Tonight will be a homecoming of sorts for Carson City's Jerry Allec Jr. and C.J. Bawden when the Northern Tour 100 Super Late Model stock car race is held at Champion Speedway.
The eighth stop this season for the touring North State Challenge Series, tonight's 100-lap feature race will showcase drivers from Northern California, Nevada and Oregon. Racing action will also include the local Late Model Sportsman class, with the gates opening at 5 p.m., qualifying at 6 and racing at 7:15. The Northern Tour 100 feature race is tentatively scheduled to start at 9.
Among the entries are Mike Doss of Nice Calif., the current points leader who holds a narrow advantage over defending series champion Bill Binns of Upper Lake, Calif., followed by Randy Houston of Portland, Ore., Josh Bews of Roseville, Calif., and rookie Derek Thorn.
Houston has been the hottest driver on the tour lately, with two straight wins and three in his last seven races. He led flag-to-flag over 75 laps en route to winning the third annual Chuck Williams Memorial last Saturday night at Ukiah Speedway.
"There's supposed to be 20, 30 cars, so I think it'll be a great show," Bawden said. "Since this might be the (track's) last year, it's really nice this series is able to come back here."
Allec and Bawden haven't raced in Carson City in a while, but long-time local fans are familiar with both. Allec has won a season championship and ttwice finished as a runner-up - "I have at least 25 main event wins on this track," he said. Bawden won the Desert Rose Series Late Model Series at Champion and set a track fast time record in 2001.
Both hope to perform well on their hometown track.
"We've been putting in a new motor. Harold Long has been working with us all week to get it in, and we appreciate his help," Bawden said. "We ran with his motors last year and they're very strong motors, so we're hoping to go out and run in the top five."
Allec, who spent time on NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series tour in 2002 and '03, is looking forward to racing at Champion for the first time in at least four years, when he won an Intermountain Late Model Series 100-lapper. He also looks forward to racing a Super Late Model again (he was twice a runner-up in the old Nor Cal Series in the 1990s).
"Anytime I race, I'm always looking for first or second, or a top five at the very least," he said. "I haven't raced in one of these in three or four years. We don't have any heat races to, but luckily, we're getting some practice time tomorrow morning, so I'll get to run some hot laps, we'll dial in the chassis and weight distribution, bolt the tires on and get ready for qualifying."
For Bawden, this is a chance to gain a little redemption in what has been a difficult 2005 season.
"This year has been real hit and miss. We've had a lot of little gremlins bugging us, just a lot of little things have gone wrong," he added. "We've missed four races and our best finish has been an eighth, but we're looking to get it turned around here."
Bawden ranked among the leaders in 2004 when he finished fourth in the points during his first season on the tour.
"Last year was a good year," he said. "We ran in every race, we had six top-five finishes and we had the fast time qualifying once, so it was a great year for my team."
Allec got a taste of NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, where he finished 27th at Pikes Peak in 2002 and 34th in Las Vegas in 2003. Tonight will be his first race behind the wheel this year.
"My daughter, (9-year-old) Samantha Schultz, was the Beginner Box Stock spring season champion out at Thunder Bowl and I've been working as her crew chief, so that's kept me busy," he said.
Of course, he is happy to have a solid crew of his own.
"Luckily, I have Clark Voucher and a some good guys to help me get set up. If you don't have a good crew or good system put together, you aren't going to win or go anywhere," said Allec, whose No. 50 car is sponsored by Capital City Auto Parts.
Bawden, who will be driving the No. 17 Landmark Motorsports car, added words of thanks for Long and B.J. Barnhurst - "B.J. is running my race program."
The two Carson City drivers will join Reno's Randy Hedrick and Bob Butler as locals scheduled to compete for the $1,500 top prize.
Notes: The Northern Tour 100 is sponsored by Capitol Ford, Carson City Toyota and Sprint. The North State Challenge Series is scheduled to stop at Champion again on Aug. 20. For more information, go online to http://www.northstatechallengeseries.com/
n Contact Dave Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 881-1220.