WS: Mesa Marin race notes

LATE-RACE CHARGE LEADS LYNCH TO WIN IN LUCAS OIL 150 AT MESA MARIN RACEWAY BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (April 9, 2005) - When Scott Lynch opted to pit for fresh right side tires during a late-race caution in the Lucas Oil 150 at Mesa...


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (April 9, 2005) - When Scott Lynch opted to pit for fresh right side tires during a late-race caution in the Lucas Oil 150 at Mesa Marin Raceway, he was hoping the move would result in a top-five finish. The gamble paid off in an even bigger way, as Lynch was able to charge to the front and capture the win in NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series competition at the high-banked half-mile track on Saturday, April 9.

"That's what new rubber does versus old rubber," Lynch said after scoring his seventh career series victory in his Mr. Gas Dodge.

The 2003 series champion had wanted to pit during a previous caution on lap 97 when two other front runners, Mike Duncan and Mike David, had stopped for fresh tires. "I was screaming and screaming, but my crew said stay out," Lynch said. When the yellow flag flew again on lap 126 - the Burley, Idaho native said he had to make his move. "Finally I said 'we're going to be sitting ducks here. We've got to come in during this caution.''

Lynch, who had faded out of the top five, was hopeful of gaining those positions back. "I didn't think we were going to be able to make it up front," he said. "I was just hoping for a good top five. We put on two right side tires with 20 laps to go and made enough adjustment on those tires to take us to the front."

While Lynch was preparing to make his charge, there was plenty of action at the front of the field. Burney Lamar, who led more than 100 laps in making his series debut for Kevin Harvick Inc., was battling to hold off an inside move by Steve Portenga just after a restart on lap 132. David Gilliland, meanwhile, slipped by both on the outside as he moved from third to first.

Just as it appeared that Gilliland might win his second consecutive race, Lynch quickly closed ground. He edged ahead four laps from the finish, but Gilliland battled back to regain the lead. Lynch muscled his way to the inside going into turn one on the white flag lap. As he took over the lead, Gilliland slid up the banking. Lynch held on for the win, with a margin of victory of 1.050 seconds at an average speed of 66.914 mph. Gilliland of Riverside, Calif., recovered for second in the Chevrolet - followed by Portenga in the NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet. David of Modesto, Calif., was fourth in the Bennett Lane Winery Ford. Taking fifth was Duncan, who won his fourth consecutive Bud Pole Award at Mesa Marin Raceway. The defending series champion from Bakersfield qualified his Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet at a speed of 93.502 mph.

Finishing sixth and seventh were Lamar and Brett Thompson. They were followed by a trio of series rookies - Rick Ruzbarsky, Andrew Lewis and David Cardey. Long-time series veteran Jack Sellers was the final car on the lead lap in 11th.

The race featured five lead changes among four drivers - Lynch, Lamar, Gilliland and Duncan. The pace of the event was slowed by seven cautions for 36 laps.

His runner-up finish, coupled with a victory in the season-opener, gives Gilliland the lead in the championship standings with 355 points. Duncan is second with 330, followed by David with 320 and Lynch with 314. Portenga is fifth in the early season standings with 303. Rounding out the top 10 are Jason Jefferson at 289, Lewis at 253, Daryl Harr at 245, Tim Woods III at 242 and Thompson at 240.

Jefferson and Lewis are atop the standings in the chase for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, with 17 points each. They are followed by Andrew Myers with 13; Ruzbarsky with 12; Sarah Fisher with 10; Cardey and Spencer Clark, with nine each; Tim Smith with six; Brandon Miller with four and Chris Schmelzle with three.

The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series schedule is the Casino Arizona 150 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 21.

Race Stats:

Time of race: 1 hour 7 minutes 15 seconds

Margin of victory: 1.050 seconds

Caution flags: 7 for 39 (21-25, 29-32, 45-49, 66-70, 73-77, 97-101, 126-132)

Lead changes: 5 between 4 drivers

Lap leaders: Mike Duncan 1-26, Burney Lamar 27-132, David Gilliland 133-145, Scott Lynch 146, David Gilliland 147-149, Lynch 150.

NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series Championship Standings: 1. David Gilliland 355, 2. Mike Duncan 330, 3. Mike David 320, 4. Scott Lynch 314, 5. Steve Portenga 303, 6. Jason Jefferson 289, 7. Andrew Lewis 253, 8. Daryl Harr 245, 9. Tim Woods III 242, 10. Brett Thompson 240.


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Drivers Kevin Harvick , Sarah Fisher , Andrew Lewis , Steve Portenga , Tim Woods , Jack Sellers , Brett Thompson , Brandon Miller , Scott Lynch , Mike David , Daryl Harr , David Gilliland , Burney Lamar , Rick Ruzbarsky , Jason Jefferson