DAVID MOVES ATOP CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS WITH EARLY-SEASON WIN AT PHOENIX PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 10, 2008) - Mike David knew when the season started it would be tough to defend his 2007 championship in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. But...
DAVID MOVES ATOP CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS WITH EARLY-SEASON WIN AT PHOENIX
PHOENIX, Ariz. (April 10, 2008) - Mike David knew when the season started it would be tough to defend his 2007 championship in the NASCAR Camping World Series West. But just as he did a year ago, David has jumped into an early lead in the chase for a second consecutive title.
His choice to change manufacturer and put a new race car into service in seven days may have been considered a gamble by some, but it was a gamble that paid off with a win in the Jimmie Johnson Foundation 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on Thursday, April 10. The victory - the seventh of his career - propelled the 41-year-old Modesto, Calif., driver to the top of the championship standings after two races.
"We didn't take our best car to Roseville and it bit us," David said of the season opener on March 29. "We didn't run quite as good as we wanted. So, that's when we jumped on this thing and thought it would be our best car."
The team completed the car in a week, making the switch to Toyota for their first time. "It took lots of hours," David said of the work by the Lynch Racing team. "There were a lot of nights we were there until two or three in the morning and a couple of all-night efforts. All my guys are volunteer guys. They come down after work and put in all the hours. I can't thank them enough. It worked out great."
Ryan Foster, who won his first career Coors Light Pole with a qualifying lap of 127.982 mph in the Glen Haven Beach Resort Ford, paced the first 15 laps at PIR - but was sidelined by engine trouble. Teenager Marc Davis, who finished second in this event a year ago, led briefly before Eric Holmes took charge. Holmes, a long-time rival of David's who had won the season opener, opened up a solid lead and appeared to have the car to beat.
Although much of the field opted to pit for tires and fuel during a caution at about lap 64 - Holmes, David and a handful of other front runners chose to stay out and maintain their track position. The ensuing green flag run resulted in Holmes running out of fuel on track and coasting to a stop on lap 87, dropping him several laps back from the leaders. The caution brought out for Holmes' stalled car allowed David and others to make their pit stop under caution.
David admitted that seeing Holmes out of gas was a concern for him. "When I saw Eric run out, we were concerned, also," he said. "We started backing it way off and trying to conserve fuel. That's when the 42 car (Jeff Jefferson) caught us."
Despite falling back to eighth after the pit stop, David said he was not worried about getting back to the front. "We knew we had a real good car, especially on long runs," he said. "So, we just had to take our time to get back up there."
While David was working his way forward, Brett Thompson was swapping the lead with Marc Davis during a series of restarts brought about by a series of cautions in the second half of the race. Thompson pulled away on lap 133, as Davis began to fade with a tire going flat. Thompson was not able to hold off a hard-charging David, however. David put his Bennett Lane Winery Toyota out front with 11 laps remaining and then held on in a two-lap dash after the ninth and final caution of the event.
David crossed the line with a winning margin of .206 of a second - netting $14,600 in prized money and posted awards.
Nick Lynch of Burley, Idaho, used a similar pit strategy and came away with a career-best runner-up finish in the Mr. Gas Dodge. Veteran West Coast competitor Jeff Jefferson, who has returned to the series after concentrating on a very successful racing effort in the Pacific Northwest, finished third in the MJ2 Racing/Gran Prix Imports Chevrolet. Thompson of Jerome, Idaho, came across the line fourth in the PetsBest.com/Windmill Inn Chevrolet - while Jeff Barkshire of Auburn, Wash., was fifth in the Centennial Batteries/SPE Dodge. Finishing out the top 10 were James Buescher, Moses Smith, Mike Gallegos, Tony Toste and Matt Kobyluck.
The race featured 12 lead changes among five drivers. The pace of the event was slowed by nine cautions for 54 laps.
With David's win, Toyota is now two-for-two in NASCAR Camping World Series West competition in 2008. David and Holmes, the most recent champions in the series, are the first drivers to secure a spot in the prestigious post-season NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
David leads the championship standings with 350 points, followed by Moses Smith of Tempe, Ariz., with 301; Jefferson of Naches, Wash., with 295; Holmes of Escalon, Calif., with 294; and Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif., with 278. Rounding out the top 10 are Barkshire at 273, Thompson at 271, Jason Patison at 261, Jason Bowles at 254 and Jamie Dick at 247.
The chase for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award appears to be a wide open challenge among a talented field of freshman drivers. Jim Warn, Jamie Dick and Jason Patison top the standings, with 17 points each. Barkshire is close behind with 16, followed by Wes Banks and Lloyd Mack, each with 11, and Ryan Philpott, with nine.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West is the Allstate Texas Thunder 150 at Thunder Hill Raceway in Kyle, Texas, on April 19.