W. Richland, Wash. (April 26, 2003) -- Tri-City track experience proved to be essential when the checkers flew at the Tri-City Raceway Speck & Moore Automotive Group 125. Nascar Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers Jason ...
W. Richland, Wash. (April 26, 2003) -- Tri-City track experience proved to be essential when the checkers flew at the Tri-City Raceway Speck & Moore Automotive Group 125. Nascar Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series drivers Jason Jefferson, of Yakima, Wash., brother Jeff Jefferson, of Naches, Wash., and Jeff Bailey, of Kennewick, Wash. each stood on the podium following the race riddled with 12 cautions for a total of forty-seven laps.
Simply reaching the finish line would prove a challenge on the .500 mile tri oval when a six car collision nearly blocked the track on turn three as the white flag flew on lap 124.
The top three finishers snaked through the tangled mess of wrecked cars each searching for a clear and fast lane to the checkers with Jason Jefferson's #97 Northwest Dodge Dealers, 2003 Dodge Intrepid crossing the line in front for the win.
"What a wild night, the last lap was something. I came around and had to pick a hole. You can drive a good race all night and it still all comes down to a little luck on the last turn," said Jefferson.
Jeff Jefferson stole the show early setting fast time with an 18.127 qualifying lap at 99.299 mph on the .500 mile tri oval winning his second consecutive Bud Pole Award of the 2003 season.
Following his single lap pole-winning qualifying effort the crew of Jeff Jefferson discovered mechanical problems with the transmission requiring replacement which would send him to the back of the 26 car field for the start of the race.
The caution riddled race playing into his favor, found Jefferson gaining positions on every restart.
"We had a great car tonight, if I would have been able to start in the eighth position I think we would have won this. I passed every car in the field except one, that takes a lot out of a car. By the time I reached Jason I had nothing left, it was used up," said Jefferson.
Gary Lewis, of Bothell, Wash. led 29 laps early, and was set to challenge for the win late in the race until incidental contact with Pete Harding, of Surrey, B.C. on lap 113 forced Lewis off the track. Lewis would recover saving the car and remaining on the lead lap to finish 9th.
"The car was good and we had something for Jason. Once the 97 got by me the plan was to save the tires for late in the race. It's was there, unfortunately we tangled with Pete and lost our shot for the win," said Lewis.
For the first time in years the two-time defending series champion Kevin Hamlin took a mechanical DNF dropping out of the race with a bad right front wheel bearing on lap 31. Finishing 26th Hamlin drops out of the top ten in season points standings landing 11th , 90 points behind series leader rookie Jason Jefferson.
"We lost the right front wheel bearing, we had some trouble with it in the last race, thought we had it fixed but we didn't. We'll have to replace the whole right front suspension and get it ready for Monroe," said Hamlin.
Overcoming mechanical gremlins proved to be the theme of the day. Shane Biles, of Woodinville, Wash. would miss qualifying and take a provision starting 24th on the grid when motor problems forced an engine change late in the afternoon. Biles rolled out of the pits late joining the field seconds before the green flag flew.
Driving clear of on track incidents Biles raced up through the field to bring it home for a 5th place finish.
Renee Angle crew chief for Biles commented, "We have never used this motor, it was a ton of work getting it ready. We literally pieced it together with an assortment of parts."
Jason Jefferson leads the series championship points race with 345 points followed by Joe Benedetti, of Auburn, Wash. with 310. John Bender sits third with 305 points; Pete Harding is just one point back in fourth with 304 points. Jeff Jefferson rounds out the top five with 294 championship points.
Next race on the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series schedule is May 10, 2003 at Evergreen Speedway. This historic event will take place on Evergreen's 3/8's mile track, last raced by the Northwest Series in 1988 when Garrett Evans beat Chad Little and Ron Eaton on the medium banked power plant.
Visit www.nascartouring.com for the latest NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series results, news, and information.