Napa 150 a focal point in chase for Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Championship. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 9, 2002) - With three races left in the chase for the 2002 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring championship, current...
Napa 150 a focal point in chase for Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Championship.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (September 9, 2002) - With three races left in the chase for the 2002 Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring championship, current title holder Kevin Hamlin, and his closest pursuer 1998 champion Gary Lewis, know that the Napa 150 will be key to their outcome in the points battle.
Heading into the September 14 event to be held at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho, Hamlin and his American Dream Motorsports Chevrolet team hold a 42-point edge on Lewis. The Snohomish, Wash. native is the youngest titleholder in the 18-year history of the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series. He knows that Lewis will be tough to hold back after making up 140-plus points since July 6, but will continue to use the same game plan that has led to four wins, nine top-5, and nine top-10 finishes in an outstanding 2002 season.
"We're just going to keep doing what we have been trying all year, run smart," Hamlin said. "That hasn't been the case each week and it's been a tough battle since July but, that's what makes this sport and this series so great."
Lewis for his part credits the strong willed crew of his Sign Factory USA Pontiac for getting him back into contention for a shot at the title. "We have a never give up policy on our team," he said. "We have come from further back to almost win in 2000 (Lewis lost by one point to Garrett Evans in the final event of the season after being over 190 points back at the beginning of July)."
A strong motor has not hurt his chances Lewis added. "I have to give special thanks to AC Nutter Racing Engines for giving us a reliable motor with lots of ponies."
Both drivers have had success at the .333-mile Magic Valley Speedway. Hamlin finished fourth in the 2000 Napa 150. Lewis won that event, and holds the track qualifying record in addition to three overall Bud Pole Awards from the facility.
The race will be televised on SPEED Channel October 7. With the events of September 11 postponing last season's Napa 150, the duo see this as a can't miss event for the Twin Falls community.
"The Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series getting a TV date there was huge, we need it and deserve it," Hamlin said. "I can't think of a better track to have the TV people at, Twin Falls is a beautiful facility, the crowd is energetic as it gets and it's always a great race there."
"It was tough not be there last season because of the circumstances, so hopefully we can make it up to the fans and put on a great show. The sponsors and everyone involved with the event in Twin Falls put their hearts into this race, we will too."
Lewis plans to keep up with his good fortunes in the Napa 150 he said. "The Sign Factory USA team runs and races well at Magic Valley. Out of all the race tracks we run, I believe this team runs its best at this track."
With so much at stake, Hamlin and Lewis are focused on their race teams and each other as the Napa 150 comes into sight. "We take this very seriously," Hamlin said. "I've got a lot of desire to do this, I want this (championship) so bad and I've got such a fire for it that when things don't go the way we'd like, I get upset."
"Kevin and I are great friends (both work at Longacre Racing Products) but I still plan on taking over the points lead and winning the championship," Lewis said. "I think what you have seen lately just goes to show how dedicated the team and myself are to winning our second championship."
The Napa 150 takes place September 14 at Magic Valley Speedway beginning at 9:00 p.m. MST. Tickets and other information can be found on the track's website, www.magicvalleyspeedway.com or by calling (208) 734-3700.