Gilliland Incredible at Infineon DAYTONA BEACH, Flordia -- David Gilliland of Riverside, Calif. thought he was going to settle for third, but a late race caution brought out by then leader Boris Said moved the second generation driver to the...
Gilliland Incredible at Infineon
DAYTONA BEACH, Flordia -- David Gilliland of Riverside, Calif. thought he was going to settle for third, but a late race caution brought out by then leader Boris Said moved the second generation driver to the front of the field in the Snap-On Tools "200" at Infineon Raceway this past Saturday. Gilliland held off a ferocious charge from Burney Lamar to collect his seventh career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series victory and first on a road course. The field was frozen on the final lap as the caution waved after the leader (Gilliland) took the white flag. Lamar finished second, with former series champion Bryan Germone finishing third. M.K. Kanke crossed the finish line in fourth, with three-time race winner Jim Inglebright rounding out the top five.
Forty-five teams attempted to qualify for one of the 42 starting positions in the 64 lap event, sending Curtis Lansing, Vince Little, and local road racing star Steve Petty packing after failing to qualify. Boris Said of Carlsbad, Calif. used his vast experience at Infineon Raceway to lead all qualifiers in the $92,944 event that featured several road racing veterans and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup superstar Kevin Harvick. Following Said in qualifying were Gilliland, Lamar, Germone, and Harvick. Eric Holmes, Kanke, Kenny Shepherd, Inglebright, and Troy Ermish rounded out the top ten qualifiers on the starting grid.
Said led the field to green just after 1pm PST followed up the hill and turn 2 by Gilliland, Lamar, and Harvick. The field sorted itself out over the first two laps as each driver let his tires get up to temperature. The first of eight cautions flew on lap nine for Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Todd Burns as he slid wide in turn #11 and found the tire barrier. Burns was unable to re-fire his mount and only suffered minor left front body damage.
When the second caution waved on lap 18 several of the front runners ducked into the pits for fuel and tires including Harvick, Auggie Vidovich, Nick Lynch, and Joe Herold. Said maintain the top position after the first round of pit stops followed Lamar, Gilliland, Inglebright, and Germone. Said led the leaders in a round of green flag pit stops on lap 25 handing the lead over to Lamar. Lamar pitted on lap later putting Darrell LaMoure at the point for the first time this season.
After the pit stops cycled through, Vidovich claimed the top spot followed by Eric Holmes, Doug McCoun, Greg Voigt, and Stan Silva Jr. Ermish Rip Michels, Wes Banks, Howard Ford, and Danny Burson rounded out the top ten in the running order at lap 32. Said regained the lead on lap 37 which he held through lap 65.
By lap 40, Said and Harvick controlled the pace, followed Gilliland, Jim Pettit II, Nick Joanides, and Kanke. There were 22 of the 41 starters running on the lead lap with five cars out of the race at that point. Former series champion Eddy McKean had a spectacular run derailed after contact with another car and the turn 11 wall caused damage to the rear suspension forcing McKean to retire on lap 53. McKean ran as high as sixth after his pit stop.
Greg Voigt and Nick Joanides each had great runs go bad late in the event in two separate crashes. Both drivers ran in the top five late in the race. Pettit saw his chance at a top five go away on lap 53 when a rear axel broke slowing his pace considerably eventually losing a lap. Championship contender Dan Holtz also had a top ten finish elude him after two late race spins, eventually finishing in the 16th position.
It looked as if the series regulars were going to take a back seat to Said and Harvick, but as Said and Harvick entered turn 11, Said's rear end locked up collecting Harvick setting up a green, white and checkered finish. With Said and Harvick falling out of the event, Gilliland, Lamar, Germone, Kanke, and Inglebright seized the opportunity and waged a spirited battle during to attempted restarts that added extra laps to the 64 lap event.
Eventually, the extra distance would take its toll on championship point leader Craig Raudman, as he ran dry on the final lap and coasted through the final lap. Gilliland took the checkered flag ahead of Lamar and Germone as the caution flag flew for an accident during the final lap freezing the field in position as the front four entered turn 7. Kanke finished fourth, with Inglebright rounding out the top five. Darrell LaMoure had his best run of the season finishing in the sixth spot, followed by Tom Dyer, Howard Ford, Joe Herold, and Autometer Rookie-of-the-Year point leader Rip Michels.
An enthusiastic Gilliland collected his first win of the season and moved into 13th in the overall standings after the event at Infineon Raceway. "This was only my second road course race and I am just thrilled that we ran up front all day," Gilliland said. "I was ready to settle for third, but when Boris and Kevin got together it changed the outcome. I am really proud of the team and their effort all weekend."
"I was pretty excited when Boris and Kevin spun," Lamar said after finishing second. "I knew that I was better than David through the esses and thought if it were to stay green I could have made the pass. I am real happy to leave here with a top five finish as it keeps us squarely in the championship hunt."
"David ran a good race and we are just happy to come in here and be competitive," Germone said. Germone made his second start of the season and hopes to land a sponsor that would enable his Michael Sebastiani led team to field a full season in 2005. "We ran great all day and the crew did a tremendous job changing tires and adding fuel on our pit stop. I think the Southwest Series is the best thing going in all of motorsports and I really want to be back full time."
Kevin Harvick looked to be heading for a second straight podium finish until the late race contact with Said ended his day. "What can I say, it was a wreck," Harvick said.
Raudman maintained his advantage in the point standings following the event after his 13th place finish, but Pettit closed the gap to within 59 points. Lamar makes up several points on the top two and sits just 35 markers behind Pettit. Joe Herold vaults into fourth position in the standings after a 9th place run at Infineon. While Eddy McKean loses ground and drops to fifth in the standings after a broken suspension relegated the 2002 series champion to a 32nd place finish.
Doug McCoun Greg Voigt, Dan Holtz, Eric Holmes and Rip Michels round out the NASCAR Top 10 in the chases for an invite to the second annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Boris Said collected the $350 Bud Pole Award, while Rudy Revak was the recipient of the $750 PowerAde Power Move-of-the-Race Award for improving the most positions in the event (27). Darrell LaMoure collected the $300 Featherlite Award for improving the most positions from the previous race. Rip Michels collected the Autometer Rookie-of-the-Race honors for being the top finishing rookie with his tenth place performance.
There were eight caution periods that consumed 31 laps and six drivers exchanged the lead six times with Boris Said leading the most laps (52). The next event for the AutoZone Southwest Series is Saturday, July 17 at Madera Speedway in Madera, California.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hours, 19 minutes, 42 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 60.552 mph
MARGIN OF VICTORY: .121 seconds
BUD POLE AWARD: Boris Said, Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet 77.853/92.020 mph
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE AWARD: Rudy Revak, Symmetry Chevrolet
FEATHERLITE AWARD: Darrell LaMoure, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
AUTOMETER ROOKIE-OF-THE-RACE AWARD: Rip Michels, Stock Building Supply Chevrolet
CAUTION FLAGS: Eight cautions for 31 laps (9-13, 18-22, 31-36, 41-43,
44-46, 48-51, 63-65, 67-69)
LAP LEADERS: Six lead changes among six drivers . Boris Said 1-24, Burney Lamar 25-27, Darrell LaMoure 28-30, Auggie Vidovich 31-33, Stan Silva Jr. 35-36, Boris Said 37-65, David Gilliland 66-71.