Tucson, AZ — The chase for the 2009 DIRTcar Racing Southwest Region Super Late Model championship begins this Saturday night (March 7) at USA Raceway.
Saturday’s season-opening event for the Southwest Dirt Racing Association (SWDRA) Super Late Model Series at the three-eighths-mile oval outside Tucson will usher in a campaign filled with exciting new opportunities for the area’s full-fender racers, all of whom stand poised to battle for a share of a UMP DIRTcar Racing points fund that topped $200,000 in 2008.
The DIRTcar Racing Southwest Region has been created to encompass DIRTcar Racing-sanctioned Super Late Model events held in Arizona, New Mexico and Western Texas. Last year drivers from the Southwest competed for UMP DIRTcar Racing glory as part of the organization’s Arizona/California State points program, pitting them against the followers of the Golden State-based DIRTcar Western Allstars Late Model Series for post-season awards.
In 2009, a DIRTcar Racing West Region has also been formed, giving drivers in Western Allstars, DIRTcar Northwest I-5 Late Model Tour and other sanctioned events a shot at the UMP DIRTcar points fund.
“We’re looking forward to DIRTcar Racing’s continued participation in the Southwest’s Super Late Model scene,” said DIRTcar Racing Western Region director Chris Morgan. “With the launch of the new DIRTcar Racing Southwest Region, we’re bringing more benefits of the DIRTcar program to the region’s teams. They have an opportunity to earn increased recognition and points-fund cash by competing for a prestigious UMP DIRTcar Racing regional title and the national championship.”
All of this year’s SWDRA tour events will be sanctioned by DIRTcar Racing – the brand name for the sanctioning body run by the World Racing Group of Concord, N.C. – and offer UMP DIRTcar Racing points toward the Southwest Region and national standings.
“DIRTcar Racing’s relationship with SWDRA and Late Model racing in the entire western United States is very beneficial to the drivers,” said SWDRA director Carl Nemeth. “Being part of the DIRTcar Racing organization gives the racers more points-fund and contingency money to race for as well as more ammunition to find sponsors. And another very big benefit is the insurance coverage now available to drivers through DIRTcar Racing at no extra cost for their membership.”
The 2009 SWDRA schedule currently boasts 10 confirmed dates, including five shows at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Ariz. (March 14, June 20 and Aug. 29 on the inner one-third-mile oval; April 25 and Aug. 15 on the half-mile layout); four at USA Raceway (March 7, April 4, June 6 and Oct. 10); and one at Prescott Valley (Ariz.) Raceway (Sept. 19). Additional dates are under negotiation, including at least three more races at Manzanita.
Lonnie Parker Jr. of El Mirage, Ariz., enters the 2009 season as the driver to beat for the inaugural DIRTcar Southwest Region championship. He has won more SWDRA events (54) since 2001 than any other driver and will be shooting for his sixth consecutive series title in ’09 behind the wheel of his family-owned No. 8.
Other drivers to watch in the Southwest Region include Mark Fowler of Peoria, Ariz., who finished second in the ’08 SWDRA points standings; up-and-coming Tommy Hussak III of Picacho Peak, Ariz.; Brad Williams of Tucson, who captured one SWDRA feature last season; Jamie Throckmorton of Tucson, who is ready for full-bore Late Model action after running a crate Late Model in 2008; and Super Late Model newcomers R.C. Whitwell of Tucson, Terry Belcher Jr. of Phoenix and Jeremy Thornton of Tucson (all from the DIRTcar Modified ranks) and Brad Whitfield of Casa Grande, Ariz. (a Super Stock graduate).
“We’re looking forward to a great year with the SWDRA Super Late Model Series,” said Nemeth. “We have several drivers coming to race with us for the first time this season, and it’s that addition of new talent that will help us continue to build the tour.”
Product sponsors for the DIRTcar Racing Southwest Region include Hoosier Tires, VP Racing Fuels, Victory Circle Chassis and Extreme Mufflers.
Additional info on all of the series, sanctioning and member tracks of DIRTcar Racing is available at www.DIRTcar.com.