Keeping Pace

Top Names In Short-Track Racing Head For Showdown

Joey Lagano looks to add to his K&N Pro Series accomplishments this weekend in Irwindale, California. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR).
Joey Lagano looks to add to his K&N Pro Series accomplishments this weekend in Irwindale, California. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR).

It’s become the pinnacle of short-track racing in America, and this year’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown looks to build on that reputation with an entry list that represents eight NASCAR Developmental Series championships and includes two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars including Joey Lagano.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The all-star event, termed the “Daytona 500 of short-track racing,” is slated for Friday and Saturday, Jan. 29-30, at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif.

The entry list for the weekend’s main attraction, Saturday night’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series race, features a couple of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who are coming home, so to speak.

Joey Logano, who won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year Award in NASCAR’s premier series last season, will be driving an entry for car owner Mike Olsen. Logano, of Middletown, Conn., won the K&N Pro Series East championship in 2007.

David Gilliland, who won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2007, will be behind the wheel of an entry for Jennifer Wong. Gilliland, of Riverside, Calif., is a second-generation competitor who won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West in 2004.

The entry list also features several recently crowned 2009 champions - Ryan Truex, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; Jason Bowles, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West; Andrew Ranger, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, and George Brunnhoelzl III, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

In addition to Logano, other former champions on the entry list include two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Eric Holmes (2006 and 2008) and the 2008 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion, Matt Kobyluck.

Also among this year’s entries are Steve Park, who has victories in all three national series in NASCAR, and Auggie Vidovich, who raced in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2006.

Former NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown winners include Kobyluck, who won the prestigious event last year and in 2006, Logano, who won in 2007, and Gilliland, who won in 2005.

Holmes and Vidovich each had Showdown victories in the former NASCAR Elite Division race in 2004 and 2005, respectively.

Another NASCAR K&N Pro Series competitor, Greg Pursley, earned a Showdown trophy by capturing the Super Late Model race in 2007.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature races are equally stacked with headliners, led by track champion Nick Joanides. Joanides, who finished third in the nation, became the first driver in track history to claim the AC Delco Super Late Model and the Auto Club Late Model championships in the same season.

Four-time track champion Rip Michels leads the Super Late Model challengers, and he will be joined by defending race winner Travis Thirkettle, 2009 national rookie of the year Jacob Gomes and Gilliland.

Former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion and Toyota Speedway track champion Sean Woodside is scheduled for double duty.

In the Late Model race, Joanides will be joined by Woodside, Holmes, defending race champion Mike Johnson, three-time track Late Model champ Tim Huddleston and Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway champ Justin Philpott.

Showdown Notes

 

The event … This marks the seventh running of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. It will be highlighted by the 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series all-star race. The schedule also includes a 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race and a 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race.

The procedure … The NASCAR K&N Pro Series competition is open to any driver approved to drive on half-mile or longer tracks in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Each race winner during the 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series season is eligible for a protected starting spot. In addition, 2009 series champions of NASCAR's regional touring series and the 2009 national champion for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series are also eligible for protected starting spots. In addition to eligible 2009 race winners and series champions, the starting lineup is determined through time trials, limited provisionals for NASCAR K&N Pro Series regulars, and the last-chance "Open" race that provides drivers one final chance to make the grid.

Qualifying … Sean Caisse holds the qualifying record for the event with a lap of 18.271 seconds/98.517 mph in 2007. Note: Qualifying has only been held in the past two events.

Multiple wins … Matt Kobyluck is the only driver to reach Victory Lane more than once in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. He won last year’s event and also in 2006.

More on Kobyluck … Kobyluck is the only driver to compete in all six previous all-star events. His average finish in those six races is 3.66. He has registered five top-five finishes, more than any driver. With five top-10 finishes, he also leads that category.

Prior winners … In addition to Kobyluck, other prior winners of the all-star event on the entry list include NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Joey Logano (2007) and David Gilliland (2005).

Leading The Way … Logano has led the most laps of competition in the K&N Pro Series race. He led 87 laps in 2007 and 83 laps last year, for a total of 170.

 

The Race: NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown

The Place: Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.)

The Date: Friday, Jan. 29 &

Saturday, Jan. 30

The Event: 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race (Friday); 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race and 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series races (Saturday)

The Time: 7 p.m. PT (both days)

TV Schedule: Live on SPEED

Beginning at 7 p.m. PT both days

Radio Schedule: Live on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio

Beginning at 7 p.m. PT both days

Track Layout: .5-mile oval

2009 Winners:

Matt Kobyluck (K&N Pro Series)

Travis Thirkettle (Super Late Model)

Mike Johnson (Late Model)

2009 Poles:

Chris Johnson (K&N Pro Series)

Qualifying cancelled (Super Late Model)

Qualifying cancelled (Late Model)

Track Contact:

Kevin O’Brien

(626) 358-1100 or

kobrien@toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com

NASCAR Contact:

Jason Christley

(386) 310-6094 or

jchristley@nascar.com

 

Change In Distance, Change In Strategy?

 

With the distance changed from 250 to 225 laps for this year’s feature race, it may change the race strategy for some. Once again, the event will be run in three segments — with a break after the first 100 laps and another break after the second 200 laps.

Shortening the final portion from 50 to 25 laps will make the second segment more crucial, according to veteran crew chief and former driver Steve Portenga.

“The key is the segment before the final 25 laps,” he said. “That’s where track position is going to be crucial. If you’re in the top two or three rows for that last 25 laps and you’ve got your car right, that’s going to be the key.”

One thing that hasn’t changed is the philosophy of taking care of your car, Portenga said. “You’ve got to be aggressively smart,” he said. “You can get a little minor damage here or there, but if you knock the fenders in or get the toe messed up, don’t expect that thing to run fast in the last 25 laps.”

Portenga, who won the inaugural NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Toyota Speedway in 1999, raced in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown three times.

 

Sirius Fan Fest Events Kick Off Showdown Week

 

Many of NASCAR’s top short track drivers will be competing in this year’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale on Jan. 29-30. Fans will get a chance to meet some of those drivers in advance of the prestigious all-star race with two Fan Fest events this week.

The two special events – slated from 6 to 9 p.m. each evening – will be at Clubhouse 66 Restaurant in Glendora on Wednesday, Jan. 27, and at the Longo Toyota dealership in El Monte on Thursday, Jan. 28. Both nights will feature a chance to meet the drivers, an autograph session and a live broadcast on SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Gilliland, who hails from nearby Riverside, is among a slate of drivers slated to attend the Fan Fest on Wednesday. Joining him will be 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Jason Bowles of Ontario and the 2009 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Ryan Truex. Also from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be Matt DiBenedetto. Local drivers Rip Michels and Mackena Bell will also be on hand to meet and greet fans. Clubhouse 66 Restaurant is located at 1200 E. Route 66 in Glendora.

The Fan Fest event at Longo Toyota on Thursday will feature NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano, who won the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2007. Matt Kobyluck, the 2008 NASCAR K&N Pro Series champion, will join Logano – along with two-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion Eric Holmes and Paulie Harraka, who won the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West last season.  Longo Toyota is located at 3534 N. Peck Road in El Monte.

Both Fan Fest events will feature a live broadcast from 7-8 p.m. on SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio with Pat Patterson.

The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown will be highlighted by the 225-lap Camping World Series all-star race. The schedule also includes 100-lap Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model and 75-lap Late Model races.

 

Last year’s event …

 

Matt Kobyluck is no stranger to wild finishes at the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown and he once again got the best of a three-car, last-lap free-for-all to end up in Victory Lane. In the process, the Uncasville, Conn., driver became the first to win two NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdowns. Joey Logano slid up into Peyton Sellers while going for the lead in Turn 4 coming to the checkered flag. Kobyluck, who was running third, came across the start-finish line a nose behind Logano. Logano was penalized for his move, though, giving Kobyluck a second NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown to go with the one he won in 2006. “I saw it coming,” Kobyluck said. “So I laid up a little, got on the brakes and cut to the bottom so that I could miss it all. The writing was on the wall. I’ve been here and doing this enough to know what the outcome was going to be one way or the other. I just didn’t want to get caught up in it.” Trevor Bayne wound up second, followed by Jason Bowles. Logano finished 40th. Johnny Borneman and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Matt Crafton rounded out the top five. It was the first year the event was held in January.




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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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