MIKE OLSEN AND AUGGIE VIDOVICH WIN NASCAR TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN FEATURES AT IRWINDALE
IRWINDALE, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2005) - Auggie Vidovich, of Lakeside, Calif. captured the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division feature while Mike Olsen, of North Haverhill, N.H. was the NASCAR Grand National Division winner in Saturday night's third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway.
Vidovich, who started eighth, dominated the final 50-lap segment of the 125-lap AutoZone Elite Division main event after taking advantage of the double file restart at lap 76 to pass Rip Michels for the lead. Michels, a former track champion at Irwindale, surrendered second when he spun after contact Lamar on lap 89. Lamar took up the challenge but was eventually left 1.738 seconds behind. M.K. Kanke gave the Southwest Series a sweep of the top three positions, while Eddie Hoffman of the Midwest Series was fourth and Gary Lewis of the Northwest Series took fifth after starting 34th. Michels recovered to place sixth, with Chris Davidson, Wilbur Bruce, Pete Harding, and Jim Pettit II completing the top ten.
Vidovich, who has come close to Southwest Series victories at Irwindale but never succeeded, exclaimed in victory lane, "I've hated this track at times but I love it tonight!" He credited his Centrifugal Technologies Chevrolet crew for the chassis adjustments at the break which loosened up the car and propelled him to victory.
Starting from the outside of the front row, Michels led all but one lap of the first segment. Vidovich was second at the race's mandatory competition break, followed by Lamar, Kanke, and Hoffman. With the top four cars from the AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series, the home team easily defeated the Midwest Series for the event's "team" title by a margin of 1300 points to 997. The Northwest Series was third and the Southeast Series fourth in the team standings, which are based on the running order at the break.
The victory by former Busch North Series champion Olsen in the 150-lap Grand National Division race came after a race of dramatic changes of fortune that produced 14 lead changes among five drivers. David Gilliland of the West Series was second, .828 seconds behind, followed by Busch North drivers Matt Kobyluck, Ryan Moore and Sean Caisse. Scott Gaylord of the West Series was sixth after starting 31st, with Andy Santerre, Steve Portenga, Joey McCarthy, and Brett Thompson rounding out the top 10.
"It went wrong for a lot of guys but it went right for me," Olsen said of the frantic final 50 lap segment, which was marked by repeated caution periods. After starting outside the front row and leading one lap, he faded to eighth at the 100-lap break but came roaring back after adjustments by the Little Trees Chevrolet crew. "I got up to third and I was going to wait, and then we started having the cautions. From that point on my car got on the bottom and I got good forward bite," he added.
Olsen's biggest break came on lap 136 when the leaders checked up in turn four for a caution flag and Mike Stefanik spun after contact with Olsen. Stefanik had come from 22nd at the start to take the lead a lap earlier.
The 100-lap break found Gilliland the leader, but Busch North Series entries filled seven of the top ten places to produce a third straight "team" title for the east coast contingent, 1848 points to 1717 for the West Series. Individually, Moore led 60 laps, Gilliland 42, Caisse 34, Olsen 13, and Stefanik one.