Jon Lemke and his crew push their car to the starting grid for the Toyota All-Star Showdow
If you want to showcase short-track racing, you have to take it to a place that can do the sport justice. Irwindale Speedway is, in many ways, the track Daytona wishes it could be.
The pristine 1/2-mile (with a 1/3-mile track inside) has moved itself into a position among the elite tracks in a short amount of time. The decision to host the first NASCAR-backed Toyota All-Star Showdown didn't hurt its prestige one bit.
The race was set up in two ways. The first event pitted the top 15 finishers from NASCAR's Busch North series against the same number from the Winston West series. Despite the cross-country travel, the North contingent came and absolutely dominated the Friday night preliminaries. Fields were completely inverted with series champions starting last, but North series titlist Andy Santerre marched through with relative ease.
The West teams went back to the drawing board for the Saturday finale and ended up hoisting the trophy as West series regular Austin Cameron, who raced in 2003 despite a battle with cancer, came out on top in an exciting and emotional contest.
The trophies for the winners of the inaugural Toyota All-Star Showdown.
The other portion of the show saw racers from the four NASCAR touring series in head-to-head competition. Drivers were on hand to represent the Kodak Southeast, Raybestos Northwest, Featherlite Southwest, and International Truck & Engine Midwest. The top 10 drivers in each group got the call. Ron Breese Jr. led the charge from the ITEMS squad, winning the Friday preliminary and the Saturday main event. Southwest stalwart Jim Pettit II, in an unsponsored ride, proved to be quite strong with a preliminary win and strong showing.
Two of the four Friday night preliminaries were caution free.
In addition to the individual racing, a team competition was held with points going to the representatives through the first 75-lap segment of the 100-lap race. The Midwest team dominated and won that title.
In addition to their purse winnings, Cameron and Breese received the use of a Toyota Tundra truck from sponsor Toyota. The event was carried live on Speedvision to a national audience.
Austin Cameron crosses the finish line to claim the win in the Toyota All-Star Showdown. T
NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip served as grand marshal of the inaugural event.
David Gilliand's crew goes to work at the break. He was able to finish third in the main e
Steve Carlson (66), Charlie Bradberry (78), and Gary Lewis (73) battle for position. Carls
Ron Breese Jr. made it look easy, but it was far from it. In Thursday practice, an ill-adv
Prunedale, California, racer Jim Pettit II won a Friday qualifier and proved to be a conte