After a strong performance last Saturday night at Yakima Speedway on the ASA Northwest Late Model Tour, Gary Lewis has eclipsed Ron Eaton (three) in regional championships and matched another great with title number four.
Courtesy: Gary Lewis Racing Media Relations
SNOHOMISH, Wash. (September 23, 2009)-Growing up watching races at
Evergreen Speedway, Gary Lewis dreamed of someday competing against the
best late model drivers the Northwest has to offer and someday winning
races and championships over those competitors.
After a strong performance last Saturday night at Yakima Speedway on the
ASA Northwest Late Model Tour, Lewis has eclipsed Ron Eaton (three) in
regional championships and matched another great with title number four.
“When I was younger I dreamed of the day I could even be on the same track
as Garrett Evans (who like Lewis has four regional touring championships),
Eaton or Tobey Butler and now here we are coming off a strong run in
Yakima and capturing our fourth championship,” Lewis said.
“It’s so tough to win a championship these days especially when there are
only 10 races in a season (like 2009). You just have one DNF (did not
finish) and you’re almost totally out of the picture. We had our fair
share of problems this year but we were able to push through and still get
some good finishes. Our season and this race team are not done yet and
there is still more to strive for going forward.”
The ASA season has many races that stand out for the SEFNCO Communications
team including a second win at Spokane County Raceway in as many starts,
winning for the second time in as many seasons at Pacific Raceways and
winning again at Douglas County Speedway. To define one moment above the
others is tough but the 38-year old four-time champion does have a
“Actually this last race in Yakima stands out the most for this Sign
Factory USA crew and myself,” Lewis noted. “Passing everybody in the
second groove and letting it all hang out I found myself sitting in my
happy chair. Running behind (Jared) Vorse I was thinking that we could
wrap this (championship) up and win it or gamble and go for the win and
maybe lose everything.
“As that thought entered my head we’re going down the front stretch one
time and heading for turn No. 1 and by the time we entered the corner I
was already focused on trying to win the race. Just like we have been
saying all year ‘we go to races to win’ so I went for it.”
While that moment in the south end of Yakima Speedway was a highlight in
the chase for a 2009 championship there are others that stand out, Lewis
“This year was a very special one for our Nutter Racing Engines bunch.
Being able to win the Montana and Idaho 200’s for a third straight season
and then back all that up with a championship is awesome. Each
championship and race win is special in its own way and this year’s
accomplishments are going to be very fulfilling for the team and our
Yakima Speedway had challenged the Shocked by Mike Leary Racing Products
Impala over the last few seasons and Lewis finds himself heading back to
the famed half-mile in just over 10 days looking to add one of the
region’s biggest prizes to his trophy case–a 200-lap Fall Classic Super
Late Model victory.
To achieve the victory Lewis takes comfort in knowing that his ARP Racing
Bodies Chevrolet is starting to return to form on the bigger tracks of the
“I love racing at Yakima and we have ran very well there for most of my
career. We have had many wins at the Speedway during the NASCAR touring
days (where Lewis is a two-time champion) and then a couple in 2007 during
our run to the ARCA (West Late Model Challenge Series) championship season
but in 2008 we made some changes to the car and that hurt our program on
half-mile and bigger race tracks.
“We went back and adjusted the car to what we’ve run in the past at Yakima
and right now we have a great car for the Classic. Our concern heading
into the race is that the tires need to last a little longer for us. The
company that supplies the tire is having some huge problems these days
with the right side tires coming apart so that is not helping matters as
we prepare for the 200 laps we’ll have to run. It should be a great racer
and we’re looking forward to the challenges that are ahead of us.”
All of the things that Gary Lewis Racing has accomplished have come with
the help of dedicated volunteers that sacrifice work schedules and family
time so that together they strive for victories. To win a third
championship in a four-year stretch would not be possible without their
help, Lewis acknowledged.
“It does take some great sponsors and team members to make this happen and
the cool thing is everyone on the team are great friends. My guys
contribute to this team in so many ways from Ralph Lewis who owns the car
and serves as our crew chief to my spotter and tire technician, Chuck
Pickens, to our mechanics Jeremiah Moore and Mark Jenkins to Alec Hale who
came on board this season and is learning a lot to Kelly Hale who keeps
our car detailed. Steve Curtis and his wife Barb are there for support and
play an important role on our crew as well as those that take care of our
team, Leslie Lewis and Lynn Marzano Moore to Nanette Pickens who keeps
Chuck in line to Ann Erickson that keeps me in line to my son Zach whose
gotten to experience some great times this season as part of the crew.
“All of them are a part of this championship and it’s about them and what
they can do for us that makes this whole deal go.”