Justin Diercks Wins NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series Columbus 150 at Ohio's Columbus Motor Speedway Columbus, Ohio (August 14, 2004) - Justin Diercks won the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, Columbus 150, Saturday...
Justin Diercks Wins NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series Columbus 150 at Ohio's Columbus Motor Speedway
Columbus, Ohio (August 14, 2004) - Justin Diercks won the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, Columbus 150, Saturday night at Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway. The win was his sixth of the season and extended his championship point lead to 45 markers over defending series champion Steve Carlson.
Tim Schendel started from the pole and led every lap before Brian Hoppe brought out the second, and final, caution of the race on lap 131. With the caution, Schendel saw a four-second lead disappear.
Once back under green, second-running Diercks quickly went to work on Schendel and muscled his way underneath for the lead as the pair raced off of turn two on lap 145.
"I feel bad for Tim, he had a great car," said Diercks. "That caution is exactly what we needed to close us up. He was leaving about a half a car length off the bottom and I was able to sneak underneath him and get up there."
Schendel, still in search of his first win of the 2004 campaign settled for second.
"I wanted it to go green the whole way," said a disappointed Schendel. "My rear bumper tells the whole story."
Eddie Hoffman started 13th but rallied to finish third at the checkered flag. Carlson and A.J. Rhoads rounded out the top five. For Rhoads, the fifth place finish was his best career showing.
The race got off to an ominous beginning when Hoppe and Ryan Hanson made contact in turn three as the field roared down to complete lap number four. Hanson, who started fifth, spun in front of heavy race traffic and was collected by Nathan Haseleu, Andrew Morrissey, Dave Finney and Jeff Way. Way was able to resume the chase while Hanson, Morrissey, Haseleu and Finney retired with badly damaged race cars.
Once the carnage was cleared from the track, the dwindled field clicked off 115 consecutive green flag laps.
Schendel easily pulled away from the field as Diercks had a mirror full of Carlson as the pair wagged a torrid battle for the second position. Several times Carlson got next to Diercks, but was never able to complete the pass.
Hoffman was running as fast as the leaders during the long green flag run and cracked the top five on lap 56, driving under Rhoads.
"We just didn't qualify well and didn't have any track position," said Hoffman. "A yellow or two in the middle of the race and we could have gotten up there and mixed it up for the win."
Hoppe was running in the fifth spot when his car suffered an obvious mechanical failure. His car took went virtually straight entering the corner and came to a grinding halt against the turn one concrete. Hoppe walked away under his own power, but his race was heavily damaged.
The caution for Hoppe's accident allowed Diercks, Carlson and Hoffman to close on Schendel, who had dominated every lap since the drop of the green.
While Diercks worked over Schendel, Hoffman went to work on Carlson and a podium finish.
"He was loose off of turn two and I was good off of two," said Hoffman. "I got up under Steve once or twice, not too far under him, but enough. I was underneath him and he wanted the spot and I wanted the spot; just one of those deals."
Russ Blakeley took over the Auto Meter Rookie of the Year lead with a sixth place finish. Greg Fowler was seventh with Les Ferris coming home a career best eighth. Bryan Roach debuted a brand new race car with a ninth place run while Brent Kirchner notched his first career top ten run.
The Midwest Series next travels to Brainerd (MN) International Raceway, August 19-21, for the series first road course race in three years.
Top 10 Driver Points:
Justin Diercks 1735
Steve Carlson 1690
Tim Schendel 1579
Brian Hoppe 1521
Eddie Hoffman 1500
A J Rhoads 1286
Ryan Hanson 1272
Bryan Roach 1259
Justin Hirt * 1240
Russ Blakeley * 1222