OLSEN, CAISSE, LYNCH AND MICHELS LEAD FRIDAY NIGHT RACING AT TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN, WIN FRONT-ROW STARTING POSITIONS FOR SATURDAY'S MAIN EVENTS AT IRWINDALE IRWINDALE, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2005) - Mike Olsen and Sean Caisse won the 50-lap ...
OLSEN, CAISSE, LYNCH AND MICHELS LEAD FRIDAY NIGHT RACING AT TOYOTA ALL-STAR SHOWDOWN, WIN FRONT-ROW STARTING POSITIONS FOR SATURDAY'S MAIN EVENTS AT IRWINDALE
IRWINDALE, Calif. (Nov. 11, 2005) - Mike Olsen and Sean Caisse won the 50-lap qualifying races in the NASCAR Grand National Division while Nick Lynch and Rip Michels did likewise in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division on Friday night at Irwindale Speedway. These winning drivers earned front row starts in the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown main events on Saturday.
Lynch scored a dramatic win in the first AutoZone Elite Division qualifying race by catching race-long leader Greg Pursley at the white flag and racing side by side for the final lap. His margin at the checkered flag was .004 seconds, or less than six inches. "That's the most fantastic finish I've ever been in," he exclaimed in victory lane, adding later "I got loose in turn three and then he got loose and I didn't know who won."
Lynch began his drive from the 12th starting position, while Pursley stared fourth. M.K. Kanke was a close third, giving the home team Southwest Series drivers a top three sweep and J.R. Norris took fourth after coming from 15th in the lineup. Nick Joanides was fifth followed by John Bender, Kevin Prince, Wilbur Bruce, Steve Carlson, and Eddy McKean.
In the second AutoZone Elite Division qualifying race, Irwindale Speedway's all-time leading winner, Rip Michels, led a string of four Southwest Series drivers to the finish after taking the lead on lap 4 from his sixth starting spot. Thomas Martin, who led the fist three laps, edged Burney Lamar for second, with Auggie Vidovich advancing from 18th to fourth. Eddie Hoffman of the Midwest Series was fifth, followed by Chris Davidson, Northwest Series champion Jeff Jefferson who started 20th and last, Midwest Series champion Justin Diercks from 19th, Brent Kirchner, and Pete Harding. Michels' margin of victory was .817 seconds.
"When you're at home, winning is special. The Showdown brings together the best of the best," Michels declared. The first Grand National Division qualifying race also featured a dramatic finish as Mike Olsen passed fellow Busch North Series driver Joey McCarthy on the green-white-checker restart. "I knew on the restart if I could hold him down on the bottom I could pass him coming off the corner," related Olsen, who started 12th.
McCarthy finished .239 seconds behind after leading laps 4 through 48. Steve Portenga, who benefited when Mike Stefanik spun while trying to pass Dale Shaw for third with two laps remaining, grabbed the show position and was the best West Series finisher. Shaw retained fourth with Mike Duncan fifth. Mike David, Eddie MacDonald, Daryl Harr, Bryon Chew, and Tim Smith completed the top ten. Stefanik settled for eleventh.
Busch North Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Sean Caisse dominated the final Grand National Division qualifier, winning by 1.455 seconds over defending Toyota All-Star Showdown champion Mike Johnson. He started ninth and needed only four laps to surge ahead. Ryan Moore took third and David Gilliland, the best West Series finisher, muscled past Matt Kobyluck for fourth in the closing laps. Kobyluck came back to edge Andy Santerre for fifth. Tim Woods III, Brett Thompson, John Salemi, and Andrew Lewis were seventh through tenth.
"I was actually hoping for a restart so I could size myself up against the competition," Caisse remarked of his dominant victory. "This is like the 50-lap dash at the end of the main race. We didn't scuff our tires today and that made a big difference," he added.
The NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown concludes on Saturday night with the 125-lap AutoZone elite division feature race, followed by the 150-lap Grand National Division main event. Both will be telecast live by SPEED Channel, starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time.