ASA ACDelco Challenge Pontiac Excitement 300 Report
30 June 1997Odessa, MO - Mike Garvey drove to the inside of Kevin Cywinski on a restart with just 22 laps remaining to put his Milwaukee Metro Auto Auction Pontiac into Victory Lane in the American Speed Association, ACDelco Challenge Series, Pontiac Excitement 300 at I-70 Speedway in Odessa, MO. Brad Loney was able to follow Garvey Through the opening created when Garvey and Cywinski touched to grab the second place position at the line in his Bunsaver/Hunter's Specialties/Flexsteel Pontiac. Cywinski was able to regain control of his LaFavre Racing Teams Pontiac and cross the line in the third position. The win was the second for Garvey this season, his first coming at Peach State Speedway in the second event, and he is only the second driver to record two wins on the circuit this year.
"This was a team effort," Garvey said as he collected $13,730 for his efforts. "The fresher tires made the difference, the car was really fast on fresh rubber. I didn't mean to bump Kevin (Cywinski). With the lights and his black car I couldn't tell how close we were; if I could change anything tonight it would be that. Kevin's car was slipping and I wanted to try and get underneath him. Kevin races everyone clean."
At the start of the race, Cywinski jumped into the lead from the outside of the front row with pole sitter Dave Sensiba sliding back to fourth as the outside line was the preferred line around the half mile oval. Garvey was running second with Rick Beebe in third.
Cywinski set a blistering pace in the early stages of the race, with Garvey sitting right on his bumper. Garvey managed to take the lead briefly on lap 63, but Cywinski retook the point just four laps later.
With the green flag staying out, except for a brief caution for a spin on lap 18, many cars found themselves a lap down before ASA officials threw a Competition Yellow on lap 121. This gave the leaders an opportunity to pit and put on fresh Goodyears. Cywinski and Garvey exited the pits still in the same order, but Mike Miller had used the pit stops to move into third, Sensiba was fourth and Loney was fifth.
On lap 136 Miller edged his way past Garvey and attached himself to the rear of Cywinski. For the next 60 laps Miller tried everything he could to get around Cywinski, but it seemed that every time he had a good run at the leader, lapped traffic would come into play and he would retreat to second.
The second round of pit stops came under yellow for a Junior Hanley spin in turn four on lap 198. Cywinski again emerged from the pits with the lead, Garvey came out second followed by Beebe, Miller and Sensiba.
Cywinski continued to lead the race until the next caution came out on lap 212 when Aaron Hough made hard contact with the turn four wall. While most of the leaders headed for the pits, Cywinski elected to stay on the track, a decision that would haunt him later. Also choosing to stay out were Beebe and Gary St. Amant. Garvey was first out of the pits and took fourth place as the cars headed for the restart.
Garvey moved around Beebe following the restart and when Sensiba cracked the wall, ending his night, on lap 232. Again none of the leaders would head for the pits and Cywinski continued to lead St. Amant and Garvey. The final caution period came when Miller cracked and oil pan and slicked up the track. This set up the final restart on lap 278 and Garvey's last chance to take the lead, a chance he took advantage of to notch the win.
Loney, who started 12th in the 29 car field, said he was trying to conserve his tires early in the race as it seemed to him that there were not going to be many cautions.
"I wanted to keep the left side tires under the car," Loney explained after recording his best finish of the season. "We had good pit stops and were able to run with the lead pack. Things unfolded right for us tonight."
After leading 274 of the 300 laps, Cywinski was obviously disappointed with his third place finish.
"Once we got down to the final stages of the race, we didn't need the cautions," Cywinski said. "I was able to hold Mike (Garvey) off until the final cautions. He had fresher tires at the end. On the last restart Mike got me up a little in the first corner and Brad (Loney) was also able to get past."
With his third place finish, Cywinski was able to maintain his point lead over St. Amant with the margin now 107 points. Miller remains third and Sensiba was able to hold on to the fourth spot.
The ASA ACDelco Challenge Series now moves on to Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, WI for the July 4th running of the Wisconsin 300.
John Kaiser -- The Autochannel