KALISPELL, Montana — Just a week ago Travis Bennett was looking forward to having little to do on Saturday night but stay home with his wife Rachel and three-month old daughter Addison.
That was until defending NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship car owner, Bob Bruncati, called Bennett and offered him the opportunity to drive the No. 9 Grape King/Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil Fusion beginning with this weekend’s Toyota/NAPA Bonus Challenge. To be selected to drive for Bruncati and to return to Montana Raceway Park as a NASCAR driver for the first time since 2004 has humbled Bennett, he said.
“Just being the person that (Bruncati) selected out of the many drivers around the country he could choose is an honor in itself,” the Ellensburg, Wash. native said. “Being able to drive the car at a track that I’ve raced at before makes it that much more special for me and my family.”
Bennett, Gary Lewis (Snohomish, Wash.) and Jonathan Gomez (Twin Falls,
Idaho) will be out to defend the Northwest’s home turf against some of the top drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. All three drivers have had success either on the series or at Montana Raceway Park.
Gomez sits fourth in the chase for the 2010 championship standings while Lewis ran third in his only appearance on the series which came at the season-opening event March 27. Lewis has won four consecutive Coors Light Montana 200 late model races which is considered one of the premier short-track shows on the West Coast and comes off a runner-up finish at the NAPA Idaho 200 last Sunday.
Bennett rides into Montana with a car that is 11th in the owner’s championship standings and has finished inside the top-5 running order at All-American Speedway, a track similar to the high-bank .250-mile facility in Kalispell.
While Bennett has top-5 finishes at MRP on the former NASCAR Northwest Series, getting settled into Bruncati’s Ford is a challenge he’s ready to accept. With five starts on the series last season and a career best finish of fourth in 2007, Bennett is confident in his abilities but understands what lies ahead.
“Getting familiar with the team and the car will be the biggest challenge we’ll face this weekend,” he confirmed. “We are planning on running upfront and have good communication between the team members to get a good finish.”
Tickets for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Toyota/NAPA Bonus Challenge are going fast. Montana Raceway Park and TTC Thornton have put together a two-day ticket package that gives fans the opportunity to watch the Lucas Oil Super Late Model Series and MRP Super Stocks qualifying, trophy dashes, heat races and a main event for the Super Stocks along with on-track action from the NASCAR teams.
On Saturday fans will be able to take in the Lucas Oil Super Late Model Series as they run their Best of the West Tundra 125 along with qualifying and racing for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Toyota/NAPA Bonus Challenge.
For ticket information log onto www.montanaracewaypark.com or call (406) 257-RACE (7223). To have up-to-date information delivered to a cellular phone text MTRACE to 91011.
All of the weekend’s action would not be possible without the support of TTC Thornton, Bill McAnally Racing, Toyota, NAPA, Fun Beverage, Bee Broadcasting, Hilton Garden Inn of Kalispell and Kalispell Toyota Scion.