It was a cold and foggy Friday morning at Infineon Raceway for the morning practices of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West for Saturday’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 Race. DAVID GILLILAND/No.45 Dodge was fastest in both sessions. In the early morning session, his time was 1:18.992/90.693 mph, and faster in the mid-morning session at 1:18.121/91.704 mph. Gilliland holds the West Series Qualifying track record of 91.979 mph/1:17.887 seconds, set in June 2007.
Gilliland and P1’s second fastest driver, BORIS SAID/No.57 Ford are two of three drivers also entered in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 Race. The track configuration for the stock cars is 10 turns on a 1.99-mile elevated road course. The Cup race is 110 laps, and the West Series race will run 64 laps.
Third through fifth in Practice One were GREG PURSLEY/No. 26 Ford-third in the current West Series standings, JIM INGLEBRIGHT/No.1 Chevrolet, and BRANDON DAVIS/No.10 Chevrolet.
In the second West Series practice, third through fifth were JASON BOWLES/No.31 Chevrolet-winner of last year’s race, Canadian ANDREW RANGER/No.35 Chevrolet, and Said.
Ranger is the current points leader in the Canadian Tire Stock Car Championship. He is also entered, again, in the Montreal Nationwide Series road race on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Ranger ran eleventh in the first track session.
Another driver of note in this West Series race, on a one-time basis, is Audi DTM champion, MATTIAS EKSTROM of Sweden in No.84 Toyota, courtesy of Red Bull Racing which also has Ekstrom substituting this weekend in Cup’s No.83 Toyota. Red Bull sponsors Ekstrom’s Audi in the German DTM touring car series. In this weekend’s Cup race, Ekstrom is replacing BRIAN VICKERS, who is out for the season with blood clot issues. Ekstrom was thirteenth fastest of 36 drivers in the first West Series practice, and eighth in the second session.
Ekstrom comes highly recommended by Cup drivers CARL EDWARDS/No.99 Ford and JIMMIE JOHNSON/No.48 Chevrolet. They met him when they participated in the Race of Champions and were very impressed.
Thirty-seven of the thirty-eight West Series drivers will take the green flag. AUGGIE VIDOVICH/No.19 Chevrolet had a bad crash in the first session. He is alright, but he doesn’t have a backup car and has withdrawn.
The West Series race will be televised and aired Thursday 24 June 2010 at 3 PM PT/6 PM ET on SPEED TV.
Forty-six Cup drivers are entered for the 43-grid field, one less than last year. Eleven of those drivers, some one-off entries, will be required to qualify based on time. Qualifying is 3:30 PM local time/6 PM ET, broadcast live on SPEED TV. Sunday’s race will be telecast live on TNT, 12 noon local time/3 PM ET.