Billy Lewis Shines In Focus Event; Overcomes A Week of Tragedy IRWINADALE, Ca (November 28, 2005) - - Billy Lewis, the younger brother of USAC superstar Michael Lewis shined in front of a thundering crowd Thursday night at Irwindale Speedway in...
Billy Lewis Shines In Focus Event; Overcomes A Week of Tragedy
IRWINADALE, Ca (November 28, 2005) - - Billy Lewis, the younger brother of USAC superstar Michael Lewis shined in front of a thundering crowd Thursday night at Irwindale Speedway in the USAC California Ford Focus event.
A week of high hopes and potential victory were shot down as early last week, Billy's trailer, car, equipment and uniform were stolen from his Las Vegas, Nevada hotel leaving Billy literally stunned. "I really don't know what to believe," said Billy Lewis looking back at the tragedy. "I really don't know why anyone would want to steal something that we've worked very hard for. I guess they needed it worse than we did. I'm upset about the whole thing, but I really feel bad for my parents, my dad especially, they don't deserve this."
Michael came to the aid of his family and began making phone calls to several owners in the Focus series trying to find a car that Billy could hop in and try to make the race. Luckily, owner Cal Smith came to the rescue providing Billy with a car to race.
In practice on Wednesday night, Billy turned several heads notching a quick time that placed the No 39 into the top five. "I'm really happy with the way the car is working. I'm just glad to be here after all we've went through. Qualifying is tomorrow and we're going to do our best to start as close to the front as possible."
In time trials, the car began to develop fuel problems which plummeted Lewis's time forcing him to post only the 24th fastest effort, forcing the Noblesville, Indiana to compete in the "last chance" event. "I hate that we had the fuel problem in qualifying, but that's part of racing, I think we have it fixed and we'll do our best in the last chance race."
During the chance race, Lewis played a strategy, stay out of trouble and collect a finish that would transfer him over to the main feature. Lewis crossed the line fifth, easily transferring him over to the focus event. "I'm glad we're in the show. I'm happy, but I'm also happy for Cal (Smith, owner) I just want to be able to give him a good run and let him know how much I appreciate what he has done for me.
In the main event, Lewis marched his way towards the front quickly. Passing cars on the outside, which isn't recommended at Irwindale, Billy was able to blow by his other competition and travel inside the top-15 when an overheating issue began to develop. With a car quick enough to continue heading towards the front, Lewis opted to bring his machine to the garage and park it for the night, finishing the event 26th.
"The car was great, but I didn't want to cook the motor," Billy said after climbing from his machine. "I know we had a chance to score a top-ten finish, but Cal has done so much for me this weekend, a blown motor wouldn't be fair to him. Hopefully next time around, we'll have a good run and be able to show those other guys what our team can really do," explained Lewis who made his third Ford Focus start on Thanksgiving.
As for older brother, Michael who watched the event before jumping into his racecar stated "I'm really proud of Billy. He overcame a lot of obstacles. He looked really good on the track, but sometimes motor problems develop and you just can't go anymore. He'll be racing again soon and I know he'll be just as good."