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Woodside Seeks His Fourth First

October 18, 2000|DARIN ESPER

When Sean Woodside of Saugus signed with Bob Farmer of Palmdale in January to race in the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour, he said if he had to buy a NASCAR Winston West Car to race in the 24th annual October Classic at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, he would.

Woodside, three-time defending race champion, lost his Winston West ride with Bill McAnally of Sacramento before clinching the series championship in 1999.

Bill Sedgwick of Acton is the only other driver to win three consecutive Winston West races in the event, which features seven races between Friday and Sunday including the Terry Lumber/FoodsCo 200 Southwest Tour race Saturday and the Spears Manufacturing 250 Winston West race Sunday.

Donna Walker of Pasadena, mother of Mike Walker, Irwindale Speedway super late model regular, stepped forward to keep Woodside from digging into his wallet to try for a record fourth victory.

Team Walker Motorsports was formed in March to give Mike Walker the opportunity to learn from Woodside.

"I was going to run that race no matter what happened," said Woodside, who added that three other car owners contacted him about driving in the Spears Manufacturing 250. "This works out real well for next year, that I get to do the race with Donna.'

Woodside hired crew chief Jeff Schraeder, who was Woodside's Winston West crew chief in 1997 and 1998 when Woodside finished second in the points standings while driving for Ray Claridge, and rented space from Claridge to house the cars.

Woodside made his 2000 Winston West debut June 24 in the Home Depot 250 at Irwindale Speedway, and showed the car was competitive by charging from last place to fifth before spinning with five laps remaining after hitting the throttle hard coming out of turn two.

Donna Walker was so impressed she made the decision to enter Woodside in the Winston West season next year.

With 37 victories at Mesa Marin, Woodside will be a favorite in all four races he is planning to drive.

He will compete Friday night in the Big O Tires 200 for NASCAR Weekly Racing Series late models, drive Saturday night in the Southwest Tour race, and race Sunday in the 75-lap Champions Invitational for late models followed by the Winston West race. It's a safe bet Woodside won't be in the other two races, the 15-lap Super TT Motorcycle Series race Friday and the 30-lap California Asphalt Super Modifieds race Saturday.

"I'll be worn out by Sunday, but I just like to race," Woodside said. "That's the track that's probably helped my career out the most. I won the 1996 [October Classic] super late model race and got hired by Ray Claridge."

Woodside, whose only Southwest Tour victory was at Mesa Marin on March 24 in the FoodsCo 100, is fifth in the standings with 2,173 points and two races left.

"We've broken every part this year [on the Southwest Tour car], so everything will be brand new for Bakersfield," said Woodside, who has finished 29th, 22nd, 22nd and 18th in his last four Southwest Tour races. "I've never had a year like this before. It makes you appreciate the good ones."

Although Sedgwick, third in the Winston West standings, and Woodside are friends, the subject of Woodside's record-breaking attempt has not been discussed.

"I'm sure that will come up later this week," said Woodside, who beat Sedgwick by 0.24 seconds in 1999. "He'll be working with my dad this week."

*

Kevin Harvick, NASCAR Busch Grand National Division series rookie of the year points leader, is entered in the Spears Manufacturing 250.

Woodside is not fazed by the presence of Harvick, a former track champion at Mesa Marin.

"Bring Harvick on," said Woodside. "I love racing with those guys, because then you can say you beat the best."

*

Kevin Kierce of Reseda did not fare well in either of two races he entered at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday.

Kierce finished 18th in the 40-lap United States Auto Club Western Region sprint car race, and did not qualify for the 100-lap USAC Silver Bullet main event after finishing eighth in the 15-lap semi-main. It was Kierce's first appearance in a Silver Bullet car.

Kierce finished seventh in the western sprint car standings.

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