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Allstate Texas Thunder 200 race report

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Here's the story on the race. I'll get the quotes/notes and other goodies added after dinner and post it on the front news page. Thanks for your patience!


As the green flag waved for the 200 lap Allstate Texas Thunder 200, polesitter Scott Gaylord was first out of turn 2 with the lead as Sarah Fisher and Hellmund ran side by side for third. Fisher secured the spot on lap 3 and was quickly on the bumper of Mike Duncan on lap 6. Mike David grabbed fifth from Steve Portenga on lap 8, while Andrew Myers challenged Portenga for sixth. Brett Thompson took a little excursion through the infield on lap 11, but was able to continue without bringing out a caution.


David was able to run down the top four, who had started to put some distance of the field by lap 12. Portenga continued his early back slide giving up eighth to David Gilliland, who was headed the other direction, towards the front. As the leaders ran up on traffic, Duncan was able to get under Gaylord. As the duo battled door to door, each was trying to out snooker the other with the slower car. This left PJ Abbott little to do but hold his line. As Gaylord finally a slight advantage, Duncan tried to move up, but Fisher had already filled the hole. The two made contact sending Fisher spinning in turn 1, to bring out the yellow on lap 18.


Gaylord held off Duncan on the series’ unique side by side restarts. S. Lynch and Portenga would freight train David and Myers to move up to fourth and fifth, respectively. Duncan took a look inside Gaylord on the front stretch during lap 27, but was forced to fall in line going into turn 1. S. Lynch picked off third on lap 29 getting by Hellmund. Portenga tried to follow S. Lynch and was door to door with Hellmund on lap 30. Hellmund tried to fight back on lap 31, but Portenga held the position.


With the lead duo of Gaylord and Duncan still nose to tail, third through sixth were beginning to separate themselves. A lap 48 caution for debris would bring everyone back together, for another one of the interesting restarts. S. Lynch used the restart to get along side Gaylord as the race resumed, but Gaylord fought off him off until the yellow waved again on lap 58 when Abbott got turned by Fisher in turns 3-4 collecting Jack Sellers. During the yellow, Hellmund would pull off from the top five with an oil leak.


As the field came back to green on a slow restart, there was plenty of bumping and banging as they stacked up in turn 4. S. Lynch again put the challenge on Gaylord for the lead and was able to get out front on lap 69, while several of the spots changed hands. Portenga, now headed forward was putting heat on Gilliland giving him a few bumper shots on laps 72-73. Yellow waved again on lap 77 when Fisher and Tim Woods both spun in some fluid on the track, with Tim Smith narrowly missing Woods.


On the lap 82 restart, Gaylord retook third from Gilliland while Portenga was pressuring S. Lynch for the top spot. Portenga snagged the point on lap 85, While Duncan began smoking and falling back through the field. Portenga was beginning to inch away from the bumper to bumper fight for second through fifth when S. Lynch spun and stopped on the track to bring out yellow on lap 96. Officials decided the time was right for the halfway break as the red was then shown.


During the break, teams were allowed to refuel, make any changes possible in the ten minute time frame, but only change two tires, without penalty. As the race resumed, Portenga got away leaving Gilliland, David and Gaylord three wide for second. Points leader, S. Lynch failed to make the call for the start, but would rejoin the race 17 laps later. Takuma Koga and Woods got tangled on lap 98 to bring out a yellow. The crossed flags were show under yellow with the top five at the time, Portenga, Gilliland, Gaylord, David and Myers.


Gilliland got the jump on Portenga as green waved again to get the lead on lap 106, with Gaylord and David side by side for third. Myers thought it might be time to make his move, so he tried to dive in three wide with David and Gaylord. Letting discretion be the better part of valor, Myers backed off before turn 3. Portenga was able to retake the point on lap 108, BUT Gilliland fought back hard with the two in almost a dead heat at the line.


With the top six of Portenga, Gilliland, David, Gaylord, Myers and Andrew Lewis running nose to tail the group came up on lap traffic. Portenga was the beneficiary as he was able to get ahead by six car lengths after things shook out. Fisher brought out yellow on lap 119 when she spun causing Nick Joanides to spin to avoid her.


On the restart, Portenga got in too deep and ran Gilliland up the track a bit, but Gilliland held on and was able sneak the bumper ahead to lead lap 127. Portenga then recaptured the point a lap later as the two battled it out for the lead. As they diced it out, David was able to snag second from Gilliland, bringing Myers along to third. Woods and Lewis spun on lap 131, collecting S. Lynch and ending his night.


When green waved again, Myers took a peek in his attempt to add his name to lap leaders list, but was unsuccessful. This gave Gilliland the chance to try to retake second from Myers. Instead Gilliland found himself scrapping with David for the spot. Lap 142 saw Gilliland, Gaylord and Fisher all get by Myers. Gilliland then slid up the track allowing Gaylord and Fisher to move into third and fourth.


At lap 150, Portenga was creeping away from David who had a good gap back to Gaylord with the best battle between Lewis and Myers for sixth. Just as the top eight had separated themselves out, yellow waved for a spin by Abbott on lap 162. When the race restarted, David tried to cross over and dove in too hard sliding sideways through turn three and falling to sixth, giving Gaylord second, Gilliland third and Myers fourth.


Fisher picked up a spot on lap 169 taking fifth from Thompson. With 25 laps to go, the field was beginning to gap themselves out by about car length each between first through fifth. Portenga was able to continue to pull away from Gaylord who was now being hounded by Gilliland for second. In the final ten laps, Portenga had the field covered and was motoring away leaving Gaylord and Gilliland scrapping for second and David Closing on Fisher for fifth.


Gaylord and Gilliland continued their scrum as the leader got farther off in the distance. Gilliland was finally able to get around Gaylord with five to go, but Portenga had a comfortable margin as the white flag flew. At the checkers it was Portenga etching his name in the record books as the inaugural winner of the Allstate Texas Thunder 200 driving the NAPA/NAPA Belts & Hoses/Chevrolet

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