BUSCH: St. Louis: Ashton Lewis race notes

Mothers Day weekend full of mixed emotions for CAP race team MADISON, IL (May 10, 2003) -- Ashton Lewis, Jr. and the Civil Air Patrol racing team went from extreme highs on Friday, to extreme lows on Saturday. When Lewis arrived at the 1.25 mile...

Mothers Day weekend full of mixed emotions for CAP race team

MADISON, IL (May 10, 2003) -- Ashton Lewis, Jr. and the Civil Air Patrol racing team went from extreme highs on Friday, to extreme lows on Saturday. When Lewis arrived at the 1.25 mile Gateway International Raceway, he did not have expectations of winning the pole, but that's exactly what he did. He also did not expect to be involved in a wreck, but unfortunately, he was.

On Friday, Lewis was 23rd in the first practice session of the day. He made a few laps early on, then had to pull in to adjust the steering wheel, which was hitting his leg. When he did so, he accidentally shorted out all of the wires in the dash. The crew fixed what they could and got Ashton back out on the track to run some laps. Toward the end of practice the team switched the car to qualifying trim. On his first lap out, Lewis was afraid he had blown the engine, but to the relief of the team it was just the ignition boxes shorting out from the earlier wire problem. What was unfortunate is that they did not get to make any qualifying laps.

During qualifying, Lewis was the 15th car to make a run, and on his first lap he was in ninth position. On his second lap, he picked almost a full second and took the pole. There was a long wait in which the anxious Lewis watched cars that had been much faster than him in practice take their turns at qualifying. In the end, none of them could touch Lewis' speed of 34.116 and he won his first career pole. "We did not get to make any mock qualifying runs so Charlie (Lewis, Crew Chief and Ashton's brother) had to guess at the setup and I'd say he did an amazing job," Lewis said.

"I am just so amazed to get my first pole here, this is probably the last place I would have expected it. I guess that was the key, not expecting it actually puts less pressure on you and you are able to relax and do your job. Our performances here have not been good, and we practiced here once last year and had a horrible session in which we never found a good setup."

"I can't tell you how thrilled I am to get my first pole and the first pole for Civil Air Patrol, they deserve this every bit as much as we do."

After such a great day for the crew on Friday, they hoped to follow it up with more of the same on Saturday. Weather was a concern early in the day as a tornado warning was issued at the track and all of the crews were ordered to head immediately for the tunnel to take cover. Several funnels were spotted, but none touched down near the track and within 35 minutes the excitement was over and the crews were all back working on their cars.

When the race started, Lewis did a great job of staying in the front pack, but on lap 108 the No. 7 of Randy Lajoie and the No. 18 of Coy Gibbs got together directly in front of him and Lewis could not avoid hitting the No. 18 car. He suffered significant damage to the car and lost 42 laps, but he did finish the race in 33rd place.

It was not all negative though, Lewis led the second most amount of laps, a total of 44, and moved up two positions in owner's points to 16th. Good pit stops, consistency on the track and not being willing to give up paid of for the Civil Air Patrol Chevrolet team.

Be sure to tune in next week for the Goulds Pumps ITT Industries 200 at Nazareth Speedway. The race will be aired live on FX and broadcast live on MRN beginning at 1:00 ET on Sunday, May 18, 2003. Qualifying for the event will take place Saturday, May 17 at 3:35 pm ET and will be aired on Speedchannel.

Civil Air Patrol, the official Air Force Auxiliary, is a nonprofit organization with over 64,000 members nationwide. It performs more than 95% of inland search and rescue missions tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in the continental United States. Volunteers also take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the over 27,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 60 years. On the Web: www.capnhq.gov or www.capraceteam.com

-lm/cap-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Randy Lajoie , Ashton Lewis