SWS: Mesa Marin: Post-race notes

Holtz handles competition for hometown win. BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (March 23, 2003) Dan Holtz used patience and determination to capture his first career NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series victory Saturday night at Mesa Marin ...

Holtz handles competition for hometown win.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (March 23, 2003) Dan Holtz used patience and determination to capture his first career NASCAR Elite Division, Featherlite Southwest Series victory Saturday night at Mesa Marin Raceway. Holtz started the Star Nursery.Com "200" from the front row after collecting his second career Bud Pole Award, but had to battle back from one lap down after losing a lap while serving a stop-and-go penalty for leaving the pits with the stop paddle out.

Holtz paced Bud Pole qualifying with a quick lap of 19.016 seconds/94.657 mph, well off the track record. Craig Raudman, Eric Holmes, Doug McCoun, and JR Patton rounded out the top-five qualifiers. Nathan Thiesse from Brainerd, Minn. lost a motor during his first qualifying lap and was forced to the 25-lap non-qualifiers race along with Michael Price, Stan Silva Jr., Dennis Dyer, Chris Hines, and Richard Johnson.

Joe Herold broke a motor before qualifying and withdrew from the event. Nathan Thiesse started last in the non-qualifiers race and quickly cut through the field and lead Mike Price into the feature race in his first series start.

A hard Hoosier tire coupled with a new sealer applied to the aging asphalt at Mesa Marin had al drivers thinking that caution was going to be the key to winning. They were not far off as the number of caution laps played into the final outcome.

Holtz time on the pole was short lived as Craig Raudman got a great start at the drop of the green flag and led lap one. The first of ten caution flags flew on lap 10 when Mike Ledbetter and Tony Gomez got together. Both cars were able to continue.

Raudman paced the next 64 laps until Ledbetter and Darrell LaMoure made contact sending cars sliding through turn three in all direction. Several of the leaders pitted including Raudman, Holtz, and Eric Holmes. Raudman and Holtz were both penalized for pit road violations and both lost a lap to the fieled. Doug McCoun assumed the lead of the race and led until lap 118, when 2002 series champion Eddy McKean took the point.

During the first half of the race, Victory Circle Chassis' Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Frank Deiny Jr. was the fastest car on the track. Deiny started 15th and made his way up to second place before dropping out on lap 152 after contact with the front stretch wall.

While McKean led the race, both Raudman and Holtz were making there way back through the filed. As the caution flags waved, Holtz was able to take advantage of track position and got his lap back by lap 143. Once Holtz was back on the lead lap he was able blast through the field and shot past McKean on lap 151. Holtz maintained his advantage through the rest of the event.

McKean lost his bid for runner-up finish when he and Auggie Vidovich Jr. tangled in turn four leaving McKean backwards against the wall. McKean was able to continue and finished in the 8th position. Vidovich hounded Holtz over the final 25 laps, but the 2001 track champion was able to hold off the determined Vidovich and collect his first career win.

Following Holtz to the checkers was Vidovich, Eric Holmes, Greg Voigt, and Todd Souza. Voigt, a Victory Circle ROTY candidate collected his second career top-five finish and won the Powerade Power Move-of-the-Race and the $750 bonus for improving the most positions in the race. Voigt started 27th.

Rounding out the top-ten finishers were Nathan Thiesse, who started 29th after transferring into the show from the non-qualifiers race, David Gilliland, Eddy McKean, Thomas Martin, and Doug McCoun. Martin had his best career finish in ninth. The top nine cars were on the lead lap.

A jubilant Holtz was quick to thank his crew for the win, "This car was so good tonight that anybody could have won driving it." Holtz stated. "I made a mistake in the pits and was just very fortunate to make it up on the track. The track conditions were interesting and you had to really be focused on what you were doing."

Finishing in second place was Vidovich. "This was a really important race for us," Vidovich said. "We always seem to run good at Mesa (Marin) but it was not easy. The tires and track just did not work well together, but we managed to make it."

Eric Holmes won the fall event last year and ran a smart race, but struggled at times with lapped cars. "Were lucky to finish third tonight," Holmes said. "My car worked pretty good , but some of the guys did not seem to use their heads out there and that made it real difficult."

The race took one hour, thirty seven minutes, and eleven seconds to complete and was slowed ten times for 67 laps with an average speed of 61.738 mph. Holtz's margin of victory over Vidovich was .919 seconds. Holtz also collected the Bud Pole Award, with Greg Voigt picking up both the Victory Circle Chassis Rookie-of-the-Race and the Powerade Power Move-of-the-Race Awards. There were three lead changes among four driver with Craig Raudman leading the most laps (74).

Vidovich assumes the point lead after his second place finish while McKean maintains second place just 23 points behind. Raudman jumps to third, with Bryan Germone dropping to fourth, and Darrell LaMoure joining the top-five. Randy Nelson, Frank Deiny, Jr., Burney Lamar, Kevin Vernon, and JR Patton round out the top-ten in the standings.

The next event for the Featherlite Southwest Series is on Saturday, April 5 at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, Calif. The Coors Light "125" is race #3 on the fourteen race schedule.

The Featherlite Southwest Series is one of eight NASCAR Regional Touring Series that blanket the United States. In 2003, the Featherlite Southwest Series joins the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series, International Truck and Engine Midwest Series, and Kodak Southeast Series to form the new NASCAR Elite Division. The NASCAR Elite Division brings special events to many NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses. The NASCAR Elite Division can provide a competitor with an entire career, or the division can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks. Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to the NASCAR Elite Division Series point funds. The sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, Powerade, Raybestos Brakes, KODAK, and International Truck & Engine.


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Drivers Richard Johns , Eric Holmes , Stan Silva Jr. , Bryan Germone , Joe Herold , Dan Holtz , Burney Lamar , Darrell LaMoure , Mike Ledbetter , Doug McCoun , Craig Raudman , Nathan Thiesse , Thomas Martin , Auggie Vidovich , Todd Souza