NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Report: Three Races Left in Season
9 October 1997
SCOTTS VALLEY, CA - Crunch time has arrived for the 1997 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest season. With three races remaining in the 19-race campaign, four drivers are within 160 points of the top spot in the driving championship standings. The three events will test the variety of skills needed to win the NFSWT championship. The series races on the half-mile oval at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. in the Port City Racing 200 Oct. 9, battles on the quarter-mile venue at the Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, Calif. Oct. 18 and finishes the season on the one-mile superspeedway at Phoenix International Raceway Oct. 31. Bryan Germone, Windsor, Calif., leads the standings with 2,362 points. Defending champion Chris Raudman, Redding, Calif., is next with 2,310; Craig Raudman, also from Redding, is third with 2,216 and Doug McCoun, Prunedale, Calif., is fourth with 2,202. Every driver in the top 10 still has a mathmatical chance at winning the title. McCoun, who won the previous NFSWT race at Altamont Raceway Park, said of the impending Mesa Marin race, "We gotta do a repeat. That's what we figured. We've got to win some races and have some good finishes." McCoun has had some good finishes lately. In the last eight races, he has won twice and finished in the top 10 seven times. His victory at Altamont pushed him from sixth in the standings to fourth. "We still feel we have a chance to win this deal," McCoun said. "We haven't given up yet." The Mesa Marin event will be a 200-lap race. Chris Raudman won the event in 1996, when it was a 300-lap race. Michael Alsup and Steve Portenga have won the previous two races at Mesa Marin this season. The Port City Racing 200 will be part of the October Classic, a four-day celebration of racing. A Winston Racing Series event kicks things off Thursday, Oct. 9. The NFSWT races the following night, the NASCAR Winston West Series races Saturday and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes the stage Sunday. Germone, who passed Chris Raudman for the points lead two races ago, said, "I don't know if I'm getting more and more nervous or more and more relaxed as we get to the end of this thing. It looks like we have a good shot at this deal." Germone has finished second in the standings twice in the last three seasons and has three other finishes in the top five. Earlier this season he joked, "If I can't win it, I think I'd rather finish anywhere but second again." A maximum of 540 points remains available for the NFSWT racers over the final three races. For the top four drivers in the points chase, Mesa Marin has been a good place to race. Since 1994, McCoun has won twice, Germone has won once and has four other top-five finishes and both Raudman brothers have victories.