Bakersfield, CA – In what might be considered the best race in the series history, Goleta, California’s Greg Voigt drove his NTS Motorsports Chevrolet to victory in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series “51 FIFTY Energy Drink 100 presented by AmeriPride” at Irwindale Speedway.
Voigt, a former track champion at the Irwindale ½ mile, had to use every bit of his home track knowledge to hold off Derek Thorn in the final eleven laps of the 100 lap event.
“First, I have to thank the lord above for giving me the ability and the opportunity,” Voigt stated as he began his victory interview. “A big thank you to Bob Newberry and the entire Newberry family for putting such a great car under me to drive, the entire NTS team worked so hard this weekend. We struggled yesterday, but after a sleepless night Gary (Collins) and the guys made the right changes for today. Derek (Thorn) and I had a great battle at the end that was good hard racing. My team mate Garret (Archer) and I battled for the lead for a while, it was good to have both NTS cars running upfront.”
The win was the second for Voigt in the NTS #29, and his third career SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. The win also puts Voigt in the points lead for the 2014 Pat Pettit Memorial Triple Crown.
“My mom was here tonight. Of all the races I’ve won over the years, this is the first time she’s been able to watch me win. She’s recently been diagnosed with cancer, so it’s very special to get this win with her here tonight.” Voigt concluded.
After qualifying sixth, Voigt started on the front row along with Christian McGhee, who was making his first SPEARS Southwest Tour Series start.
Voigt got the jump at the green flag, and lead coming off turn 2, when the first yellow of the night came out when Toni McCray spun on the inside of turn 2.
On the lap 3 restart, Voigt lead into turn 1, but McGhee dove low and cleared Voigt for the lead off of turn 2.
By lap 10, McGhee was showing the way with a 3 second lead on Voigt and Garret Archer. Jeremy Doss was leading the next group that included Thorn, Ross Strmiska, Jacob Gomes, and Tracy Bolin.
Following the lead pack, the racing was two and three wide, with Brandon White down on the apron making up for positions he lost on the lap one incident.
The caution flew for the second time on lap 36, with McGhee still out front, Archer second, Strmiska had moved passed Voigt for third, McCray had worked her way up to fifth, White sixth, followed by Keith Spangler, then the group of Thorn, Doss, Carlos Vieira, Gomes, David Ross and Blaine Rocha.
While under caution, Bobby Hodges, Bob Lyon, Jeff Bischofberger and Matthew Meech all hit pit lane for service.
Racing resumed on lap 61, with Thorn on the high side moving forward, and McCray, Voigt and Strmiska racing three wide for third.
As the race approached the halfway point, the top three of McGhee, Archer and Voigt were fender to fender.
Voigt took the position from Archer, then moved low under McGhee to battle for the lead.
Coming to lap 50, Voigt finally cleared McGhee for the lead off of turn 4, with Archer in tow. McCray was fourth, White fifth, with Thorn and Doss looking for the opportunity to start making their run to the front.
The third caution of the race fell on lap 62. M.K. Kanke, Vieira, Hodges, and Jason Gilbert all pitted for adjustments.
On the restart, Archer, the seventeen year old rookie from Black Diamond, Washington, was looking for his first series win, and charged low under Voigt to take over the lead coming off turn 2.
With 25 laps to go, Archer was clear by two car lengths over Voigt, with Thorn up to third, McCray holding fourth, and McGhee in fifth.
As Archer began to catch the tail end of the field, Voigt closed the gap. Voigt then dove low and boxed Archer behind the slower cars to retake the lead. Thorn was now working Archer for second, with 20 laps to go.
Lap after lap Thorn worked Archer, pulling even in the middle of the corner, to have Archer pull back ahead exiting the turn. On Lap 89 Thorn made it stick and put the Campbell Motorsports/Four Star Fruit #43 in second.
With 10 to go the two veterans of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series pulled even for the lead, Voigt on the preferred outside.
On lap 96, the final caution of the night came out to set up the classic shoot out for the win.
With less than 10 laps remaining, the restart would be single file, with four laps to go on the restart, with Voigt on the point, then Thorn, Archer, McCray, Doss and Gomes.
Voigt jumped ahead on the restart, but Thorn pulled even down the back straight-away. The two cars rubbed hard down the front straight with 3 to go, and touch again in turns 1 and 2.
Coming to the white flag off turn 4, Thorn was on the bumper of Voigt, and McCray moved up to third.
At the checkered, it was Voigt, Thorn and McCray. Archer in fourth, McGhee suffered a flat and fell to 12th, Doss finished fifth, Gomes in sixth, with White, Strmiska, Bolin, and Spangler rounding out the top ten.
With his fifth place finish, Doss holds onto the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series championship lead by three points over Thorn as the series sets its sights on its return to the one-mile oval of Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado on September 28th for the “Second Annual Spears Manufacturing Colorado 100” . The Pikes Peak event will be the second of three races making up the “2014 Pat Pettit Memorial Triple Crown”, and will award the winning driver a record $15,003.00 in prize money.
For more information about the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, go to www.SRLSouthwestTour.com.
-SPEARS Southwest Tour Press Release – Photo Credit: Sal Sigala, Jr.