SWS: Phoenix race report

PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 4, 2001)-Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., used his experience on the "Worlds Fastest Mile" to dominate the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring portion of the NAPA AUTO PARTS WINTER HEAT presented by Bosch.

PHOENIX, Ariz. (February 4, 2001)-Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., used his experience on the "Worlds Fastest Mile" to dominate the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring portion of the NAPA AUTO PARTS WINTER HEAT presented by Bosch. Schrader claimed the champions trophy in the 100-lap duel over series standout M.K. Kanke by less than two seconds. Greg Pursley, local hero Darrell LaMoure, and Rick Carelli rounded out the top five.

Schrader made it known early on that he had a fast car, winning the first Bud Pole of the 2001 season with a lap of 27.324 seconds. Schrader would control the pace and dominate the majority of the race. He would only relinquish the lead on two occasions throughout the 100-mile distance.

On lap 2, the Airset Racing Chevrolet of Ben Walker got loose coming out of turn 4 and collided with former Raybestos Northwest Series, NASCAR Touring champion Gary Lewis. The accident left several drivers and teams scrambling to repair their cars before the restart.

On the lap 12 restart, Schrader lead the field , followed by Kanke, defending series champion Matt Crafton, Craig Raudman, and Burney Lamar. Raudman's chance for victory ended on lap 26 when he began to over heat. Crafton fell from third when he had to pit for a fluid leak. By lap 70, Schrader managed to pull 10 car-lengths on Kanke, who had tried to find a way around the veteran every lap, with Greg Pursley and Rick Allison making it into the top-five. Allison's charge ended in the turn 1 wall from an apparent cut tire on lap 85.

After the restart, Schrader again controlled the pace for the last 15 laps, and collected $11,500 for the victory. Schrader was followed to the line by Kanke, Pursley, LaMoure, and Rick Carelli. After starting at the rear of the field, Eddy McKean, Jerome, Idaho, worked his way up to a seventh finishing position.

In Victory Lane Schrader remarked, "Kanke and I had the exact same car. If he would have been in front then I would have been following him the whole race. As it turned out, I got the win."

"I thought I had something for him (Schrader) at the end, but I guess Kenny was saving a bit. This is one of the most exciting races I've ever raced in. Schrader gave me a lot of room to race at the start and I really appreciate it," Kanke said.

"I can't tell you how excited I am, considering we put this car together in nine days," Pursley said. Our primary car was stolen in Las Vegas, so we went back to the shop and the only car ready was a road course car. We changed everything on it and brought it out here."

"This is my career high finish at Phoenix", LaMoure said. I think the fourth place money pays good enough for us to make it to the next race. Basically, I'm third in the points (Schrader wont run anymore) so I'm sitting pretty."

Schrader won the Bud Pole Award. Scott Brandt was the rookie of the race. Schrader also collected the Gatorade Front Runner Award. The race was slowed five times for 33 laps. The average speed was 72.859.

The Featherlite Southwest Series travels next to Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, Calif. for a 125 lap shootout under the lights Saturday, March 24.

-Derrick Shannon

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Matt Crafton , Rick Carelli , Greg Pursley , Burney Lamar , Darrell LaMoure , Craig Raudman , Ben Walker , Gary Lewis