VERMONT NATIVE ROGER SAWYER GARNERS FIRST CAREER NASCAR VICTORY By Bill Desmond BRISTOL, TN. (August 23 2000) - Vermont native Roger Sawyer, who now calls Orlando, Fl. home, held off a hard charging Johnny Chapman Wednesday evening at Bristol ...
VERMONT NATIVE ROGER SAWYER GARNERS FIRST CAREER NASCAR VICTORY
By Bill Desmond
BRISTOL, TN. (August 23 2000) - Vermont native Roger Sawyer, who now calls Orlando, Fl. home, held off a hard charging Johnny Chapman Wednesday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway to win the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring Pabst Blue Ribbon 150 on the high-banks of thunder valley. Sawyer's win added to the record books of the famed .533-mile oval as he became the fourth different driver to win from the backstretch at Bristol after he had to use a provisional starting position to make the field. He started 28th in the 30-car field. Zach Brewer, won from the backstretch at Bristol in the 1999 Goody's Dash Series event. Also adding to the record books was Sawyer's Crew Chief, his mom Pat, making her the first female Crew Chief to win an event at Bristol. The event, scheduled for 150 laps, ran an additional 13 circuits when cars started running out of gas over the final stages of the event that saw the lead change three times in the final stages of the event. Fourteen of the original field of 30 cars were running at the end. Finishing behind Sawyer's Orlando Orange County Auto Auction Pontiac was Chapman in his Old Milwaukee Non-Alcoholic Pontiac, Keith Roggen in his Ten Brink Underground/Dallas Auto Pontiac, Edward Howell in the Environmental Energy Fuels Pontiac and Shane Hmiel with his J. D. Wilkins Company Pontiac. "First of all I want to dedicate this win tonight to my brother-in-law Jim McConnell, my wife's brother who passed away on August 1 2000. He was in the U. S. Navy stationed in Japan and only 25 years old. I know he is looking down on us tonight and we miss him." "We really missed the set-up in qualifying," said Sawyer during his post-race interview. "This is a family operation and after qualifying we all sat down and figured our race strategy. We had no idea about winning tonight but we wanted to have a good showing. Racing here is important." "Then when we got a lap down early in the race we knew we were really in trouble," continued Sawyer. "I just kept working and my mom told me to drive deeper in the corners. She really knows her stuff, in fact she made the call not to pit for fuel when everyone else pitted during that third caution." During that caution a number of cars stayed on the track to gain track position including Greg Goodell with his Van Camp's Beanee Weenee Pontiac. Goodell took the point for the first time in 2000 and led for the next 14 laps. "When the 95-car was leading I figured we could get our lap back," stated Sawyer. "Once we got back on the lead lap it was just a matter of staying out of trouble and improving our position." He received lots of help improving his position as the race was slowed by nine cautions for 47 laps during the event. Sawyer got his lap back on the restart of the fourth caution on lap 60. Hmiel, son of former Winston Cup crew chief Steve Hmiel, took the lead from Goodell on lap 93 going low in turn one to make the pass. He had all heads turned, in only his third career series start, as he looked very strong opening a ¼ track lead on the second place car. But mechanical problems forced the youngster to the pits giving up the lead to Chapman. One incident that allowed Chapman to close the gap on Hmiel was when series points leader Robert Huffman and second place in points Ricky Bryant were racing for position coming off turn two. The two cars got together and spun taking them out of contention for the win. With Chapman at the point and trying for his third win of 2000, things really got wild after another spin on the backstretch which sent the event into extra laps since the series doesn't end under caution in most races. On the restart on lap 152, with Chapman at the helm, he falls off the pace out of gas which gave the lead to Brewer, last year's winner. With Brewer leading down the backstretch and trying to pass slower traffic, his car and that of Keith Roggen touch sending Brewer's machine spinning and ending up against the outside retaining wall in turns three and four bring out yet another caution flag. So if anything else could happen it did!! Roggen's car runs out of gas while under caution and guess who inherits the lead, Sawyer. With Sawyer looking for his first win, Chapman charges to second and then makes one final charge for the win. But Sawyer was equal to the pressure and protected the lowside of the track to preserve the victory. Rounding out the top ten positions was Goodell, with his best finish of the 2000 campaign, Eric Van Cleef, with his best finish of the season and for Toyota this year, Ricky Woodward, with his best run of the year, Huffman and Bobby Dayton. B. J. Mackey won his first Bud pole of the 2000 season turning a fast lap of 16.264 Seconds for 117.978 mph but moved back to the inside of row three for the start. The series uses a pre-race draw technique that put Strader at the point for the start. Cam Strader took home the Gatorade "FrontRunner" Award while Eric Van Cleef was the top finishing NAPA Filter Rookie of the Year contender. The next event for the Goody's Dash Series, NASCAR Touring will be the ETS Payphones 150 on September 2 2000 at Lanier National Speedway in Gainesville, Ga.
OFFICIAL FINISH AND LAPS COMPLETED: 1. Roger Sawyer, 163; 2. Johnny Chapman, 163; 3. Keith Roggen, 163; 4. Edward Howell, 163; 5. Shane Hmiel, 162; 6. Greg Goodell, 162; 7. Eric Van Cleef, 162; 8. Ricky Woodward, 162; 9. Robert Huffman, 160; 10. Bobby Dayton, 159, Overheating; 11. Danny Bagwell, 158; 12. Ricky Bryant, 156, Accident; 13. Brandon Ward, 156; 14. Zach Brewer, 152, Accident; 15. Scott Redmon, 150; 16. Doc Brewer, 150, Handling; 17. Maxie Bush, 147, Accident; 18. Jake Hobgood, 147; 19. Wally Leatherwood, 141; 20. Cam Strader, 126, Handling; 21. Ned Combs, 104, Suspension; 22. Joey Miller, 65, Oil Leak; 23. Angie Wilson, 60, Rearend; 24. B. J. Mackey, 55, Accident; 25. Scott Weaver, 53, Accident; 26. Jimmy Britts, 53, Accident; 27. Justin Hobgood, 53, Accident; 28. Gary Moore, 28, Electrical; 29. Junior Miller, 25, Oil Leak; 30. Tim Nichols, 16, Accident.
TIME OF RACE: 1 Hr. 19 Mins. 09 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 65.859 mph
MARGIN OF VICTORY: .045 Secs.
CAUTION PERIODS: 9 Cautions for 48 Laps
LAP LEADERS: Six Lead Changes Among Six Drivers. Cam Strader, Grid-49; Greg Goodell, 50-63; Strader, 64-92; Shane Hmiel, 93-141; Johnny Chapman, 142-152; Keith Roggen, 153-156; Roger Sawyer, 157-163.
GOODY'S DASH SERIES, NASCAR TOURING TOP TEN IN POINTS: As Of August 23 2000 (Unofficial) 1. Robert Huffman, 2199; 2. Ricky Bryant, 2087; 3. Roger Sawyer, 1981; 4. Johnny Chapman, 1979; 5. B. J. Mackey, 1951; 6. Cam Strader, 1943; 7. Keith Roggen, 1849; 8. Ned Combs, 1801; 9. Jake Hobgood, 1778; 10. Justin Hobgood, 1736.