Lake Erie: Race report

Speakman steals show at Lake Erie Speedway. Jeff Speakman overpowered the competition at the brand new Lake Erie Speedway last Saturday night, defending the lead from Toledo victor Phil Bozell in the last 10 laps to take his second-ever ARCA ...

Speakman steals show at Lake Erie Speedway.

Jeff Speakman overpowered the competition at the brand new Lake Erie Speedway last Saturday night, defending the lead from Toledo victor Phil Bozell in the last 10 laps to take his second-ever ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series win. Based out of Piqua, Ohio, the Pennzoil-National Auto Lube sponsored Ford Ranger used lapped traffic and a stellar set up to stave off any tries by Bozell to pull into the lead.

"We tried something a little bit different on the set up this week than what we've been running on, and it just seemed to work," Speakman said. "We pulled it off the trailer, went out on the track and ran a few laps, and it was just on rails. We came in, put on some stickers, went out and scuffed about three laps, and that was it. We didn't change a nut or bolt on the truck all night long."

Speakman flew out in front of the pack at the green flag, and stayed there for the entire 100-lap event on the wide 3/8-mile. Around lap 90, Kalamazoo Speedway late model regular Bozell crept up on Speakman's back bumper. Bozell's Bob Stoner-owned Ford threatened the lead several times, narrowly missing quickly fading passing lanes due to lapped traffic. It was a close one-two finish, with Speakman crossing the start-finish line with barely a car length between them.

"Lake Erie Speedway is an awesome facility," Speakman said. "I really want to thank my sponsors, Pennzoil, National Auto Lube, Dick's Paint and Body Shop, and everyone that helps out. This was a win for my crew."

New Haven, Indiana's Pete Wormcastle finished a strong third in the Preferred Painting & Roofing-Witwer Construction Chevy after running at second for much of the race, while 1999 series champion Bill Withers of Columbus, Ohio took his second consecutive top-five finish at fourth in the Mannings USA-Hall Electronics-Wachholz Engines Ford. Sophomore standout Darren Jones nabbed fifth in the Fairfield, Ohio-based John Pierce Plumbing Ford after qualifying third.

Flat Rock Speedway victor Paul Hahn, Canton, Michigan, piloted the Hahn's Collision-Certified First-Pate Mfg-Fox Auto Parts Ford to sixth, while sixteen-year old rookie Brandon Knupp stole seventh in the Mark Knupp Muffler & Tire Ford. The Carmen's Vacuum-NAPA Auto Parts Ford of Columbus, Ohio's Robbin Slaughter took eighth, followed closely by second-generation ARCA truck racer Kevin Reeb in the North Baltimore, Ohio-based Accurate Logistics Ford. Brett Oakley in the #91 Mar-Flex Products-Bales Motorsports Ford rounded out the top-10.

Ed & Company Hard Charger award winner Eddy Adams, of Sheffield Village, Ohio grabbed 11th in the Lakeside Auto Parts Ford after qualifying back at 18th position. Current points leader Chad Guinn notched a 12th place finish after overheating during the race and suffering engine problems during practice.

This Saturday night, the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series visits Cleveland-area race fans at the 3/8-mile of Lorain County Speedway in South Amherst. Check out the official speedway website at www.loraincountyspeedway.com .

Post-race quotes:

Kevin Reeb: "Well, at the beginning it was just a little tight, but the truck really came around about mid-race and I picked up a lot of speed and it felt really good. I got a good line down and had great bite off of the corner. I could stick on the bottom. It got me a couple of more positions at the end of the race. But I wish I could've started the race like I finished it. (What do you think about Lake Erie Speedway?) This is a beautiful facility, a real top-notch short track. I wouldn't doubt if one day you saw some much bigger series run here. This is one of the nicest short tracks I've seen."

John Kasmierski: "We managed to shear the teeth off of our timing belt. I just want something to go right for us. It's frustrating."

Leslie Withers (owner of #57 truck): "We did end up fourth tonight and I thought that was pretty good. It wasn't a real, real exciting race for us, but there were a couple of races in the back. Our last couple of races have been very good, but the first few, not so much. They were very tough to get through."

Mark Otting: "The Posilac 1 Step-Westfalia Surge Ford Ranger was a little tight during practice. We were still working a bit on the set up on it. We were starting to get it turned around, and threw a lot of stuff at it after qualifying It was feeling pretty good during the race until the last three laps we ran, I could tell something wasn't right. Then we lost a nut in our steering and it didn't want to turn. This is a brand new bolt and a brand new nut that we just put on Thursday. (What's your plan for next week?) We are going to try and rent a track, like Kalamazoo, to get the chassis set up. It's not like Lorain really, but it's something for us to go by."

Tully Esterline: "We didn't have a very quick truck from the get-go. We didn't seem to be handling too badly, but for some reason, we were a few clicks off the pace. I felt as though we made it better during practice, but we just never saw it on the clock. The race was mass chaos for us, with radio problems from the beginning, then our water pump belt broke about lap 60. We'll freshen the head and be ready for next week at Lorain. That Jeff Speakman, though, what can I say, he's my hero!"

Series Notes:

-It's been a while since Jeff Speakman visited victory lane with the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series (Shady Bowl, 1999). Speakman now has two wins with the four-year-old series . . . with more to come? Other active drivers included on the all-time series winners listing are Chad Guinn, with 13 (Dixie, Ona, Illiana 2002; Flat Rock, Kentucky, Lorain, LaSalle, 2001; Toledo, Plymouth, Flat Rock, Winchester, 2000; Owosso, Crystal, 1999); Robbin Slaughter, 8 (Chicago, Crystal, Toledo, 2001; Salem, Berlin, Toledo, Illiana, 2000; Toledo, 1999); Hahn, 2 (New Paris, 2001; Flat Rock, 2002); and with one each: Phil Bozell (Toledo, 2002), Tully Esterline (LaSalle, 1999), John Kasmierski (Thunderbird, 1999), Jack Weethee (Illiana, 2001), Joe Wormcastle (Kentucky, 2002), Pete Wormcastle (I-75, 2002), Bill Withers (Shady Bowl, 2000).

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Series ARCA
Drivers Brandon Knupp