July 16, 2000 (Palmdale, Calif.) - Sean Woodside, driver of the REF Motorsports ...
July 16, 2000 (Palmdale, Calif.) - Sean Woodside, driver of the REF Motorsports #4 Pontiac in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring, and the REF team struggled through mechanical problems to survive Sunday's Ford L.A. Street race, finishing in 16th place and improving their position in the point standings for the season to date from fourth to third.
Finishing the race, which was peppered with crashes and mechanical failures by many of the teams, was accomplishment enough considering how the weekend went for the REF team.
Woodside had logged just a few practice laps Friday morning when the rear axle broke on the car. With repairs consuming the rest of the day Friday and early Saturday, the car was ready in time for qualifying, but there had been no time to make another practice run.
Woodside started off on his qualifying run having had essentially no time to get to know the track. He hit the tire barrier in turn one, resulting in a damaged car and a provisional starting position.
The entire team, including Woodside and team owner Bob Farmer, flew into action. There was no damage to the front-end suspension, but the radiator had to be replaced, and the shroud and front-end body parts either repaired or replaced. The car was nearly race-ready by the time the garage closed on Saturday evening, with just a few adjustments to be made in the morning.
The race started, and Woodside began looking for opportunities to begin moving forward through the pack. Less than halfway through the event, though, he had to pit for more repairs. Seventeen laps were lost while the crew worked on the rear end and axle. Once Woodside got back onto the track, though, it was clear the goal needed to change from winning to just finishing the race. Woodside was able to work his way around the track steadily for the remaining laps. While others suffered their own mechanical failures or damage from crashes, Woodside kept turning laps.
"Once we knew we were not in a position to win or finish in the top five, we concerned ourselves with points," said Woodside. "Going into this race, we were in fourth place in the standings, with just 28 points between second and fourth. We knew the race was going to be tough on the equipment, and, if we could just hang in there for the finish, we stood a chanceish that much."
The Southwest Series' meets next at Irwindale Speedway on July 29th.