Seifert Scores First Career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Victory DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. (April 5, 2004) Jeff Seifert, like most drivers, had always dreamed about winning the big one. That dream became a reality Saturday night...
Seifert Scores First Career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Victory
DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. (April 5, 2004) Jeff Seifert, like most drivers, had always dreamed about winning the big one. That dream became a reality Saturday night when the Jamul, Calif. resident dominated the COORS Light "125" at Cajon Speedway to claim his first career NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series victory in front of 4,000 enthusiastic hometown fans. Seifert edge Poway, California's Joe Herold by a mere .095 seconds. Herold's second place finish was his best career performance in three full-time seasons on the series. David Gilliland, Craig Raudman, and Danny Burson rounded out the top five finishers in race four of the 14 championship series.
Burney Lamar of West Sacramento, Calif. topped the speed charts after qualifying with a quick lap of 16.138 seconds/83.653 mph around the tricky 1/3-mile paved oval. Teammate Craig Raudman qualified second quick, with local Late Model star Mike Mendenhall clocking in with the third fast time in his debut on the AutoZone Southwest Series. Nick Lynch and Seifert rounded out the top five qualifiers.
With only 24 starting positions available in the COORS Light "125", eleven drivers were relegated to a 15-lap non-qualifiers race. The 15-lap sprint was mired in caution laps as several drivers had difficulty with the slick racetrack. Nick Joanides and Todd McLauchlan finished first and second respectively to fill the final two spots in the 24-car field sending Todd Burns, Richard Johnson, John Luecht, Stan Silva Jr., Thomas Martin, Don Kerr, Darrell LaMoure, Randy Nelson, and Eddie Bryans home early.
Joe Herold started the race on the pole after Bud Pole Award winner Burney Lamar drew a six-car invert putting the two-time 2004 fast time winner in the sixth starting position. Seifert started alongside Herold and quickly took the lead as the field exited turn two. Herold eased into the second position where he would ride the entire event.
The race stayed green for the first 38 circuits until Eric Holmes lost power and coasted to a stop on the backstretch bringing out the first of five caution periods. Mike Mendenhall's debut also was side lined after breaking a throttle linkage. The race restarted on lap 46 with Seifert at the point followed by Herold, Nick Lynch, Lamar, Bob Lyon, Dan Holtz, Auggie Vidovich and Danny Burson.
The second caution flag flew after Travis Bennett tried a bold move inside of Doug McCoun. The move did not stick sending McCoun hard into the outside turn four wall. McCoun was unhurt, but his Chevrolet was heavily damaged in the lap 64 incident.
Seifert led the charge on the restart, with Herold tucked in close behind. Herold place his nose to the inside several times, but Seifert covered his play each time. The field quickly spread out single file with several drivers looking to make a move to the front. The third caution flew on lap 82 after Lamar closed on Lynch in the center of turn one making contact and causing Lynch's Yerf-Dog Chevrolet to loose traction and spin. The result sent several cars scurrying for cover, but with nowhere to go. Greg Voigt, Todd Souza, Nick Joanides, Nick Lynch, Vidovich, and Ben Walker were all involved. Vidovich, Lynch, and Joanides all ended their evening on the hook.
The race restarted on lap 99 with Seifert still holding on to a slim lead over Herold. Lamar had moved into to third, with Gilliland, and Raudman rounding out the top five. Local legend Mark Meech was running sixth with Burson up to seventh and Holtz, point's leader Jim Pettit II, and Eddy McKean completing sixth through tenth in the running order.
Seifert survived one more caution, which saw Lamar's night end after contact with the turn four wall, to hold on for his first career AutoZone Southwest Series victory. Herold posted his best career finish in second, with Gilliland, Raudman, and Burson rounded out the top five finishers.
"I had a really good teacher in Mark Meech," Seifert said. "He won this race last year (Meech) and told me what I needed to do. So I just figured I'd go out and do it. Mark left a note in my car that said I'll be seeing you in a little bit."
"I have to thank Auggie Vidovich and Terry Henry for all their help. I think they might be happy. This was his car and probably about 80% of the reason I'm sitting here is because of them. Also Craig Raudman called me up yesterday and asked me how I was doing. He told me how to do my qualifying because I have been screwing that up. There were a lot of guys (who made this possible). I just hope I'm not missing anybody."
Joe Herold collected his best career finish of second and was more than thrilled about his performance. "I took a couple of shots at Jeff (Seifert), but I wasn't able to get under his door," Herold said. "I had a great time out there racing Jeff and trying to hold off the rest. This was a very important race for our team. I couldn't be more proud of the whole team."
With his third place finish, David Gilliland rejoins the NASCAR Top 10 in the eighth position. "It is always a tough race to finish here at Cajon," Gilliland said. "We needed this race after what happened last week at Mesa Marin. I'm real happy to come out of here with a top three."
Point's leader Jim Pettit II lost ten points but was satisfied to rack up another top ten finish. "I am happy with a top ten, but kind of disappointed with how we ran," Pettit said. We are a much better team than this but a little luck helped get into the top ten."
The race took 54 minutes and 52 seconds to complete at an average speed of 51.260 mph. Seifert's margin of victory over Herold was a mere .095 seconds. The action was slowed five times for 45 laps of caution, while Seifert led all 125 laps. Rip Michels was the Autometer Rookie-of-the-Race with an 12th place finish, while Ben Walker drove his Camacho's Cantina Chevrolet to a 9th finish and collected the $750 PowerAde Power Move-of-the-Race after starting in the 21st position. David Gilliland took home the $300 Featherlite Award for improving the most positions from the previous race, with Burney Lamar claiming his 2nd $350 Bud Pole Award of the season.
Pettit (661) maintains his point led over Raudman (641) who passed McKean (619) for second in the standings. McKean drops to third, with Dan Holtz (562) moving up one spot and Joe Herold (527) joins the NASCAR Top 10 for the first time this season. While Walker, Holmes, Gilliland, Lyon, and Lamar round out the top ten in the standings after four of 14 races.
The next race on the AutoZone Southwest Series schedule is Saturday, May 8 at Stockton 99 Speedway in Stockton, Calif. Jim Pettit II won in the series' only visit to the central California quarter-mile bullring last season. This season, the AutoZone Southwest Series will make two stops at Stockton. For all the latest news and information regarding the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series, log onto www.nascartouring.com .