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Roseville’s NASCAR race has an international flavor

McAnally team includes two from Canada, one from Finland
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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NASCAR’s latest October stop at All American Speedway will produce its biggest field of entries for a K&N Pro Series West event — and its most diverse field ever.

An All American and short track-record 31 drivers on Saturday will attempt to qualify for the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150, the second-to-last Pro Series West race on the 2012 calendar.

Among those 31 are three Canadians and two Europeans, three of whom will drive for Bill McAnally Racing of Roseville.

“He has the international team,” quipped Don Langford, media director for BMR.

Joining three-time series champion Eric Holmes of Escalon and Canadian teenager and Rookie of Year contender Cameron Hayley on McAnally’s roster are Markus Niemelä of Finland and Jamie Krzysik of Grand Prairie, Canada.

Niemelä will drive the No. 90 Angry Birds Toyota Camry. He was Finland’s junior karting champion at age 5 in 1998 and has raced all over Europe. Niemelä came to the United States in 2008 and won the open-wheel Atlantic Championship Series. He finished third in points in the West Coast Sprint Car Series.

“Markus actually called me,” McAnally said Wednesday. “He’d been racing open wheel and wanted to get some development in stock cars. We tested him a few times, and we really liked his ability, his communication.”

Niemelä will drive in tonight’s Late Model race and will make his Pro Series West debut Saturday.

This also will be the Pro Series West debut for Krzysik, who’s in NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. He’ll shoe the No. 16 Oculus Transport Toyota Camry.

While there’s no deluge of teenage leadfoots this time around — last year’s event counted eight teens in qualifying — Hannah Newhouse, 15, of Twin Falls, Idaho, has joined the show and is coming off a sixth-place finish in her series debut in Albuquerque.

Defending series champion Greg Pursley of Newhall leads the title chase again. Teenager Dylan Kwasniewski of Las Vegas trails Pursley by 14 points with Derek Thorn of Lakeport 37 points down and Holmes in fourth.

The weekend program begins today with a 100-lap Late Model main event and 50-lap Modified feature. More than 30 Late Model cars are registered for tonight’s race.

“I’m thinking they appreciate being part of a big event. They like racing in front of a big crowd. They get into it,” McAnally said of the car count. “And we work hard. The people of Roseville, the surrounding areas, really embrace this race.”

Contact Bill Poindexter at billp@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at BillP_RsvPT.

ROSEVILLE AUTOMALL FANS AND RACERS TEAMS APPRECIATION NIGHT

When/Where: Friday and Saturday at All American Speedway, 800 All America City Blvd., in Roseville. Friday’s times: Gates open at 5 p.m. Racing begins at 8 p.m. Saturday’s times: Gates open at 4 p.m.

Friday’s program: NASCAR Late Model (100-lap main event) and Modified (50 laps), SRL Spears Southwest Tour and Legends of the Pacific practice.

Ticket prices: $15 for general admission, $5 for children 12 and under, free for military in uniform. Advance tickets are available at Bill McAnally NAPA Auto Care Centers, 900 Riverside Ave. in Roseville and 8636 Antelope North Road in Antelope, the Placer County Fair Office and www.BMRNAPA.com. Parking is free.

Saturday’s program: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150, SRL Spears Southwest Tour Series West Coast Transmission 125, Legends of the Pacific (50 laps), plus practice and qualifying in all three divisions. Pro Series West practice: 12:30-1:15 p.m. and 2:15-3 p.m. Qualifying: 5:30 p.m. Main event: 8:35 p.m.

TV: Thursday, Oct. 18, noon, SPEED channel

Ticket prices: $35 for adult general admission, $15 for juniors ages 6-11, free for kids 5 and under. There is a $5 discount on Saturday’s adult general admission tickets when purchased online at www.BMRNAPA.com. Parking is free.

Saturday VIP Hospitality: Cost is $70 and includes a VIP grandstand-area ticket, dinner and beverages, driver appearances, an autograph session and gifts.

Two-day combo ticket: $40 (advance only).

Information: (916) 786-2025, www.allamericanspeedway.com, www.BMRNAPA.com.