Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Quiet Before The Storm

California is known for its accommodating weather; nearly every day of the year is sunny and warm. However, with this year’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown moved to January 23rd and 24th, the chance for unfavorable weather has increased slightly. For now, the prerace atmosphere is relatively mild.

The Toyota All-Star Showdown is a non-points, all-star race that brings together the top drivers in NASCAR's Development series. The main event -- contested in NASCAR Camping World Series Cars -- is open to any driver approved to drive on a half-mile or longer tracks in the NASCAR Camping World Series. Considered to be the “Daytona 500 of Short-Track Racing,” this race is a chance for the Camping World Series drivers to showcase their talent in the biggest event of the year. Last year fifty-one drivers attempted to qualify for the forty starting positions.

Several teams have been to the track in Irwindale, California to take advantage of a testing day before the January 1, 2009 NASCAR testing band. However, only a few lap times have been officially announced.

Jim Warn of MJ2 Racing stated "We're real happy with the progress we made on the cars during the off-season. The car is really comfortable and I can just flat drive it into the corner and know it will hook up on the exit. We were consistently running 18.4 and 18.5's most of the session so we really like our chances at the Showdown." (Sean Caisse’s time of 18.271 seconds placed him on pole for the race last year.) Warn just completed his first year in the Camping World Series West. Out of eleven starts, he earned four top-ten finishes and suffered only on DNF.

I was able to interview 2008 Camping World Series West Most Popular Driver Moses Smith during his testing day at Irwindale. He was very happy to be back in his race car.

“It was nice to get back in the car after the holidays. It was also nice to work with Mario Isola who will be crew chiefing my car. Mario and I have always seen each other at the track and have talked, but this was the first time we were able to work together. I think it went well…I am looking forward to the showdown….” Moses finished his 2008 season in the Camping World Series West in sixth place with three top-five and ten top-ten finishes.

The official entry list is not out yet, however, below is an unofficial list of drivers who have already committed to running in the event:

Austin Dillon
Brian Ickler
Eric Holmes
Greg Pursley
Eddie MacDonald
Moses Smith
Jason Bowles
Jeff Barkshire
Marc Davis
Joey Logano
Matt Crafton
Matt Kobyluck
Mike David
Peyton Sellers
Ron Hornaday Jr.
Scott Steckly

If you cannot make it out to the track, both days of race action will be broadcast live on SPEED beginning at 7 p.m. pacific time.

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