NWS: Awards banquet summary

Jeff Jefferson Honored at 2004 Northwest Series Banquet TACOMA, Wash. (October 16, 2004) - Jeff Jefferson was declared the winner Saturday night at the Theatre on the Square in Tacoma, Wash. and he didn't even have to climb behind the wheel...

Jeff Jefferson Honored at 2004 Northwest Series Banquet

TACOMA, Wash. (October 16, 2004) - Jeff Jefferson was declared the winner Saturday night at the Theatre on the Square in Tacoma, Wash. and he didn't even have to climb behind the wheel of a racecar. He was honored as the 2004 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series champion.

The Naches, Wash. native won the title by the most narrow of margins, a single point. The tightness of the points battle more accurately portrayed the high level of competition in the Northwest Series than Jefferson's season. The champion's season was indeed stellar. He won four events in 2004 to go along with four poles, which was good enough to win the season's Bud Pole Award, as well.

The Northwest Series' version of the chase for the championship hinged on the final race of the season on September 25 at Wenatchee Valley's Super Oval with Garrett Evans, Travis Bennett and Jefferson separated by just 15 points. With season standings that close, the scenarios to win the title for the three drivers were many. In the end, though, it was Jefferson finishing two positions and five car lengths ahead of Bennett en route to winning his second consecutive Northwest Series championship.

So, this night belonged to Jefferson and the entire No. 42 LeMay Car Museum/Sunfair Chevrolet team as they officially accepted the championship trophy while its driver collected the title ring.

"This is really a special night for not only me, but also my entire race team," said Jefferson. "I'd like to thank NASCAR and all of the track owners and operators in the Northwest Series. It was a great year.

"I owe a great deal to Chuck Carruthers, my crew chief, for making this happen. We had a few races in there in which we got caught up in things or we had a mechanical problem of some sort. We never lost faith or our focus. Actually, I, or we, never had any doubt at all that we could win the championship again.

"I also need to congratulate all of the competitors of the series for the jobs that they did. Our series is a great big family and it's an honor to go out there from race to race.

Besides having Jefferson string together back-to-back titles, the 2004 Northwest Series season saw the emergence of a young star and the rejuvenation of a veteran's career.

Travis Bennett, hailing from Ellensburg, Wash., was so close to setting series history by being the first Auto Meter Rookie of the Year Award winner to earn a points championship before coming up a point shy. That in no way diminishes what he was able to accomplish. He finished in the top 10 in every event and was the only driver to complete every lap, which, for a rookie, was quite a feat.

Four-time champion Garrett Evans, who has won a series record 50 races, led the points chase for much of the season and did heading into that final race at Wenatchee, but got caught up in an accident in the early going thus taking destiny from his own hands. The East Wenatchee, Wash. resident ended up with the fourth-place trophy, but also collected the Most Popular Driver Award.

Jason Jefferson, the champion's younger brother, earned the third place award. The Yakima, Washington-based driver also took home the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.

There were other special awards presented throughout the evening, as well. Pete Harding won the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award. Brandon Riehl collected the Driver Improvement Award and Joe Benedetti was presented with the 2004 Sportsmanship Award.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Jefferson , Jason Jefferson