Southwest Sizzle

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There is something to be said for experience. The term veteran usually conjures up images that include experience. When the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series heads to Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. Saturday, April 9, experience may well be the key ingredient for success.

Bob Lyon, Doug McCoun, and M.K. Kanke all hold the prestigious title of “veteran” in the Southwest Series. Since 1986, the trio has competed in a combined total of 664 series races. Those number of starts have elevated the three to elite status in the series where younger drivers will seek there council.

Since 1987, Lyon, of Agua Dulce, Calif., has started more races than any other driver in series history (272) and has made over fifty starts at Mesa Marin Raceway. Lyon’s lone victory at MMR came back in 1993 but he intends on adding another win to his career statistics soon.

“This is a tough series,” Lyon said. “We has struggled the last couple of season, but I feel we have what it takes to run up front again. If we run up front, then we can win.”

McCoun calls Prunedale, Calif. home, and has made over forty starts at Mesa Marin. His last series victory came at MMR back in 2002.

“I really love running at Mesa Marin,” McCoun said. “This is a tough old track that forces you to save your tires to know when to make a run. I like coming here as the races always come right down to the end. Nobody generally runs away from the field.”

By far the most successful of the three series veterans at MMR is Kanke, a resident of Frazier Park, Calif., who has scored four victories at the half-mile high-banked oval. MMR is also the site of his last Bud Pole Award which he won last season. Kanke sits second on the all-time Bud Pole list with 28 and would like nothing more than sweeping the action at MMR April 9.

“I have run a partial schedule that last several years and I am excited to be back full-time and ready to return to Mesa Marin,” Kanke said. “Mesa Marin always produces great races; I plan to be there at the end.”

While Lyon, McCoun, and Kanke can look at history to guide them, series point leader Burney Lamar from W. Sacramento, Calif. is living in the present. Lamar recently signed a development deal with Kevin Harvick Motorsports to drive in six NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series races and three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races this season. He also plans to chase the championship in the Southwest Series as long as he continues to stay in the point’s hunt. Lamar has eleven Southwest Series starts at MMR but has only produced one top five finish.

“I have had good runs going at Mesa, but something has happened late in the race,” Lamar said. “I am really looking forward to this year’s race. HPS and Victory Circle are my sponsors and they sponsor the race. Les (Denherder, team owner) is based here and it would be huge for his company if we were to win. I can’t wait.”

Ø Jeff Jefferson from Naches, Wash. is the defending two-time champion of the Northwest Series and will run the entire Southwest Series schedule as well as the Northwest Series schedule in 2005. Jefferson finished sixth at Phoenix in round one and will visit Mesa Marin for the first time April 9. Brandon Riehl will join Jefferson on the Southwest Series in 2005. Riehl has been a regular on the Northwest Series the past two seasons.

Ø Burney Lamar and team owner Les DenHerder of HPS Mechanical will donate all the winnings from the race to cancer research. Lamar will also contest the NASCAR Grand National West Series “Lucas Oil 150” driving for team owner Kevin Harvick. It will be Lamar’s first race driving for Kevin Harvick, Inc.

Ø Joe Herold will partner with Racing for the Missing, a division of the Nation’s Missing Children Organization (NMCO) for the 2005 racing season. Herold from Del Mar, Calif. currently sits 11th in the 2005 point standings and has three career top ten finishes at MMR.

Ø The 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National champion Greg Pursley returns to the Southwest Series full-time in 2005 driving for Craig Keough’s Star Nursery Motorsports team. Pursley finished 12th at Phoenix and has two runner-up finishes at MMR.

Ø Both Series - The first time in Mesa Marin history, the half-mile oval will host both the NASCAR Grand National West Series and NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series on the same night.

Ø Television Coverage - Both the NASCAR Grand National West Series “Lucas Oil 150” and the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series “HPS/Victory Circle 150” will be nationally televised on HDNet.

Ø Mesa Marin Raceway will hold a press conference featuring the drivers of the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series on Thursday, April 7 at: Superkart Racing located at 7021 B Schirra Ct., Bakersfield, CA 93309--- Directions from Hwy 99: Exit Hwy 99 at White Lane West on White Lane to Ashe Rd.Left on Ashe Rd. 1 block to Schirra Ct. Right on Schirra Ct. 1/4 mile to Superkart Racing on left.

Ø Mesa Marin will hold a special Media Day and race practice on Friday, April 8 from 2:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Haulers will park at 12 noon.

**NASCAR PR

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2005

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