For Totem Travel Rookie of the Year candidate Matt Kelley, Kirkland, Wash., the 2000 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series season has gone better than expected, in spite of the steep learning curve. Through the first seven races of the season, Kelley finds himself in fifth place in the series championship standings. He has put together one top-five (a runner-up finish at Portland International Raceway) and four top-ten finishes.
Kelley, a milk man for sponsor G.V. White Enterprises, spent six years in the street stocks division at Evergreen Speedway before moving up to the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series division of Super Stocks. Kelley found success at Evergreen Speedway and felt this was the year to move to the place that he always wanted to be. "I've always wanted to run the tour," said Kelley. "But my dad wasn't sure I was ready for that yet. We came into the season with the goal of winning the rookie of the year title and finish in the top-ten in points. We were surprised to find ourselves in second place after four races. All of a sudden our goal changed to winning the title. The last few races have brought us back to our original goals. We just need to go to the race track and learn what we need to do and not worry about the points."
Like most rookies, Kelley's biggest challenge is learning the tracks that the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series runs on. "The first couple runs during practice are for me to learn the track," said Kelley of his process for learning the new tracks. "Then we try a qualifying setup. We haven't been too successful at qualifying. So we always seem to be starting at the back of the field. After about 40 laps, I get the place figured out and start moving up through the field."
Kelley will try his hand next at the track he has been most looking forward to racing on, Tri-City Raceway in West Richland, Wash., in the Hall Chevrolet 125 next Saturday, June 17. "I am looking forward to racing that place," said Kelley. "It looks like a blast. I've waited a long time to run there."
Nine NASCAR Touring Series blanket the United States, bringing special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses. NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks. Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include R.J. Reynolds, Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, OšReilly Auto Parts, Slim Jim, Goodyšs Headache Powders, Raybestos Brakes and the RE/MAX Realty Corp.