ERIE, Colorado -- In what proved to be his closest – and perhaps his hardest-fought – victory of the year, Roger Avants took top honors for the ninth time in 2002 on Saturday night at Colorado National Speedway. Avants first had to make a late-race move to earn the lead, then fend off a furious charge from Scotty Backman on his way to capturing the "True Value Hardware Challenge" NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge event. The 50-year-old Littleton, CO driver not only extended his advantage in the Prestige Capital Funding Late Model standings, he has also moved to within one win of equaling Jerry Robertson's single-season track record mark of ten feature trophies. Three races remain on the division's 2002 schedule at the 3/8 mile paved oval.
During the early stages of the 40 lap contest, Dave Finley paced the field with Beau Kellogg and Robertson in tow. On the 15th circuit, both Kellogg and Robertson overhauled Finley, but the pair made contact ten laps later. Kellogg hit the turn two wall hard enough to end his night, while track officials sent Robertson to the rear. Finley re-claimed first place and Avants – who had quietly gained positions from his sixth starting slot – moved up to second. Avants made his move on lap 32, with Backman glued to his rear bumper. Backman applied heavy pressure the rest of the way and was briefly able to pull alongside, but at the stripe, Avants' McDonald's / Pro Vans USA Chevrolet Monte Carlo prevailed. Backman settled with second, less than a car length back, as the first place prize continues to elude him in 2002. Nonetheless, Backman has had an outstanding run this year, as he notched his sixth runner-up award and ninth consecutive top five finish. Bruce Yackey made a late charge to claim third, while Finley fell to fourth and Dan Savage took fifth.
While Robertson bolted back to post a seventh place showing, he dropped another 12 points to Avants in the title battle and now trails by 80 (888 to 808). To wrap up his fifth track championship, Avants can finish as far back as 15th place in each of the remaining races.
Snap-On Tools ProTruck results saw Chris Leaf lead all 30 laps to capture his second straight win, and seventh of the year. By the time Chris Archer passed Dave Deines for second near the halfway mark, Leaf had opened up an 18 length lead, and Archer was unable to close the gap. Deines, Jimmy Donaldson, and leading rookie contender Dennis Edwards filled out the top five. Leaf now owns a 52 point advantage over Donaldson as he seeks his third consecutive ProTruck championship.
Jim Bob Rogers enjoyed a near-perfect evening in Dunlap's Trailers Super Stock competition, taking the division's quick time, the Trophy Dash, and leading all 25 laps of the feature contest. In a race-long battle for second, Daren Gailey outran Rick Russolello for his best showing of the year; he trailed Rogers by eight lengths. Fourth place went to Brad Groff, with Trent Phillips fifth. Point leader Mike Bowen finished seventh.
Bubba Willox and David Gee swapped the top spot several times throughout the 100 lap event for the pure-stock Enduro cars, with Willox holding the edge at the finish. His superb drive was all for naught however, as his mount failed the post-race tech inspection. In the revised order, Gee was awarded the victory, followed by Dan Gehring, Todd Larson, Darryl Smith, and Eric Warrington. With five of the six Enduro races now in the books, Gee has already locked up the 2002 crown.
The "WB-2 Labor Day Weekend Shoot-Out" will be the next event at the speedway, as two nights of NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge action will be held for the holiday program. Saturday night's line-up will feature the Late Models, along with Grand American Modifieds, Super Stocks, and Figure-Eights. On Sunday evening, ProTrucks, Super Modifieds, the Legends Series, Baby Grands, and the Trains fill out the card.