ICE CHIPS, by Debi Domby
The AC Delco/Murray's Iceman Series officials, drivers and crews traveled over 300 miles to reach race #2 at Clearfield Mountain Speedway after racing the night before at Toledo Speedway. The track, located in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, was a high banked 5/8 mile track with a rough surface. It was deja vu for Dave Kuhlman and Scott Baker as the pair again finished first and second.
Tonight's win gives Dave Kuhlman three wins a row on the Iceman Series. Kuhlman (who started fourth for the second race in a row) passed Glenn Gault low in turn four and took over the lead on lap 8. Only caution flags caught the rest field up to Kuhlman's Right Tools/HJ Prime Cut/KMH Equipment Monte Carlo, which would quickly outdistance itself from the rest of the field after each caution. This weekend Kuhlman led 187 out of 200 laps, for a series high 1,313 career laps led (since 1991). Dave is one win short of tying Fred Campbell and Dennis Berry for the most on the series, 16. "We had a great car at Clearfield. That place is a shock absorber nightmare for a race car and it's a real tribute to PRO shocks that the car stayed underneath me all night long. It never quit working and was strong at the end. My wife Diane's birthday is tomorrow and it's a nice birthday present for her. We've been very lucky so far this season that we have had great starts and our competition has suffered problems. I'm sure they will get problems fixed real fast and be back hungry for victories. Scotty (Baker) is running extremely well and will be the team to watch from here on out. Especially at Sandusky," said a very happy Dave Kuhlman. "I'd also like to thank Mike and Nike from Clate Husted's crew who help crew my car. Most of my crew couldn't make it tonight and they were a big help. Clate talked me around the track, after he dropped out via my dad and it helped so much. It's was a nice show of sportsmanship on their part."
Scott Baker again found himself trying to catch Kuhlman for the win. Unlike last night when Baker found himself trying to make up ground (after being sent to the rear twice) tonight he never was lower than sixth. On lap 77 he dove low and passed Mike Hennessy, moving his Sypolt Chevrolet/Miles Farmer Market/Excalibur Body and Frame Monte Carlo into second place. A caution came out on lap 91 bunched up the field but a lapped car in front of Baker allowed Kuhlman to jump out to a 1/2 straightaway lead. "This is our third season together and everything's really starting to gel. We're running the same equipment as last year and I got one new car at home. Hopefully last night's run is the start of something really good for this year," Scott Baker said prior to the start of the Clearfield race.
Of the Iceman Series regulars, Glenn Gault has the most experience at Clearfield. He was the track champion in 1988, 1991 and 1993. Gault's Orange Blossom Special began smoking just after the halfway point and on lap 61 a caution was thrown to check for oil. Gault brought his American Title & Trust/Gault Heating/Tabone's Snow King Monte Carlo, which was running in second place, into the pits. He didn't lose any laps and rejoined the field at the rear. When the checkered flag fell he was back to third place.
Turning in his career best run was Jason Mignogna finishing fourth. It was the Greensburg, Pennsylvania second career top five finish. "We changed motors programs over the winter and the new one really is working well. Last night at Toledo it was a shock problem and Westside Performance/Robertson got home at about 4:30 this morning. Me and one of my crew members worked a couple hours and then we took off for the track. My car was tight tonight after every caution for about five to ten laps. Then it would catch a bite and we'd get another caution," said the driver of the Mignogna Auto Body Grand Prix.
Another career best finish went to Steve Seegott. The Chagrin Falls, Ohio driver had to go home after last night's race and switch cars after crashing his primary car at Toledo. Last night's car suffered radiator, shock damage and crew couldn't fix it overnight. "Tonight's car was awesome! It's my backup car. I bought the frame from Scott Baker, but the rest of the car the crew and I built from scratch. It's the best handling car I've ever driven and the crew deserves all the thanks. They did an excellent job! I'll have the other car back at Sandusky because believe it or not, it's a better car. It's Kenny Phillips car, engine and all, from last year. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season," said the driver of the Seegott Inc./Floyd's Service/ KEI Car Body Monte Carlo.
Len Couvillon had an adventure getting to the track. He took the wrong turn at Youngstown and ended up near Pittsburgh. Then 10 miles from the track blew out one of the tires on his hauler. He finally got about 10 laps on the track before qualifying eighth. Couvillon started third but on lap four got put high and over the next few laps dropped back to 13th before he could get back into the preferred lower groove. He ultimately finished sixth. "I got sixth, but I'm not really happy with how I got it. I was a little down on power tonight and have to go home and work on that. I got lucky tonight, but the car's in one piece," said the LaSalle, Ontario driver.
Not only did Doug DeGarmo have his career best finish with a seventh it was also his first top 10 finish. The Highland, Michigan driver's best finish had been 11th. "I spun by myself on lap 91 and I thought I had it when the car shot towards the backstretch wall head on. Lucky I stopped before it got there and no one hit me. I'm finally starting to figure out these template cars and am getting more comfortable driving them although I could use more horsepower," said the driver of the Stevenson Auto Parts/LSM Motorsports Monte Carlo.
Visiting the series for the first time was Busch North Driver Brian DeFebo. Tonight was the first time out for his Sofie Tiki Lounge Monte Carlo. "The car was handling great, especially for our first time out. We had to change a tire during that caution on lap 61. Our generator died and had to scramble to get the tire tightened on the car. We lost that lap in the pits, but ran with the lead lap cars after that. We figured we had a top 5 car at the end," said the driver from Berwick, Pennsylvania.
Another Clearfield regular to do very well was Barry DeSalve Jr. He got all the way to third when he had to pit under green to change a tire on his Tri County Performance/Claron Metals Grand Prix. The Dubois, Pennsylvania driver finished tenth, four laps down.
There were 23 cars on hand tonight, 15 Iceman regulars and eight Clearfield cars. Two of the Clearfield regulars bear mentioning, Billy Smeal and Steve Watson because both were driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass ~~ probably the first Oldsmobile on the circuit in three or four years!
Fred Campbell is not having a good start to defend his series championship. Last night he broke an A-frame. Tonight a flat tire caused the Battle Creek, Michigan driver to finish 11th, down five laps. He's currently in 13th place in points, 27 points behind Kuhlman.
Mike Hennessy, who spent his first year driving (1997) racing at Clearfield, was battling Scott Baker for second on lap 76 and just after losing the position Hennessy, dropped off the track when his Shooters Bar and Grill Monte Carlo ran out of fuel. Coming down for the white the car slowed drastically. He completed the race with a 12th place finish, seven laps down. Yesterday at Toledo, the Chardon, Ohio driver drove to his first career Iceman fast time.
"That was probably the end of my season," said 1998 Rookie of the Year, Claude Plante Jr. "The engine blew tonight and we didn't get that much sponsorship money to fix it. If I find some more help I'll be back."
Rookie Corner: Dan Ford Jr was the top finishing rookie tonight, finishing ninth, three laps back. "The car ran great, considering I only got two practices on the track. We had two right front tires go down and luckily I was able to hang on to a caution came out. Each time we put a tire on it was older, so I'm just really happy to finish. Every track is new to me, but I'm having a great time out there, especially last night when I got to run near the front," said the driver of the Walt Michals RV Center/Davenport Construction/AK Collectibles Monte Carlo. ~~~ Alan Pinsonneault finished 13th, seven laps down aboard his Build A Mold/Morton Industries S&S/MB Material Handling Monte Carlo. He was involved in an accident on the initial start where he suffered sheet metal and handling problems. ~~~ Brett Reaume made a couple green flag pitstops and finished 17th, donw 14 laps in his Westside Performance/Robertson Grand Prix. ~~ This is the first time in recent memory that there's two rookies in the top 10 in points.
AC DELCO/MURRAY'S ICEMAN SERIES Clearfield Moutain Speedway, May 29th
Dave Kuhlman, Scott Baker, Glenn Gault, Jason Mignogna, Steve Seegot, Len Couvillon, Doug Degarmo, Brian Defebo, Dan Ford Jr, Barry Desalve Jr, Freddie Campbell, Mike Hennessey, Alan Pinsonneault, CP Rowles, Harold Fair Jr, Brett Reaume, Steve Watson, Greg Taylor, Billy Smeal, Rick Miller, Claude Plante Jr, Bobby McMillen, Clate Husted
Points: Dave Kuhlman, 50; Scott Baker, 48; Len Couvillon, 42; Dan Ford Jr, 33; Doug DeGarmo, 32; Harold Fair Jr, 32; Glenn Gault, 32; Steve Seegott, 31; Alan Pinsonneault, 30; Jason Mignogna, 29.