St. Amant wins Winchester 400, loses championship by one point. Winchester, IN (October 6, 2002) - In one of the more remarkable point's finishes in stock car racing history, Joey Clanton of Stockbridge (GA) won the 2002 ASA National Champion by...
St. Amant wins Winchester 400, loses championship by one point.
Winchester, IN (October 6, 2002) - In one of the more remarkable point's finishes in stock car racing history, Joey Clanton of Stockbridge (GA) won the 2002 ASA National Champion by a single point over Gary St. Amant of Columbus (OH) despite St. Amant's victory in the 33rd Annual Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway.
Clanton entered the event requiring a finish of at least two positions within St. Amant to secure the title as he held an 11-point advantage to start the race. Ironically, the two drivers had won the two most recent Winchester 400 events, Clanton last year and St. Amant in 2000.
Pole-sitter David Stremme, the Pat Schauer Memorial Rookie of the Year, led at the start for 52 laps and later for a 91 lap stretch until mechanical problems slowed him to an eventual ninth place result.
Front row starter Mike Garvey also held the point for two lengthy stretches totaling 134 laps until a long pit road stop cost him the lead and took him out of contention on lap 319.
Joey Clanton led twice for only 18 laps but more importantly persevered through an apparent title killing accident. A collision with Mike Garvey and Todd Kluever on lap 318 damaged Clanton's Campfire USA car as he suffered a broken quarter panel and a cut tire. A series of pit stops, including one for speeding on pit road dropped him from second position behind St. Amant to three laps down from the lead lap.
Clanton frantically drove through the field in an attempt to get to at least the third position by the race finish. With seven laps remaining he was running fourth in the field behind St. Amant, Rick Beebe and Kyle Busch. "Our team had an attitude of not giving up and with what happened today you can't say enough about them," said Clanton. "We knew where we had to be all day and mostly we were just riding."
Third-place runner rookie Kyle Busch lost control of his number 07 RoushRacing.com car after suffering a broken wheel on lap 393. It allowed Clanton to move into third place despite being four laps behind St. Amant. The race ended that way with Clanton maintaining a single point margin in the final championship standings and securing his first ASA National Championship.
"I knew with about 20 (laps) to go that Joey was fourth ant that was what it was going to take for us to win the championship," said St. Amant. "I had all the cars I needed right in front of me as the last 25 were pretty easy. When I came off turns 3 and 4 and I saw Kyle sitting there, I knew our title hopes were pretty dim. All I could do was win the race and ultimately that's why we were here. I can't imagine a more bittersweet day."
Veteran Rick Beebe finished runner-up, his best result of the season and the only car besides St. Amant on the lead lap at the end. It was St. Amant's fourth win of 2002.
The 2002 ASA Racing Series concludes on Saturday, November 2nd with the National Awards Banquet to be held at Caesars Hotel and Casino in Elizabeth (IN) outside of Louisville (KY). Information on the banquet can be obtained by calling 1-888-ASA-1020.