EL CAJON, CA (06/28/03). There wasn't a full moon over Cajon Speedway Saturday night. And it wasn't Friday the 13th. Maybe a black cat walked across the track sometime during the day. But whatever the reason, it wasn't a night to remember on the...
EL CAJON, CA (06/28/03). There wasn't a full moon over Cajon Speedway Saturday night. And it wasn't Friday the 13th. Maybe a black cat walked across the track sometime during the day. But whatever the reason, it wasn't a night to remember on the 3/8 mile paved oval.
On a night when the heat races were eliminated to save time because six divisions (including five types of stock cars and the Super TT motorcycles) were running, the show ran long anyway. In fact had heat races been run, the night might never have ended. As it was, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series show consumed 4-1/2 hours and saw 26 yellow flags. But when the lights were finally turned off, John Manke, Mike Mendenhall, John Luecht, Rich Green, Douglas Wright Jr., and rookie Randy Hart found themselves sitting in victory lane.
Hart was the strangest winner on the strange night. He actually crossed the finish line in second place behind Randy Wallace in the 30-lap main event for bomber stocks. But Wallace got dq'ed at the scales when his Chevy came up light. Hart meanwhile had to be pinching himself. He had run a close second to Wallace most of the way before losing control and spinning into the infield in the final corner. But that duo's lead over third place was large enough that Hart, a former trash truck driving champ, was able to recover and cross the finish line without losing a position.
The woes started early when Claude Bell got into Rod Hildebrand as the first of two late model sportsman features got underway. Hildebrand got turned into Jeff Wright who nosed into the crashwall just past the starting line. Wright was out for the night and complained of neck and back pain, but was not hospitalized. Scott Moses paced the opening seven rounds until Bell got past. Bell was sailing along until he spun all by himself midway through the third and fourth turns all by himself after setting the pace for four rounds. This left Manke in front for good. Manke was five lengths ahead of a terrific duel between Danny Gay and Mendenhall when he took his checkered. Gay edged out Mendenhall for second. Ron Overman was fourth and Bob Wickey fifth. With passing points only being awarded to the sportsman in their first main event, Mendenhall earned the $200 Sid's Auto Body Hard Charger prize money for the race by gaining the most passing points.
Manke, who won the first trophy dash of his long career earlier in the evening, was beaming after his ride. "Man that was sweet," Manke offered though he was clearly not trying to make fun of Bell's spin. "Claude has had a good car for about four weeks. That cat is fast right now. When I saw that (him spin), I thought there was oil. I'm thinking Danny don't get into me. There wasn't any oil. Claude is loose sometimes. He must have got on it a little bit or got too high and around he went. I kind of wanted to pass him. But I'll take it."
The second sportsman feature was the last race of the night and belonged to Mendenhall, who started on the outside of the front row and paced all 30-rounds. Manke was visited by the racing gremlins in this race. He was running third on lap 12 when Dan McKenna oiled down turn two. After the yellow was thrown Manke lost traction in the goo and spun. Unfortunately by this point yellow flag laps had long been counting and Manke was lapped by the field while he sat idle on the track. That hurt big time because he had taken the points lead from David Beat with the victory in the opener. Beat, who broke a rear end on the first lap of the initial feature, drove a beautiful race in the nightcap and moved back atop the points chase. He came from 12th starting position and picked off his rivals one by rival to take second. Had not yellows been counting, he might have gotten around Mendenhall for the win. As it was he had to settle for second, but maintained his point lead over Manke. Overman was third in the nightcap ahead of Danny Gay and Rick Chavez, who just edged out Claude Bell.
Mendenhall hopes might finally be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel after his night after fighting chassis problems all year long. "This beats the first twin when I got spun out in both of them," he said. "We've dug ourselves a hole (in the points) that's impossible to come out of. But right now just getting the car to run better is the priority. (Tonight) the car was by far the best it's been all year. We came out (to practice) on Friday and were trying some weird stuff. I never thought I'd like it, but I'm pretty happy. I can run down there on the bottom. But if there had been ten more laps, David probably would have run me down."
"I didn't see it until I was right on top of it," Mendenhall said of the oil that bit Manke and could have bitten a lot more of the leaders. "You could see it -- you could see the shiny spots. I got in it right when I realized it (was there). I slid a little bit and then I was screaming."
The Grand American modified contest saw four different leaders -- Ivan Harrison, Dave Williams, Mike Jackson, and finally John Luecht. Jackson was en route to his first victory with Luecht in hot pursuit when it appeared his car went away in the closing laps of the 35-lapper, which lasted more that 50 minutes. Luecht, driving appropriately enough a yellow car, got past Jackson in turn one of lap 33 and Mike Salm took second from Jackson a round later. Jackson ended up third just in front of point leader Scott Brown and Jimmy Dickerson. Brown padded his Carpets Galore Hard Charger point lead as well over Salm in the season long battle for earning the most passing points.
The street stocks had the most yellows (9) but only lasted 37 minutes compared to the modified's 42. This too was a strange one with Randy Buell losing two right front wheels during the 35-lap event. Two time defending champ Rich Green was the class of the field (driving a yellow Monte Carlo no less). Brian Collins crossed the line in second but came up light at the scales. That gave second to Richard Hinze, who retook the point lead in that torrid battle among himself, Eric Ferguson, Dave Arce, and Green). But Hinze had a crazy race. He was involved in a lap 3 tussle in turn one and then got tagged by Ferguson in turn one on lap 19. So he came through the pack three times in a spirited drive. Coming off turn four on the final lap, Hinze and Mark Holland slapped together. Hinze ended up in a cloud of dust in the infield, but had second place while Holland was third. Neil Rodvold, who led for a while, was fourth ahead of Arce.
The ponys unfortunately saw their race called after 27 of the 30 scheduled laps. That race had settled into a dandy war between Wright and point leader Hector Leon. The two were side-by-side when there was a stack-up in turn two on lap 28. Ty Tipton, who lost a win a couple of weeks ago, when he slid into the crashwall in some oil, was in hot pursuit of the leaders and was third. Rookie Darrell McKee took fourth while Tim Beeney stormed to fifth. Beeney had to pit on the warmup laps because his Pinto was spewing fuel. He came out of the pits just as the field got the green and wasted no time moving forward from that significant disadvantage.
The bombers had the cleanest race of the night with only one caution that led to a lap one restart. Wallace motored forward from 12th starting position past Thomas Osborne on lap 12. Hart took second on lap 18 and stayed close to the pacesetter. Mark Wendell, a one time Navy flight instructor, tried to take off in his Nova on lap 23 after he was forced into the infield. With the motorcycle track set up, there was an extra birm in the infield that launched Wendell skyward before he nosed back to earth. Hart became the eighth different driver in as many races to capture a main event this year in the bombers by spinning and winning. Osborne had another fine run and gained second. Rounding out the top five were Marty Lehrke, Greg McCown, and Jeff Coskey.
PIT NOTES: Ron Nava and one of his crewman have both suspended for 30 days for actions detrimental to racing. -- Wouldn't you know it. Before the night started, the officials decided to check heads in the street stocks. One of the cars they decided to check was whoever finished 11th. Well rookie Byron Dale finished eleventh. Dale, who has just had to concentrate on keeping his car going straight this year, refused the teardown and was disqualified for the night and lost his points for the year. -- To end on a nice note following an otherwise forgetable night, Jason and Janet Pontsler are proud to announce the arrival of their new crew member, Kailee Jae Pontsler. Kailee was born Tuesday, June 24, and hit the scales at 6 lbs, 10 oz with a wheelbase of 20 inches. "She's a real cutie, blue eyes and blonde hair," Jason says. Earlier this year, Jason earned home his first street stock main event triumph. No doubt that little Kailee Jae ranks number one on the list ahead of that feature victory. Congratulations.
RESULTS FOR THE NASCAR DODGE WEEKLY SERIES
LATE MODEL SPORTSMAN
Fast Time - David Beat, Santee; Time - :16.278.
Dash (4 laps) - 1. John Manke, Ramona; 2. Mike Mendenhall, Santee; 3. David Beat, Santee; 4. Danny Gay, Lakeside; Time - 1:06.67.
Main event (30 laps) - 1. John Manke, Ramona; 2. Danny Gay, Lakeside; 3. Mike Mendenhall, Santee; 4. Ron Overman, Lakeside; 5. Bob Wickey, San Marcos; 6. Claude Bell, El Cajon; 7. Scott Moses, Chula Vista; 8. Rick Chavez, Lakeside; 9. Jerry Gay, San Diego; 10. Dan McKenna, Ramona; 11. Ryan Gay, El Cajon; 12. Ben Carver, El Cajon; 13. Dee Cable, Santee; 14. Stephen Peace, El Cajon; 15. Bill Parenteau Jr., Santee; 16. David Beat, Santee; 17. Rod Hildebrand, Alpine; 18. Jeff Wright, San Diego; Time - 14:00.68.
Main event (30 laps) - 1. Mike Mendenhall, Santee; 2. David Beat, Santee; 3. Ron Overman, Lakeside; 4. Danny Gay, Lakeside; 5. Rick Chavez, Lakeside; 6. Claude Bell, El Cajon; 7. Stephen Peace, El Cajon; 8. Bob Wickey, San Marcos; 9. Scott Moses, Chula Vista; 10. Dee Cable, Santee; 11. Rod Hildebrand, Alpine; 12. Ben Carver, El Cajon; 13. John Manke, Ramona; 14. Bill Parenteau Jr., Santee; 15. Dan McKenna, Ramona; 16. Ryan Gay, El Cajon; 17. Jerry Gay, San Diego; Time - 19:25.80.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIED
Fast Time - Jimmy Dickerson, El Cajon; Time - :16.560.
Main event (35 laps) - 1. John Luecht, Chula Vista; 2. Mike Salm, Fallbrook; 3. Mike Jackson, Bonita; 4. Scott Brown, Spring Valley; 5. Jimmy Dickerson, El Cajon; 6. James Cole, San Antonio; 7. Doug Catania, El Cajon; 8. Dave Williams, Escondido; 9. Matt Pate, San Diego; 10. Ivan Harrison, Santee; 11. Andy Papp, La Mesa; 12. Pat Garity, El Cajon; 13. Lou Tompkins, San Diego; 14. Chad Harmon, San Clemente; 15. Douglas Carpenter, La Mesa; 16. Dave Wade, Lakeside; 17. Steve Dickerson, El Cajon; 18. Ed Patton, Fallbrook; Time - 42:32.38.
Fast Time - Eric Ferguson, El Cajon; Time - :17.811.
Main event (35 laps) - 1. Rich Green Jr., El Cajon; 2. Richard Hinze, Lakeside; 3. Mark Holland, San Diego; 4. Neil Rodvold, Lakeside; 5. Dave Arce, Santee; 6. Rob Freeman, Santee; 7. Gordon Anderson, Lem Grv; 8. Rob Overman, San Diego; 9. Eric Ferguson, El Cajon; 10. Todd Phelps, El Cajon; 11. RJ Stockman, Lakeside; 12. Ivan Harrison, Santee; 13. Randy Buell, San Diego; 14. Josh Green, San Diego; 15. Ron Nava, Encinitas; Time - 37:06.06.
Fast Time - Hector Leon, Santee; Time - :18.401.
Main event (30 laps) - 1. Douglas Wright Jr., Santee; 2. Hector Leon, Santee; 3. Ty Tipton, Spring Valley; 4. Darrell McKee Jr., San Diego; 5. Tim Beeney, Escondido; 6. George Behlman, Santee; 7. Thomas Winter, La Jolla; 8. Michelle Bishop, Poway; 9. Russ Gregson, El Cajon; 10. Marty Schmidt, El Cajon; 11. Len Cartwright, Lemon Grove; 12. Chris Vaughn, San Diego; 13. Rick Lyon, San Diego; 14. Bill Parenteau Sr., El Cajon; 15. Evan Adair, El Cajon; 16. Shayla McEntarffer, El Cajon; 17. Rob Dinsmore, Ramona; 18. Ed Hale, El Cajon; 19. Trevor Maynard, Lakeside; 20. Shawn Muscat, Escondido; 21. Robert Minnick, El Cajon; 22. Amber Lee Harmon, San Clemente; Time - 20:26.04.
Fast Time - Rick Hagen, El Cajon; Time - :20.160.
Main event (30 laps) - 1. Randy Hart, National City; 2. Thomas Osborne, San Diego; 3. Marty Lehrke, San Diego; 4. Greg McCown, El Cajon; 5. Jeff Coskey, Santee; 6. Bill Holland, El Cajon; 7. Hayden Smith, San Diego; 8. Bob Blew, Santee; 9. Rick Hagen, El Cajon; 10. Scott Denton, Fallbrook; 11. Chris Boyer, San Diego; 12. Mike Johnson, Spring Valley; 13. Joey Schneider, Escondido; 14. Mike McGlone, Fallbrook; 15. Mark Wendell, Santee; 16. Bob Underwood, Spring Valley; 17. David Whisenant, Murrieta; 18. Kevin Gantz, Spring Valley; 19. Darrell Moore, El Cajon; 20. Brian Fitzgibbons, El Cajon; 21. Perry Humphries, San Diego; Time - 12:08.29.