1997 Review: Three NASCAR Winston Cup Series drivers dominated the inaugural NASCAR Winston West Series event at California Speedway, with Ken Schrader claiming the victory. Butch Gilliland raced Mike Wallace for the runner-up spot in the final laps before fading to fourth.
Wrapping up Phoenix:
The 37 cars that attempted to make the field at Phoenix were more than any of the fields tat competed in NWWS stand-alone events there from 1977 to 1984.
Eight cars finished on the lead lap at PIR. The most cars to finish on the lead lap in the previous stand-alone events there was six in 1983.
The top finisher among the 15 contenders for the Sears Point Raceway Rookie-of-the-Year Award was Brandon Ash. The 20-year-old Umpqua, Ore., driver turned in hi best career finish in the series with a fifth.
Nipper Alsup of Moorseville, N.C., finished 13th at Phoenix in his debut in the series. Also competing in their first NWWS race was Moto Nakaji of Chiba City, Japan, who finished 15th and Dirk Piz of Denver, Colo., who was credited with 18th.
Kevin Harvick and Gary Smith, both with a 5.3 average, have the best average finish in the three races that have been run.
Smith and Sean Woodside have completed the most laps in the three NWWS events. They are the only drivers to complete all 450 laps run. Smith and Woodside, who both finished in the top three of the championship standings last year, are in their sophomore season in the series.
Smith and Woodside are the only drivers in the series to finish in the top 10 in all three races so far. Smith drives the Midgley Racing Pontiac while Woodside pilots the Golden West Motorsports Pontiac.
Harvick has led the most laps in competition this season. He has had the Spears Motorsports Chevrolet out front for 203 laps. He is the only driver to lead in all three events.
Turning to Fontana:
The Auto Club 200 is the fourth of 14 events on the schedule and the first of two visits by the series to California Speedway this season. The race, on of six superspeedway races slated for the series in 1998, will be televised nationally by cable network ESPN2.
This is the first of three races on the NWWS schedule in the month of May. The three events include this superspeedway race on May 2; a road course at Heartland Park Topeka (Kan.) on May 17; and a short track race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif., on May 24.
David Green, a NASCAR Winston Cup Series regular won the Bud Pole Award for the inaugural event on the 2-mile superspeedway last year.
NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Ken Schrader, who is entered in this year's event, won the inaugural NASCAR Winston West Series race at California Speedway in 1997. He is slated to drive the Skoal Chevrolet owned by Andy Petree.
Mike Dillon -- a regular in the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division -- has entered, also, he is set to drive the Golden Gate-RCR West Chevrolet owned by Jim Offenbach.
Ron Hornaday, the 1996 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and a former NASCAR Winston West Series competitor, is scheduled to compete at California Speedway in the Bill Strauser-owned BMR Motorsports Chevrolet.
The 1994 NASCAR Winston West Series champion, Mike Chase, is slated to compete at Fontana, also. The Redding, Calif., native will drive the Gene Christensen-owned Chevrolet.
Stat of the Week:
Rich Woodland Jr., has finished in the top 10 in more than half of the NWWS races he has competed in since 1992. With his victory at Phoenix, he has 31 top-10 finishes in 60 races.
This Date in NASCAR Winston West Series:
April 30, 1978 -- Jimmy Insolo beat Bill Schmitt and Gary Johnson in a 100-lap event at Shasta Speedway in Anderson, Calif.
May 1, 1997 -- Bill Schmitt won on the road course of Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, Calif. Dennis Wilson was second, followed by Gary Johnson.
May 1, 1970 -- Jack McCoy won a 100-lap race from the pole position at San Gabriel Valley Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. Ray Elder finished in the runner-up spot.