EL CAJON, CA. Mark Meech has been racing at Cajon Speedway for some 25 years. Over the years he had won 41 main events and a pair of track championships. But not until Saturday night had Meech won a 100-lap main event on the 3/8 mile paved ...
EL CAJON, CA. Mark Meech has been racing at Cajon Speedway for some 25 years. Over the years he had won 41 main events and a pair of track championships. But not until Saturday night had Meech won a 100-lap main event on the 3/8 mile paved oval.
He picked a good one. Meech paced every lap of the Coors 100 late model sportsman open competition main event to claim the $2500 first prize money. It was anything but an easy victory for Meech, who was pressured the entire distance by Ron Overman. Third went to Las Vegas visitor Ray Hooper Jr. James Roland ran a steady race to place fourth. Jerry Gay was fifth. Stephen Peace was the only other driver to complete the full 100 circuits. Twenty-four cars started the marathon grind; half were on the track when the checkered was displayed.
James Ross paced all 25-rounds of the mini-stockar main event. Dave Blankenship led all 75-laps of the Ultra Wheels Super Truck main event. That race ran non-stop most of the way after a trio of early race slowdowns. The most serious came on lap 13 when Gregg O'Rourke had his throttle hang wide-open entering turn three. He bounced off the wall and then caromed off the turn four cement before coming to a stop in turn one. He was not injured.
The Coors 100 too had problems getting underway. There were three accidents on the second round. The first incident started on the backstretch when 2000 Irwindale champ Greg Voigt got into 2001 Orange Show titlest Gary Tamborelli. Tamborelli, who was the 97-98-99 Cajon champ, ended up scooting through the infield and plowed head on into the turn three wall. Cajon street stocker Rick Hagen, making his first sportsman start, then nosed into Tambo. Then following a restart Chuck Trickle, Lance Magin, Ray Burns, and David Arzola ended up in a turn three snafu. The third shot at completing the second circuit saw Voigt and Magin bump on the backstretch. During this string, newly crowned Cajon champ Todd McLauchlan parked his Monte Carlo with motor problems.
Once the race settled down, only four more caution periods were necessary. None of the incidents were serious. Vegas visitor Darren Michels looped it on lap 23. Then there was forty laps of green flag racing which ended when Vegas champ Jason Allen hit the ripple strips in turn three, got sideways, and collected Claude Bell while they were battling for fifth. Mike Mendenhall also was involved. On lap 88 Dee Cable spun.
Meanwhile throughout the contest veterans Meech and Overman had a great tussle at the head of the pack. Several times Overman would draw underneath Meech and inch forward for a couple of laps before Meech would regain command. And despite the close quarters, there did not appear to be any contact, rubbing, or bumping between the duo. A couple of times Overman actually got his Monte Carlo in front. But each of those opportunities were erased by slowdowns, the last on lap 95 when David Arzola hit the turn two wall. During the final five rounds, Overman was unable to pose a strong challenge for the lead. His car was best on long runs so he had to settle for the $1500 second prize after finishing second in the season-long Cajon points chase to McLauchlan, his stepson, during the season.
Meech was obviously very pleased with his run and was quick to compliment Overman's gentlemanly driving. "I'm really glad he has a nice clean driving style," Meech said. "He's a true gentleman. But we've never, never won a 100-lap race out here. We've come so close, so many different times. Finally we won a 100-lapper at Cajon Speedway."
Meech's Monte Carlo did get loose off the corners at several points, "We debated putting any cross-weight in it," Meech explained. "Every time we put cross-weight in it, the car pushed. So we decided not to put any cross-weight in it. But we probably could have used some."
Overman was equally pleased with his ride though he obviously would have preferred a different outcome. His team had fought the car all day and even blew a valve cover gasket in the first hot lap session. "You know what happened," Overman smiled while pointing to his crew. "The magic boys here took care of it. They put us in there. We were a little tight going in and I had a little too much brake in it. I kept forgetting to take brake out on the yellows. Towards the end one of the ignitions failed. I was able to reach over and switch to the other one. But we have to re-locate that now - with these new seats, I can't reach it."
"I felt I had him beat twice," Overman continued. "And that darn yellow came out. But there's the matter of getting your tires cool enough to make the pass. He had a killer out (of the corners) on top. There just weren't enough laps. We needed maybe another 100 to get by him."