When NASCAR introduced road course racing to its Northwest and Southwest Series schedules Gary Lewis showed his ability to adapt to right and left hand turns with wins at Portland International Raceway and strong runs at Sears Point’s Infineon Raceway and later Pacific Raceway
For Immediate Release: Gary Lewis Racing LLC
SNOHOMISH, Wash. (June 24, 2009)-Gary Lewis grew up driving race cars that turned left only. From Evergreen Speedway Bombers and Super Stocks to Super Late Models in NASCAR, ARCA and the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour, Lewis has conquered nearly every track he’s competed on in his driving career but until 1999 had little experience on road courses.
When NASCAR introduced road course racing to its Northwest and Southwest Series schedules Lewis showed his ability to adapt to right and left hand turns with wins at Portland International Raceway and strong runs at Sears Point’s Infineon Raceway and later Pacific Raceway-site of this week’s stop for the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour and the running of the NOS Energy Drink Late Model Shootout.
Lewis jumps at the chance to return to the challenges of road course racing this weekend even if he’s unsure how he’s been able to adapt to the concept of turning two different directions in the same race, he said.
“I don’t know for sure (how we’ve been able to adapt to road racing) but I do know I just love to bang through the gears while speeding up and slowing down. Road course racing is an art form and is very difficult. I love the challenge and the speed it presents.”
Speeds at the end of the front straightaway at Pacific can climb to nearly 175 mph; faster than any stretch on Northwest circle tracks, Lewis added. That sensation of high-speed can get a driver’s attention, he noted.
“Well when you get up over 160 mph the sound of everything around you starts to change and when you get close to 180 mph it looks like the body on the race car is going to rip off the car itself.”
Winning behind the wheel of his SEFNCO Communications Chevrolet on small bullring tracks like Montana Raceway Park, Wenatchee Valley’s Super Oval to higher speed facilities such as Evergreen Speedway and Spokane Raceway Park is nothing new to Lewis. Earning a checkered flag on a road course is an accomplishment and testament to having a good crew at the shop and on race day.
“What makes a good team is when you can go to all the different size and shaped race tracks that we’ve been to and be successful,” the three-time late modeling touring champion said. “With many years of racing we have been able to make that approach work for us at each race we enter.”
Having a good Nutter Racing Engines pit crew able to take on the challenge of turning a left-hand based Victory Circle chassis into a race car capable of going in either direction has been a key to road course success, Lewis noted.
“Since Pacific Raceway is a mainly left-hand turn course with only a few right hander’s we don’t have to change everything around on the car (like you would for Portland or Sears Point). We move all the ballast in the car, add a transmission cooler, change gears in the transmission, adjust the caster and camber on the front end and then re-square the rear-end. It’s mainly just a bunch of elbow grease that we’re going to be doing to get the SEFNCO Impala ready for this weekend.”
As the defending race winner and someone with many laps at Pacific Raceway and other road course many fans would consider Lewis an odds-on favorite to make it two straight victories, however, prior runs at the Kent, Wash. facility, Portland and Sears Pointe were in the team’s perimeter chassis and this weekend marks the first time the Victory Circle straight-rail has been to a road course.
Lewis considers this car to be better than what he’s brought to a road course race in the past, he said.
“I don’t think (changing chassis’) will make a difference at all. In fact I bet this car will be even better then what we’ve had a road course races in the past.”
For more information on Gary Lewis Racing log onto www.garylewisracing.com or check out the team on Facebook at Gary Lewis Racing LLC.