Handling Doesn't Stop Lewis At Irwindale On Turkey Night IRWINDALE, Ca (November 28, 2005) - - Handling woes weren't going to stop United States Auto Club (USAC) ace Michael Lewis from trying to achieve fame at Irwindale Speedway in this past...
Handling Doesn't Stop Lewis At Irwindale On Turkey Night
IRWINDALE, Ca (November 28, 2005) - - Handling woes weren't going to stop United States Auto Club (USAC) ace Michael Lewis from trying to achieve fame at Irwindale Speedway in this past Thursday's v5th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix.
Michael rolled into the California track as one of the pre-race favorites for the prestigious event. As a former winner of both the midget and sprint car series events, Lewis was aiming to add more victories to his already impressive resume.
The night seemed to be starting off well for Michael in the USAC Western Sprint Car Series after qualifying an impressive but not surprisingly third with a fast time of 16.935 seconds. "I'm looking forward to the race," said Michael following time trials. During the race, Lewis contended for the race lead, but the handling on his No. 40 faded, leaving Michael with an eighth place finish in the 40 lap event.
"Well, that wasn't the finish I wanted, but we'll take it," said the Noblesville, Indiana native. "The car was good at the start, but we just couldn't get the car to work the way I needed to. However, to finish in the top-ten isn't all that bad, we'll take it. Congrats to Dave Steele (one of Lewis's USAC colleagues) on winning the event, he was good."
With the Sprint car race in the rear view mirror, focused shifted to concentrating on the main event, the midget series. Lewis struggled with the handling of his No. 40 in qualifying leaving him starting the feature from 20th after turning a lap of 17.548 seconds. Pole sitter and NASCAR Busch Series driver Jason Leffler turned a fast lap of 17.160. Michael raced hard in the second last chance race finishing third, awarding him a berth for the main attraction.
"Well, I used the last chance race as a race run for the feature," explained Michael. "I have to come from the back to have a good finish, and that's our goal."
Starting 20th was no joke for Michael and he wasn't going to finish there. A quick start for Lewis propelled him towards the front of the field. Despite having another ill-handling racecar, Michael did the best he could with the circumstances racing clean and competitive and turning quick lap times." Laps go quickly at the fame-Irwindale Speedway so by the time Michael had broke into the top-ten the race was nearing conclusion. While Jason Leffler struck triumph, Lewis earned a well-earned tenth.
However, following the race USAC officials disqualified Kyle Nicholas who originally finished seventh, placing him back to 22nd, which moved Lewis from tenth to ninth in the final rundown.
"Well we finished in the top-ten, that's a good thing," said Lewis. "I really hate it for my team, and owner Rick Gerhardt, I wanted to win this thing for them, but again I just couldn't get the car working the way I needed to, it's a shame, I really would have liked to won this race. There's always next year."
Western Speed Racing, Wirtgen Group America, Hoosier Tire and Esslinger Engineering will all served as sponsors on Lewis's No. 40 in both series Thursday night. "Thanks to all of our sponsors," he continued. Without them we wouldn't be here and while we would have liked to won the races, we walked out of here with the cars in one piece and two-top ten finishes."
Michael wasn't the only Lewis clan racing this weekend as Michael's younger brother Billy was participating in the Ford Focus event, the prelude to the sprint and midget event. The week had already started off on a downfall for the young gun as his trailer; racecar, equipment and clothing were stolen from their hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier in the week.
Quickly, another racecar was put together for Billy allowing him to participate in the event. Billy qualified 24th for the feature after posting a time of 14.869 seconds. The younger Lewis also had to compete in the qualifying race where he excelled and posted a very stout fifth place finish. After taking the green flag for the event, Lewis battled his way towards the front before overheating engines became an issue forcing Billy to park his machine for the night and finishing shotgun on the field, 26th.
"I am really proud of Billy," said Michael who watched his brother from pit road. "Considering what he went through this week, he won this event. I am really proud of him for everything he did in just a short time and I know that we're going to be battling it out on the track for the win in a very short time."
As the 2005 year draws to a close, Michael Lewis has recorded stellar stats. In just 26 races, he captured three fast times, qualified 16 times in the top-five, hustled to six wins, an astounding eleven top-five finishes and an amazing 18 top-ten runs. Lewis also continues to lead the Earl's fast qualifying award for the USAC National Midget Series.
Following next weekend's race the first annual MOPAR-PRI Sprint & Midget Classic at Orlando Speedway, Michael will head to Covington, Kentucky on December 10th where he has been invited as a guest to attend the 53rd annual ARCA RE/MAX Series banquet. "I'm really excited about heading to the banquet. It will be a chance to meet some people, and see up close what the series is all about. We're working on some opportunities that could have me racing in a few ARCA events in 2006," Lewis said.
At the season's conclusion Lewis plans to regroup and plan ahead for the 2006 racing season. Michael Lewis would like to begin a winning and long-lasting career in the stock car industry while continuing to race in the USAC ranks.