DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jeff Barkshire reached a lot of goals as a race driver in 2008. He captured his first Coors Light Pole Award in NASCAR Camping World Series West competition at the combination event at Iowa Speedway in May. He scored his first career win in the series at Evergreen Speedway in July. And he was honored as with the Sunoco Rookie of the Year during the championship awards banquet in Sacramento, Calif., in November.
Now, the 26-year-old from Auburn, Wash., would love to cap off his accomplishments with a strong showing in next month’s NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. The prestigious postseason event – slated for Jan. 23-24 at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) – is considered the ‘Daytona 500 of short-track racing.’
“It was a year in which we pretty much met all the goals we had set,” Barkshire said of his first full season of competing in the NASCAR Camping World Series. “Running without a whole lot of experience in the series, we were pretty pleased. I had wanted to get a top five in the points championship and we did that and we won a race.”
Barkshire – whose father, Bob, is the car owner for their small, family-owned team – admits he was a bit surprised by their success this year.
“Knowing the company that we’re with – the McAnally guys and Jason Bowles and Mike David and such – I know that they have set a pretty high bar in the series,” Barkshire said. “Just to be able to run with them was pretty cool. Then to be able to beat them a lot of the time also, it was a little bit of a surprise. I think it was to everybody.”
That success changed the perspective for the No. 46 Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge team as the season progressed, according to Barkshire.
“I remember the first race; we were so excited to be sixth on the board in practice,” he recalled. “By the end of the season, that was a disappointment. So, we made a lot of progression through the season.”
In addition to his racing accomplishments in 2008, it was an eventful year for Barkshire away from the track as well – as he and his girlfriend got married on Nov. 22.
“Luckily, Shelby puts up with me,” Barkshire said of his bride. “She’s actually a big part of the team and loves the racing deal, just like I do. She’s a good addition to the family and to the race team.”
Despite being so busy in 2008, Barkshire says it’s been a great year.
“It’s been a busy year,” he said. “It was pretty hectic, trying to work full-time and run the full schedule and plan a wedding on top of it – but it’s been the best year of my life.”
His schedule, meanwhile, does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. As the newlyweds return from their honeymoon in Hawaii, the team has already started preparing for the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
“Obviously, it’s the biggest race of the year,” Barkshire said. “I’m putting a lot of effort into it. We’re going to go with fresh equipment.”
Although he came away with top-five finishes in both NASCAR Camping World Series West races at Toyota Speedway this year, Barkshire says they will need to step up their effort for the all-star weekend.
“We ran pretty good there both races, but not good enough to win the Showdown,” he said. “So, we’re going to change some stuff up and hope that it works.”
Barkshire is one of 13 drivers to earn a secured spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown by winning a NASCAR Camping World Series event in 2008. In addition to Barkshire, other drivers with a NASCAR Camping World Series victory in 2008 include Eric Holmes, Jason Bowles, Mike David, Todd Souza, Jason Fensler, Matt Kobyluck, Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Eddie MacDonald, Peyton Sellers, Brian Ickler and Aric Almirola.
Champions of each of NASCAR’s seven developmental series also earn secured spots in the race. While Holmes took the title in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, Matt Kobyluck won the championship in the NASCAR Camping World Series East. Others to clinch championships this year include Philip Morris in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Scott Steckly in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, Antonio Perez in the NASCAR Mexico Series, Ted Christopher in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and Brian Loftin in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.