BUSCH: Colorado Springs: Ashton Lewis raceday notes

The No. 46 Civil Air Patrol racks up its fourth top-10 finish of the season after finishing ninth in the Netzero 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway. After producing his career best qualifying effort, Ashton Lewis started the race on the ...

The No. 46 Civil Air Patrol racks up its fourth top-10 finish of the season after finishing ninth in the Netzero 250 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

After producing his career best qualifying effort, Ashton Lewis started the race on the inside of row two in the third position. Although the car was strong, Lewis was quickly passed by the No. 26 (Ron Hornaday) on lap two.

The first caution of the race would fly on lap four for debris in turns three and four. During this six lap caution, Lewis expressed his concerns regarding running over some of the debris, particularly a led tracer that had fallen from one of the other cars. The crew asked the No. 57 (Jason Keller) to survey the tires to see if any damage was evident. Luckily, no damage was done and Lewis went back to racing without pitting.

Eight laps later on lap 18, Lewis would start his battle with the then third place car of Mark Green. This side by side battle would continue for six laps until Lewis, on the low line, passed Green on lap 23 for the third position.

On lap 30, the second and final caution of the day would wave when the No. 77 (Bruce Bechtel) hit the wall in turn 4. Although none of the top nine cars took advantage of this caution, a number of other cars did pit to make much need adjustments, including eventual race winner Hank Parker, Jr.

On the restart, the No. 25 (Bobby Hamilton, Jr.) got a good start and passed Lewis on lap 35. Despite strong efforts to regain the third position, Lewis would remain in fourth until he was passed on lap 86 by the No. 27 (Jamie McMurray).

To the surprise and disappointment of many, the race would remain under green to the end forcing the leaders to pit under the green flag for the remainder of the race. The first series of green flag pit stops would begin around lap 92. Lewis would pit on lap 94 for air pressure adjustments, 4 tires and fuel. By the end of this series of stops, Lewis would end up 13th.

With new tires, Lewis cracked the top-10 on lap 112 and was up to fourth by lap 142. Lewis would remain in the fourth position for the next 20 laps until he was passed by the No. 23 (Scott Wimmer). Although the No. 46 CAP Chevrolet was strong, it would begin to fade without a caution. By lap 174, Lewis would find himself in 8th position.

After leader Greg Biffle pitted on lap 190, Lewis came in on lap 191 for his second and final green flag pit stop for 4 tires and fuel. Lewis would return to the track in 15th position and would quickly move back up to the top-10 one lap down by lap 208.

By the end of the final green flag pit stops, only 7 cars remained on the lead lap, including Parker and the No. 37 (Kevin Lepage) who did not pit during this second round of green flag stops. The question of the day quickly circulated up and down pit road could they (No. 36 and No. 27) make it on fuel? The answer became apparent for the No. 37 when they pitted for a splash of gas leaving the No. 36 alone 11 seconds in front of the second place car.

Throughout the final 25 laps of the race, Lewis really became comfortable with the car and gained his lap back from the leader. At the end of the race, Lewis would cross the finish line in 9th, the last car on the lead lap.

This strong run allowed Lewis to gain one position (up to 17th) in the Busch Series point standings, only two out of 16th and 69 out of 15th.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Jason Keller , Greg Biffle , Kevin Lepage , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Jamie McMurray , Mark Green , Scott Wimmer , Bruce Bechtel , Ashton Lewis