NWS: Evergreen II: Round five preview
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES ROOKIE JASON FRASER PREPARES FOR EVERGREEN SPEEDWAY HOMECOMING Evergreen's Inner 3/8-mile oval a Favorite of Former Motorcycle Racing Champ DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2006) -- For ...
NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, NORTHWEST SERIES ROOKIE JASON FRASER PREPARES FOR EVERGREEN SPEEDWAY HOMECOMING
Evergreen's Inner 3/8-mile oval a Favorite of Former Motorcycle Racing Champ
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 7, 2006) -- For NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series driver Jason Fraser, four is better than two.
Fraser's stock car racing career is just two years old. The Snohomish, Wash. resident waited until the time was right to get behind the wheel of a racecar. In July 2004, he bought a Super Stock out of Tom Moriarity's stable and joined the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. He raced in just six events that summer with his sights set on the 2005 season.
He came into 2005 loaded for bear and ready to win the track championship. The problem was there was a young man by the name of Shane Harding standing in the way. Harding, the 2004 runner-up in the Super Stock division, had his own plans to capture the crown.
"We battled all year long," said the 32 year-old Fraser. "It wasn't one of those rivalries etched in history, but we both know the fast way around those tracks." Evergreen Speedway uses both a 3/8-mile and a .646-mile oval over the course of a season. "It was intense and we had our ups and downs, but we always left the track having shaken hands."
Harding eventually won the championship with Fraser right behind him. It may have been a disappointment, but hardly the sort of achievement to scoff at for a young man in just his first full season in a stock car.
"Obviously, I would have liked to have beat him, but we did pretty well, all things considered, as I look back on it. The competition was great." Fraser says.
Fraser is no stranger to competition. While his stock car experience is limited to just two years, his racing career extends several years beyond that.
Racing, whether it is cars, trucks or, even, motorcycles, is a sport of opportunity and one presented itself to Fraser one day at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.
Just out of high school, Fraser and several friends liked motorcycles and motorcycle racing. "We went down to [Pacific Raceways] to watch a race one day and they needed volunteers to work the turns," he recalls. Motorcycles race on the 10-turn 2.25 mile road course that winds up and down through natural wooded terrain. "Well, we ended up being regular turn workers that year."
"To make a long story short, this one day this guy comes down and wrecks in the corner I was working. He gets up and says, 'That's it. I'm done. I'm selling all my equipment.' He didn't tear it up too bad and the crazy thing was that we were just about the same exact size. So, I decided to buy all his stuff and try my hand at it."
Fraser's hand was pretty good. He went on to win rookie-of-the-year honors and state championships in both Washington and Oregon on the two-wheeled circuit. Eventually, he joined the national Open Superbike circuit.
"I raced bikes for about four and a half years, but all the traveling once I joined the national series was getting to be too much. I was never that much of a motorcycle freak and I wanted to work on my business," he says. "So, I got out of that, but what I really wanted to do was race cars. Racing bikes was more of a fiscal decision at the time, but once I got my automobile wholesale business going well I was able to chase my dream of driving a racecar."
Fraser moved into the 2006 Northwest Series as a rookie in the truest sense of the word. "Before this year, I had never even touched a tour car," he states. His performance belies his experience. In four events, he has collected a pair of top-10 finishes including a third-place finish in his debut race at Meridian (Idaho) Speedway on April 30.
The anticipation of returning to his familiar stomping grounds of Evergreen Speedway can be sensed in the voice of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender. "I am very excited at the proposition of racing on the 3/8's track," he says. The Northwest Series has not raced on that track since May 8, 2004 perhaps giving a slight edge to both Fraser and Harding, who laid down several laps on the smaller oval last season.
"I don't know if it is a real advantage or not. I have never been on that track in a tour car and tour tires and most of the other competitors have raced in Northwest Series events on the 3/8's," he says. "But, Shane and I have the most recent experience and success on it. It's the track I learned on, so I know it pretty well. I know what the track wants and the best line to take. That is where I may have a little edge on everyone, except Shane."
Fraser feels that if his No. 31 Rich's Car Corner/BRI team can identify, early on, the set-up of the car, an area in which they don't have a huge catalog of information, then they'll be in pretty good shape because they won't need to figure out the track.
"With 28 cars out on that track and everybody just about even, in terms of speed, it's gonna be fun."
Tickets and information about this event can be obtained by calling the speedway office at (360) 805-6100 or by visiting www.evergreenspeedway.com.
What: Top Foods/Haggen's Wired X Energy Drink 125 (Race No. 5 of 11 in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series).
Where: Evergreen Speedway, Monroe, Wash.
When: 8:30 p.m. PDT (approx.), Saturday, July 15, 2006
Track layout: 3/8-mile oval
Race length: 125 laps/46.875 miles.
Posted awards: $48,578
2005 winner: Pete Harding (on .646-mile track).
2005 polesitter: Travis Bennett (on .646-mile track).
Top 10 in points: 1. Gary Lewis -- 700; 2; Travis Bennett -- 620; 3. Jay Sauls -- 581; 4. Jeff Barkshire -- 570; 5. Mike Longton -- 550; 6. Wilbur Bruce -- 545; 7. Brandon Riehl -- 533; 8. Shane Mitchell - 527; 9. Garrett Evans -- 518; 10. B.J. Tidrick - 499
Pre-race schedule (all times local): Sat., 7/15 - 10:00 a.m. Registration opens; 1:30-2:15 p.m. Practice; 3:00-3:30 p.m. Practice; 5:00 p.m. Time Trials; 8:30 p.m. Top Foods/Haggen's Wired X Energy Drink 125.