WS: Irwindale: Race notes

PORTENGA CONTINUES BMR DOMINANCE WITH WIN IN KING TACO 150 AT IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY IRWINDALE, Calif. (July 23, 2005) - Steve Portenga believes it takes more than consistency to win a championship in the NASCAR Grand National...


IRWINDALE, Calif. (July 23, 2005) - Steve Portenga believes it takes more than consistency to win a championship in the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. It takes a certain amount of aggression.

It was that kind of aggression Portenga displayed in winning the King Taco 150 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Saturday, July 23.

Portenga battled two series champions en route to the victory - his fifth career series win, but his first since joining the Bill McAnally Racing team at the beginning of this season. His win continued the team's dominance at Irwindale, with the blue and yellow No. 16 NAPA Chevrolet in victory lane in seven of the past eight series visits to the half-mile Southern California track.

"Our focus has been on bringing the fourth championship to BMR," Portenga said after the race. "We've been very conservative and very consistent. Consistency is what I did in 2003 and it didn't get me the championship. So, every once in a while you need to do this - go out and be aggressive and win races and lead laps. The team's real happy. We have momentum now. We've just got to carry it on."

Portenga, whose first series win came in the inaugural series race at Irwindale in 1999, was optimistic coming into the event of being able to continue his team's dominance at Irwindale. "I was very confident coming down here," said the 35-year-old driver from Bakersfield, Calif. "We were so confident, we didn't test last night."

Defending series champion Mike Duncan set the speed early in the event, winning his third Bud Pole Award in five races with a lap of 98.157 mph in the Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet. It was series rookie Andrew Myers who shot into the early lead of the race, however, from his starting spot on the outside of the front row.

Duncan battled back and took the top spot on lap 14. Mike David made a charge to the front and led briefly before Portenga, who had started fifth, took command on lap 44. Duncan slipped back out front on lap 70 and paced the field through the midway point of the race. Portenga took advantage of lapped traffic to get back by Duncan on lap 108 and remained out front.

Duncan struggled coming out of turn two late in the race, quickly falling back. Scott Lynch, who had steadily moved up after starting 18th, made his way into the runner-up spot as a cluster of cars scrambled around Duncan.

A late-race caution set the stage for a four-lap dash to the finish. Portenga paced the field to the checkered flag to win by 1.156 seconds, at an average speed of 65.344 mph. The win netted him $7,063.

Lynch of Burley, Idaho, was second in the Mr. Gas Dodge. Brett Thompson of Jerome, Idaho, followed in the Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet. Duncan of Bakersfield, Calif., recovered for fourth, followed by fifth-place finisher David Gilliland of Riverside, Calif., in the Chevrolet. Others finishing on the lead lap were series veteran Scott Gaylord, Myers and Sarah Fisher, who had a career best finish. Daryl Harr and Daniel DiGiacommo rounded out the top 10.

The race featured five lead changes among four drivers - Portenga, Duncan, Myers and David. The pace of the event was slowed by eight cautions for 37 laps.

Lynch continues to lead Portenga in the championship standings - 844 to 798. Duncan remains third with 776 points, followed by Gilliland with 741 points and David with 720. Completing the top 10 of the points standings are Thompson at 683, Gaylord at 631, Myers at 631, Tim Woods III at 629 and Andrew Lewis at 616.

The battle for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year title remains tight. Lewis leads with 41 points - followed by Myers with 38, Fisher with 32, Ruzbarsky with 27, Spencer Clark with 23, Jason Jefferson with 22, Tim Smith with 21, David Cardey with 15, Chris Schmelzle with 11 and Brandon Miller with four.

The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series schedule will be the Coors Light 200 presented by NAPA & Creekside Mountain Glen Retirement Centers at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., on Saturday, July 30.


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Drivers Sarah Fisher , Andrew Lewis , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Brett Thompson , Brandon Miller , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Daryl Harr , David Gilliland , Jason Jefferson