VIDOVICH MASTERS SHASTA RACEWAY PARK ANDERSON, Calif. (September 12, 2005) - The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series had not raced at Shasta Raceway Park in 16 seasons, but Auggie Vidovich made it look like he was a regular at...
VIDOVICH MASTERS SHASTA RACEWAY PARK
ANDERSON, Calif. (September 12, 2005) - The NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series had not raced at Shasta Raceway Park in 16 seasons, but Auggie Vidovich made it look like he was a regular at the Northern California track by winning the Shasta 125.
Vidovich of Lakeside, Calif. collected his fourth series win of the season with a solid race strategy. Conventional wisdom heading into the event was that patience would preserve tires and racecars and that is exactly what Vidovich executed flawlessly.
"Track position was very important. I had it and was not going to give it up easily," said the race winner. "I just had to wait for the right moment to make a move."
The right moment came on lap 84 as Vidovich was able to get his Centrifugal Technologies Chevrolet underneath Rip Michels coming out of turn two and complete the pass before heading into turn three. No one was able to mount any real challenge for Vidovich over the race's final 40 laps and he crossed the line .376 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Michels following a late caution flag.
Vidovich credited his crew with the win. "Mike Harvick and the rest of the guys put a great car underneath me tonight. I just had to stay out of trouble and drive."
Staying out of trouble was difficult at times on the 3/8-mile semi-banked oval. Passing was not the easiest of chores making track position most coveted. In other words, it was short track racing at its best.
"Passing was a little tricky, but if you had time to wait for the right opportunity, then it was going to be there," stated Vidovich.
Michels took advantage of the eight-car invert and started on the pole. He led the race's first 84 laps before surrendering the lead to Vidovich. Shortly after moving to second place, Michels was also passed by Brandon Riehl, but Michels earned the spot back when the Riehl, the current NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Northwest Series points leader suffered a blown motor in the closing laps.
The finish in second was a season-best for Michels in the Stock Building Supply/LADCO/Victory Circle Chevy. While Michels was happy with the finish, he left the track wondering what could have been.
"The car was outstanding all day long, but the front brakes weren't allowing me to stay on the throttle like I wanted to," said Michels. "But, hey, the top-five finish gave us a much better handle on the top 10 in points."
Michels was also pleased with the rebound he and his team made. They finished 21st in the last event at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway due to engine problems. That improvement garnered the San Fernando, California driver the Featherlite "Most Improved Driver" Award.
Nick Lynch, out of Burley, Idaho, had a solid event. He won his first Southwest Series career Bud Pole Award by getting around the track in 15.500 seconds (87.097 mph). Then, after he drew an eight for the invert, he was able to work his way back to the front in his Mr. Gas/Budweiser Chevrolet for a third-place finish. That equaled his season-best finish also accomplished at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway.
"It was all about patience out there tonight. You had to save tires and not get too overanxious to pass guys," said Lynch. "It was pretty tight out there in terms of getting around other cars, but it's a pretty fun track to race."
Lynch's fellow Idaho-based driver in the series Eddy McKean finished fourth which proved to be the number for the night for McKean. His fifth top-five finish of the season moved into fourth in the championship point standings. McKean, who qualified 11th in his Wide World of Maps/Magic Valley Pipe & Steel Pontiac, collected the POWERade "Power Move of the Race" Award with the seven-place start to finish improvement.
Current points leader and defending series champion Jim Pettit II finished in fifth for his ninth top five of the season to go along with his 11 top-10 finishes in 12 events this year. Pettit of Prunedale, Calif. saw his lead in points trimmed from 125 to 109, but he still must feel fairly confident with just two races remaining on the schedule.
"We came into the race wanting to win just like any other race we go to, but in the event that it didn't happen, we wanted to come out of here with a similar-type lead," said the driver of the Racing for the Missing/LRP Racing/Top of the Hill Chevrolet. "We didn't lose much ground and we didn't tear up the car, so it was a good night for us."
Pettit vows to keep digging until the final lap is run to secure his second straight series title. "A lot of strange things can happen in two races; things that you can't control, so we will keep going until someone tells us to stop."
Greg Pursley, M.K. Kanke, Ryan Foster, Riehl and Keith Spangler rounded out the top 10.
Mike Harvick, who leads the Vidovich crew, earned his fourth Lunati "Crew Chief of the Race" Award this season.
Next up for the Southwest Series is sure to be an event not to miss. First of all, it will be the penultimate race of the season as everyone jockeys for position in points and Pettit looks to seal up his second title. Secondly, it is sure to be an emotional night for owners, drivers, crews and fans as they will bid farewell to an old friend. The October 15 race at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. will be the series' 62nd and final visit to the historic track that will be closing its gates for good on October 16.