DAVID BAGS BAKERSFIELD FINALE, WHILE DUNCAN NABS TITLE IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Oct. 15, 2005) - Mike David and Mike Duncan both know the old cliche, "It's not over 'till it's over." Both...
DAVID BAGS BAKERSFIELD FINALE, WHILE DUNCAN NABS TITLE IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (Oct. 15, 2005) - Mike David and Mike Duncan both know the old cliche, "It's not over 'till it's over." Both saw their fortunes change in the closing laps of the Ford Motorcraft Parts 150 presented by 3M as the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series closed out its season at Mesa Marin Raceway on Saturday.
The race marked the final event at the popular high-banked half-mile paved oval - which first opened in 1977.
David made a late-race charge and took the lead just 25 laps from the finish to score his first win of the year. Duncan charged to a runner-up finish to overtake Scott Lynch in the championship standings and secure his second consecutive title. After tangling with another car and the wall within a few laps of the scheduled finish, Lynch limped to a 17th-place finish.
David attributed his race win to the decisions of his crew. "The guys made the right calls in the pits," he said. "Fresh tires at the end is what did it for us."
Duncan took the spotlight early in the event after capturing a record fifth consecutive Bud Pole Award at his hometown track. His lap of 94.201 mph topped the 36 drivers attempting to qualify for a spot in the 28-car field.
He paced the pack from the drop of the green, keeping his Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet out front to just before the midway point of the race. David Gilliland, who had tailed Duncan early, moved by on lap 73.
A turning point of the event came when the yellow flag flew on the 95th lap. With much of the early race slowed by cautions, Gilliland and a few other drivers opted to remain on track - while everyone else headed to the pits for fresh right-side tires and fuel. Gilliland continued to lead after the restart, followed by Burney Lamar, Brett Thompson and Sarah Fisher.
David, who had started sixth on the grid and moved as high as third before pitting, was sixth after his stop and steadily began to move back toward the front. He picked off cars one by one as the front runners began to fade on older tires. David was up to third by lap 120 and moved past Gilliland for the lead on lap 135.
David held off challenges with two restarts following late-race cautions that extended the distance of the race to 159 laps for a green-white-checkered finish. The Modesto, Calif., driver piloted his Bennett Lane Winery Ford across the finish line with a margin of victory of .278 of a second to win $7,763 in prize money and posted awards.
Duncan, who went from second to as far back as eighth after the pit stops, charged back up to second in the final laps to nab the 2005 championship by just 27 points over Lynch.
Series rookie Andrew Myers of Huntington Beach, Calif., was finished in the Toyota of Escondido Chevrolet. Gilliland of Riverside, Calif., came home fourth in the RaceCarCeilingFans.com Chevrolet - followed by Scott Gaylord of Lakewood, Colo., in the Oliver Gravity Separators/Denver Seminary Chevrolet. Rounding out the top 10 were Steve Portenga, Sarah Fisher, Rick Ruzbarsky, Tim Woods III and Lamar.
The race featured four lead changes among four drivers - Duncan, David, Gilliland and Lamar. The pace of the event was slowed by 11 cautions for 71 laps.
Duncan, who won last year's series title by 16 points, finished the season with 1,951 points - while Lynch had 1,924 points. Portenga was third in the final standings with 1,908, followed by Gilliland with 1,858 and David with 1,757. Completing the top 10 are Thompson at 1,645, Gaylord at 1,626, Woods at 1,601, Myers at 1,590 and Andrew Lewis at 1,541.
The battle for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award this year was just as close, with Lewis winning the title by one point over Myers - 85 to 84. Fisher was third in the standings with 78 followed by Tim Smith with 68.
The top 15 drivers in the West Series and the top 15 in the Busch North Series will be invited to compete in the third annual NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway on Nov. 10-12. The event awards nearly $500,000 to competitors and will be televised live on NASCAR TV on SPEED Channel.
The NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series will crown its champion and celebrate its 2005 season, meanwhile, with a festive awards ceremony at The Orleans in Las Vegas on Dec. 10.
<pre> Unofficial NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Top Ten Championship Standings: 1. Mike David 1,951 2. Scott Lynch 1,924 3. Steve Portenga 1,908 4. David Gilliland 1,858 5. Mike David 1,757 6. Brett Thompson 1,645 7. Scott Gaylord 1,626 8. Tim Woods III 1,601 9. Andrew Myers 1,590 10. Andrew Lewis 1,541