Pettit Powers to Point Lead After Victory at CNS DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. (August 23, 2004) Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif. proved that the championship fight has just begun after powering his way to his third victory of the season in NASCAR...
Pettit Powers to Point Lead After Victory at CNS
DAYTONA BEACH, Fl. (August 23, 2004) Jim Pettit II of Prunedale, Calif. proved that the championship fight has just begun after powering his way to his third victory of the season in NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series competition Saturday night at Colorado National Speedway in Erie, Colo. Pettit powered his Ford by then race leader Mike Gallegos on lap 67 to take control of the 150-lap race and post a .103 second victory of David Gilliland. The victory propelled Pettit to the top of the point standings for the first time in five races.
Eric Holmes set the pace in qualifying at CNS with a quick lap of 16.358 seconds/82.528 mph around the 3/8-mile paved oval to top all 29 competitors. Visiting 2003 defending NASCAR AutoZone Northwest Series champion was second fast in Tony Finley's Dodge, with Autometer Rookie leader Rip Michels clocking in third. Craig Raudman and Kevin Clark rounded out the top in qualifying. After qualifying concluded, seven drivers lined up for a 15-lap non-qualifiers where four drivers would transfer to the United Power/Touchstone Energy "150". Bob Lyon, Trevor Morrical, Nick Joanides, and Darrell LaMoure made the transfer sending Danny Mientka, Justin Martz, and Richard Johnson home.
Holmes started eighth on the grid after drawing an invert of eight putting Mike Mendenhall on the pole for the second time this season. Mendenhall led the field to green but only managed to lead the first lap giving way to hometown favorite Mike Gallegos on lap two. As drivers allowed their tires to get up to temperature, Gallegos drove to a four car lead on the field with Gilliland moving into second by lap ten. Mendenhall fell to third with Raudman and Jeff Jefferson rounding out the top five.
Raudman moved into second on lap 15 with Jefferson in hot pursuit. By lap 30, Raudman closed on Gallegos with Jefferson and Gilliland on his tail. Jim Pettit moved into fifth from his ninth starting position. Raudman to the lead on lap 34, but Gallegos fought back and took the top spot back on lap 35. Gilliland then passed Raudman for second as the 2001 series champion started to develop a loose condition that would plague him the remainder of the race.
The first of five cautions flew on lap 40 for water in turn four. Gallegos paced the field on the lap 45 restart, but the action slowed dramatically as Dan Savage got into Joe Herold on the front stretch putting fifth place in the point standings Herold into the front stretch wall with heavy damage. Herold was loose on the restart and Savage did not check up in time. Herold drove back to the pits for repairs and would return to finish the race in the 25th position.
Gallegos continued to lead but had nothing for Pettit who drove by the local star on the outside as the pair entered turn three. Pettit took the lead on lap 67 and would never look back. While Pettit led the charge several great battles ensued behind him. Jefferson's time at the front ended with a broken axle on lap 90, sending the Northwest Series champion home disappointed.
Through he first half of the race Eddy McKean slowly made his way to the front waging great side-by-side battles with Eric Holmes, Kevin Clark, and Gallegos. By lap 100, Pettit was comfortably out front with Gilliland in second while McKean, Gallegos, and Clark put on a thrill show every lap by exchanging positions at every turn. While those three battled, Raudman continued to slide backwards with a loose race car. Raudman's time in the top ten came to an end when he wiggled exiting turn two and Danny Burson got into him sending Raudman spinning. Raudman regained control and joined the rear of the field with no caution on lap 108.
McKean got by Gallegos on lap 120 and set his sights on Gilliland for second. The final caution waved on lap 124 for debris on the backstretch at the same time, Mendenhall's top ten run ended as his oil pump failed.
The race restarted with Pettit at the point followed closely by Gilliland and McKean. Gallegos followed in fourth with Clark, Holmes, Doug McCoun, Burson, Nick Joanides, and Greg Voigt rounding out the top ten. McKean and Gilliland waged a spirited battle over the final 20 laps racing fender to fender without touching. Every time McKean would nose ahead, Gilliland rushed back. This allowed Pettit to cruise comfortably.
Over those final 20 laps the capacity crowd were on their feet cheering Gilliland and McKean as neither driver gave an inch. Pettit took the victory by .103 seconds with Gilliland edging McKean by a nose at the line for second. Kevin Clark crossed the line fourth, with Eric Holmes finishing in the fifth position. Doug McCoun had a great run to finish seventh, with Danny Burson, Nick Joanides, Bruce Yackey, and Greg Voigt rounding out the top ten finishers in the 150-lap race.
"I am real proud of this team and real proud to be part of this series," Pettit said in victory lane. "Tonight the fans saw a great show and what makes the AutoZone Southwest Series so special. We were loose in qualifying, but knew that the track would come to us and this win means a whole lot to the team. With four races to go, this championship fight is going to get exciting."
Gilliland returned to the series and finished second after missing the last two races while competing in the NASCAR Grand National West Series. "I had a blast tonight," Gilliland. "Racing with Eddy (McKean) was exciting and we needed a good run after a few disappointing outings in the West Series."
Posting his first top five finish since race three of the season was Eddy McKean. "It feels real good to run in the top five again," McKean said. "We have had some good runs go bad and this was a ton of fun tonight. I enjoyed racing David (Gilliland) and I am sure the fans got their monies worth."
"I don't race the series full-time and to run this competitive with the regulars is real important to us," said Kevin Clark after posting a fourth place finish.
Danny Burson collected the Featherlite Award with his seventh place finish for improving the most position from the previous race (18). Nick Joanides won the PowerAde Power Move-of-the-Race for improving the most positions in the event (17), and Rip Michels was the top finishing Autometer Rookie. Eric Holmes scored his second career Bud Pole Award.
The race took 51 minutes and 36 seconds to complete and was slowed five times for 22 laps of caution. There were four lead changes among four drivers with Jim Pettit II leading the most laps (83). Twenty-one of 26 starters were running at the finish of the 150-lap race. Pettit retakes the point lead by 25 markers over Raudman. Burney Lamar maintains the third spot, with Eric Holmes in fourth and Eddy McKean moving back into fifth just points behind Holmes. Doug McCoun moves up to the sixth spot, while Joe Herold falls to seventh. Greg Voigt, Todd Souza and Rip Michels round out the top ten in the standings with four races left on 2004 series schedule.
The NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series next travels to Tucson Raceway Park in Tucson, Arizona where Eddy McKean is the defending race champion and hopes to continue to move up the standings. For all the latest news and information regarding the NASCAR AutoZone Southwest Series log onto www.nascarregionalracing.com.
<pre> AUTOZONE SOUTHWEST SERIES TOP 20 POINTS(WINS) 1. Jim Pettit II 1571 (3) 2. Craig Raudman 1546 (2) 3. Burney Lamar 1454 (1) 4. Eric Holmes 1335 (1) 5. Eddy McKean 1331 (1) 6. Doug McCoun 1283 - 7. Joe Herold 1261 - 8. Greg Voigt 1246 - 9. Todd Souza 1219 - 10. Rip Michels 1179 - 11. Danny Burson 1131 - 12. Nick Lynch 1124 - 13. Bob Lyon 1120 - 14. Darrell LaMoure 1077 - 15. Nick Joanides 1069 - 16. Thomas Martin 1024 - 17. Dan Holtz 986 - 18. David Gilliland 964 (1) 19. Todd Burns 801 - 20. Ben Walker 772 -
AUTOMETER ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR STANDINGS Name Pts Rip Michels 94 Nick Lynch 81 Todd Burns 33
MANUFACTURE' STANDINGS MFG Pts Chevrolet 71 Ford 61 Pontiac 57 Dodge 3
FEATHERLITE AWARD STANDINGS Name Pts Danny Burson 2 Rip Michels 1 David Gilliland 1 Eric Holmes 1 Stephen Sadler 1 Darrell LaMoure 1 Eric Holmes 1 Tracy Bolin 1 Randy Nelson 1
BUD POLE AWARD STANDINGS Name Pts Craig Raudman 4 Burney Lamar 3 Zach Niessner 1 Boris Said 1 Eric Holmes 1
POWERADE MOVE OF THE RACE Name Pts Todd Souza 2 Doug McCoun 1 David Gilliland 1 Bob McCoun 1 Ben Walker 1 Greg Voigt 1 Rudy Revak 1 Darrell LaMoure 1 Nick Joanides 1