DUNCAN BREAKS THROUGH WITH WIN AT STOCKTON IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES STOCKTON, Calif. (Aug. 13, 2005) - After three consecutive runner-up finishes in NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series action ...
DUNCAN BREAKS THROUGH WITH WIN AT STOCKTON IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES
STOCKTON, Calif. (Aug. 13, 2005) - After three consecutive runner-up finishes in NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series action at Stockton (Calif.) 99 Speedway - Mike Duncan finally took home the big prize, winning the Fourth Annual Dodge Country NAPA Auto Parts 200 by Havoline on Saturday, Aug. 13.
After running in third for much of the event, Duncan made a late-race charge to capture his second consecutive victory this season and the fifth of his career.
"Any time you win in this series it's an awesome feeling, because you don't know if it's going to be your last," a jubilant Duncan said from victory lane. "What an exciting race to win - with all those double-file restarts. This track's slippery. You've really got to pay attention to what you're doing. It's so easy to get these things sideways."
"I knew we had a good race car," Duncan said of his Lucas Oil/Ron's Rear Ends Chevrolet. "I told (crew chief) Bill (Sedgwick) in practice it was really solid and felt real solid and it showed tonight."
Early in the race it was Scott Lynch who appeared to have the car to beat, however. He won his second consecutive Bud Pole Award at Stockton, with a lap of 62.999 mph in qualifying. The early part of the event was a replay of the spring race - with Lynch setting the pace in his Stockton Dodge/Mr. Gas Dodge. Unlike that race, when Lynch led wire-to-wire for the win, he lost the lead and began to fade with electrical problems at lap 61.
Steve Portenga charged out front and began to open up a margin on his competition. His advantage was quickly erased, however, by numerous cautions in the first half of the race. David Gilliland took advantage of one of the subsequent restarts to jump into the lead on lap 84. Portenga regained the point on lap 112 and paced the field for most of the second half of the race.
After gaining second place, when contact from a lapped car sent Gilliland spinning in turn one, Duncan set after the leader. He wrestled the top spot from Portenga just after a lap 187 restart. "He (Sedgwick) was on me to make sure I didn't spin the tires," Duncan said of the restarts on the tight quarter-mile oval. "That's the key here. You can not spin the tires. It's real critical that you don't spin them in second gear when you take off, because that the hardest one to keep from spinning. I paid attention to the restarts and it paid off."
Duncan held off his competition after a late race caution extended the race to 206 laps and a green-white-checkered finish. The defending series champion from Bakersfield, Calif., crossed the finish line with a margin of .748 of a second to win $7,191 in prize money. Lynch of Burley, Idaho, was able to rebound to finish second after his crew made repairs at the midway break of the race.
Gilliland of Riverside, Calif., recovered from his spin to take third in the RaceCarCeilingFans.com Chevrolet. Portenga of Sparks, Nev., took fourth in the NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hose Chevrolet - followed by Daryl Harr of St. Albert, Alberta; who scored his first career top five finish in his WestWorld Motorsports Chevrolet. Completing the top 10 were series rookie Andrew Lewis, series newcomer Eric Humphries, Brett Thompson, Andrew Myers and Mike David.
The race featured four lead changes among four drivers - Lynch, Duncan, Portenga and Gilliland. The pace was slowed by nine cautions for 61 laps.
Lynch maintained his lead in the championship standings with 1,184 points, with Duncan close behind with 1,141. "We're not gaining a lot of ground on Scott, but we didn't lose any," Duncan said. "We've just got to keep running tough. Hopefully, we'll catch a break and gain some points on him."
Gilliland is third in the standings with 1,086, followed by Portenga with 1,077 and David with 1,004. They are followed by Thompson at 940, Lewis at 921, Scott Gaylord at 907, Tim Woods III at 907 and Myers at 893.
Lewis continues to lead in the chase for this year's battle for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. He leads with 61, followed by Myers with 53, Sarah Fisher with 47, Jason Jefferson with 37, Rick Ruzbarsky with 32, Tim Smith with 32, Spencer Clark with 23, Chris Schmelzle with 20, David Cardey with 15 and Brandon Miller with four.
The next event on the NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series schedule will be the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by NAPA Belts & Hose at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo., on Aug. 21.