Erie, Colo. Auggie Vidovich Jr. of Lakeside, Calif. claimed his second victory of the season and second in a row at Colorado National Speedway in Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring competition Saturday night before a capacity crowd of more than 12,000 spectators. Vidovich took the lead from local standout Travis Clark on lap 100 of the United Power/Touchstone Energy "150" and held off a hard-charging Craig Raudman by less than a bumper at the line. Finishing third for his second top five of the season was Rookie Eddy McKean from Jerome, Idaho, with Jim Pettit II and Ironman Bob Lyon rounding out the top five.
Clark, making only his third start in the series this season suprised everyone by setting the pace in qualifying with a lap of 16.076/83.976 mph. The rest of the top five qualifiers were Jon Nelson, Auggie Vidovich Jr., Darrell LaMoure, and Rookie Burney Lamar. Those four drivers contested the 4-lap Trophy Dash in which LaMoure took home the hardware.
Eleven drivers lined up for the 15-lap Non-Qualifiers race that saw local drivers Dave Finley of Brighton, Colo. and Chris Leaf of Kersey, Colo. finish one/two and transfer to the big dance.
Clark started on the pole along side Nelson on the front row. At the drop of the green Clark quickly established himself as a threat as he took control of the pace and began to pull away from the rest of the field. Greg Fowler of Longmont, Colo. was unable to fire at the start and had to exit to the pits to make repairs to the disappointment of the local fans.
Clark lengthened his lead as the pack began to settle in for a long green flag run. By lap 10, Vidovich began to pressure Nelson for second and as the pair diced down the back stretch, Vidovich drove the car deep into turn three and took the second spot. As Vidovich was moving up, Scott Busby of Martinez, Calif. began to slow coming out of two which caused several cars to bunch up which left Ben Walker and Jim Daniels Jr. wounded with sheet body damage. The contact also collected Joe Herold, which left the Rookie-of-the-Year candidate shaking his head wondering when will his luck turn around.
The lap-26 restart was short lived as the cars of Finley and Walker got together in turn four bringing out the second caution. Both cars were able to roll and the action quickly went back to green. After the lap 31 restart the drivers settled into a groove and started to pace themselves for a long run. Clark continued his torrid pace through the first third of the event. By lap 55, Clark began to lap the slower cars, which included title contender Greg Pursley. Pursley and his team failed to find the right setup and Las Vegas based team would finish a disappointing 17th.
As Clark set the pace out front, Craig Raudman and Eddy McKean hooked up and began to methodically make their way through the field. On lap 58 the duo dipped to the inside of Jim Pettit II for seventh and eighth. The two would stay hooked together all the way to the front. As the race reached half way, Clark led Vidovich, LaMoure, Nelson, Lamar, and Nick Joanides. Tire management became the theme for Lamar and LaMoure. The pair began to slid back the longer the race ran allowing Raudman and McKean to work their way into the top ten by lap 100.
As Raudman and McKean were beginning to show some strength, Vidovich tired of being the dog, decided to be the rabbit and drove past Clark on the inside of turn four. Vidovich then asserted himself and pulled away from the field, while Nelson and LaMoure tangled in turn two. LaMoure continued to backslide as the handle on his mount loosened. Nelson found his groove and began to work his way back and was battling Clark for second on lap 115. Clark's night ended on the hook as the two cars made contact along with Joanides in turn four. Nelson and Joanides were able to continue.
Raudman and McKean made their way to the front by lap 130, and the pair were pressuring Vidovich for the lead. The final caution would come out on lap 138 for Finley who slammed the turn one wall hard. Finley was ok and that set up a single file restart with lead lap cars to the front. Vidovich was hard on the loud pedal for the lap 142 restart and extended his lead to four car lengths. Raudman had lost several races this season late in the going and the wiley veteran still had a trick or two up his sleeve for the youngster. As lap 148 began, Raudman was on the bumper Vidovich hoping for a mistake. Vidovich was flawless in his quest and as the pair took the white flag he maintained his advantage. Raudman had one shot left as the two entered turn three, Raudman drove low and came alongside the 20 year old. The duo were side-by-side coming out of four and the two dragged raced to the finish, with Vidovich edging Raudman by less than .001 seconds at the line. McKean finished third, with Pettit, and Bob Lyon rounding out the top five.
"This was a great race to win," Vidovich said. The Victory was the second in a row for Vidovich as he captured the title last year in a weather shortened event. "It was fun to race Craig at the end, I am sure it was exciting for the fans. The crew worked hard all day and the car was set up for the long run."
"I have struggled the last few races," Raudman said. "We have qualified good all year, by had difficulty finishing up front. Tonight we qualified ok, but were at threat at the end. Congratulations to Auggie for the win."
"I am very happy with this finish," said Mckean. "I knew if I just followed Craig I would get to the front. I learned a lot out there tonight and it feels great to finish where I know we can."
The rest of the top ten finishers included Nick Joanides who finished a disappointing sixth after a black flag sent him to the rear after the lap 120 contact with Nelson and Clark. "I had the fastest car on the track and I was alongside the 80 car (Nelson) with my lefts on the apron," Joanides stated. "I am not happy but because I had a shot at the win, but this is one of those things." LaMoure finished seventh, with Doug McCoun, Nelson, and Burney Lamar rounding out the top ten.
Craig Raudman maintains his points lead over Vidovich by 113 markers with LaMoure climbing to third after his seventh place finish. Jon Nelson drops back one spot to fourth, with bob Lyon holding steady in fifth. The rest of the top ten are Greg Pursley, Jim Pettit II, Marc Groskreutz, Doug McCoun, and Nick Joanides.
The race took 53 minutes/22 seconds to complete with an average speed of 63.241 mph. The action was slowed four times for 24 laps and there was one lead change between two drivers. Travis Clark won the Bud Pole Award with a time of 16.076/83.976 and also collected the Gatorade Front Runner Award for leading the most laps (99). Eddy McKean won Rookie-of-the-Race honors with his third place finish, and the margin of victory was .001 seconds.
The FSWS next travels to Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale Calif. for their third visit of the season in the FOOD 4 LESS "150" Saturday, September 1.
The Featherlite Southwest Series is one of nine NASCAR Touring Series that blanket the United States. NASCAR Touring brings special events to many NASCAR Weekly Racing Series tracks and some NASCAR superspeedways and road courses.
NASCAR Touring Series can provide a competitor with an entire career, or they can provide valuable experience to competitors moving through the NASCAR ranks.
Corporate sponsors make significant contributions to NASCAR Touring Series point funds. The sponsors include Anheuser-Busch, Featherlite Trailers, Gatorade, Goody's Headache Powders, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Raybestos Brakes, RE/MAX International, Inc., and R.J. Reynolds brand Winston.