Charles Lewandoski Scores Best Career Busch East Finish 21-Year-Old Finishes Third at Thompson in the Shadows of Where He Started Racing CONCORD, NC (June 12, 2006) -- Back when guys like Darrell Waltrip, Ernie Irvan, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty...
Charles Lewandoski Scores Best Career Busch East Finish
21-Year-Old Finishes Third at Thompson in the Shadows of Where He Started Racing
CONCORD, NC (June 12, 2006) -- Back when guys like Darrell Waltrip, Ernie Irvan, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace were battling for victory on television every week, a pint-sized Charles Lewandoski got his own racing career started by wheeling a quarter midget at the "Little T" Speedway, a small and neat paved oval located on the grounds of Thompson International Speedway (CT).
Thursday night, things came full circle for Lewandoski, now 21 years old and residing in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. The up and comer scored his first career NASCAR Busch East podium finish just a few hundred feet away at the "Big T" -- the 5/8th mile Thompson track that dates back to the 1940's. Lewandoski wheeled the #01 Lewandoski Construction Chevrolet to a third-place finish.
The setting for a career-best run was not lost on the young driver.
"That's where I started," said Lewandoski, pointing off towards the "Little T" track after the race. "Between Busch East and the Modifieds there are probably a dozen of us who raced together there -- Doug Coby, James Civali, Zach Sylvester, Ron Yuhas, the list goes on and on. Counting the SKs and Late Models, there are another dozen. That's cool. I get to come up here see a lot of people who I haven't seen in awhile.
"It feels great to come here and run well. Everyone just worked so hard to make this happen and we've got to keep this going. We had a 10th or 11th-place car [in practice] all day. We qualified 11th and I was disappointed. We weren't a car to beat, but it got a lot better. We kept working on it. In the end, the third place car finished third and nobody was mad at me. So I'm happy."
Lewandoski has plenty of people to thank for the finish. From his supportive parents, to his former crew chief Paul Wolfe to a small and loyal crew of hard workers to many of his competitors, Lewandoski knows that he might be listed as the one finishing third at Thompson, but there are plenty of names that belong right there next to his own.
"I've got a great group of guys. They worked a long, hard day for this to happen. Paul Wolfe is still the go-to guy for us. He's not here to help push the car through tech, but he's a big part of what we do. He's over at Fitz-Bradshaw now and all of those guys over there have been a big help to me too. We try to help each other.
"Between Andy Santerre and the Chews, those guys have always been really good to me. There's a long list -- Mike Olsen, Matt Kobyluck and his crew and pretty much everyone in between."
Lewandoski's small family-owned team enjoys no major sponsorship and doesn't even bring a back-up car to the races. They originally planned on only running a limited schedule of events in 2006, but the Thompson finish solidified a top-five points perch for Lewandoski and he is now going to do whatever it takes to try and make that streak continue.
"I was just going to run maybe seven races this year," said Lewandoski. "Then we decided to maybe do eight and skip Holland, Lake Erie and Lime Rock. But everything is going so good that we have to just keep on going. We don't deserve to win a championship or anything yet. But we'll be good if we can keep finishing in the top-five or six. We've really built things up with this team."
The next event for Lewandoski and his #01 team will be at Lake Erie Speedway (PA) on July 8th.