Ron Hornaday Jr. of Palmdale won a NASCAR Southwest Tour event at Saugus Speedway last month.
Rick Carelli of Denver has won four of seven Southwest Tour races this season and also the opening race of the Winston West series two weeks ago at Bakersfield's Mesa Marin Raceway.
Saturday night, in the $33,500 Alpha Beta 200 at Saugus--Round 2 of the Winston West season--those series rookies will be among the favorites when NASCAR's 3,500-pound stock cars take to the peculiarly flat third-mile oval in Santa Clarita.
Despite their successes at Saugus in the lighter and nimbler Southwest Tour cars, however, neither Hornaday nor Carelli has won here in the bigger equipment.
"Brakes are a real problem any time you drive one of these heavy cars and even more so at Saugus," says Hornaday, who finished 12th in 1989 and 18th in 1990 in his only Winston West outings on the track. "That's really the biggest problem we have to overcome, going from one car to the other.
"I'm a really aggressive driver and it works out well in the lighter car. (But) you can't toss one of these cars around and be slamming on the brakes while you do it. If you do, you'll be fast for five laps and then you're done for the night."
Hornaday's father, Ron, won the Winston West championship in 1963 and 1964.
Carelli, often a winner in other equipment at Saugus, has never driven a WW car there but says he expects to adapt because he finds racing on the flat oval similar to road racing. "You have to make a late apex (in the turns) to go fast and you've really got to be smooth," Carelli said. "I have a feel for heavy cars, too, because I drove late-model sportsmen cars back in Colorado and they're similar to Winston West cars."
Both will be driving Chevrolets.
To win, the rookies will have to contend with Bill Sedgwick of Granada Hills, the defending series champion and winner of the 1989 and 1990 races at Saugus in Chevrolet, and Bill Schmitt of Redding, last year's winner and track record-holder in a Ford. Schmitt averaged 60.484 m.p.h. for the 200-lap, 66.6-mile race.
Not to be overlooked, either, is seemingly ageless Hershel McGriff of Portland, Ore. At 64, he's the oldest driver in the country racing at such a high level. McGriff finished second in the most recent Southwest Tour race at Mesa Marin.
Racing will start at 7 p.m. and the program will include pro stock, Figure 8s and a destruction derby.
Motor Racing Notes
SPEEDWAY BIKES--The American Speedway Final, scheduled Saturday night at Ventura Raceway, has been canceled. The American Motorcyclist Assn., the United States affiliate of the Federation International Motorcyclist, refused to grant a sanction to Harry Oxley's International Speedway, Inc.
The American Final was to have qualified U.S. riders for the World Championship. Instead, the AMA selected Sam Ermolenko, currently the No. 1 rider in the British League; Mike Faria, the U.S. champion and only rider not competing in England; Rick Miller, Ron Correy and Billy Hammel to ride in the next round, June 14 at Coventry, England.
JET BOATS--The Bud Jet Sports Tour will visit Puddingstone Lake in San Dimas Saturday and Sunday for the Westcoast Performance Golden State Nationals, Round 2 of the 10-event season. Christy Carlson of Long Beach opened defense of her third national championship with a victory last week in Long Beach. Jeff Jacobs of El Cajon, five-time men's champion, was upset by Victor Sheldon of Vista.
STOCK CARS--Ventura Raceway will hold its first Saturday night program this week with the Coors Light Silver Bullet series, including both oval and Figure-8 racing. . . . Cajon Speedway in El Cajon will feature Winston Racing Series sportsman cars Saturday night, plus a destruction derby.
DRAG RACING--It's a big weekend for nostalgia fans. The Nostalgia Drag Racing Assn. will hold its Lions Reunion at the L.A. County Raceway in Palmdale, and the American Nostalgia Racing Assn. will hold its North vs. South drags at Bakersfield Raceway. Both will feature front-engine top-fuel dragsters, junior-fuel dragsters and other classes for 1974 and earlier cars.
SPRINT CARS--The Golden State Challenge for winged sprint cars will be Saturday night at Santa Maria Speedway.