Cajon race report 2003-05-24

Claude Bell and Jerry Gay split Cajon Twins. EL CAJON, CA. (05/24/03). A pair of Cajon Speedway veterans, Claude Bell and Jerry Gay, split honors on the track Saturday night in the twin 30-lap NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series main events for late...

Claude Bell and Jerry Gay split Cajon Twins.

EL CAJON, CA. (05/24/03). A pair of Cajon Speedway veterans, Claude Bell and Jerry Gay, split honors on the track Saturday night in the twin 30-lap NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series main events for late model sportsman stock cars.

Bell led all the way in the opener while Gay duplicated that trick in the finale. David Beat, who cannot commit to racing a full season, nevertheless took over the point lead with a pair of runner-up finishes and also earned the $200 Sid's Auto Body Hard Charger bonus for earning the most passing points in the opener. Rounding out the top five in the first race were Gary Tamborelli, who was making his first regular season start at Cajon since 2000, Ron Overman, and Danny Gay. John Manke, Gay the Younger, and Stephen Peace trailed the Gay the Elder (of course dad Claud Gay is Gay the Eldest) and Beat in the nightcap.

In the companion races, Jason Pontsler picked up his first career triumph in the 25-lap street stock affair. The pony stock contest was a heartbreaker for Earl Downing and Marty Schmidt came home in front. Marty Lehrke was a wire-to-wire victor in the bomber stocks.

The only real drama in the sportsman events revolved around Beat. Just how far could he move up in each contest after starting 12th and seventh respectively? For the second straight week Beat had his Monte Carlo working magnificently in the low groove on a track where the fastest way around in recent years has been midway up the track.

In the opener Bell outgunned polesitter Scott Moses at the green and motored away. Tamborelli moved into second on the second circuit, but never posed a challenge to the leader despite three slowdowns. Beat meanwhile was moving up through the field when he got into Jerry Gay on lap 4. Gay spun in turn two and both he and Beat had to go to the back for the restart. Beat then turned up the wick and steadily worked his way forward. He drew alongside Tamborelli in the final turn in a battle for second. The duo rubbed their way to the finish line with Beat just edging out his friendly rival.

"The car was working real good," point out Bell, who is being assisted by many-time street stock champ John Tipps and his brother Mike Tipps, this year. "The guys did a lot of work this week. The motor has a lot of horsepower."

In the second race, it was the polesitter who gained the advantage at the start. Jerry Gay somehow was able to wrestle the advantage from outside front role starter John Manke in the first turn and was never headed. Manke however made a race of it and stayed close to Gay, Cajon's second all-time winningest driver. More than once Manke could draw underneath Gay in the turns but he couldn't pull off a pass. About lap 22 Beat was on Manke's bumper, making it a three-car tussle. But at that point Manke seemed to concern himself more with defending his position than going for the lead and Gay was able to open up a couple of car lengths. Beat ducked under Manke on lap 26 and made the pass stick two rounds later when Manke got loose in turn four.

"I didn't think I could do it," Gay beamed after climbing from his Outdoor Channel winning Monte Carlo. "I thought he'd (Manke) would get me on the start because he was on the outside. So I just had to try some of the old street stock stuff. Then I saw David coming hard. They actually miscounted lap 26 -- we actually went 31 laps. I have to thank Bobby Roland this week for his extra effort making sure this motor was good."

Beat was very pleased with his pair of runs though he noted even having the points lead cannot change his mind about not running a full season. "I've had a lot of people come to me and ask what are you going to do now," Beat said. "We're going to go to Irwindale next weekend. Then on the 7th and 14th (of June) they run here again. But I don't know if I'm going to be able to run them or not. I promised (my wife) I would do the (new) house. I promised (Ron) Overman I would help him the rest of the year. I'm not going to go back on my word. My friends and family mean more to me than the racing."

Pontsler led all the way en route to his maiden victory. He appeared to have his hands full with defending champ Rich Green in the closing laps. But a lap 24 yellow flag erased Green's pass of second place Brian Collins. Collins came home second ahead of Green, Richard Hinze, and Eric Seene. Point leader Eric Ferguson suffered through a bad night. Distributor problems knocked him from his heat race. His problems grew worse in the main event and he was in and out of the pits several times during the event.

Pontsler, who has a beautiful red and silver Got Nuts Racing.com -- Cardinal Auto Wrecking Grand Prix, has been around the track for about ten years. "We 've had a lot of problems with the car (over the years)," the 32-year-old offered. "But we got it figured out. I was glad on that restart when Green had to go back behind Brian (Collins). That kind of saved me from battling Green. The car was running about 240 in the temperature all night. That is a little warm and I was concerned about having to run it really, really hard to hold Green off. But we had a good night."

While Schmidt won for the second time this year in the ponys, the honors should have belonged to Earl Downing, who was subbing for Thomas Winter and drove the race of his career. Downing came from ninth starting position to gain the lead in just five laps. A lap six slowdown left his good buddy and point leader Hector Leon on his bumper with Schmidt right behind. But lap after lap Downing was able to fend off the top two drivers in points so far this year. On lap 13, Schmidt, Leon, and Downing came off turn four three-wide with the lapped car of Alex McKay just ahead. In turn two Schmidt bumped Downing who bounced off the wall. A tire went down and Downing ended up tagging the turn three concrete. Schmidt went on to take the checkered three lengths in front of Leon. Ed Hale was third ahead of Douglas Wright Jr. and rookie-of-the-year hopeful Chris Vaughn.

Lehrke was another pole-to-pole winner. The bomber stock ace was never able to open up much of a lead until the final three rounds. Rookie Randy Hart had a fine drive to claim second ahead of Chris Boyer, constantly-improving Scott Denton, and point leader Greg McCown.

PIT NOTES: Bomber stock driver Mark Wendell welcomed home one of his crew guys, R.J. Nicosia, from the USS Constellation that was involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nicosia was helping turn the wrenches for Wendell Saturday night. When the Constellation reached Hawaii, Nicosia was among those who flew back to the mainland. Other members of the Cajon Speedway family are also coming home soon from the war in Iraq. Tom Henkle, head of our ace Fire and Rescue crew, reports they have a young Marine on the crew by the name of Michael Golberg returning back from the "desert" any day now!!! The fire and rescue crew call Golberg "Mini Marine". He has been anxiously waiting to return home to his wife Robin and sons Mike and Wyatt. And when the Constellation docks in San Diego in about a week, bomber stock driver Jeff Coskey will be one of those getting back home.

-cs-

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Series NASCAR , Stock car