SNOHOMISH, Washington — When Gary Lewis and the Sign Factory USA race team kicked off 2008 winning races was the goal and the events on the season’s list were some of the biggest late model gatherings in the Pacific Northwest.
Lewis is the only driver to win back-to-back Montana 200’s with his July win, earned two straight Idaho 200 victories, has a win at Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval, a $10,000 paycheck from the ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series race in Ronan, Mont. a $5,000 ASA Northwest Tour payday at the Pacific Raceway road course and a win at his hometrack of Evergreen Speedway.
The only goal left on the team’s list is this weekend’s Yakima Speedway Fall Classic.
Having won the 2007 Race of Champions portion of the Fall Classic, followed by a win in the Limited Late Model race the next night made Lewis an instant favorite to grab his first career win in the 200-lap Sunday finale, but, a broken driveline put the team on the trailer and began the planning for this season’s race.
The incentive to win the race is obvious but a bonus paid to a first-time winner doesn’t hurt, according to Lewis.
“A win at the Fall Classic would rank up there with some of our biggest wins ever and winning the $10,000 purse and the $2,000 bonus for being a first time winner would match our biggest payout of the season which is an added incentive.”
To get to victory circle Lewis will have to beat drivers such as Yakima Speedway champions B.J. Tidrick and Mike Longton, Inland Northwest Super Stock Association champion Dave Garber, multiple Fall Classic champion Pete Harding and defending Fall Classic champion Erick Hargraves-something that has been discussed amongst the Nutter Racing Engines pit crew.
“This whole weekend is going to be loaded with some of the best drivers in the region and most of us are planning for this to be the last race of the year and we all want to go out on top,” Lewis said.
Over the course of Labor Day weekend Lewis’ race team ran two Yakima Speedway events with a pair of second-place finishes. While not getting the win, the team did discover some set-up information and packages that may prove valuable this weekend, he noted.
“That race was the first time we ever took a shock package off our car and set it aside for a race at the same track a few weeks later. Our car was not perfect on Labor Day weekend but we had a good balanced set-up that just needed tweaked a bit more. I have made some adjustments that we think the car needed and have prepared some things to try in testing to get it just right.”
Since debuting the Victory Circle Chevrolet Impala chassis that Lewis has used for over a dozen wins in just 15 months, the team has been a factor at every big race on a track’s calendar. With so much success behind them and the chassis, the time may have come to build another car and see if the pattern can be repeated, Lewis explained.
“Over the last few weeks we have talked about selling this car and building a new one but we’re not convinced that we’re ready to get rid of it just yet. We plan to look into it more after the Fall Classic and see where things are.”
The Fall Classic caps an incredible three-year stretch for Lewis and his race team. A NASCAR championship and an ARCA title to go along with the wins could be topped with a 200-lap conquering of the region’s elite on Sunday, Lewis said.
Not running for points to concentrate on victories has proven to be a great decision for 2008, he added.
“This year has been awesome for us and I couldn’t have imagined doing what we did already so I would say that thus far we’ve made the right decision when focusing on these big races.”
Gary Lewis Racing will take part in the Fall Classic’s Race of Champions on Friday evening October 3 followed by the Limited Late Model Race on Saturday evening. The 200-lap Fall Classic is set for Sunday afternoon.
To learn more about Gary Lewis Racing log onto www.garylewisracing.com