The return of the NASCAR Camping World Series West to Portland International Raceway featured a thrilling dash to the finish on the final lap, with Jim Inglebright taking the victory in the BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125 on Sunday.
It marked a second career series win for the veteran West Coast competitor, who had cut back to a limited schedule of races this season.
Inglebright was third as the field thundered down the front stretch of the road course for a restart with two laps to go in a green-white-checkered finish. He charged to the outside of Brian Wong heading into the first turn. Then a lap later, he slipped to the inside of Greg Pursley heading to the checkered flag.
Pursley, who had slid wide in Turn 12 on the final lap, held on to edge out Wong for second place.
“I saw the 26 car (Pursley) go into the last corner,” Inglebright said. “It looked to me like everything was normal and all of a sudden his front end just took off, the car just took off and went off into the dirt. We were there to capitalize on it. We were going to finish second and were content with that.”
Inglebright credited the strategy of his crew chief on his No. 1 Federated Auto Parts/Jelly Belly Chevrolet and the support of his team for help in keeping him in contention for the win.
“Rodney Haygood, my crew chief made an awesome call on the pit stop strategy,” Inglebright said. “We saw a few guys come in early and Rodney said we needed to come in. So, we came in and after that all the other leaders came in. That put them behind us. The only bad thing was I got spun out by the 16. It was just a racing thing, but it kind of put us behind the eight ball.”
“My whole team was a cheerleading section, telling me to keep digging,” he said. “The car got real fast in the middle of the race for some reason. We picked up four or five tenths on everybody. I think everybody else slowed down and my car didn’t, which helped get us out of the hole that we were in.”
Inglebright also benefited from some contact among the leaders late in the race, he said. “At the end of the race, those guys just got up there and started wrecking each other,” Inglebright said. “We were fortunate. I about got turned on one of the restarts coming off of (Turn) 2 by the 7 car. Luckily, he let me go.”
The early portion of the race was dominated by David Mayhew, who had won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying. Jason Bowles and Eric Holmes - who were one-two in the championship standings coming into the event - were running one-two within 10 laps of the finish, but ended up losing positions after coming in contact with each other just after a restart. Bowles recovered for a fifth-place finish, which was enough for him to retain the points lead over Holmes, who finished seventh.
Following Inglebright, Pursley and Wong across the finish line, was Brett Thompson in fourth. Sixth through 10th featured Jamie Dick, Eric Holmes, Todd Souza, Jim Warn and Stan Silva.
It was a sweet victory for Inglebright, who had lost a race late last season when he ran out of gas on the final lap of the event that had a similar green-white-checkered finish. The Fairfield, Calif., driver – who netted $7,300 in prize money and posted awards – also earned a secured starting spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, which will be held on Jan. 29-30, 2010 at the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.).
The event marked the return of the series to the 1.98-mile road course, which it last visited in 1986. Hershel McGriff, who won that race 23 years ago, was back at the age of 81 to defend his race title and finished 13th.
The next event on the schedule for the NASCAR Camping World Series West will be at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah on Aug. 1.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD SERIES WEST-BI-MART Salute to the Troops 125
At Portland International Raceway
Lap length: 1.98 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (5) Jim Inglebright, Fairfield, Calif., Chevrolet, 66 laps, 58.332 mph, $7,300.
2. (6) Greg Pursley, Newhall, Calif., Ford, 66, $3,500.
3. (7) Brian Wong, Newport Beach, Calif., Dodge, 66, $3,800.
4. (14) Brett Thompson, Jerome, Idaho, Chevrolet, 66, $3,000.
5. (3) Jason Bowles, Ontario, Calif., Ford, 66, $2,750.
6. (13) Jamie Dick, Albuquerque, N.M., Chevrolet, 66, $2,700.
7. (2) Eric Holmes, Escalon, Calif., Toyota, 66, $3,250.
8. (10) Todd Souza, Aromas, Calif., Chevrolet, 66, $2,600.
9. (12) Jim Warn, Aurora, Ore, Chevrolet, 66, $2,550.
10. (24) Stan Silva, Jr., Castroville, Calif., Chevrolet, 66, $3,500.
11. (4) Kyle Kelley, Huntington Beach, Calif., Chevrolet, 66, $1,950.
12. (11) Blake Koch, West Palm Beach, Fla., Chevrolet, 66, $2,725.
13. (21) Hershel McGriff, Bridal Veil, Ore., Chevrolet, 66, $1,850.
14. (8) Moses Smith, Tempe, Ariz., Toyota, 65, $2,325.
15. (1) David Mayhew, Atascadero, Calif., Chevrolet, 65, $3,800.
16. (9) Paulie Harraka, Fairlawn, N.J., Toyota, 65, $2,275.
17. (20) Phil Dugan, Meridian, Idaho, Chevrolet, 65, $2,250.
18. (19) Garland Self, San Jose, Calif., Ford, 65, $1,725.
19. (18) Travis Milburn, Eagle, Idaho, Ford, 62, $2,200.
20. (25) Greg Rayl, Roseville, Calif., Ford, 57, transmission, $1,675.
21. (16) Terry Fisher, Sandy, Ore., Chevrolet, 18, accident, $1,659.
22. (17) Wes Banks, Oakdale, Calif., Dodge, 10, rear end, $2,150.
23. (15) Mike Self, Park City, Utah, Chevrolet, 8, transmission, $1,600.
24. (23) Jim Marchino, Modesto, Calif., Ford, 3, engine, $1,550.
25. (22) Brian Jackson, Colton, Calif., Chevrolet, 0, transmission, $1,500.
26. (26) Scott Ivie, San Ramon, Calif., Ford, 0, engine, $1,450.
Time of Race: 2 hours 14 minutes 25 seconds
Margin of Victory: .775 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: D.Mayhew (93.386 mph, 76.328 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 23 laps.
Lead Changes: 10 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D. Mayhew 1-6; E. Holmes 7-9; D. Mayhew 10-18; T. Souza 19; T. Milburn 20; P. Dugan 21; B. Wong 22-41; J. Bowles 42-56; D. Mayhew 57; G. Pursley 58-65; J. Inglebright 66.
Standings: 1. J. Bowles, 1524; 2. E. Holmes, 1491; 3. D. Mayhew, 1400; 4. G. Pursley, 1347; 5. P. Harraka, 1279; 6. B. Thompson, 1272; 7. B. Koch, 1238; 8. M. Smith, 1206; 9. J. Warn, 1065; 10. M. David, 1060.