East Wenatchee, Wash. (May 24, 2003) -- Starting second on the grid Jeff Jefferson (No. 42 Morgan Transport/Gary Mears Trucking Chevrolet), of Naches, Wash., raced by Ed Watson (No. 55 Creekside Retirement Community Chevrolet), of Mt. Vernon,...
East Wenatchee, Wash. (May 24, 2003) -- Starting second on the grid Jeff Jefferson (No. 42 Morgan Transport/Gary Mears Trucking Chevrolet), of Naches, Wash., raced by Ed Watson (No. 55 Creekside Retirement Community Chevrolet), of Mt. Vernon, Wash., on the third lap of the Cellular One "125" at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval, then held the front position for the remaining 123 laps taking the win and claiming front position in the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series championship point race.
Taking his third career Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series win Jefferson worked through eight restarts battling an aggressive Wes Rhodes (No. 6 Knight Fire Protection Chevrolet), of Olympia, Wash., on the inside who went a lap down following damage repairs from an early race collision.
Rhodes comment's, "This being our first race it wasn't a point thing for us. I think we spent more time today learning how to go fast rather than thinking of points, so that was different for us. We ran hard the car was really good. Jefferson raced us clean and we never touched, he's a great guy, we both ran hard."
Restarts were key, racing to hold position Jefferson needed to keep Rhodes at bay while not opening a door for the charging Chris Hart (No. 5 Yakima Implement Chevrolet), of Yakima Wash., in second position.
"We're supposed to go on the white line in four; Rhodes was getting out a little early on the first couple restarts. I needed to hold him down because Chris was behind me waiting for a hole. Towards the end the restarts were better and I could get by him," said Jefferson.
Racing for a win Hart wasn't afraid to use the chrome horn while trying to pass Jefferson in the closing laps.
"Chris was there all night, at least from about lap fifty on. I just knew I had to protect the bottom. I think he might have had a little better car, but we had track position and held the line. We had good forward bight and got off the corners really well," said Jefferson.
He continues with a laugh and smile, "I felt him back there, but when he was hitting me I was going straight. It all worked out, Chris ran me clean and that's just good short track racing. This is probably the hardest I've raced in a long time and the most fun I've had in a long time."
Gary Lewis (No. 73 Sign Factory/Nutter Racing Engines Pontiac), of Bothell, Wash., started seventh on the grid found himself and Pete Harding (No. 39 LP Body Shop/Harding Forklift Chevrolet), of Surrey B.C., banging doors in turn two on lap eleven which sent rookie Rod Schultz Jr. (No. 8 RES Investments/PIC Chevrolet), slamming head-on into the turn 1-2 apex ending his night with major front end damage.
In a race with eight cautions for fifty-one laps Lewis said, "The best way I could describe this night would be race car pin-ball. It was crazy, it seemed like there was always somebody underneath me in the back, and I was always right behind someone else. We had an awesome car, we got a run on Pete, we wrecked and tore up the car pretty good. The car was never the same after that the handling would come and go, but it was good enough to miss a couple wrecks and work our way to a fourth."
With Wenatchee in the books Lewis has Yakima Speedway (May 31st) in his sights, "We run well in Yakima, we'll get this back together, and hope for a better run out there."
NOTES OF INTEREST:
Kevin Hamlin (No. 33 Bowman's Electro Painting Chevrolet), of Snohomish, Wash., taking his first Bud Pole Award at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval with a fast time of 13.228 seconds Hamlin now has five career Bud Pole awards. Hamlin has moved from outside the top-10 to fifth in the season championship point race in just the last two events. Hamlin started eighth and finished third in the Cellular One "125".
Jeff Bailey (No. 27 Frank & Son Autobody Chevrolet), of Kennewick, Wash., won Victory Circle Chassis rookie-of-the-race honors finishing in sixth position picking up ten valuable rookie points. With his top-ten finish Bailey move into second position just four points back of Jason Jefferson (No. 97 Northwest dodge Dealers Dodge), of Yakima, Wash.
Victory Circle, a chassis design and fabrication company located in Bakersfield, Calif., sponsors the 2003 rookie-of-the-year award for the NASCAR Elite Division. With this new sponsorship, first-year drivers in the four NASCAR Elite Divisions are now eligible for $20,000 in post-season awards.
Bill Lawrence (No. 21 Lawrence Contracting), of Kelowna, B.C., won the fifth-teen lap qualifying race going away and started twenty-first on the grid. Not escaping main event damage Lawrence collided with Kelley Mann (No. 9 Universal Land/Central Welding Supply Chevrolet), of Monroe, Wash., in turn two on lap 55.
Both damaged cars would finish the race, Lawrence would finish on the lead lap in fifth place taking the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" award.
Visit www.nascartouring.com for the latest NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series results, news, and information.
Next NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series event the Frank's Chevrolet "125" at Yakima Speedway Saturday May 31, 2003.
NEXT EVENT: May 31, 2003 -- Franks Chevrolet 125 -- Yakima Speedway -- Yakima, Wash. -- 125 Laps, 62.5 Miles -- Purse $42,372