Crew chief Craig Raudman chats with Jonathon Gomez prior to practice at an event in 2010. [Getty Images for NASCAR]
Double Duty For Gomez At Toyota All-Star Showdown At Irwindale
by Kevin W. Green (Courtesy of NASCAR.com)
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (January 6, 2011) - As the first official entries have been filed for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, it looks like it will be a busy event for Jonathon Gomez. In addition to entering the NASCAR K&N Pro Series event - the 28-year-old from Twin Falls, Idaho, has also submitted an entry for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model event.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which attracts top racers from across North America for what has grown into the "Daytona 500 of short-track racing," will be at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) on Jan. 28-29.
The prestigious event will be highlighted by the 225-lap NASCAR K&N Pro Series all-star race. The schedule also includes a 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model race on Friday, Jan. 28, and a 50-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race on Saturday, Jan. 29.
"If we're going to go down there, we might as well do some racing," Gomez said. "We think it would say a lot for our team and maybe get more exposure if we went out there and did really good in both classes. If we can go out there and get a podium finish in both events, I think that will say something for our team and for me as a driver. We'll have a lot of fun doing it, too."
All three races will air live as part of the two-day SPEED broadcast, which begins at 10 p.m. ET. The coverage will be anchored by Rick Allen and Phil Parsons in the booth, with Dick Berggren and Jim Tretow covering action in the pits.
In addition to the national spotlight provided to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series by the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, several changes to the format promise to bring even more excitement for the competitors and fans.
Both the Late Models and Super Late Models will have two-lap qualifying runs for each car to lock in the first 15. All cars will then participate in two heat races per division - the Super Late Models on Friday and Late Models on Saturday - to determine the remaining qualifiers and set the starting lineup. Cars will start the features based on their heat race finishes, similar to the Daytona 500 qualifying.
Running multiple divisions is nothing new to Gomez. In addition to racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West - where he finished sixth in the championship standings this year in his first full season of competing in the series - Gomez won a championship in a late model touring series on the West Coast. "We ran two full series' during the year," Gomez said. "A couple times they both ran the same night. We've already done it a few times and it doesn't seem to slow us down."
Gomez said running two divisions helps him concentrate on the racing. "It keeps me more focused," he said. "I never have time to relax and not think about the track and the cars or something outside of what I need to be focusing on." Making the transition from one car to the other, meanwhile, is like shifting gears, according to Gomez. "You get out of the late model and go sit in the K&N car and it's not even close to the same," he said. "As soon as you get in the seat and get strapped in, it hits you that it's different. It doesn't take very long for your mind to switch over."
This year's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown marks the eighth edition of the prestigious event. Rip Michels (Super Late Model) and Tim Huddleston (Late Model) are the defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race winners. And in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race last year, Joey Logano won for a second time.