SWS: Irwindale race report 2001-09-01

Feathelite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring Race recap of the Advantage Ford "150" Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif. Irwindale, Calif. Craig Raudman of Bakersfield, Calif. executed a perfect game plan and claimed victory in the Advantage ...

Feathelite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring
Race recap of the Advantage Ford "150"
Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, Calif.

Irwindale, Calif. Craig Raudman of Bakersfield, Calif. executed a perfect game plan and claimed victory in the Advantage Ford" 150" Saturday night as the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring division contested their third event of the season on the half-mile paved oval of Irwindale Speedway. Scott Lynch of Burley, Idaho and a hard-charging Darrell LaMoure of Phoenix followed Raudman to the line. Raudman extended his championship points lead to 199 markers over Auggie Vidovich Jr. after the 20 year old front runner was forced to pit for an oil leak after leading the most laps.

Eric Holmes of Escalon, Calif. set the pace in qualifying with a quick lap of 17.837/100.914 just edging six-time Bud Pole winner Raudman. Holmes used a Victory Circle car formerly owned by Raudman's brother Chris to foil Raudman's opportunity to close in on the season Bud Pole record of nine awards set by Lance Hooper in 1995. Raudman has four more chances to break Hooper's record. Jon Nelson, Greg Fowler, and Vidovich rounded out the top-five qualifiers.

Holmes started on the pole but would never lead a lap as Raudman got the jump on the start and set the early pace. Vidovich wasted no time asserting himself and took the lead on lap five and would go on to lead the next 113 laps before mechanical problems would sideline the second place point contender. Raudman would slip back to sixth position as he allowed the race to come to him. Rocky Nash, Scott Brandt, and Maronski showed their strength by wrestling for the second spot. Through the first twenty laps the drivers dared each other by going three-wide through the corners without incident.

The first of four cautions came out on lap 28 for the spinning car of Nash. Nash was able to re-fire but fell to the rear of the field. The caution allowed John Baker to pit, as the former Irwindale Bud Pole winner was very slow on the racetrack. Vidovich maintained his advantage on the restart and continued to set a torrid pace. The second caution flag flew for Ben Walker as he made contact with the turn four wall, causing several cars to scramble for safe haven.

Holmes continued to run in the top ten after falling from the pole, but his evening was cut short when he cut a right front tire and slammed the turn four wall ending his evening on the hook. By the halfway point of the 150-lap race the top ten were Vidovich, Raudman, Lynch, Brandt, Maronski, Darrell Lamoure, Jon Nelson, Keith Spangler, Jimmy White, and Greg Fowler.

The second half of the race started with a bang as Eddy McKean was pinched in the middle causing contact with Greg Pursley who ricocheted into the back stretch wall collecting Steve Smith, Bob Lyon, and Doug McCoun. Pursley and Smith left on the hook and the others were able to continue. By lap 100, Lynch was feeling he had to make a move on Raudman and Vidovich lead. The former Rookie-of-the-Year winner drove his car low in turn three but Raudman slammed the door. Lynch made several attempts to pass over the next ten laps but was thwarted each time. Lynch then settled back into third and followed the duo as his right rear began to over heat and lose grip.

Darrell LaMoure showed his strength by moving into the top five and began to pressure Lynch for third by lap 118. At the same time Raudman snatched the lead from Vidovich. Vidovich's car dramatically slowed on lap 123 and he was forced to pit ending his Gatorade Front Runner performance.

Over the closing laps the best battle on the track was for second between Lynch and LaMoure as the Phoenix campaigner used every inch of the racetrack to find a way around Lynch but lapped traffic worked in Lynch's favor. At the finish, it was Raudman claiming his third victory of the season over Lynch by 5.962 seconds. LaMoure followed in third, with Maronski in fourth, and Jimmy White rounding out the top five with his best career finish. The second five were led by Rookie point leader Scott Brandt in sixth, followed by Keith Spangler, Sean Monroe, Eddy McKean, and Greg Fowler finishing tenth.

" I knew I had to take it easy in the early going," Raudman said." My plan was just to ride it out for 100-laps and then make my move. The Goodyear's were great and I had plenty left at the end. It all worked out well, though I am sorry that Auggie had problems as I would have liked to race him at the end."

After nearly two month's away from the series Scott Lynch was pleased with his second place finish." I am real happy to run so well after the time off," Lynch said." I used up my right rear getting to the front so I really did not have much for Craig at the end."

Finishing in third with another strong performance was Darrell LaMoure." I have been trying some new things that seem to be working," LaMoure said." With each race I gain more confidence, and with confidence I can do more things on the track. I really wanted to pass Scott, but lapped traffic played in favor. I had plenty of tire left at the end as Goodyear brought and excellent tire that was good the entire race."

Scott Brandt took home Rookie-of-the-Race honors with his sixth place finish and maintains his Rookie point lead by four markers over Burney Lamar who finished a disappointing 14th. Vidovich won the Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading the most laps (113), with Eric Holmes winning the Bud Pole Award with a fast lap of 17.837/100.914 mph. The race took 1 hour, 1 minute, 15 seconds to complete at an average speed of 73.469 mph. There were four caution periods for 26-laps and two lead changes between two drivers.

The Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring will take six weeks off before closing the season with four straight events beginning with a 67-lap race on the 1.5 mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Saturday, October 13, 2001.

The Featherlite Southwest Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series that blanket the United States. NASCAR Touring brings special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses.

NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks.

Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, Gatorade, Goody's Headache Powders, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes, RE/MAX International, Inc., and R.J. Reynolds brand Winston.


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Drivers Steve Smith , Lance Hooper , Scott Lynch , Greg Pursley , Eric Holmes , Darrell LaMoure , Craig Raudman , Auggie Vidovich , Ben Walker , John Baker