TENINO, Wash. (May 11, 2002)-- Kevin Hamlin worked patiently from his eighth place starting position to the front of the 22-car field at South Sound Speedway and passed four-time champion Garrett Evans with 25 laps to go in route to his second win...
TENINO, Wash. (May 11, 2002)-- Kevin Hamlin worked patiently from his eighth place starting position to the front of the 22-car field at South Sound Speedway and passed four-time champion Garrett Evans with 25 laps to go in route to his second win of the 2002 season on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring. With the win, the Snohomish, Wash. native maintains the points lead on the series leaving the Tenino, Wash. speedplant.
Chris Hart was second followed by Wes Rhodes. Joe Benedetti and Howard Ford rounded out the top-5. The race was run in 41 minutes, 16 seconds for an average speed of 68.154 mph. Evans captured his 62nd career Bud Pole Award with a fast time of 14.103 seconds at 95.724 mph around the .375-mile paved oval.
Rhodes started on the pole based on a four car invert and led the field to the green flag in his Lumbermen's Building Center Chevrolet. By lap 19, the field had fanned out allowing Rhodes to build a 1.13 second lead. Evans caught Rhodes on lap 28 and the two raced side by side through lap 30 before Evans was able to complete the pass exiting turn No. 4.
Three-time series champion Ron Eaton, who had won the Pepsi 125 two straight years, moved to second place by lap 55 and set his sights on Evans. The two 18-year veterans of the series would battle for the lead several times, allowing Hamlin to catch the pair by lap 70.
Evans moved to a .87 second lead on Eaton and Hamlin as the race for second place heated up. Hamlin would move by Eaton exiting turn No. 2 on lap 92. By lap 100, Hamlin had reeled Evans in and took an inside line entering turn No. 3 to get past the four-time champion for the lead.
Evans led 67 laps in the event to claim the Gatorade Front Runner Award and stayed with Hamlin for 17 laps before pitting with a cut tire. Evans would come home 14th in the final running order.
Hamlin moved out to a multi-car lead on Hart before the races fifth and final caution came out on lap 117. Hart made several attempts to get past Hamlin's American Dream/Berryman's Chevrolet, but settled in behind the leader for second place at the checkers. Rhodes was able to maintain a top-5 position all evening and tied his series best finish with his third place effort.
Hamlin was excited to be in victory lane after a lightning quick pace in the closing laps."That was old time racing, I told the guys that my car was junk and thought we could only get to the top-5," he said.
After following Gary Lewis through the field early, attrition allowed Hamlin to get track position midway through the event he noted.
"The car was really tight through the center of the turns, Gary got into the fence so I picked up a spot there, (Jeff) Jefferson and Pete (Harding) spun so I got some spots in that," Hamlin said."Eaton was not going to let me get by on the inside and left the outside lane wide open and I went around him clean. It was just great to run up front against these guys (Evans and Eaton)."
"I grew up watching those guys so to pass them for the win was pretty awesome."
Moving from the eighth starting position to the front of the field came from security in his Goodyear tires Hamlin said."They have an outstanding tire, it stayed the same the entire race. We have not had any tire problems all year and I don't expect one, they're just phenomenal."
NOTES OF INTEREST:
Travis Powell won the 15-lap Qualifying race to transfer into the main event. He came from his 21st place position to finish 13th, the highest finishing rookie in the field.
Howard Ford's first start of the 2002 season was a good one. Taking a provisional to get into the Pepsi 125, Ford moved from his 18th place to tenth by lap 75. When the checkers fell, the Klamath, Calif. native had scored his best career finish on the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series with a fifth place effort.