Kanke Keeping Records in Mind with Latest Southwest Series Win DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (August 8, 2005) M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. may have surprised a lot of people Saturday night, even himself, when he scored the NASCAR AutoZone Elite ...
Kanke Keeping Records in Mind with Latest Southwest Series Win
DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (August 8, 2005) M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, Calif. may have surprised a lot of people Saturday night, even himself, when he scored the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series victory at Irwindale (CA) Speedway. The victory was Kanke's 20th career triumph and first trip to the winner's circle in three years. The win certainly left him thirsting for more.
For much of the 2005 Southwest Series campaign Kanke has been the silent competitor, but one that always seemed to be hanging around at the end of races. Kanke qualified ninth at Irwindale Saturday but was the lucky recipient of a 10-car invert drawn by fast qualifier Dan Holtz of Pacific Palisades, Calif. Holtz toured the half-mile paved oval in 17.810 seconds to record his third career Bud Pole Award. Local star Rip Michels was second fast with Eric Holmes, Greg Pursley, and Sunoco rookie David Mayhew rounding out the top five qualifiers for the 150-lap Stock Building Supply sponsored event.
Eddy McKean, the 2002 Southwest Series champion, started on the pole position with Kanke alongside. At the drop of the green flag Kanke and McKean raced around the track side-by-side with Kanke edging McKean at the line to lead lap one. McKean returned the favor on lap two, but Kanke then pulled ahead on lap three and would hold the top spot for the rest of the race.
With Kanke leading, the rest of the field sorted itself out single file. The first of two cautions flew on lap 14 when Doug McCoun tangled with Greg Pursley as the pair exited turn two. Pursley nearly had his car saved from a spin but the rear end lost traction and the two made contact heading towards the infield. McCoun ended his night on the hook while Pursley spent several laps in the pits making repairs.
Kanke led the pack on the lap 21 restart with McKean in tow. David Mayhew lost his bid for solid finish when he pitted on lap 30 with a broken right front hub. He was running seventh at the time but finished 23rd. Kanke extended his lead on McKean by lap 40 to more than two seconds.
While Kanke enjoyed smooth sailing out front, several drivers made a charge to the front. Eric Holmes moved by Burney Lamar for third on lap 42 with Dan Holtz dropping Lamar to fifth the next circuit. By Lap 50 Holmes and Holtz were catching McKean. Lamar continued to ride in fifth with Auggie Vidovich running in sixth followed by Rip Michels, Thomas Martin, Nick Lynch, and points leader Jim Pettit II.
Local racer Keith Spangler pitted on lap 53 with mechanical problems as Holmes tested McKean for the second spot. The two raced side-by-side for several laps, but McKean prevailed and held onto the position. Vidovich got by Lamar on lap 60.
Vidovich and Lamar are locked into a tight battle for second in the standings in pursuit of Pettit. Vidovich knows that every position is crucial if he is going to pass Lamar in points and catch Pettit. Lamar knowing the same thing saw his night start to go away with a loose race car.
Rip Michels ended his night in front of his faithful fans and sponsor when his Chevrolet started to smoke. Michels pitted on lap 66 and called it a night when it was discovered his problems were terminal. Thomas Martin has been fast and competitive all season and has really hit his stride over the last four races. But luck, the bad kind, continued as he slapped the front stretch wall on lap 67. Martin would later retire from the event with a broken radiator.
By lap 100, Kanke had a 2.8 second lead on McKean, but that lead started to shrink as both drivers negotiated traffic. McKean was able to cut away at Kanke's lead over the next 40 lap to close to within .400 seconds. Holtz got by Holmes on lap 102 with Vidovich doing the same on lap 104. Nick Lynch would move his way into the top five on lap 141 and that is the way it would finish in a race that only saw two cautions for just 12-laps.
"Score one for the old guys" Kanke said. "I was not sure when I was going to win again and this win sure feels great. Having my entire family here and to win for my car owner (Dan Nicolai) and Perricone Juices is awesome. The car was perfect and that is what you need in these races. Winning just makes me hungry for more!"
Kanke is only 43 years old but is the distinguished veteran of the series. He holds several records including most top five finishes (83), most top ten finishes (123), most money won ($403,417) and is second on the all-time win list with twenty career wins. It is that last record that he now wants to hold. Rick Carelli holds with career win record at 21, so Kanke knows he is within reach.
"It is hard to believe that it has taken nearly twenty years to win twenty races," Kanke continue. "Our team is really starting to perform so winning more races is certainly a focus for us. That is why we are here. We all want to win."
For Eddy McKean, his second place finish at Irwindale feels just like a win. "We have never run this well at Irwindale before," McKean said. "The car was great and felt good. We started to get pretty loose late in the race, but we had a big enough gap to third that I just drove what I had."
Dan Holtz was probably thinking just like McKean at the end of the 150-laps. "This was a great finish for us," Holtz said. "We have not had the best luck this season, but to win the Bud Pole and come away with a top three effort is a step in the right direction."
Southwest Series point leader Jim Pettit II had a lack luster performance by his standards but managed a seventh place finish and more importantly padded his point lead over Lamar to 125-points heading into the final three races. "The car was as good at the end of the race as we had all day," Pettit said. "I always like to run better but to finish on the lead lap in the top ten is what is important. We just have to get through the next three. The pressure is on."
Eric Holmes finished in sixth, Pettit in seventh, with Greg Voigt scoring his ninth top ten finish of the season in eighth. Former series champion Craig Raudman soldered his way to a ninth place finish in his first start this season while Burney Lamar finished one lap down in tenth.
Holtz collected the $400 Bud Pole Award, while Voigt won his second $750 PowerAde Award for improving the most positions in the race (13), Lynch collected the $300 Featherlite Award for improving the most positions from the previous event (14). Leon Ruther was awarded the Lunati Crew Chief Award for preparing the winning car driven by Kanke. Stephan Sadler was the top finishing Sunoco Rookie with his 13th place performance.
Pettit continues to lead the point standings on the strength of three wins and nine top ten performances. Pettit (1758) holds a 125-margin over Lamar (1633) in second. Vidovich (1624) is 133 points behind Pettit in third with Kanke (1536) moving back by McKean for fourth place. McKean (1535) is one point behind Kanke in fifth with Voigt (1506), Pursley (1440), Lynch (1427), Michels (1319), and Martin (1326) rounding out the top ten in the standings with three races left on the schedule.
For all the latest news and information regarding the Southwest Series, log onto www.nascarregionalracing.com. The next event for the Southwest Series is Saturday, September 10 at Shasta Raceway Park in Anderson, Calif. and will mark the return of the series to Shasta after a 16 year absence.
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series Updated Point Standings following the event at Irwindale Speedway August 6, 2005 <pre> Pos. Driver Points 1. JIM PETTIT, II 1758 2. BURNEY LAMAR 1633 3. AUGGIE VIDOVICH, II 1624 4. M K KANKE 1536 5. EDDY MCKEAN 1535 6. GREG VOIGT 1506 7. GREG PURSLEY 1440 8. NICK LYNCH 1427 9. RIP MICHELS 1319 10. THOMAS MARTIN 1316 11. BOBBY LYON 1246 12. DON CAMPBELL* 1202 13. RICHARD JOHNSON 1033 14. DUSTIN JONES* 978 15. DOUG MCCOUN 975 16. DAN HOLTZ 969 17. ERIC HOLMES 946 18. STEPHAN SADLER* 829 19. MIKE LEDBETTER 756 20. BRANDON RIEHL 750
*Denotes Sunoco Rookie competitor
Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year Standings 1. Don Campbell (11 Starts) 95 2. Dustin Jones (9 Starts) 73 3. Stephan Sadler (8 Starts) 66 4. David Mayhew (6 Starts) 47 5. Ryan Foster (5 Starts) 47
Bud Pole Standings 1. Burney Lamar (3) 2. Jeff Jefferson (2) 3. Brandon Riehl (1) 4. Eric Holmes (1) 5. Greg Pursley (1) 6. Rip Michels (1) 7. Dan Holtz (1)
PowerAde "Power Move of the Race Award Standings 1. Greg Voigt (2) 2. Ryan Foster (2) 3. Jeff Jefferson (1) 4. Mike Ledbetter (1) 5. Stephan Sadler (1) 6. Chris Cook (1) 7. Eddy McKean (1) 8. Jerry Robertson (1)
Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award Standings 1. Burney Lamar (2) 2. Travis Bennett (1) 3. Eddy McKean (1) 4. Brandon Riehl (1) 5. Rip Michels (1) 6. Stan Silva Jr. (1) 7. Dan Holtz (1) 8. Ed Belec (1) 9. Nick Lynch (1)
Lunati Crew Chief Award Standings 1. Duane Sharp (3) 2. Mike Harvick (3) 3. Marc Lundgren (1) 4. Steve Dykman (1) 5. Mike Roos (1) 6. Todd Finley (1) 7. Leon Ruther (1)