MONROE — Man, those young eyes and quick driving reflexes.
They can sometimes turn disaster into a dreamy finish.
That is what happened for 19-year-old rookie Dylan Lupton in the late stages of Saturday night’s NAPA Auto Parts/Evergreen 150 at Evergreen Speedway.
Lupton, from Sacramento, Calif., dodged all the carnage of a first-turn wreck off a late restart, then held off hard-charging veteran Greg Pursley for his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series West victory.
“The greatest moment of my career,” Lupton called it as he was mobbed by his entire Sunrise Ford Racing crew while getting out of the car.
As memorable as Lupton’s first win will be, most will remember what happened on lap 145 between points leader Derek Thorn — Lupton’s teammate — and defending race champion Eric Holmes.
For much of the final 75 laps, Thorn, Holmes and Pursley took turns leading the race, only to be caught by one of the other contenders for laps of side-by-side action.
That kind of hard racing tends to quickly wear out tires. So with Thorn on the inside and Holmes on the outside for a restart on lap 145, the two cars went into the first turn jockeying for the lead.
That is when Thorn’s car got loose and slid right into Holmes’ car. The crash also collected third-place racer Giles Thornton.
Thorn, of Lakeport, Calif., took full blame afterward. On the restart, he said, his front brakes did not function properly. That is when the car started sliding.
“I was just going for it,” Thorn said. “I put my neck out there on the line assuming the car would stick, and it didn’t do it.”
With his car totaled and his day finished, a hot-under-the-collar Holmes immediately jumped into his rental car, drove over to where Thorn stood and demanded an explanation.
“I’ve got a lot of respect for Eric,” Thorn said. “I am the kind of guy I will admit when I messed up or not.”
Lupton got through the pack of wrecked cars unscathed. He led on the final restart on lap 148 and held off Pursley and Thorn for the win.
With a third-place finish, Thorn extended his points lead to 23 over pole-sitter Cameron Hayley.Todd Milles: 253-597-8442 todd.milles@ thenewstribune.com