VADNAIS LEAVES NO DOUBT, NO PRISONERS IN COLORADO  by Jeremy Troiano
Holmes, Carlson & Rest of Field Fight For Second
The NASCAR Elite Division combo race for the Midwest Series and Southwest Series at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday night attracted a lot of cars.  In fact, 43 of them showed up.

They came from all over.  There were a homestate drivers from Colorado.  There were drivers that towed to the Centennial State from California, from Minnesota, from Wisconsin, from Idaho and from Illinois. 

And all of them towed all those miles to fight for second-place in Saturday night’s Auto Trader 150. 
That’s because Josh Vadnais, one of the drivers who towed from Minnesota, was the class of the field and had first-place honors locked up as soon as the green flag flew.

How good was Vadnais’ car?  The Midwest Series regular bested the 42 other cars in qualifying, then randomly drew an eight for the series invert.  With the 32-car field set, Vadnais would seemingly have to work to get his way to the front, which was filled with some of the best from both series, including Rip Michels and Tim Schendel.

It took his just 21 laps to get to the front, slicing through the traffic like the proverbial “warm knife through butter.” 

From then on, only a couple of cautions could get the
It was the first time that Josh Vadnais found the "Victory Zone" in Elite Division competition. (51 Photos)
rest of the field to Vadnais’ bumper.  And when that happened, the Minnesota-native made sure it didn’t last.

“That was probably the best racecar I’ve ever had,” said Vadnais, whose win was his first in the Midwest Series.  “Those kinds of cars don’t come around that often so you have to capitalize when they do. 

“It is unbelievable to have a car like that.  It is so much fun.  It is so much harder to drive a car that isn’t right on than a car that is like that.  I was just out there cruising.  I was trying not to use the brakes up, trying not to use the tires up and trying not to do anything stupid.”
Early in the race, Vadnais even surprised himself.

“We had to see what we had right away and get going coming from eighth.  That ended up being easier than I ever imagined.  I would be coming up on a car and think to myself how I was going to get around them once I got there, but I was already there.  The car was so good off the corners, I got on the gas and I got big jumps when I hadn’t even intended to get by those guys, but I was already there.  Once we got out front, we had to set a pace that was comfortable and everything just went from there.”

After he got out front, it was a 31-car race for second on back.

That charge was led by SWS point leader Eric Holmes.

“I knew he (Vadnais) had a good car all day,” said Holmes.  “I just didn’t think it would last for 150 laps as fast as it was.  So for the first 75 or 80 laps, I was just cruising in my car so when he did back up to me, I could get him. 
“He just never did and kept driving away.  My car was fast, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.  He was in a class by himself.

“In the end, we were racing for second place.  At that point, that is how we had to look at it.  I just wanted to get that second and not do anything stupid.  I am leading the points in the Southwest Tour, so I can’t afford to do anything stupid.  
The mountains and the track belonged to Vadnais (#11) on Saturday.
“I got my butt kicked and I’m not to happy about it.  No one ever likes to lose.  Last week, I got beat in the Grand National West division by six inches.   This week, I got beat bad.  I don’t know which one feels worse.”

Behind Holmes finished the most exciting guy to watch all night long was nine-time Midwest Series champion Steve Carlson.

Carlson sliced his way from 11th to third over the 150 laps and looked to be the only car that could stay in the same league as Vadnais.
Eric Holmes was the "best of the rest" at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday night.
“I had a good car,” said Carlson.  “I just didn’t qualify it as well as I should have and I had to start behind the fast qualifiers.  That is a long way back there.  The tires got pretty beat up going to the front.  When you are passing cars, every car that you catch is a faster car and it takes longer to get by them.  The cautions really helped me a lot.  The tires cooled off, but I’ll take third. 
“Josh was real quick tonight.  I mean real quick.   So I’ll take third.  We all had to take what we got tonight.”

They took what they had because Vadnais gave them no choice.

“I know how good these guys are,” added Vadnais.  “Eric Holmes won the Toyota All Star Showdown and Steve Carlson is a nine-time champion.   I had to be on my game tonight to beat guys like that.  I knew if we could get clean, we could run fast enough to pull out a comfortable lead.  We just had to get clean on that last restart and not miss a shift.

“When you come out for one of thee combo races, you raise the bar exponentially.  You not only have the best from the Midwest Series, but you have the best from the Southwest Series too. These Southwest guys know how to go too.  They get up on the wheel in the race.  You have to bring you’re a-game when you come here.
“He just never did and kept driving away.  My car was fast, but there wasn’t much I could do about that.  He was in a class by himself.

“In the end, we were racing for second place.  At that point, that is how we had to look at it.  I just wanted to get that second and not do anything stupid.  I am leading the points in the Southwest Tour, so I can’t afford to do anything stupid.  

AUTO TRADER 150
Colorado National Speedway

  1.  Josh Vadnais, White Bear Lake Minn., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, 57.352 mph, $6,070
  2.  Eric Holmes, Salida Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $3,370
  3.  Steve Carlson, West Salem Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $2,470
  4.  Mike Gallegos, Wheat Ridge Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,800
  5.  Rip Michels, San Fernando Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,970
  6.  Tim Schendel, Sparta Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,670
  7.  Jim Pettit, II, Prunedale Calif., Ford Taurus, 151, $1,620
  8.  Jerry Robertson, Denver Colo., Dodge Intrepid, 151, $1,075
  9.  M. K. Kanke, Frazier Park Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,420
10.  Dan Fredrickson, Elko Minn., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,345
11.  Eddy McKean, Jerome Idaho, Pontiac Grand Prix, 151, $2,170
12.  Scotty Backman, Parker Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 151, $1,025
13.  Darren Crocker, Littleton Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $1,000
14.  Greg Fowler, Erie Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $1,245
15.  David Mayhew, Atascadero Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $1,265
16.  Dexter Bean, Westby Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $1,195
17.  Greg Voigt, Goleta Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $1,220
18.  Kevin Clark, Colo. Springs Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 150, $875
19.  Russ Blakeley, Whitewater Wisc., Ford Taurus, 149, $1,120
20.  Bobby Lyon, Agua Dulce Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, $1,145
21.  Thomas Martin, Auburn Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, $1,070
22.  Brandon Loverock, Santa Fe Springs Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 149, $700
23.  Danny Darnell, Beach Park Ill., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, $750
24.  Eric Richardson, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 148, $700
25.  Mark Kraus, Strattford Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 143, $1,020
26.  Brent Kirchner, La Crosse Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 138, $1,020
27.  Jim Sikes, Jr., Fountain Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 134, Accident, $750
28.  Todd Hansen, Minneapolis Minn., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 132, $1,020
29.  Stephan Sadler, Brea Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 129, $1,120
30.  Darren Robertson, Denver Colo., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 77, Brakes, $700
31.  Kevin Vernon, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 55, Electrical, $700
32.  Josh Bauer, Random Lake Wisc., Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 21, Motor, $1,020




Vadnais was on top of the world.