Fresh off their top ten run at Phoenix International Raceway, Rip Michels and his Stock Building Supply/Ladco Racing/ Victory Circle Chevrolet racing team were looking forward to returning to Mesa Marin Raceway. Rip scored his first top ten of the season at the track back in March. Mesa Marin has always been a good track for Rip. He also won his first Track Championship there in 1997.
The car was fast in both practice sessions and the team was confident that they would qualify in the top ten. Rip qualified fifth with a time of 28.606 and due to the ten-car invert, started sixth.
The plan for this race was to get in a nice safe zone for the first hundred laps of the event. Rips, and eventual winner David Gillian, were running ninth and tenth for most of the first hundred laps. With fifty to go, Rip made his charge to the front. Unfortunately, the car was a little too loose, and rather than push a bad situation, Rip settled into the seventh spot.
With a couple of laps to go the yellow flag was brought out setting up a green, white, checkered finish. There were only nine cars on the lead lap with Rip in eighth. When the race went back to green, there was a multi car wreck on the backstretch. Rip was under the 23 car trying to avoid hitting him and got hit in the left rear quarter panel causing the car to spin backwards into the inside retaining wall. The hit was so hard that the car spun 180 degrees in the air.
Rip was able to get the car to pit road and the team did what they could to get him back. Rip finished in seventh position as the last car on the lead lap and was the AutoZone Rookie of the race for the 8th time this season.
“Normally we would be satisfied with our seventh place finish,” said Rip. “But our car sustained heavy damage in the wreck. We got lucky that it happened with only two laps to go. Otherwise we would have had a DNF.”
“The car was brought back to the shop on Sunday and the guys got it ready to be delivered to Victory Circle on Monday morning,” said John (Cowboy) Schuetze, Car Chief. “It’s the team’s effort like this that has made us so successful in the past and continues to help us succeed here on the tour,” said Cowboy.
This Sunday Rip and the team will be heading to Tucson Raceway Park for their 13th race of the season. For more information on Rip Michels and his sponsors, please visit www.ripmichels.com