NWS: Magic Valley: Race summary

Garrett Evans Wins 50th Northwest Series Race TWIN FALLS, Idaho (June 12, 2004) -- Whether it was a rabbit's foot, a four-leaf clover or lucky socks, Garrett Evans had his lucky charm with him Saturday night in the Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley ...

Garrett Evans Wins 50th Northwest Series Race

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (June 12, 2004) -- Whether it was a rabbit's foot, a four-leaf clover or lucky socks, Garrett Evans had his lucky charm with him Saturday night in the Pepsi 125 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho. Evans, who hails from Ardenvoir, Wash. collected his 50th career victory in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series action, which is a series all-time best. Evans in the Leonard Evans Hyundai/Signature Financing Chevrolet led 84 of the 129 laps, but, just like magic, everything is not as it appears.

The wily veteran Evans in his 20th season of Northwest Series racing said, "The secret here is patience, track position and luck." Those were three key ingredients to Evans' win, his fourth at Magic Valley Speedway and his first series victory since winning there in 2002.

Track position was something that Evans had all evening as he rolled off fifth in the starting grid. He quickly worked his way to the front and took the lead on lap 12. By the 35th lap the lead pack of cars had caught the tail end of the field which led to some tight racing as the trailing cars fought to stay on the lead lap and the leaders fought to forge ahead. While Evans was on the bottom of the track looking for a way around Rod Schultz, Jr., Brandon Riehl took his Aero Turbine/Darrel's Economy Muffler Chevy to the high side enabling him to power around both Schultz and Evans for the race lead. Gary Lewis from Bothell, Wash. followed Riehl in the Sign Factory USA/Sandblasters machine pushing Evans back to third.

This is where Evans used the other two of his three key ingredients, patience and luck. He laid back for thirty or so laps and allowed Riehl and Lewis to fight amongst themselves. On the race's 71st lap Lewis worked his way up beside Riehl and the two were door to door for two laps racing for the lead. Then luck factored into the equation for Evans. As Riehl worked to get Lewis behind him, he got loose in turn four and spun out sending Lewis into the gravel on the outside of the track thus opening the door down low for Evans to regain the lead on lap 74, a lead he would not relinquish.

"If Gary had gotten around Brandon, I'm not sure that I could have been able to get the lead back from him because he runs well here," said the victorious Evans. "But they made it easier when Brandon spun in four."

Even though he led over three-quarters of the race, Evans would not concede that he had a dominant car. "I led a lot of laps, but you have to work for everything you get at this track. It's a great track, but nothing comes easy," Evans stated. Indeed, everything is not as it appears.

After dispatching Riehl and Lewis, Evans still had to deal with a hard-charging Joe Benedetti. The Auburn, Wash. native in the Bret Chevrolet/RaceCals Chevy pushed his way to second looking for an opportunity to power past Evans, but the experienced Evans was able to fend off Benedetti and beat him to the line by .24 of a second. "Garrett leans so hard on his right front tire and he just stays with it. I just never had a good chance to get around him," said Benedetti. The second place finish was Benedetti's best of the 2004 season.

Lewis, after deftly avoiding serious contact with anything in Riehl's spin, rebounded nicely to garner third, his second consecutive Top 5 finish.

Pete Harding, of Surrey, B.C. Canada, in his L.P. Body Shop/Harding Forklift Chevy picked up a fourth place finish, which was his third straight Top 5. Travis Bennett brought his Bowman's Electro Painting/Zeb's Truck Stop Chevrolet home in fifth. The Ellensburg, Wash. native has been the top-finishing rookie in all four events this season, making him the prohibitive favorite to earn the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award.

Rounding out the Top 10 were defending series champion Jeff Jefferson, his brother Jason Jefferson, former Southwest Series champion Eddy McKean, Wes Rhodes, whose crew should get a well-deserved pat on the back after having to change an engine during practice, and Rod Schultz, Sr.

Jeff Jefferson, out of Naches, Wash., won the Bud Pole Award with a speed of 84.815 mph in his Sunfair Chevrolet/Morgan Transport Chevy.

The other Jefferson, Jason, also from Naches, Wash., took home the Featherlite "Most Improved Driver" Award given to the driver who improves his finishing position the most from the previous event. He finished in seventh in this race after a disappointing 22nd at Yakima (Wash.) Speedway on May 29, battling a clutch problem in the Mike Olson Dodge/SPE Racing Engines Dodge.

Harding posted a poor qualifying time forcing him to take a provisional start in 20th, but the hard-driving Canadian weaved his way through the traffic for those fourth-place honors. That feat earned him the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award given to the driver who improves his position the most over the course of the event.

The Northwest Series is back in action next on the 5/8-mile track at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash. for the Evergreen 125 on June 26.

<pre> Unofficial Standings as of June 12, 2004

TOP TEN DRIVERS BUD POLE LEADERS Pos. Driver Points Gary Lewis 2 1. Garrett Evans 660 Garrett Evans 1 2. Travis Bennett* 617 Jeff Jefferson 1 3. Jason Jefferson 603 4. Pete Harding 578 POWERade POWER MOVE OF THE RACE 5. Wes Rhodes 578 John Bender 1 6. Brandon Riehl 573 Joe Benedetti 1 7. John Bender 567 Shane Biles 1 8. Steven Howard 551 Pete Harding 1 9. Joe Benedetti 544 10. Gary Lewis 538 * denotes rookie

AUTO METER ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER Travis Bennett 30 Pete Harding 1 Jim McVey 25 Jason Jefferson 1 Bryan Wiener 24 Gary Lewis 1 John Tibbitts 16. Brandon Riehl 1

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jason Jefferson , John Bender , Gary Lewis