DUNCAN GOES 2-FOR-2 AT COLORADO IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES ERIE, Colo. (June 2, 2007) -- It had been three years since the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series last visited Colorado National Speedway,...
DUNCAN GOES 2-FOR-2 AT COLORADO IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES
ERIE, Colo. (June 2, 2007) -- It had been three years since the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series last visited Colorado National Speedway, but the scenario was the same -- with Mike Duncan chasing a Bill McAnally Racing entry. The outcome eventually became the same, too -- with Duncan prevailing for the win in the NAPA 150 and going two-for-two at the 3/8-mile oval, just north of Denver.
This time it was second-year driver Brian Ickler who won the Bud Pole in the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet and dominated the first half of the race. He led the first 84 laps, before Duncan slipped by just after a restart. During a subsequent caution a few laps later, Ickler ducked into the pits with power steering trouble.
"I thought he was going to be the dominating car, just like three years ago when Kerry Earnhardt was in one of those NAPA cars," Duncan later said from victory lane. "He led throughout the early part of the race, but things happen. I just try to run my pace and my pace worked out, again."
Duncan -- who had led the most laps of competition this year coming into Colorado, but had yet to win a race -- offered an additional comparison between this race and the one three years ago. "It's like when we won here in 2004. I think it was the only win that we had that year," he said. "They're real hard to get, know matter how good your car is in qualifying. There are so many variables that have to fall just right for you to win one of these events. It's been against us a little bit, but we haven't given up and here we are. Persistence has paid off, once again."
Duncan credited his previous experience in getting his car dialed in this time. "It's a great track for us to do it, because we're familiar with this place," said the two-time series champion from Bakersfield, Calif. "We didn't change a lot in practice. We tried a couple of things. We knew where we wanted to be, based on what we did in the past. I think that helped a lot by having success in the past. It helped with our setup and our decision-making and feeling good about what we put under the car."
Duncan's challenge did not end when he got around Ickler, however. He had a good look in his rear view mirror at Mike David, who led the championship standings coming into the event. "You've got to focus and you can't get too up," Duncan said of those final laps. "You've got to maintain your composure. And you've got to be able to drive smooth through the corners because those guys are hungry and if you slip, they'll go by you."
Although David was able to get the nose of his car out front to lead a lap on a lap 102 restart, Duncan regained the lead and paced the field to the checkered flag. His final challenge came when a late-race caution led to a fierce two-lap dash and a green-white-checkered finish that extended the distance of the race to 155 laps.
Duncan's Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet crossed the finish line .369 of a second ahead of David. The win, Duncan's eighth career series victory, netted him $6,278 in prize money and posted awards. It also secured him a spot in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown post-season event. Only Grand National Division race winners and the champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will earn starting positions in this year's prestigious post-season event. All others must race their way in under the new format.
David's second-place finish in the Bennett Lane Winery Ford gave the Modesto, Calif., driver podium finishes in five of the first six races this season. Series rookie and Richard Childress Racing development driver Ryan Foster of Anderson, Calif., had a career-best third-place finish in the Golden Gate Petroleum/RCR Chevrolet. He was followed by two other rookies -- Eric Richardson of Bakersfield, Calif., in the NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet; and Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., in the Sunrise Ford/Turbo Torq Ford. Rounding out the top 10 were Jim Inglebright, Alex Haase, Mike Gallegos, Moses Smith and Rick Wall. Ickler managed to finish 15th, while battling his power steering problem.
The race featured three lead changes among three drivers -- Ickler, Duncan and David. The pace of the event was slowed by nine cautions for 44 laps.
David's consistent finishes have netted him a lead of just over 100 points in the championship standings. He leads 999 to 891 over Duncan, who moved to second with his win. Bowles is third with 850, followed by series veteran Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif., with 836. Brett Thompson of Jerome, Idaho, remains fifth in the standings with 809. The rest of the top 10 include Eric Hardin at 807, Justin Lofton at 805, Haase at 767, Foster at 714 and Richardson at 685.
Bowles continues to lead the challenge for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He tops a talented freshman class with 50 points. Haase is second with 39, followed by Foster with 37, Richardson with 35, Smith with 21, David Mayhew with 18, Stan Silva Jr., with 18, Jamie Dick with 15, Wall with 15 and Gallegos with 15. Others in the rookie program are Lloyd Mack, Brandon Riehl, Thomas Martin and Garland Self.
Next up for competitors in the West Series is the Blue Lizard Australian Suncream 200 on the twisting road course at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on June 23.