Ventura, CA (May 2, 1998) - The USAC Western States Midget Series made their first visit of the 1998 season to the one fifth-mile oval at Jim Naylor's Ventura Raceway tonight. Coming off their third place finish at Las Vegas, HK...
Ventura, CA (May 2, 1998) - The USAC Western States Midget Series made their first visit of the 1998 season to the one fifth-mile oval at Jim Naylor's Ventura Raceway tonight.
Coming off their third place finish at Las Vegas, HK Motorsports and driver Clay Klepper were looking forward to getting back on track.
The day started gloomy and wet to say the least, but remarkably, the race was run in its entirety before it started raining. With the greasy track surface, Klepper's second spot in the qualifying line was a huge disadvantage. His 12.823sec lap was good enough to place him mid-pack in a field of 20 midgets.
In the heat race, Clay started 2nd and finished second. He battled a loose car condition, especially in the middle of the turns. When the main event rolled around Team HK had made quite a few changes to accommodate the greasy track conditions.
Klepper started 8th in the 20-car field and quickly moved up to 4th by lap three. On lap four, Clay dove low out of turn two to overtake Jim Keene for the third position. Keene, didn't appreciate the challenge and made an erratic move down the straight-away driving into the side of Klepper and fifth place starter Brian Stanfill. The crash resulted in a finished night for point leader Stanfill (a broken birdcage) and sent Klepper to the back of the pack for stopping on the track.
Now in 19th, Klepper fought his way back with a great handling racecar. With only one yellow in the next 16 laps, it was difficult for Klepper to catch the lead pack on such a fast, one groove track. At the checkered flag, it was Sleepy Tripp taking his 100th Western States Midget Series victory as Klepper finished a disappointing 8th.
"I'm real disappointed with our finish here tonight", Klepper said. "But it's just one of those things you can't control. Our car was extremely good and we had an excellent shot to win. It's just a shame when a driver can't control his car and the innocent guys get taken out."