WS: Irwindale: Race notes

IRWINDALE VICTORY GIVES ICKLER SECOND WIN IN FOUR DAYS IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES ACTION IRWINDALE, Calif. (July 4, 2007) - Competitors in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series beware. Brian Ickler and his ...

IRWINDALE VICTORY GIVES ICKLER SECOND WIN IN FOUR DAYS IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES ACTION

IRWINDALE, Calif. (July 4, 2007) - Competitors in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series beware. Brian Ickler and his NAPA-sponsored Bill McAnally Racing team are on a roll, after winning two races in four days.

The second-year driver captured his first career win in Roseburg, Ore., on June 30. He followed that up four days later on the Fourth of July with a win in the King Taco 200 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.

"It still hasn't hit me that we won that first one," Ickler said after winning at Irwindale. "We haven't been home. I've been on the road since three or four weeks before Sonoma, working on these cars," he said of preparing the BMR Chevrolets for the portion of this year's schedule with three races in 12 days.

The back-to-back wins mark a significant turn-around for the 21-year-old San Diego driver, who encountered a variety of setbacks early in the season. "The whole year we've had unbelievable race cars," he pointed out. "We've qualified decent and moved our way to the front every time, but just had horrible luck. We went back to basics that you make your own luck. We've been putting in the extra hours at the shop. The whole team's been contributing and it's all clicking now."

Ickler was optimistic they could keep things going, once things started to turn around. "This is a momentum sport," he said. "Once you start running good and qualifying good, it makes it a whole lot easier."

His biggest challenge through most of the Irwindale race came from the 2006 West Series Champion Eric Holmes, who won the Bud Pole Award with a qualifying lap of 96.644 mph. The pair waged a fierce battle throughout the 200-lap race, trading the lead nine times.

Two-time series champion Mike Duncan, who fell to the back of the pack after spinning just before the midway point of the race, steadily moved through the field to make it a three-wide battle for the lead in the closing laps. Ickler held on to win by a margin of .956 of a second, with an average speed of 71.020 mph.

In addition to netting $6,250 in prize money and posted awards for the Irwindale win - Ickler edged Duncan to win the HDNet Performance Award and $10,000, along with a high definition wide-screen television. The bonus award went to the eligible driver who led the most cumulative laps in the West Series races HDNet broadcasted this year. Duncan had a substantial advantage, having led 239 laps heading to Irwindale. The 147 laps Ickler led there, along with 99 laps he led in previous races this year, allowed him to take the inaugural award by just seven markers.

Duncan of Bakersfield, Calif., nabbed second at Irwindale in the Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet. Holmes of Escalon, Calif., was third in the Van Dyke Baler/Paul Oil Chevrolet. Jason Patison of Corona, Calif., garnered plenty of attention with a fourth-place finish in his series debut in the Lucas Oil Ford. Mike David of Modesto, Calif., was fifth in the Bennett Lane Winery Ford. Rounding out the top 10 were Brett Thompson, Tim McCreadie, Eric Richardson, Johnny Borneman and Jim Inglebright. The pace of the event was slowed by seven cautions for 30 laps.

While Ickler's first win at Roseburg secured him a spot in this year's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, his second victory came at the site of the prestigious post-season event - which will be Oct. 19-20. As a rookie last season, Ickler won a qualifying race and finished fifth in the 2006 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Race winners in NASCAR Grand National Division competition this year earn a starting spot in the 2007 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. Under the new format, only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way in.

With his fifth-place finish, meanwhile, David maintained his lead in the championship standings. At 1,373 points, he has a 76-marker advantage over Duncan, who moved back up to second with 1,297 points. Borneman of Ramona, Calif., is third with 1,274 points. Series rookie Jason Bowles of Ontario, Calif., is fourth with 1,221 - followed by Ickler with 1,208. Completing the top 10 of the standings are Justin Lofton at 1,206, Eric Hardin at 1,205, Thompson at 1,195, Alex Haase at 1,100 and Ryan Foster at 1,077.

Bowles continues to lead the battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He leads with 72 points, followed by Richardson with 57, Haase with 56, Foster with 54, Stan Silva Jr. with 40, Moses Smith with 35 and Mike Gallegos with 30. 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 next event on the West Series schedule is the Big O Tires 150 at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, on July 14.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Moses Smith , Jim Inglebright , Brett Thompson , Mike David , Eric Holmes , Stan Silva Jr. , Thomas Martin , Jason Bowles , Kevin O'Connell , Ryan Foster , Justin Lofton , Tim McCreadie , Jason Patison , David Mayhew , Jamie Dick , Brian Ickler , Garland Self