The NAPA Rocky Mountain Challenge Series inverts the top twenty cars after qualifying putting the fast cars in the rear to start the main event. Michels took advantage of this procedure and when he had a poor qualifying lap clocking in 15th fast. Michels would start the race from the inside third row. Fast qualifier and current point’s leader Zan Sharp from Wellsville, Utah toured the 3/8-mile paved oval in 15.545 seocnds/86.845 mph. Local hotshoe Nick Parker was second fast with David Minegar, James Eaton, and Retro-Design Rookie leader John Newhouse rounding out the top five qualifiers.
David Doan started the 125-lap event new comer Richard Bridges alongside. Bridges grabbed the early lead but Michels moved his Stock Building Supply Chevrolet to the front like he was shot out of a cannon. Michels grabbed the lead on lap five and never looked back.
The real racing action took place behind the leader as fast qualifier Sharp, Parker, and Minegar started their determined charge to the front slowly picking off positions one by one. Sharp rode most of the race back in the 15th positions until he put his NAPA Chevrolet in high gear and moved into the top five by lap 80.
Meanwhile, Minegar had perhaps the drive of the night coming from the rear of the 23-car field on three occasions to make his way into the top five each time. He started 18th and moved into the top five by lap 50, and then he had contact with Bryan Warf who spun his car down pit exit ending his night. RMCS rules specify that if you are involved in an incident that brings out a caution flag, then you go to the rear of the field. Minegar was dealt another blow after making his way back to the front when his hood started to come apart.
Minegar was sent to the pits with hood damage and relegated to the back one more time. He worked his way back up to 4th when he made a move under Newhouse and contact ensued with Minegar spinning and going to the back again. With the race winding down, Minegar managed to get back to as high as fifth where he finished.
While Minegar wore out his tires passing the field, Sharp took the slow and steady approach and moved into second place and dogged Michels over the final 25-laps. Sharp was unable to make up the distance and finished second just .840 seconds behind Michels. Retro-Design Rookie leader John Newhouse finished third, with Craig Bell and David Minegar rounding out the top five.
“I had to win this race for Stock,” Michels said. “I really struggled with these tires in practice and the team did a great job figuring out the setup so we could race. This is a fun series with a lot of great guys. I look forward to racing more with these guys next year.”
Sharp scored his ninth top five finish of the season with his second place performance at RMR. “This series rewards performance and passing,” Sharp said. “Rip may have won the race, but that was about it.”
Leading rookie John Newhouse finished third to record his fifth top five finish of the season. “I could not be happier,” Newhouse said. “I am having a blast racing this season and this series forces you to be on your game every night. We started slow but we are really figuring out our car. I can’t wait for the next race this coming weekend.”
Finishing fifth after the drive of the night was second place in the point standings, David Minegar. “I glad we were able to get back to fifth but felt we had the best car tonight,” Minegar said. “I learned a few things and I am ready for the next one.”
With his second place finish, Sharp extends his point lead over Minegar to 86-points with just two races left on the 2005 schedule. The RMCS awards 3-points for position to reward passing performance, so catching sharp may be a difficult task with only two races remaining. Bryan Warf, Craig Bell, and Dennis Wurtz Jr. round out the top five in the standings.
The next event for the NAPA Auto Parts Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is this weekend at the high-banked 3/8-mile paved oval of Idaho Motor Speedway (formerly Chaparral Speedway). Log onto www.rockymountainchallengeseries.com for all the latest news and information.