the whole year. That was just a huge confidence booster. We started at Greenville Pickens and had a rough night. The second race was Iowa. We went there and ran great, and beat 40 other cars and Kasey Kahne. It definitely lifted the spirits of everybody on the team. Once you win one, the rest keep coming."


Last Year's Event ...
Brian Ickler drove his family-owned No. 15 Ickler Motorsports Chevrolet to Victory Lane in last year's event at Iowa Speedway. To get there, Ickler had to out-race a field full of some of the top up-and-coming drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series, as well as NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kasey Kahne.

Marc Davis (No. 18 Slim Jim Toyota) crossed the line second, holding off a late charge from Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge), but Davis was credited with a last-place finish after failing post-race technical inspection. The Dale Earnhardt Inc. trio of Trevor Bayne, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Jesus Hernandez finished third through fifth, respectively.

Austin Dillon won his first Coors Light Pole Award in his second career start and finished sixth. Steve Park, Matt Kobyluck, Jim Inglebright and Roglio Lopez rounded out the top 10. Inglebright was the top NASCAR Camping World Series West finisher.

Davis, whose JGR teammate Joey Logano won the race in 2007, led the most laps at 57. There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers.

Davis took the lead for the third time on Lap 141 and, as the race went green for the final 43 laps, slowly built a lead only to see it erased by Ickler. Ickler bobbled briefly after contact with Davis coming out of Turn 2 on Lap 177. Ickler fell back several car lengths, regrouped and resumed pursuit.

Once he got past Davis, Ickler stretched the lead en route to the win.




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.






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