CARLSON CONQUERS NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES AT MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY MANSFIELD, Ohio (July 31, 2005) -- In NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series action at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Steve Carlson...
CARLSON CONQUERS NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION, MIDWEST SERIES AT MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY
MANSFIELD, Ohio (July 31, 2005) -- In NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series action at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, Steve Carlson came away with his second win of the season Sunday. Defending series champion Justin Diercks finished second, followed by rookie Andrew Morrissey, Brent Kirchner in fourth and Tim Schendel in fifth place. The 150-lap race ran from start to finish with no caution periods.
Carlson took the victory, the 40th of his illustrious career, in an utterly dominating fashion. The veteran driver, from West Salem, Wis., led 145 laps and lapped all but three cars in the field. Carlson assumed the lead by passing underneath Dexter Bean on the fifth lap, and then proceeded to open a two-second lead over Justin Diercks in second. Carlson's lead was soon up to five seconds and he began catching the tail end of the field on the 30th lap.
With 50 laps complete, Carlson had continued to bypass the field and lapped all but the top eight cars in the 14-car field. Diercks had cleared much of the same lapped traffic but was in no position to catch Carlson. With 70 laps complete, Carlson had gained an entire lap over all but the top four cars.
Despite decimating the field, Carlson was modest about his performance. He continued to pace the field and finished the 150-lap (75 mile) distance in just over 42 minutes.
"I had a pretty good car today," said the understated Carlson. "We've been kind of struggling for the last year or so. We've been trying some new stuff on the car over the past couple of weeks and it seems to be working."
By Carlson's standards, a "struggling" 2004 season included three wins, 12 top-five finishes and his 15th consecutive ranking in the top two of the Midwest Series point standings. Sunday's win was Carlson's fourth consecutive top-five finish of 2005.
Mansfield runner-up Justin Diercks, who maintains his points lead by a 29-point margin over Carlson (870-841), knew he couldn't keep up and was pleased with his results.
"At first, it wasn't bad," said Diercks. "I let [Steve] run his own pace and I thought a caution would be coming out. Around lap 79 I looked up and realized 'there's no caution coming out.' So I gassed it up and started making a charge. We started getting closer and closer towards the end, but Steve's a smart race car driver. He might have been sitting, he might not.
"We had a car that possibly could've won it. But, second-place is first place in my book when you're racing against a guy like Steve."
The Midwest Series continues its 2005 campaign on Saturday, Aug. 6, with a 150-lap event at Lake Geneva (Wis.) Raceway.