ICKLER SCORES FIRST CAREER VICTORY WITH WIN AT ROSEBURG ROSEBURG, Ore. (June 30, 2007) - Call it sophomore jinx, sophomore slump or just plain bad luck - Brian Ickler has experienced it all this year in his second season in the NASCAR Grand...
ICKLER SCORES FIRST CAREER VICTORY WITH WIN AT ROSEBURG
ROSEBURG, Ore. (June 30, 2007) - Call it sophomore jinx, sophomore slump or just plain bad luck - Brian Ickler has experienced it all this year in his second season in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series.
He was confident, however, that his season would turn around and he could score his first career victory. That's exactly what he did, winning the BI-MART Firecracker 150 at Douglas County Speedway on Saturday night.
Ickler became the third different driver to pilot the No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet to victory lane at Roseburg, giving the Bill McAnally Racing team wins in four of six West Series races at the fairgrounds facility.
Ickler acknowledged the expectations to perform, but said this year's bad luck had deflected some of the pressure. "There's always pressure when you're running a car that's won so many races," said the 21-year-old driver from San Diego. "We've had such bad luck this year, all the pressure's been off my back."
In a season in which he has experienced plenty of bad luck, Ickler saw his competitors encounter problems this time around. Justin Lofton, who led the first 63 laps of the race, quickly faded back on a restart and was pushed to the garage with clutch problems - leaving him to finish 18th. Mike David, who set a track record of 15.091 seconds in qualifying and won the Bud Pole Award, led the next 72 laps. But he, too, suffered mechanical woes.
Ickler, who started fourth on the grid, picked his way forward to the runner-up spot and then inherited the lead when David's car faltered on a restart just 15 laps from the finish.
"It was unbelievable racing up there with Mike David," Ickler said from victory lane. "He'll race you clean all night. The last restart, we knew he was having some problems. We drove around the outside."
Ickler pulled away to win by 2.417 seconds, netting $6,750 in prize money and posted awards. The win, which came in just his 19th West Series race, secured him a spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Under the new format introduced this year, only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked into the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif., charged from 15th on the grid to finish second at Roseburg in the Twisted X Boots/Red Line Oil Ford. He was followed by two series rookies. Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., was third in the Sunrise Ford/Turbo Torq Ford and Alex Haase of Las Vegas was fourth in the Motorway of El Paso/Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet. Taking fifth was series veteran Jim Inglebright of Fairfield, Calif., in the Jelly Belly Chevrolet. Rounding out the top 10 were Eric Hardin, Moses Smith, Ryan Foster, Eric Richardson and Daryl Harr.
The race featured three lead changes among three drivers - Ickler, David and Lofton. The pace of the event was slowed by four cautions for 23 laps.
Despite limping to a 15th-place finish David was able to retain his lead in the championship standings. He tops the points with 1,218. Borneman moved to second with 1,136, while Mike Duncan slipped to third with 1,127. The next four drivers are separated by just 46 points. Bowles is fourth with 1,091, Hardin is fifth with 1,084, Lofton is sixth with 1,079 and Brett Thompson if seventh with 1,045. Completing the top 10 are Ickler at 1,018, Haase at 985 and Ryan Foster at 980.
With his third-place finish, Bowles extended his lead in the challenge for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He leads with 63 points, followed by Foster with 53, Haase with 49, Richardson with 47, Smith with 33, Stan Silva Jr. with 32 and Mike Gallegos with 25. Others in the rookie program include Rick Wall, David Mayhew, Jamie Dick, Lloyd Mack, Kevin O'Connell, Brandon Riehl, Thomas Martin and Garland Self.
The fast pace of the West Series schedule continues as the circuit heads to Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway for the King Taco 200 on Wednesday, July 4.