EL CAJON, CA (05/18/02). It took John Manke 26 laps to work his way past Jeff Seifert at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. But once in front Manke pulled away from the field to take his second straight victory in the 40-lap main event for NASCAR...
EL CAJON, CA (05/18/02). It took John Manke 26 laps to work his way past Jeff Seifert at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. But once in front Manke pulled away from the field to take his second straight victory in the 40-lap main event for NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge.
Manke was five lengths ahead of Seifert when the checkered flag fell at the conclusion of the late model sportsman feature. It was Seifert's best run to date. Jeff Wright ran a steady race to claim third. Rounding out the top five were Danny Gay and Bob Wickey. The finish leaves Manke ten points behind Gay in the battle for the 2002 championship at the track. Mike Carver made his first start in a Grand American modified a winning one. Tom Landreth led all 25-laps of the legend race.
The sportsman race had to be restarted once when Gay looped it in turn two of the opening round. Once underway it ran non-stop. Seifert outgunned Manke from their front row starting positions. Then they ran nose-to-tail or side-by-side lap after lap as Manke worked on the leader. At times Manke would draw underneath; they bumped slightly on lap 13. But through it all Seifert was able to hold on to the number one spot. Finally on lap 25 Manke stole the low groove from the pacesetter on the backstretch. He ran Seifert just a bit high into turn three. They ran even down the frontstretch. But Manke gained the lead for good in the first two turns.
"This thing was great," Manke beamed as he climbed from the cockpit of his Monte Carlo. "I think on the last lap the upper control arm broke. I felt something right after we went through the checkered."
"I said to somebody on the radio that Jeff had a better car in the beginning," Manke said of his battle with Seifert. "But then he started going up the hill. Then he was a little loose off. I radioed that I was going to catch him in a little bit. He chopped down a couple of times and we rubbed a little bit. But it was a clean deal when we finally passed. I don't think he will complain. He shouldn't."
When asked about the one time he got into Seifert going into three, Manke was quick with his opinion. "He got into me," Manke said good-naturedly. "That was my area. Jeff's a good guy. If you look at him now compared to the beginning of the year, he's driving a lot better. He has a Watkins motor and we've got a Watkins motor. These things just go and go."
The Grand American modified race was riddled with accidents during the first ten of its 25 rounds. Two restarts were necessary before even a lap was completed. Then there were a pair of yellows on lap 5, two more on lap 6, and yet another set of two on lap 10. Though there was a lot of bent sheet metal, no one was injured. From green flag to checkered flag, the contest took more than one hour to complete.
The most serious looking accident took place on the second attempt at a start. Paul Brunette got out of shape coming out of turn four on at the completion of lap one. He snagged Ron Brown and then spun across the track. Before the dust settled Michael Jackson's Lumina was sitting atop Brunette's car after being dropkicked by John Cartwright.
Lou Tompkins and Brian Pusey both paced the field during the first five rounds. On lap 5 Steve Luecht bumped Pusey as they entered turn three. Pusey spun and collected Mike Salm. This put Ron Brown in front. Brown had the race well in hand. But he backed off the pace in the closing stages of the event to conserve fuel. By the final circuit, Carver was on his bumper. On the backstretch, Brown got pinned behind a lapped car and Carver shot past. Brown held on for second. His nephew Scott Brown was third and took over the point lead. Carol Kirby Williams ran fourth and Luecht fifth in his first Cajon start in a couple of years.
Carver, a three-time street stock champ with 48 wins in that division, was subbing for Doug Catania. He qualified for the dash and elected to ride shotgun on the field in that event just to get more seat time in the car. He started in his proper position in the heat race where he finished fourth and again in the feature.
"That was incredible," Carver said after his victory photos. "I can't believe everything happened the way it did. Everybody kept crashing. I didn' t like seeing those wrecks. I hope everybody is OK. But it was intense."
"I ended up learning more in the heat race than I did in the dash," Carver added. "In the dash I was all over the place. These cars are just lightning fast. That's the way I see it. They are so fast down the chute so when you get into the corner you can get yourself in trouble in a hurry."
PIT NOTES: Seifert took hard charger honors for the third time this season. That moves him into the number one spot in the season long Sid's Hard Charger standings; the person with the most hard charger awards for the season will earn an extra $1000 at season's end. -- Lots of drivers had tough nights. Even though Scott Brown took over the point lead in the modifieds, he had to endure a ball joint fall out in hot laps and then a broke a gear while warming up for the dash. "We're going to get all of our bad luck out of the way in the first couple of races," Scott smiled. -- But the award for the worst luck of the night goes to Steve Lloyd. He broke an axle bearing in hot laps, missed qualifying and his heat race, was involved in one of the first lap shunts in the feature, and then went for a wild ride up and over Carol Kirby Williams down the backstretch on lap 6. Lou Tompkins backed off to pit; Carol had to jerk her car to the left, and Steve had nowhere to go. He said he saw the whole thing unfold in front of him and thought he had Carol missed. -- And finally on a very sad note, but a decision that is very much for the best, Ron Overman has made it official. He is retiring from driving. We all want you to get well Ronnie and support your decision 100%. But don't be a stranger around the track.