Cajon Speedway race report 2002-06-08

Ferguson fends off green at Cajon Speedway. EL CAJON, CA (06/08/02). Eric Ferguson had his street stock on cruise control for most of the 25-lap main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. But in the final rounds he had his rear view mirror...

Ferguson fends off green at Cajon Speedway.

EL CAJON, CA (06/08/02). Eric Ferguson had his street stock on cruise control for most of the 25-lap main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. But in the final rounds he had his rear view mirror full with point leader Rich Green in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge feature.

The victory was Ferguson's first since August 28, 1999 on the 3/8 mile paved oval. That trip to victory lane came in a late model sportsman. But he rejoined the street stocks this year; that is the division where he captured the 1997 championship. Green, also the division's defending titlest, closed fast and was just a single car length back at the finish. Rounding out the top five were Rob Freeman, Richard Hinze, and Neil Rodvold.

Second generation racer Marty Lehrke captured his first main event. He won the 20-lap bomber stock feature by some 20 lengths over Gary Lamb and Mike Johnson. It was also Lamb's and Osborne's best runs ever. Ed Hale returned to victory lane in the pony stocks, winning for the sixth time this year. Dan Hildebrand led all 20-rounds of the factory stock finale. Sean Bishop romped in the Allison Legacy cars.

Ferguson, who has been battling his new Monte Carlo most of the season, had the pole for the street stock feature. He jumped to an early lead while Green, the night's second quick qualifier, had to dig his way through the pack after sitting eighth on the grid. By the ninth round Green was up to third. But pacesetting Ferguson was some twenty lengths ahead with second running Rob Freeman halfway in between. By the 14th round, the leader's margin was cut in half. Green slipped by second place Rob Freeman on lap 20, but still trailed the leader by eight lengths. That gap was quickly extinguished in the next two circuits. For the final three laps Green looked high and looked low for a way around the leader. But it was for naught as Ferguson held on. Freeman ended up third. Richard Hinze was fourth. Neil Rodvold, who destroyed the rear half of his car a week ago, rebounded to finish fifth.

While Ferguson was obviously happy with his win, his 35th at the track, he was not pleased with his qualifying run that uncharacteristically left him at the front of the pack. "It's not that much fun starting from the front," Ferguson smiled. "The last couple of laps got a little hairy. But man, at least we got one. We've been having some problems with the car. Last week we broke an idler arm and the guys didn't get it tight. So when we qualified, it was just doing all kinds of funky things with the steering. And we're still having some brake problems trying to get the front to rear bias dialed in. It's hard to do with just a little proportion valve. But still just to get that first win under the belt and remember how it was. Hopefully we can get the thing dialed in a little better and start from where we should be starting."

Lehrke came from tenth starting position in the 22-car bomber stock field. There was only one slowdown. That eighth lap melee involved the top two drivers in points, Mark Holland and Pat Garity, as well as Thomas Osborne, Joey Schneider, Hayden Smith, and Perry Humphries. All cars were able to continue following that tangle in turn two. Lehrke cracked into the top five just following the eighth lap restart. He caught race leader Bob Blew on lap 14 and gained the number one spot on the next round. Blew lost a second place finish when his Nova started smoking. He was black flagged on lap 16. Behind Lamb and Johnson were Randy Wallace and steady Greg McCown.

Lehrke, whose father Bud raced jalopies at Balboa Stadium back in the 1950s, was beaming after his run. "It was a very good race. But actually I have to thank these guys here," Lehrke said as he pointed to his two crew guys. "Pat Bradley and Robert Bradley make the car. I just drive it. They get all the credit. I just put my foot to the pedal."

In actuality this was the second time Lehrke had crossed the finish line first. But he lost that initial triumph a year ago when his car had too much left side weight. "We just had too much pizza (that night)," the elated winner laughed. We had seven pound too much on the left side. But it's been a long time coming. I was in those (grand)stands for the last 30 years sitting in them. Finally two and half years ago I came out and the now dream comes true."

Lehrke saw the lap 8 incident, which ultimately led to his victory, unfold. "I was in the high line," Lehrke recounted. "That 577 (Humphries) was getting really squirrelly. When Mark (Holland) passed me, I ducked in behind him. I wanted to duck in the infield because I knew he was going to spin. I' ve had enough bad luck the first four races this year. So when it happened, I had an escape route."

The pony stock finale looked like it might turn out to be another humdinger. But someone forgot to tell Ed Hale. There was another 12 car pack jostling for position at the head of the pack in the early stages of the 20-lapper. Pete Franke managed to fend everyone off for a while. But Hale took over the number one spot on lap 8. Before that lap was over, Franke found himself in the turn four cement when first-nighter Mary Minnick rode him into the wall. Once Hale was in front he ran away. Minnick also decided the chase for second. Hector Leon lost that spot to Marty Schmidt when he tried the high side while lapping Minnick in turn four on lap 13. Marty Schmidt wisely went low to gain the runner-up spot, which he maintained to the checkered. Leon was third ahead of visitor Mark Shackleford and George Behlman.

In the factory stocks, polesitter Dan Hildebrand had things go his way. He paced all 20-laps. But he was almost a half lap in front of everyone else when a lap 15 yellow flag wiped out that margin. For the last five circuits, he had to contend with Matt Arnold. Danny got all crossed up in turn three on lap 17, but held on. He was three lengths ahead of Arnold when the checkered came out. JR Trent was third ahead of Brian "Hollywood:" Silvas and Andy Papp.

PIT NOTES: Mark Scott, owner of Aztec Fire and Safety and a member of our Cajon Speedway Fire and Rescue Crew, was the victor in the Firefighters' Destruction Derby. Mark picked up $2500 worth of sponsorship from various race teams and officials at Cajon for the derby that benefited the Burn Institute. There were 15 entrants in the derby, all of whom worked hard to prepare their derby cars and then get sponsorship for their efforts to help fund the Burn Institute. -- The night started with the annual parade of fire trucks around the 3/8-mile paved oval, followed by unfurling of a huge American flag atop a hook and ladder in the infield. -- Debi Urioste presented the Burn Institute with a check for $12,000 from her racing efforts, her sponsors, and a lot of hard work over the past year. -- No word yet on the total amount of money raised for the Burn Institute Saturday night.

-cs-

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Series NASCAR , Stock car