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Local NASCAR Champions Seek New Challenges

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For Immediate Release




SAN ANTONIO, TX (April 6, 2005) -- All four of the 2004 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champions from San Antonio Speedway (SAS) will be trying to do something new and different, starting with the 2005 season opener this Saturday night (April 9) that's slated for 7:27 p.m.


The 2003 and 2004 NASCAR SAS Late Model Champion, Larry Bendele, has just purchased a new toy for his "racing toy box." Last month, Bendele and his wife Rosemary made a trip to Kentucky to pick up a Ford Taurus Super Late Model. Bendele entered his "toy" in the USRA (United States Racing Association) Super Late Model inaugural race last weekend at San Antonio Speedway, but he was unable to complete the race due to a power steering problem. Bendele plans to try the car out at different tracks this year, but he also wants to occasionally race his Late Model Monte Carlo at SAS. "I want to race whatever and whenever it's convenient," said Bendele. "Rather than go through the stress of competing in the NASCAR weekly points' races, I want to free up my time to do other things with my family. But I still want to show up on a Saturday night and play the role of 'spoiler' and add an unexpected twist to the points' race, similar to what a couple of other racers have done in the past." Larry's son Brandon Bendele is also a past NASCAR SAS Late Model champion and NASCAR regional titleholder. They plan to travel together and compete against each other in some of the USRA Super Late Model races this year.


Defending SAS Sportsman champion and NASCAR regional winner, Justin Oates, is planning to run as many NASCAR SAS Late Model races as possible during the 2005 season. At the end of last year's season, Oates became the youngest driver ever to capture the NASCAR ShorTrack regional title at the age of 17. Now that he's turned 18, Oates is moving up to Late Models, both at San Antonio Speedway and with the Texas Super Racing Series (TSRS). "I want to gain experience at different tracks to help advance my racing career opportunities," stated Oates. Most of his focus at the beginning of the season will be directed towards the Late Model class at SAS. "But I'm going to have to miss the first race of the season . . . I'm headed to the prom on Saturday night," added Oates. He is a senior at LaVernia High School, and his father Jason Oates is also a past champion at SAS. The younger Oates broke his dad's track record last weekend during qualifying in the Sportsman class.


Greg Rohmer captured the 2004 SAS Road Runner title, and he's also moving up the NASCAR ladder. Rohmer will be racing in the NASCAR SAS Sportsman class this year, and he plans to be a part of the season opener this Saturday. At this point, Rohmer is not sure if he'll pursue the Sportsman title. "I just want to take it one race at a time and see how everything works out," commented Rohmer.


On the other hand, Kelly Earnhardt hopes to repeat her championship in the NASCAR SAS Women on Wheels (WOW) class. Since the same type of car is used in the Road Runner class, she plans to join the Road Runner "guys" for a few races this season. "I want to race in the Road Runner class more often to gain some 'seat time' and experience," stated Earnhardt. "I even have a spare engine and transmission ready, just in case I run into some problems with my car." Earnhardt is distantly related to the Dale Earnhardt clan, so it's no wonder that she's inherited some racing genes from the Earnhardt family tree. Her two brothers, Charlie Earnhardt and George Reyes, also compete at SAS.


To check out these drivers and their fellow competitors, join the live NASCAR racing action at San Antonio Speedway this Saturday night (April 9). Grandstand gates will open at 5:00 p.m., with opening ceremonies scheduled for 7:15 p.m. The first green flag will wave at 7:27 p.m.


San Antonio Speedway is a half-mile NASCAR-sanctioned oval asphalt track that is located at 14901 State Highway 16 South (Poteet Highway), about 3.5 miles outside of Loop 410. The speedway can be accessed easily by taking IH 35 South and exiting on Highway 16 South (left exit), just past South Park Mall. The race hotline number is (210) 628-1499, and the track's website can be found at http://www.sanantoniospeedway.com.




For More Information, Contact:


Debbie Williams, San Antonio Speedway Public Relations, (210) 685-0400 or debwill@sanantoniospeedway.com

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