ERIE, Colorado -- Following Saturday night's United Power/Touchstone Energy 150 at Colorado National Speedway, the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series will take a 9-week break before finishing up the 2002 season with races at Mesa Marin and Phoenix International Raceway. Quite honestly, the way they're going, the last thing Jim Pettit II and the rest of the BayPac Racing team need is a break.
Pettit continued his rock-solid summer with a fourth place finish in the No. 03 Hall Kinion/Career Builder Ford in Saturday night's 150-lap event, and suddenly finds himself smack-dab in the middle of a chase for the year-end driver's championship. With two races to go, Pettit is in fourth place in the overall standings, but he's just 31 points behind third place holder Burney Lamar and 35 points back of MK Kanke, who took over the second spot in the standings with a sixth place finish.
Jerry Robertson held off David Gilliland to take the checkered flag. McKean, Pettit and Brian Hoppe rounded out the top-5.
Pettit's fifth consecutive top-10 finish and third top-5 finish in his last 5 races capped off a big week for BayPac Racing and the team's primary sponsor, Hall Kinion, who entertained over 150 customers and clients in a trackside hospitality tent. Pettit spent the latter part of the week in Denver, meeting with Hall Kinion employees and their families in anticipation of Saturday night's race.
"Jim had a great run," said team owner Jesse Rhodes, who celebrated with HK' s Mona Harris and a number of her co-workers in the garage area. "The support we got this week from the great people at Hall Kinion helped the team immensely, and another top-5 finish was a fantastic way to cap off the week."
Pettit started fifth on the grid after turning a qualifying lap in 15.889 seconds, but by the 16th lap Pettit had the #03 Ford out in front. He led laps 16-34 before giving way to Robertson, who led the rest of the way for the win. Pettit had Robertson in his sights with about 30 laps to go, but he lost a cylinder and managed to finish fourth on 7 cylinders.
"The Hall Kinion/Career Builder Ford was really hooked up," said Pettit, who was still signing autographs for the sponsors and their families two hours after the race. "(Crew chief) Duane (Sharp) and the rest of the BayPac crew worked their tails off, and had we not lost a cylinder, we may have made it to the front."
The team will take a short break before gearing up for the Mesa Marin race on October 20th. With just two races to go and 155 points separating them, Pettit will be hard-pressed to catch McKean for the title. Even though Rhodes would love a point's title in just his second full year as an owner on the Featherlite Series, it isn't his, or the team's, main goal.
"We just want to stay focused and hopefully get a win under our belt before the season's over," said Rhodes. "If we remain strong in the last two races, the rest of the points stuff will work itself out."
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