The Toyota All-Star Showdown is almost upon us, as the drivers and teams are getting ready to take to the half-mile asphalt covered oval, which is nestled between the rock quarries in Irwindale, CA.
Each year the Camping World Series which only races on tracks one mile in length or shorter, sets its eyes on this once a year event, which attracts the best short tracks drivers from around the country in this non-points event.
This is also the time of year when NASCAR’s up and coming drivers, get a chance to showcase their talents in hopes of someday landing a ride in one of NASCAR’s premier series.
The race itself means as much to these weekend warriors, as the Daytona 500 is to the Sprint cup drivers.
Just how important, and how far can a win push a driver up the ladder of success was last seen by David Gilliland, who was able to land a Busch series ride after his win back in 2005.
With the race only nine days away, the fans are hoping to see a repeat of last season’s spectacle which resembled a movie script out of the Wild, Wild, West, instead of a typical short track race on your average Saturday night.
There was plenty of action both on, and off the track. Qualifying itself took on a whole new role.
Chris Johnson, who was a Camping World Series rookie last season, and also a local talent driving the No. 50 unsponsored car of Teamcassracing electrified the crowd and grabbed his first pole award after only his third attempt while racing in this prestigious lower tier series.
This was all it took to get the crowd of about 5,000 to shake off the last of the rain drops that blanketed the grandstands, and settle in for what would be one of Irwindales most memorable nights of racing.
As the National Anthem played, and the fireworks filled the cloudy rain soaked sky, little did the fans know that a bigger firework show was only a couple of hours away.
As the night wore on, the drivers continued to give the fans their moneys worth with some very exciting racing.
Lap after lap the drivers bumped, and battled their way underneath a cloudy sky that looked more menacing then Ron Hornaday Jr’s No. 33 MM1 sponsored race car.
Hornaday managed to cause three accidents, including a hard hit that took out race leader Brian Ickler on lap 141.
Ickler would not return to the war, but he would leave the event as the driver who led the most laps.
One by one, the track continued to gobble up driver after driver, never realizing that the biggest accident would take place while coming around the final corner.
On lap 234 Alex Haase would bring out the last caution of night with a blown engine, which would set-up a 10 lap shootout for the Camping World All-Star championship trophy.
With only six laps left in the race, it would be Bowles, and Kobyluck pinching Sellers into Logano, causing Logano to mildly scrape the turn three wall.
This move was the prelude to the exciting finish, which would take place in just a few short minutes.
As the white flag waved, Sellers who was leading the race heading into turn three took a hard hit from Logano who came from the bottom of the track after having a run on him. The hit knocked into Sellers into the wall just a few feet short, from what would have been his first All-Star win.
Sellers in turn would catch Bowles, and Logano would cross the stripe inches ahead of 2006 winner, Matt Kobyluck. It was then that NASCAR would make the announcement that Logano was penalized for aggressive driving, and the win was handed over to second place finisher Matt Kobyluck.
It was a sweet victory for two-time winner Kobyluck, who started the race in a backup car when he hit the wall during practice in his primary car.
Logano will be back, along with two-time winner Matt Kobyluck, and 2005 winner David Gilliland.
2008 Pole winner Chris Johnson will not be back this season, instead Roush Fenway back-up driver Auggie Vidovich will take over the No. 50 Teamcassracing Chevrolet for the 2010 season.
Logano who will be making his third start after going to victory lane his first time racing in the event in 2007, is hoping to match Kobyluck as the second driver to win this race twice.
"I’m really excited to have an opportunity to get back out to the Toyota Speedway for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown," Logano said. "I had a lot of fun last year and we are going try and get the trophy back this year."
Logano will carry the bright orange colors of Home Depot as his sponsor, along with his Nationwide crew chief Kevin Kidd.
"We are really excited to have The Home Depot on board with us for the weekend," Logano said. "Mike Olson from Fadden Racing stepped up and is going to provide us a solid car for the weekend. We have Kevin Kidd coming out with us to call the race so we feel like we have a pretty good shot."
Gilliland, who calls Toyota Speedway his home track, is also looking forward to adding another All-Start trophy to his own case after winning his first showdown back in 2005.
"This event was always like our Daytona 500 when I raced on the West Coast," Gilliland said. "It’s always fun for me to go back and visit a lot of the people who were such a huge part of getting me to where I am today. We have had a lot of success at Irwindale and always enjoy racing there."
Jason Bowles, Eric Holmes, Jim Inglebright, David Mayhew, and Steve Park will also be making return visits in hopes of getting their first showdown victories.
The showdown will be run the weekend of January 29-30, at the Toyota Speedway of Irwindale which is located in Irwindale, CA.