NASCAR Winston West Winter Heat 200: Report, Results, Standings

13 January 1998

TUCSON, Ariz. - Anaheim, CA driver and defending NASCAR Winston West
Champion Butch Gilliland opened defense of his title by battling his
way past NASCAR Winston Cup star Ken Schrader in the closing laps to
take the victory in the Winter Heat 200 NASCAR Winston West Series
opener at Tucson Raceway Park, Ariz, Sunday Afternoon.

Gilliland was able to withstand Schrader's pressure over the final
laps to record the win, his first of 1998, by less than a car
length. With the win Gilliland took a successful first step in defense
of his title.

The early leader of the race was series rookie Craig Raudman, who
started on the outside of the front row and took the point when the
green flag flew. Raudman gained the lead by slipping past top
qualifier Jerry Cain, also a rookie, who had set the fastest speed
around the 3/8 mile oval in qualifying at 87.125 mph, in his Merchants
Bankcard/NEO Oil/Nitrotech Chevrolet.

Raudman kept his Advantage Memory Monte Carlo out front until lap
seven when Kevin Harvick slid by on the low side to take over the lead
position. Harvick kept his Spears Manufacturing Chevrolet out front
until fifth starting Gilliland was able to nose his Mission Foods Ford
into the lead on lap 30. Harvick immediately tried to regain the
position and was successful when the yellow came out for a spin with
Harvick just ahead of Gilliland by a nose. On the restart Gilliland
stayed right on Harvick's bumper and on lap 49 he retook the lead,
where he would remain during the remainder of the first half of the
race.

By the halfway point of the race, early leader Raudman had slipped
back with a dead battery and Schrader had moved steadily towards the
front where he was running in second at the midpoint

Following the midpoint break Schrader slipped by Gilliland to take a
lead that he would hold for most of the second half of the race.
Although Schrader's Bill Strauser-owned Chevrolet was strong, he was
unable to shake Gilliland who sat right on his rear bumper for lap
after lap. Gary Collins was able to wrest the lead away from Schrader
for a short period on lap 102, but by lap 111 the Fenton, MO ace was
back on the point.

Following a restart on lap 169, Gilliland began searching for a way
past the cagy Winston Cup star. He looked to the low side in turn four
lap after lap, but Schrader was still strong enough to hold off the
Ford. Several times he would appear to get a good run, only to have
lapped traffic pop up and force him to fall back in line.

Finally on lap 197 Gilliland got a good run coming out of turn four
and drew alongside Schrader. A lapped car was running to the inside,
but this time Gilliland did not back off, instead it was three wide
racing as Schrader gave him the room he needed to race for the lead.
Gilliland took over the point on lap 198 and then was able to fend of
Schrader over the final two laps for the win by less than four tenths
of a second. Finishing in third was Collins in the Dewars Find Candies
Chevrolet with the 1-800-CLEANUP/76 Lubricants Pontiac of Sean
Woodside fourth and Cain in fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Kelly
Tanner, Gary Smith, Kevin Richards, Raudman and Davey Manthei.

The race featured nine lead changes among six drivers. 21 of the 26
car starting field were still running at the end of the race, with 12
cars finishing on the lead lap.

There were 35 cars on hand to qualify, and with only 26 starting
positions available, nine teams were forced to head home after
qualifying.
           
In addition to Cain and Raudman, 13 others drivers have registered for
the Sears Point Raceway Rookie-of-the-Year program.  Included on that
list are two-time NASCAR REB-CO Northwest Tour Champion Kelly Tanner,
Kevin Richards, Tony Toste, Craig Rayburn, Bo Lemler, Brandon Ash,
Sammy Potashnick, Eric Norris and Don Abreu.

The next event for the NASCAR Winston West Series is Feb 25th at Las
Vegas Motor Speedway.

 NASCAR Winston West Winter Heat 200 Results
 
 Pos Driver                 Hometown            Make  Laps  Purse
 ----------------------------------------------------------------
 1.  Butch Gilliland        Anaheim, CA         Ford  200  $9827
 2.  Ken Schrader           Fenton, MO          Chev  200   6250
 3.  Gary Collins           Bakersfield, CA     Chev  200   3760
 4.  Sean Woodside          Saugus, CA          Pont  200   3627
 5.  Jerry Cain             Canyon Country, CA  Chev  200   3150
 6.  Kelly Tanner           Woodinville, WA     Pont  200   1500
 7.  Gary Smith             Malahat, BC         Pont  200   1977
 8.  Kevin Richards         Spokane, WA         Chev  200   1877
 9.  Craig Raudman          Redding, CA         Chev  200   1200
 10. Davey Manthei          W Richland, WA      Chev  200   1475
 11. Bill McAnally          Elverta, CA         Chev  200   2352
 12. Wayne Jacks            Las Vegas, NV       Chev  200   2252
 13. Kevin Harvick          Bakersfield, CA     Chev  199    900
 14. Scott Gaylord          Lakewood, CO        Chev  199   2152
 15. Tony Toste             Pismo Beach, CA     Chev  197    900
 16. Craig Rayburn          Simi Valley, CA     Chev  197   1525
 17. Bo Lemler              Chula Vista, CA     Chev  196    750
 18. Pappy Pryor            Priest Lake, ID     Chev  188   1277
 19. Larry Gunsleman        Sierra Village, CA  Ford  171    650
 20. Brandon Ash            Umpqua, OR          Ford  171    650 
 21. Kevin Culver           Portland, OR        Chev  158   1927 Engine
 22. Sammy Potashnick       Sikeston, MO        Chev  155    600 Accident
 23. Eric Norris            Redondo Beach, CA   Ford  155    600 Accident
 24. Don Abreu              Phoenix, AZ         Ford  154   1350 Accident
 25. Kenny Smith            El Monte, CA        Chev  123   1927
 26. Jeff Davis             Anaheim Hills, CA   Ford   89   1177 Engine

 Time of Race: 1 hour 14 minutes 35 seconds
 Margin of Victory: .389 seconds
 Cautions: 7 for 43 laps
 Lap Leaders: Raudman, Harvick, Gilliland, Schrader, Collins
 Lead Changes: 9

 NASCAR Winston West Points
 ----------------------------------
 1.  Butch Gilliland            180
 2.  Ken Schrader               180
 3.  Gary Collins               170
 4.  Sean Woodside              160
 5.  Jerry Cain                 155
 6.  Kelly Tanner               150
 7.  Gary Smith                 146
 8.  Kevin Richards             142
 9.  Craig Raudman              143
 10. Davey Manthei              134


John Kaiser -- The Auto Channel

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