Cameron's '03 racing was interrupted for cancer treatments, which thwarted a bid for the series championship. He managed to make the Showdown field as the last driver in, but his race day performance was far from back-of-the-pack. Cameron has continued his winning ways into the '04 season, including a series victory at Irwindale.

Elite Division winner Ron Breese Jr. will not be part of the action in 2004.

Victory at Irwindale In addition to Breese and Cameron, three other drivers won races, all in Friday night qualifiers. One of those drivers tasting victory was Randolph, New Jersey, racer Joey McCarthy, a competitor in the Busch North ranks. Since his win and subsequent pole position start, there has been plenty happening for McCarthy, who is putting together solid runs in 2004.

Just a few weeks before the start of the '04 season, McCarthy found out that his team was not going to race. It's no way to start a racing season.

Fortunately, there was a racing team two hours south of Randolph that raced the series on a part-time basis. McCarthy reached agreement with this team. He brought along a car he had purchased from the former team, giving them the same equipment as last year to tackle the schedule.

"We're taking this one race at a time," McCarthy says of the '04 season. "We're right there for these races. If we were in a little better position, we'd see some better finishes. We have some Top 5s and Top 10s to show for our effort. We don't have any major sponsorship help. We've got some great product sponsors that we appreciate, but without a big sponsor, this is tough."

From a geographic standpoint, the team is located no moe than 8 hours from their racing venues. However, New Jersey is a long way from California, and it takes money to travel across the country. If McCarthy is able to qualify, the team is going to have to stretch resources to get to Irwindale.

McCarthy looks at last year's Toyota All-Star Showdown as a positive experience for his racing career. "I was very impressed," he says of the track. "It was beautiful, the type of track you like to run." He also felt that the competitors had a mutual respect for each other, even though half the field may have never raced against the other half. "The guys I raced with from the West Series, guys like Austin [Cameron] and Mark Reed, were great. We ran side by side in the qualifier, and everybody respected each other."

It was McCarthy's responsibility to bring the field to the green in front of the TV cameras. On his outside was a familiar face-Busch North Champion Andy Santerre. McCarthy led the early stages of the race and was solidly in the running at the break after 100 laps. The break wasn't what the team needed.

"The inversion really hurt us," McCarthy recalls. "The first seven cars were so close on new tires. When you only have 25 laps, you don't have a lot of time to get back to the front. We kept getting cautions, and that doesn't help either. We needed a longer run. It was tough to get from Sixth up front. It made it a chess match. I had a good car, but a spin of the wheel set me back. They were doing it for a show, and it was a good show."

Since the track was unlike anything on the Busch North schedule, McCarthy and his series mates had to find the fast way around. After dominating the qualifying races over the "hometown" West Series racers, it was apparent that the learning came quickly. "We had to run it like Darlington, up high," McCarthy says. "It took awhile in practice, but we figured it out."

McCarthy's racing took him from the go-kart ranks. His father was a dirt Modified racer, but Joey went to the pavement, racing against tough competition at places such as nearby Flemington (NJ) Speedway. His aspiration is to take the step to move south and tackle the Busch Series. A repeat performance in the Toyota All-Star Showdown will certainly make the talent scouts take another look.