Groskreutz has 5,000 reasons to smile TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 4, 1998) Marc Groskreutz, who won the last NASCAR Late Model event during Tucson Raceway Park's NASCAR Winter Heat Series, also clinched the championship in the Winston Challenge Triple...
Groskreutz has 5,000 reasons to smile
TUCSON, Ariz. (Jan. 4, 1998) Marc Groskreutz, who won the last NASCAR Late Model event during Tucson Raceway Park's NASCAR Winter Heat Series, also clinched the championship in the Winston Challenge Triple Crown three event series. And now Groskreutz will head back to his hometown of Spokane, Wash. with a check for $5,000 for winning the championship. After Groskreutz crashed the car during an earlier practice session in the day, he thrashed to make the car race-ready again, and couldn't do it without the help of the local Dix Motor sports team. "I took it easy the first 130 laps, running in the bottom was how I stuffed it in the wall this morning," Groskreutz said on his turnaround day. At the start of the 200-lap NASCAR Late Model event, local driver Scott Brandt took the lead with Tom Sweatman following close behind. Sweatman was eager to get to the front since he was a major contender in the Winston Challenge Points Series. Sweatman headed into the event in third place in the point standings, just 10 points behind Groskreutz. Sweatman was able to take the lead away from Brandt by lap six, as Kevin Vernon followed in third, with points leader Groskreutz, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year Greg Biffle holding onto fourth and fifth, respectively. Groskreutz remained strong and had moved into the lead on lap 11, with Biffle taking the second position away from Sweatman right behind. Local veteran Carl Trimmer, who was in the hospital with pneumonia one week earlier, had moved up right behind Sweatman to take fourth. By lap 17 Biffle got around Groskreutz in turn one for the lead, with Sweatman following as he took second away from Groskreutz as well coming out of turn four. Then one lap later Trimmer was able to make his way to third which pushed Groskreutz back into the fourth position. The top five positions remained the same as the front runners survived four caution periods before the midway point in the race. As they pitted at the half it was Biffle in the lead followed by Sweatman, Trimmer, Groskreutz, and Dan Holtz rounding out the top five. The second half proved to be just as exciting. Although Biffle continued to lead for most of the second half, Groskreutz just got stronger and stronger. By lap 105 Groskreutz had moved back into second, with Sweatman, Trimmer, and Mike Obrist following behind. By lap 119 Biffle extended his lead to over six car lengths. The rest of the front runner pack then just tried to hold there positions. Groskreutz just continued to keep Biffle in his sights while paying attention to the other points standings contenders Sweatman and Obrist behind. In the last fifty laps of the race Groskreutz seemed as though he was gaining on Biffle and slowly began to shorten the gap between the two. Trimmer still followed in third, with Kevin Richards and previous Winter Heat Late Model winner Charles Utts following in fourth and fifth. Richards spun on lap 165 which brought out the fifth and final caution period of the race. This allowed for Utts and Obrist, other championship contenders to move up to fourth and fifth. With 31 laps to go, the caution period had helped diminish the distance between Biffle and Groskreutz as the roaring field took the green flag once again. On lap 174, Trimmer ran into problems and slowed as he broke a rear axel which ultimately ended his day. The two front runners had extended to a half of a lap lead over Utts in third, with Obrist and Rick Bogart running in fourth and fifth. Groskreutz just kept gaining and gaining on Biffle and was able to get around Biffle for the lead with five laps to go. Groskreutz went on to win the 200-lap Late Model main event as well as the Winston Challenge Triple Crown Series Championship. After a long day for the winner he showed that persistence is the key after having a troubling but successful day. "I thought that I could catch him earlier, I was able to run low just where my car worked," an excited Groskreutz said. He even had problems with the belts that strapped him into the car being too tight, which at one point cut the circulation off to his arm. "After the last caution period my arm started to fall asleep, so I kept moving it around, I thought that I could take him (Biffle)," Groskreutz said. Biffle finished his last race during the Winter Heat Series in second place. "We had a left rear tire going down, so I was loose there at the end," Biffle said. Now that his time spent in Tucson this Winter is finished Biffle will go back to concentrating on his truck. "We will be testing on the road course in Bakersfield in three weeks to get ready for that first NASCAR Craftsman Truck race on March 20th," Biffle said. Charles Utts had a great day and managed to finish third after starting the race from the 22nd position. "It's been a good car, I just tried to buy time, stay out of trouble, and miss the wrecks," said a still very excited Utts after the race. "Towards the end the tires were gone, I looked up at the board and thought I'm running in third." Obrist, who was the winner of the first Late Model event this Winter, finished behind Utts in fourth, and Rick Bogart was able to hang on and rounding out the top five. Next Sunday, at Tucson Raceway Park it's the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series 1999 Season Opener as well as a visit from the Ultra Wheel Spec Truck Series. Bring the family out to watch the action as there are only two races left in the NASCAR Winter Heat Series. Admission is $10 for adults and children 11 and under get in free. Gates open at 9am and racing gets under way at 11am.
NASCAR WINTER HEAT TUCSON 200 -- FINAL RESULTS 1. Marc Groskreutz, Spokane, Wash.; 2. Greg Biffle, Vancouver, Wash.; 3. Charles Utts, Camarillo, Calif.; 4. Michael Obrist, Portland, Ore.; 5. Rick Bogart, El Cajon, Calif.; 6. Brandon Riehl, Boring, Ore.; 7. Scott Brandt, Tucson, Ariz.; 8. Jason Schneider, St. Louis Park, Minn.; 9. Kevin Richards, Spokane, Wash.; 10. Bill Whittaker, Central Square, NY; 11. Darren Shaw, Portland, Ore.; 12. Brian Barron, Corona, Calif.; 13. Chuck Wares, Tucson, Ariz.; 14. Curtis Lansing, Tucson, Ariz.; 15. Ned Champine, Tucson, Ariz.; Jeff Huebner, Tucson, Ariz.; 17. Tom Sweatman, Cosmopolis, Wash.; 18. Carl Trimmer, Tucson, Ariz.; 19. Richard Whiteman, Tigard, Ore.; 20. Dan Holtz, Pacific Palasades, Calif.; 21. Brendan Gaughan, Las Vegas, Nev.; 22. Gary Lewis, Bothell, Wash.; 23. Tony Izzo, Tucson, Ariz.; 24. Kevin Vernon, Bakersfield, Calif.; 25. Dan Obrist, Portland, Ore.; 26. Mike Duncan, Lamont, Calif.; 27. Wayne Cassidy, Vail, Ariz.; 28. Craig Raudman, Bakersfield, Calif.
WINSTON CHALLENGE TRIPLE CROWN SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL POINTS STANDINGS Pos. No. Driver State Points 1. 72 Marc Groskreutz WA 520 2. 54 Michael Obrist OR 495 3. 66 Charles Utts CA 454 4. 85 Kevin Richards WA 448 5. 61 Tom Sweatman WA 442 6. 31 Jason Schneider MN 418 7. 44 Scott Brandt AZ 418 8. 69 Brandon Riehl OR 407 9. 07 Chuck Wares AZ 397 10. 16 Greg Biffle WA 367
Source: NASCAR Online