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Archive for Sunday, July 28, 2002

Bush Series: Parker economizes for win

Driver makes just two stops en route to NetZero 250 title

July 28, 2002

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— Hank Parker Jr. used fuel economy to win the NetZero 250 on Saturday, easily holding off Busch Series leader Greg Biffle at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Parker, who started 23rd in his Dodge, beat Biffle by 11.452 seconds after making only two pit stops in the 200-mile race. Parker also gambled on fuel to win last year at California Speedway, his only other Busch Series victory.

"Our car was good on long runs. It wasn't like we were just kind of throwing it up for fuel," said Parker, who led the final 17 laps after Kevin Lepage pitted for fuel. We had a fast car and we were just tying to get ourselves track position is all we were really trying to do. We weren't thinking as far as this was all going to fall on our plate. You never know. I mean, what if a caution had come out?"

Biffle, who started 20th, and third-place finisher Jason Keller each made three stops in their Fords, with Biffle falling from first to eighth on his last stop on lap 189.

Biffle, 77 points ahead of Keller in the season standings, fought overheating problems.

"We ran 240 degrees all day long and 250 behind cars," Biffle said. "The engine was running good. I was almost surprised we made it that far."

Parker averaged 113.350 mph in the race slowed by only two caution periods.

The yellow flag came out on the third lap because of debris on the mile oval, and again on the 29th lap when Bruce Bechtel hit the wall in the fourth turn.

Ron Hornaday Jr. finished fourth in a Chevrolet, followed by Lepage, Scott Wimmer, Mike McLaughlin, Jamie McMurray, Ashton Lewis Jr. and Stacy Compton.

Lepage led a race-high 76 laps, but gave up the lead to Parker on the 232nd lap to pit for fuel.

"We had to come in," Lepage said. "We were going to be about four laps short. We thought about maybe trying to stretch it, but we had such a great car, we knew we could finish in the top five easily."

Parker entered the race with just three top-10 finishes in 20 starts, with a season-best sixth in Richmond in early May. He's 14th in the standings, 831 points behind Biffle.

"Today was just a great day," Parker said. "Everything was on our side. Everything worked with us instead of against us. We've done a lot this year to have top-10 consistent cars, we just haven't had the finishes to show for it."

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