WWS: Tim Woods III - NASCAR spotlight

Woods looks for home-field advantage at Irwindale. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 22, 2002)-- When Tim Woods III played junior college football at Mt. San Antonio College, he and his teammates knew of the boost they felt with a home-field advantage.

WWS: Tim Woods III - NASCAR spotlight

Woods looks for home-field advantage at Irwindale.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 22, 2002)-- When Tim Woods III played junior college football at Mt. San Antonio College, he and his teammates knew of the boost they felt with a home-field advantage. "You always wanted to perform better in front of the home fans," Woods said. "They were there to support you. So, you wanted to give a good performance."

Woods hopes that home-field advantage gives him an edge in stock car racing, as well. He could find out when the NASCAR Winston West Series visits Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway for the JaniKing 200 on Saturday, July 27.

The $122,659 event is the sixth stop on a 10-race schedule for the series this year. The race is to be televised to a national audience on the SPEED Channel cable network. It will air on a tape-delay basis at 8 p.m. ET on Aug. 26.

Woods enters the event 11th in the championship standings, scoring top-10 finishes in two of the five races in the first half of the season. He looks forward to racing on the half-mile oval at Irwindale, where he has competed in the Super Late Model stock car division since the track opened. In fact, the 27-year-old driver from Chino Hills, Calif., was the only driver to finish in the top 10 of the division standings all three years-- from 1999 through 2001.

"I think when you have a lot of laps at a certain track it gives you somewhat of an advantage of knowing when and where to pass or being able to find that little hair that you might have to split when you're making a pass," Woods said. "That gives you an advantage-- the fact that you know how to finish races there and know what it takes to save your tires. You have a little bit better feel of what the track's going to do. It kind of plays into your favor."

While he admits he may have an edge over many drivers at Irwindale, Woods is quick to point out that several competitors atop the NASCAR Winston West Series championship standings raced in all eight visits the series has made to the state-of-the-art facility. "A lot of the good drivers in the Winston West have raced at Irwindale since it opened," Woods said. "They've raced there in a heavy car. Those are a lot different to drive than a late model car. Laps make a difference, but also the type of car makes a difference."

In addition to the edge his experience gives him, Woods also looks to the emotional boost of competing in front of his fans at his home track. "I'm looking forward to getting my first win in the Winston West Series and what better place for it than in front of the home crowd at Irwindale Speedway?" he said.

While he enjoys the cheers he gets from the fans at Irwindale, Woods said he has a special appreciation for the loyal support he gets when he does not have a good finish. "Even if I have a bad night, they pat me on the back and encourage me," Woods said.

As a special teams player and reserve safety at Mt. San Antonio College, Woods passed up an opportunity to take his football effort to the next level. After his team went 12-0 in 1997 and won the state championship against San Francisco City College, Woods was offered a scholarship at a university in Virginia. He opted instead to pursue his dream of racing.

After competing successfully at the local level and racing in a touring series, Woods hopes for a chance to eventually progress farther through the ranks of NASCAR. "I'm doing what I love, which is racing," he said. "Maybe one day I'll make it to NASCAR's premier stage."


* Close challenge at midway point... This year's battle in the championship standings is shaping up to be another close challenge. At the midway point of the season, the top four drivers in the standings are separated by less than 90 points. The close competition is reflected throughout the top 10, with just 125 points separating the nine drivers in second through 10th place.

* Another Bud for Cameron... Austin Cameron has won the Bud Pole Award in three of the last four races.

* Leading the way... Eric Norris continues to lead the series statistics in several categories. His average finish in the first five races is 3.6. He also leads in money won, with $62,500. He is tied with Kevin Richards in terms of laps completed; running 762 of the 763 possible in the first five races.

* Hall of Fame... The inaugural induction ceremony for the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame is slated for Friday, July 26, at the Sheraton Four Points in Monrovia, Calif. The inaugural members consist of a group of 30 former champions, car owners and officials.

* Reunion time... The second annual West Coast Stock Car Reunion is scheduled in conjunction with the NASCAR Winston West Series race at Irwindale Speedway. The reunion-- which is slated to begin at 4 p.m.-- is to include a display of classic race cars, an autograph session and a photo session.

* Blow out the candles... Drivers celebrating a birthday during the month of July include Gary Smith, who turned 34 on the 6th; Brendan Gaughan, who turned 27 on the 10th; Joe Bean, who turned 40 on the 11th; Bobby Dotter, who turned 42, also on the 11th; Brandon Ash, who turned 25 on the 17th; and Jack Sellers, who turns 58 on the 27th.


* Eric Norris (No. 32 JaniKing/Ultra Wheels Ford) only had one top-10 finish at Monroe prior to his recent victory there, a ninth-place finish in 1998.

* Ed Watson (No. 55 Creekside Retirement Ford) had a career-best fourth-place finish at Evergreen Speedway. It was his first NASCAR Winston West Series race since 1995.

* Mike Duncan (No. 9 MB Duncan Motorsports Chevrolet) has turned in three consecutive top-five finishes.


* In June of 1999, Steve Portenga won the inaugural NASCAR Winston West Series event at Irwindale Speedway. His margin of victory was .101 seconds, at an average speed of 69.93 mph.


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