Houston sneaks to victory at Portland By Marty Smith PORTLAND, Ore. (April 22, 2000) Dennis Setzer is simply too kind for his own good. Had a mean-streak hit him at any time during the final lap of the LINE-X 225 on Saturday at Portland ...
Houston sneaks to victory at Portland By Marty Smith
PORTLAND, Ore. (April 22, 2000) Dennis Setzer is simply too kind for his own good. Had a mean-streak hit him at any time during the final lap of the LINE-X 225 on Saturday at Portland International Raceway, he would've taken the checkered flag with ease.
But Setzer maintained his gentleman-like demeanor throughout the affair, allowing Andy Houston to squeeze by him in Turn 2 of the final lap and score his second victory of the NASCAR 2000 campaign.
"I have no clue how this happened," an elated Houston said following the race. "Me and Dennis Setzer battling for the lead and me winning on a road course? You tell me. I didn't really have a plan. I was just waiting for him to slip a little bit, and he was doing a great job, he didn't slip at all. The reason I beat him was his truck looked like it was having a fueling problem midway through the race.
"Coming down the back straightaway to the white flag it looked like his truck stumbled a little bit and I was able to get a pretty good run on him then. Then I fell back in line and followed him back to the front stretch hoping it would happen again, and luckily it did. I was able to get up along side of him. He took me all the way to the curb in one. If I was trying to hold a guy off for the win I'd have done the same thing.
"After I got in front of him, I pulled off and my truck started to stumble like it was about to run outta gas. I'm sure we were real close on fuel, that'll make your heart skip a beat a time or two."
Setzer snatched the lead from road racing ace Boris Said with 23 laps remaining, and held it until the caution flew to clear Lance Norick's stalled No. 90 Chevrolet with 11 laps to go. The leaders pitted, and Setzer and Houston came out 1-2.
Setzer remained out front for the next 10 laps, and coming out of Turn 12 on lap-72 he clung to his slim lead. However, as the duo dashed down the lengthy front stretch towards Turn 1, Houston closed the gap considerably. They entered the first turn running door-to-door, and Houston whipped his truck to the right, giving him a run past Setzer's Dodge heading into Turn 2. After that, he opened a five truck-length advantage to run away with his first-ever road course win.
Friday during a media luncheon, Houston voiced his dislike of road courses. Saturday, his tune had changed a bit.
"It wasn't this race course," he said with a sly grin. "Actually, of all the road courses this track has been really good to me. Last year we ran really good here, we finished seventh and then of course we won this year. It was just road courses in general I was talking about. I hadn't run that much on them, and I didn't have the confidence on road courses that I had on ovals. Now I think that's changing."
Oddly enough, it appeared Houston was out of contention from the get-go. On just the second lap, Mike Wallace broke a front sway bar and spun the No. 2 Team ASE Ford in Turn 1, collecting Houston, who was running fourth, along the way. Houston re-fired the truck unscathed, albeit in 16th position.
"I was running fourth or fifth there and we went down into the chicane and Wallace spun around and I went high to miss him, but he slid up the track and hit me in the quarter panel and spun me around," Houston said. "That's pretty frustrating. When you're up front and you've concentrated so hard on getting that good starting position and then two or three laps into the race you're married midfield.
"You kinda feel like your day is done when something like that happens. When the day starts bad like that it usually stays bad. That wasn't the case for us today."
Roush Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle started 1-2 and traded the lead for the first half of the event, Biffle leading 23 laps and Busch leading 10. However, both eventually succumbed to late-race accidents and finished outside the top-10, Busch 11th and Biffle 13th. Both drivers dropped a position in the points, Busch from fourth to fifth and Biffle from seventh to eighth.
Wallace finished fourth, and thus retained his points lead over Houston. Heading into the event, Wallace held a 59-point advantage. It now stands at 39. Last year's series champion, Jack Sprague, finished third, allowing him to remain at third on the points chart.
Six different drivers led the race Saturday, Setzer and Biffle tying for the most with 23 each. Houston led but one lap Saturday, but it was the one lap that counted.
"I still can't believe it," he said, shaking his head. "Dennis could've put me away if he wanted, but he's a good competitor and he's not gonna cheap shot you. This is a big win for us."