Cup driver BRIAN VICKERS/#17 GMAC Chevrolet won the exciting NASCAR Grand National Division, Autozone West Series Blue Lizard Australian Suncream 200. He started and finished first, and led all but three laps, only falling back during pit stops. His Margin of Victory was 1.429 seconds ahead of Cup driver, BORIS SAID/#57 Pacific States Ford.
Vickers said "The race today was awesome. It was really special for me personally and for RICK (HENDRICK) and this whole team to put the 17 in to victory lane. A real good friend of mine, (the late) RICKY HENDRICK, this was his paint scheme. We had a great car all day long. We didn't even have to make any adjustments to it on the pit stops. I mean it was really, really spot on."
Said qualified thirteenth but started from the rear due to an engine change. He charged away through the pack and ran hard trying to catch Vickers. He said "It was unfortunate. I never even saw this car before yesterday. We got four laps of practice and blew a motor and we didn't get to drive it again until qualifying. That motor was pitiful. The team went through a lot of pain and exercise to get another motor in the car. We started at the back and came from dead last to finish second. It was a pretty good run. The car was just too tight. If I could've worked with it more, I think we could have given Brian a run for his money."
Cup driver, TOM HUBERT/#10 Sunsweet Growers Dodge finished sixth after starting eleventh.
Cup driver KEN SCHRADER/#99 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet finished eighteenth, one lap down.
Points leader MIKE DAVID/#2 Bennett Lane Winery Ford, started twelfth and had an accident on the first lap. He drove off course in Turn Two, came across track and hit SCOTT GAYLORD/#00 Oliver Chevrolet. David had severe front-end damage, while Gaylord sustained front end damage. Both limped to the pits. Gaylord replaced a radiator and returned to the race, and finished seventeenth, one lap down. David repaired his radiator and fluid leaks, and returned to the track. His after effects continued and pitted for more radiator repairs. David finished twenty-ninth, 24 laps down.
David still leads the points, 712 to runner-up Sellers with 707 points. Gaylord is seventh with 628 points.
Sellers also received the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award.
Rookie, KEN EPSMAN/#25 Racer's Blend Coffee Critic Ford started twenty-second in his first-ever professional race, NASCAR or otherwise. He finished a hard-fought eleventh-on the lead lap, and ran as high as fourth during pit stops. And, as he pointed out, his car was pristine at the finish-he avoided any and all contacts. Epsman comes with an extensive background in historic racing-Stock Cars and Trans-Ams.
Epsman, 53, had already said this would be his first and last professional race - his Walter Mitty Tour. Now he can say been there, done that.
Epsman wasn't the oldest driver, Rookie or otherwise. One of his historic racing buddies, GARLAND SELF/#81 Selco Ford, was running his third West race; he also ran the two West races at Laguna Seca. Self, who also races Historic Stock Cars, is 54. He started twenty-fifth and finished fifteenth.
There were four cautions for 12 of the 64 laps. There were a lot of fast cars in the race with ten speeding tickets levied. Several drivers received two. The race ran 1 hrs 53 mins 3 secs.
The weather was warm and beautiful in the mid-seventies. The usual stiff Infineon afternoon breeze tempered the heat.
In other news, Cup driver SCOTT PRUETT didn't fare well at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the EMCO Gears Rolex Series race. Pruett's #01 CompUSA Lexus Riley Daytona Prototype team-mate, LUIS DIAZ, qualified the car to second overall, but was relegated to the back, along with two other cars, for failing post-qualifying Tech. Diaz moved through the pack during the race and turned it over to Pruett in sixth place. While racing for improved position, Pruett was running sixth overall when he was hit by a spinning BURT FRISSELLE/#8 GlycoMax Synergy Racing Porsche Doran, who had been hit by HOOVER ORSI/#39 Crown Royal Special Porsche Crawford. Pruett's car suffered extensive frame damage, but he is all right. He took off right after the race for Sonoma. Pruett and Diaz were credited with a twenty-first place finish. They are second in the DP Driver standings. The Ganassi team had been first in the Team standings, and are now tied for first place with #76 Krohn Racing, which finished second in the race after also starting in the back. The race was won by ADRIAN FERNANDEZ and MARIO HABERFELD/#12 Lowes Pontiac Riley, who also started at the rear of the field. It was the first victory for the new DP team in its tenth start in Grand American Road Racing Rolex Series.
Pruett starts twenty-seventh Sunday in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Dodge/Save Mart 350 race. The live Fox TV coverage of the Cup race starts at 12 noon Pacific Time.