PORTENGA GRABS WIN AT PIKES PEAK IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Aug. 21, 2005) - Steve Portenga knows the importance of being in the right place at the right time. It paid off for him with a win at...
PORTENGA GRABS WIN AT PIKES PEAK IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES
FOUNTAIN, Colo. (Aug. 21, 2005) - Steve Portenga knows the importance of being in the right place at the right time. It paid off for him with a win at Pikes Peak International Raceway in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by NAPA Belts & Hose on Sunday, Aug. 21.
Portenga was running second late in the race when race leader Spencer Clark slowed with mechanical trouble 18 laps from the finish. Clark coasted down pit lane, as Portenga inherited the lead and went on to score his second win of the season.
"I don't think I could have beat the 23 car if he hadn't broke," Portenga said of Clark. "We were probably going to finish second today."
Portenga and other veterans of the series had their hands full early in the race, as rookies had taken three of the top five spots in qualifying. Andrew Myers won his first career Bud Pole, with a lap of 131.128 mph in his Toyota of Escondido Chevrolet. Two 18-year-olds of the freshman class also qualified well, with Spencer Clark second fastest and Andrew Lewis fifth quickest.
Myers led from the drop of the green flag, with Clark soon taking charge. Clark remained out front through the first caution at lap 51 - opting to remain on track along with David Gilliland and Johnny Borneman while most other lead cars stopped for fresh tires and fuel. With many teams opting to change both left and right-side tires, Portenga's team just changed two tires at that point.
"The car was tight all day long," Portenga said. "We struggled in (turns) three and four for a long time. We came in earlier than we anticipated and put on left-side tires. The car was better. I got out and led a lap. We were hoping we didn't hurt ourselves by putting the tires on too early."
Scott Lynch took the lead from Portenga on lap 67 and was out front when a caution flew on lap 77 for a brief rain shower. While Clark, Gilliland and Borneman made their first stops of the day, Portenga opted to take on fresh right-side tires. It appeared to be just what the NAPA Auto Parts/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet needed.
"The car was still tight," Portenga said. "Then all of a sudden it felt like I got a left rear flat or something. The car just came to life. It got really free. That tightness came out of it. I was so used to driving it defensively for being tight, that it kept getting loose on my and it was catching me off guard. The track changed dramatically and the car just got better and better."
Although conditions were improving for Portenga, it was Clark who had moved out front on lap 106 and began to pull away from the field. Despite his dominance in leading 73 laps, Clark's effort came up short due to an alternator problem on lap 132. It ended a promising day for Clark, who was competing in only his fourth series race, and his car owner Clay Andrews, who was making his debut in the series.
His departure opened the door for Portenga, who had moved past Lynch into second place on lap 117. Although Lynch appeared to close in on Portenga slightly, he could not get by for the lead in the closing laps.
While he admitted he was giving it "every single thing" he had at the end, Portenga knew it would be tough for Lynch to get by in the closing laps. "Every car I passed today - it was one thing catching them, it was another thing passing them," Portenga said. "As soon as you get behind someone you would pick up a really bad aero push. Unless you were a lot better than that guy, you were going to have trouble getting by them."
Portenga held on to win by 2.1 seconds, at an average speed of 90.452 mph. For the win, his sixth career series victory, he netted $11,500.
Lynch of Burley, Idaho, crossed the line for second in his Harris Trucking/Mr. Gas Dodge. Johnny Borneman of Ramona, Calif., was third in the Borneman Plastering/Red Line Oil Ford. Fourth went to Mike Duncan of Bakersfield, Calif., in the Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet - with Brett Thompson of Jerome, Idaho, taking fifth in the Rich Thompson Trucking Chevrolet. Completing the top 10 were Tim Woods III, Mike David, Gilliland, Sarah Fisher and Tim Smith.
The race featured six lead changes among five drivers - Myers, Clark, Gilliland, Lynch and Portenga. The pace of the event was slowed by just three cautions for 31 laps.
Lynch, with 1,359 points, continues to lead the championship standings. Duncan is second with 1,301 - while Portenga moved up to third with 1,257. Gilliland is fourth with 1,233, followed by David with 1,150. Rounding out the top 10 are Thompson at 1,095, Woods at 1,057, Lewis at 1,048, Scott Gaylord at 1,025 and Myers at 1,019.
The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series schedule will be the Relocate Here 200 presented by San Bernardino County at California Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on Sept. 2.