DODGE CITY KS (7-26-03) It was a long haul from Ohio to Kansas and way too much work, but in the end it was well worth it for Jeff Speakman who out-performed a very stout field of ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series teams to win the inaugural Dodge...
DODGE CITY KS (7-26-03) It was a long haul from Ohio to Kansas and way too much work, but in the end it was well worth it for Jeff Speakman who out-performed a very stout field of ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series teams to win the inaugural Dodge City Days 100 Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park.
And with nearly $30,000 up for grabs in prize money, the largest purse ever for the ARCA truckers, Speakman had extra incentive to get the job done.
But considering the eventual winner suffered engine troubles in practice and was forced to bust out a very quick engine change just in time for the race, it was a very big job indeed.
Having missed his chance to qualify, Speakman had to start at the rear of the field for the main event. It didn't matter; by now the popular Piqua, Ohio driver was a man on a mission with nothing short of victory fixed in his mind.
Speakman wasted no time in getting to the front passing Paul Hahn for the lead just before the halfway point of the 100-lap main event. It was a lead he would not relinquish en route to the hard-fought victory, his career-fourth and second of the season.
"I couldn't have done it without these guys," Speakman said of his crew after the win. "Amazing; they changed motors in a little over an hour to get this truck ready."
From the drop of the green, Speakman had the truck to beat. He quickly moved his Pennzoil-National Auto Lube-Dick's Paint & Body Ranger to the 10th position within the first five laps. By lap 30 he was running in second battling then-leader and Old Milwaukee polesitter Hahn for the lead.
For the next 20 laps the lead swapped hands between Hahn's #7 Chevrolet and the #4 of defending truck champ Chad Guinn. While leading on lap 45 Guinn's hopes for the night went up in smoke when his engine let go.
Hahn then led for the next three laps only to fight a losing battle as Speakman took over on lap 49 and led for the duration.
The competition however didn't make it easy on Speakman. The trucks of Hahn, Brian Rowe and the #98 of Kevin Reeb kept the heat on as they raced back with the help of lapped traffic.
With a little luck Speakman would break away to an occasional four truck length lead but the relentless trio continued to charge back until the drop of the checkered.
"Those guys just wouldn't quit," Speakman said in victory lane. "They wanted it but not as bad as me."
Adirondack and Flat Rock winner Rowe followed close behind in second. Reeb came back from an early spin on lap 54 to cross the stripe in third. The race was a memorable one for the sophomore driver as he claimed his career best finish.
Meza, Arizona's Barry Conoyer finished fourth in the BC Automotive Ford. Brandon Knupp, driving the Mark Knupp Mufflers & Tires Ford, grabbed the fifth spot and Mark Otting of Plainwell, Michigan finished sixth.
Hahn's Collision-Certified First Network-Fox Auto Chevy drifted back to seventh at the finish. He was then followed by Jack Weethee of Grove City, Ohio in the Den's Automotive-Weethee Builders Ford in eighth. Ron Wells, in the Tanner HVAC-Main Auto Parts Ford, finished ninth with Kingman, Arizona's Charlie Pike closing out the top-10.
The event, co-sanctioned with the ARCA West Truck Series, marked the first appearance for either club at the .375-mile paved oval; and by all accounts, it was a great show.
The Dodge Days 100 will be aired on The Outdoor Channel on Wednesday, August 27 at 11 PM EST and again on Friday, August 29 at 11:30 AM EST.