EL CAJON, CA (05/31/03). Don Seene could not have gotten a better 50th birthday present from his son, Eric. On the night before his dad reached that landmark age, Eric Seene went out and captured his initial NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series street stock...
EL CAJON, CA (05/31/03). Don Seene could not have gotten a better 50th birthday present from his son, Eric. On the night before his dad reached that landmark age, Eric Seene went out and captured his initial NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series street stock main event on Cajon Speedway's 3/8 mile paved oval in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo owned by his father and mother, Kim.
Seene, who is a 21 years old second year competitor in the street stocks, paced all 25-rounds of the contest Saturday night. In a tight battle for second Dave Arce edged out Richard Hinze. Seene started competing at Cajon in 1999 in the bomber stocks and graduated to the street stocks last year. He was victorious three times in the bomber stocks. Rich Green, the street stock divisional champ in both 2001 and 2002, moved atop the chase for the 2003 title for the first time by running fourth in the feature. Green also picked up the $200 Hard Charger Award for earning the most passing points. Sophomore Kenny Hall, an alum of the pony stock division, was fifth.
Another bomber stock grad, Pat Garity, gained his initial victory in the Grand American modifieds in just his second start in that open wheeled division. Vernon Gilmore made a pass in the final turn to take honors in the factory stocks. Fast timer Cory Miles was triumphant in the legends.
Seene was pressured by Mark Holland most of the way in the street stock contest. But on lap 18, third place Ron Nava got into Holland in turn two and Holland spun. Kenny Hall inherited second at that point. For the remainder of the event, Hall, Arce, Richard Hinze, Eric Ferguson, and last week's victor Jason Pontsler battled it out for the second through sixth positions. Seene was able to take advantage of this tussle and put some distance on his pursuers and in fact was incredibly consistent with his lap times. Arce and Hall ran side-by-side until the next to the last lap when Hall faded just a bit.
"Tomorrow is my dad's 50th birthday so this is a good present for him," Seene observed. "We started on the pole and never looked back. I never looked in the mirror and just hit my marks. I never realized I was going to win until about two to go. I'm just happy the sophomore jinx thing kinda didn't happen. I'm beside myself right now." Seene was 8th in points last year and currently rides in 5th.
As for the night belonging to the bomber stock guys, "that was terrific," Seene smiled. "This shows the bomber drivers that they have talent and they can make it. Look at Bob (Wickey, a current late model sportsman driver who started in the bombers). But just because you're starting off with a little budget doesn't mean you're not going to be good. The division is good grass roots racing."
Ironically the race may be one of the final ones for Seene at Cajon. In a couple of weeks Don Seene is interviewing for a position with a NASCAR technical institute in North Carolina as a teacher. Should that offer come through, the Seene family will be relocating.
In the modifieds, Mike Jackson had the fastest car and looked to be ready to overhaul the pacesetting Garity, who was the 2000 bomber stock champ and runner-up in 1997 and 2002. But on lap 12 of the main event point Dave Williams got into the rear of Jackson and spun him in turn one. That incident may have cemented Garity's ride to victory lane. For the final five circuits, Garity kept defending champion Scott Brown in his rear view mirror. He was just a car length in front at the finish. Completing the top five were Steve Lloyd, Mike Jackson, and Andy Papp. The race took forever to complete. Six slowdowns in the first half of the event allowed the race to consume nearly 50 minutes. The longest slowdown came on lap six when Lou Tompkins blew his motor at the start finish line and carried Mike Salm and John Luecht into the turn one wall. Salm and Luecht were able to return to the fray only to run afoul of the officials following the lap 12 Williams-Jackson fracas. Salm and Luecht were both black flagged rather unceremoniously for failing to go to the rear of the field quickly enough after the officials determined they had been involved in the incident.
"The Professor" was unapologetic about mirror driving to fend off Brown. "Was that some of the best mirror driving you saw in your whole life?" Garity laughed. "Those last five laps I did everything I could to stay in front of Scotty." In Garity's defense, there is mirror driving and then there is mirror driving. Garity admitted he was guilty of the former, but no one did not step over the line with his tactics.
"I went over and told Scott I was mirror driving," Garity continued. "It was no surprise to him. He was faster than me, but I held him off. Jackson was also faster than me. He would have had me too. Robert Baker was on the radio and he really was good for me. He calmed me down. What a crazy night what with all the cars in the fence."
Martin Kepler had his maiden factory stock main event victory in his hip pocket until a lap 16 yellow flag left "Vicious" Vernon Gilmore and current bomber ace Brian Fitzgibbons on his tail. Kepler who started up front saw his ten-car length margin evaporate when the only yellow of the race was required just four laps from the checkered. On the restart Kepler tried his best. Gilmore drew underneath him on the 19th circuit and they were still even on the backstretch of the final circuit. But in the final turn, Kepler slipped and Gilmore and Fitzgibbons powered past. At the stripe Gilmore and Fitzgibbons tried body-slamming each other and each ended up in the infield. But they had crossed the stripe one-two. Kepler held on to third ahead of JR Trent and Matt Arnold.
The legend 25-lapper belonged to Miles who moved from third to first past JD Hendley in six laps. Hendley led from the pole until he got skittish in turn three on that sixth round. Hendley was able to shadow Miles to the finish however. John Isabella celebrated his 22nd birthday with a third place finish. Rounding out the top five were Bob Graham III and Eric Brett. In the first heat race Gary Scheuerell tangled with Chuck Carter and flipped completely at least twice in the third turn. Scheuerell was not hurt.
PIT NOTES: On June 14, the 12th Annual Firefighters Destruction Derby will be part of the show at Cajon Speedway. Representing the track's Fire and Rescue Crew will be Mike Ledwedge. He is looking for sponsors. If you are interested, please contact him. All money contributed will be donated to the San Diego Burn Institute. Last year, Fire and Rescue member Mark Scott was victorious in the DD and he is passing the torch to Ledwedge this year. -- John Borneman III finished third in the Winston West race at Madera Saturday night. -- Chuck Trickle moved back into the point lead at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his third victory of the season Saturday night.