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NASCAR West News and Notes

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida -- When the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series heads to Texas this week - it will mark a homecoming for one young driver. Eighteen-year-old Andrew Lewis (No. 18 BMR Chevrolet) grew up and began his racing career in Dallas.

Needless to say, he has been looking forward to the Allstate Texas Thunder 200 presented by Main Street Homes & The Central Texas Chevy Dealers at Thunder Hill Raceway on Saturday, Oct. 1.


While most drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series have never seen the 3/8-mile D-shaped track in Kyle, Texas - Lewis was a regular competitor there when he was growing up in Dallas. "I'm definitely excited to get to go run down there," Lewis said. "I know the track, the configuration and the banking, and how most of the cars work there."


Lewis, the leading candidate for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, does not consider his experience there will be a major benefit, however. "I don't see it as too much of an advantage, because it's been a couple of years since I've seen the place and the last time I ran it I was in a car that was about 2,000 pounds lighter than the West cars," Lewis said of his competition there in the Legend car series.


While nearly every venue on the schedule up until now has presented Lewis with the challenge of learning a track for the first time, this one will obviously be different. "I should be able to pick this one up a little faster than the rest of the tracks," he said of the Thunder Hill facility. "I've been able to see it and I know some of the characteristics, but I'm still going to have to get use to how the big cars go around that track."


The short track, located just south of Austin, is different than most facilities visited by the West Series, according to Lewis. "It's a little bit different than all of them," he said. "It's a great track. It's a fast three-eighths, D-shaped oval. The West (Series) cars will really get going around there."


While he does not expect his experience at Thunder Hill to benefit him much on track, Lewis hopes his time in Texas will reflect off track. "I've talked to everyone I use to race against in the Legend car series," he said. "They're all pretty excited that I've made it as far as I have."



"They still consider me a Texas boy," Lewis continued. "So, that's kind of cool for them to see their Texas boy get out there and run with the West guys."


Lewis, who moved with his family to Southern California in 2001 and now makes his home in Corona, raced last year in the NASCAR-sanctioned Late Model class at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. He made his debut in the West Series at this year's season opener. Since then, he was the top finishing rookie in three of 10 races and has led the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings for most of the season. He is 10th in the overall championship standings, with one top-five and four top-10 finishes.


While he is close to one goal he set for himself this year, Lewis is coming up a little short of another. "I was kind of hoping to do a little better in the points," he said. "We were looking for the Rookie of the Year title and a top five in points. The top five in points is not looking good for us after the last couple of races."


Nonetheless, Lewis remains somewhat philosophical. "We didn't have bad luck at the beginning of the season," he said. "We caught a lot of lucky breaks. Now we're kind of paying our dues."


Meanwhile, Lewis credits veterans in the West Series with helping him and other members of the freshman class in developing. "They've really taught me a lot," Lewis said. "They're all willing to help and that's great. It's definitely cool to be able to have guys like Mike Duncan, Scott Lynch and Steve Portenga be able tell us how to get around these places, what they're doing and how their cars are going. I really appreciate all of them doing that."




The race . The Allstate Texas Thunder 200 presented by Main Street Homes & The Central Texas Chevy Dealers is the 11th event in a 12-race series schedule this year. It marks the only visit this year by the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series to the state of Texas.


The track . Thunder Hill Raceway is a 3/8-mile D-shaped paved oval with nine degrees banking in turns one and four, 12 degrees banking in the turns two and three, six degrees banking in the front straight and five degrees of banking in the back straight. This marks the first visit to the track by the West Series.


Texas style big event . Many special things are planned for this event by Full Throttle Productions. In addition to advance promotions and a special pre-race dinner for sponsors and teams on Friday, various activities are planned the day of the race. Those include an interactive race activity for the kids, vendor booths and a VIP corporate village for the major sponsors involved in the event. Additional temporary seating is also being brought in to accommodate the anticipated turnout of fans.


Musical entertainment . Special musical entertainment is planned on Saturday. The event is to incorporate live concerts throughout the day by various recording groups. Those slated to perform include Little Texas, Patricia Vonne and Vallejo.


Previous visits to Texas . The only visits by the West Series to the Lone Star state have been for combination events with another series. West Series drivers participated in two combination events (1969 and 1971) with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series at Texas World Speedway in College Station. The West Series was also involved in two combination races with ARCA (1992 and 1993) at the 2-mile superspeedway.


Second title? . Scott Lynch (No. 08 Mr. Gas Dodge) has the upper hand in the quest to win a second series championship. He leads the point standings by a slim 33-point margin over Mike Duncan (No. 9 Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet) - 1,689 to 1,656. Lynch won the series title as a rookie in 2003. Duncan, meanwhile, won last year's championship and his aiming for back-to-back titles.


Close battles throughout . The five drivers in seventh through 11th in the championship standings are also in a tight points battle. Tim Woods III (No. 54 Chino Hills Ford Ford), Scott Gaylord (No. 00 Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet), Daryl Harr (No. 71 WestWorld Motorsports Chevrolet), Andrew Lewis (No. 18 BMR Chevrolet) and Andrew Myers (No. 44 Toyota of Escondido Chevrolet) are separated by just 71 points.


Identical leads on both coasts . Thirty-three points separate the top two drivers in the West Series (Lynch and Duncan) after 10 races. The top two drivers in the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch North Series - Andy Santerre and Mike Stefanik - were also separated by 33 points after 10 races. Santerre, who is attempting to win his fourth consecutive Busch North championship, led Stefanik 1,633 to 1,600 heading into Dover, Del., this past weekend.


Speaking of Dover . The West Series was represented by two drivers in the Busch North race this past weekend at Dover International Speedway. (Brett Thompson No. 61 Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet) started 15th and finished 10th, while Jack Sellers (No. 15 Aramark Pontiac) started 29th and finished 29th in the 150-lap race on the Monster Mile.


Key positions . The top 15 drivers in the West Series and the top 15 in the Busch North Series will be invited to compete in the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Nov. 10-12. The event awards nearly $500,000 to competitors and will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel.

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