Yakima Wash. (May 31, 2003) -- Taking the checkers at Yakima Speedway in the Frank's Chevrolet "125", John Bender (No. 18 Big Daddy's Bar & Grill/Andy Reece Trucking Chevrolet), of Snohomish, Wash., is the first NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos ...
Yakima Wash. (May 31, 2003) -- Taking the checkers at Yakima Speedway in the Frank's Chevrolet "125", John Bender (No. 18 Big Daddy's Bar & Grill/Andy Reece Trucking Chevrolet), of Snohomish, Wash., is the first NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Series competitor to find victory lane for the second time during the 2003 season.
With a determined move following a restart on lap eighty-six, Bender moved to the outside of Wilbur Bruce (No. 30 Quality Rentals/Six Robblees Chevrolet), of Tacoma, Wash., while exiting turn two then held the outer-line taking the lead on lap eighty-seven.
"Our car was good all night; I was trying to be patient waiting for an opportunity to make a pass. Earlier in the race I used the outside line just to see if the car would stick, and it did. Once I took the lead I was able to back off just a little making sure to hit my marks and hold the bottom," said Bender.
Making his first Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series start of the 2003 season, Bruce started from the pole-position then led the first eight-six laps. Bruce held for the second place podium finish.
Chris Hart (No. 5 Yakima Implement Chevrolet), of Yakima, Wash., started third and finished in third position. With his solid performance Hart scored his second consecutive podium finish.
Another first, Jason Jefferson (No. 97 Northwest Dodge Dealers Dodge), of Yakima, Wash., set fast time with a 19.237/ 93.134 mph qualifying lap winning his first NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series Bud Pole Award.
"Coming into the season winning a Bud Pole Award was one of our team goals. I'm not much of a qualifier. Even though this is my home track, and we should be good here I was still a little surprised to see we had won it," said Jefferson.
Drawing an eight car invert Jefferson crossed the line in fourth position taking the Victory Circle Chassis rookie-of-the-race honors.
Starting nineteenth on the grid Gary Lewis (The Sign Factory/Nutter Racing Engines Pontiac), of Bothell, Wash., worked through traffic for a fifth place finish taking the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" award.
"We had a great car all through practice, very consistent with some of the fastest times of the day. We had a little problem in the pits before qualifying which made the car very loose. We definitely had are work cut out for us in the main. Basically I just got up on the wheel and drove as hard and smart as I could, with some luck we finished fifth," said Lewis.
Coming into the Frank's Chevrolet "125" Kevin Hamlin (No. 33 Bowman's Electro Painting Chevrolet), of Snohomish, Wash., the defending series champion had climbed to fifth in the series championship point race with three top-5 finishes. With engine troubles Hamlin's night ended after just thirty-six laps.
"This was a tough race. The car was good, and we were just riding around in fifth feeling out how things would play out. Lap thirty-five or so came around, and we dropped a valve going into turn one. It's really disappointing because we had a good car. That's the first engine failure we've had in quite some time," said Hamlin.
Notes of Interest
* This was John Bender's second win in his last three Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series starts.
* With the win John Bender moves back into the No. 1 position in the series championship point race.
* Jason Jefferson has now won Victory Circle Chassis rookie-of-the-race honors in three of five races this season.
* With his fifth place finish Gary Lewis moved from eleventh to six position in the series championship point race.
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Next event on the NASCAR Elite Division, Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series schedule is the PEPSI "125" Saturday June 14, 2003 at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls, Idaho with $44,472 in posted awards.