Cajon Speedway race report 2001-05-12

EL CAJON, CA. (05/12/01). Mike Mendenhall was clearly the class of the late model sportsman field at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. The 37-year old led all 40 rounds of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series main event on the 3/8 mile paved oval. It...

EL CAJON, CA. (05/12/01). Mike Mendenhall was clearly the class of the late model sportsman field at Cajon Speedway Saturday night.

The 37-year old led all 40 rounds of the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series main event on the 3/8 mile paved oval. It marked his second victory in three outings this year. Todd McLauchlan ran second the entire distance, but he had dropped to nearly a quarter lap back at the checkered. Jerry Gay edged out his son Danny in a race-long duel for third. Ron Overman was fifth.

Fast qualifier Pat Garity came from tenth starting position to claim his second bomber main event in three outings. Richard Hinze moved around Scott Holmberg with three laps remaining to take street stock honors. Ed Hale prevailed in the pony stocks. John Isabella won the 20-lap Allison Legacy car feature.

Mendenhall got his biggest break in the sportsman feature before the first lap was ever completed. Outside front row starter Wayne Morse looped it in the first turn and Mendenhall, who started right behind, nosed into his side. Morse was unable to make the call for the restart, and that moved Mendenhall up from the outside of the second row to the outside of the first row. When the green flag was unfurled, the result was never in doubt. Mendenhall pushed his Monte Carlo to an early lead. McLauchlan hung with him for the first half of the contest, but dropped back in the last 20-laps.

Gay the elder had his hands full with Gay the younger for the entire race. The two started nose-to-tail. Just a week earlier, Danny had gotten into his dad, sending him spinning into the turn one wall. This time though there was no contact, just good hard close racing. Lap after lap Danny Gay would make a run at his dad on the low side. More than once he drew even. But he was unable to make a pass stick. His best opportunity came when he got a great run off turn four on lap 35. He pulled even with his dad and the duo ran even for a full lap before the veteran Jerry Gay relegated his son, who graduated to the sportsman this year after winning two straight street stock titles, back to fourth for good.

Danny Gay had one very close call. On the sixth circuit he had to squeeze between a lapped car and Ron Overman in turn four. He had no margin for error and managed to pull off the slick move.

"Yes and no," Danny Gay responded when asked if it was frustrating not being able to pass his Dad. "The car wouldn't work low and dad uses us pretty much all the racetrack. I was looking for him to try the low side so I could sneak in on the outside. If that would have happened, I think I would have been gone. But I was just roasting off the corner on the low side. It looked like he had more power than I did going down the straightaways because he would pull away. But I was spinning my tires all the way."

After their debacle a week earlier, the street stocks ran non-stop for the first 15 circuits of their 25-lapper. Up front Bob Meese and two-time victor Scott Holmberg were dicing back and forth with Meese eventually grabbing on to the number one spot. Then last ten laps spoiled the otherwise great race, but allowed Richard Hinze enough time to close on the leaders after starting 11th. On lap 15, a red was necessary after Gordon Anderson's Chevelle tried to climb into the cockpit of Rob Overman's Monte Carlo. There were no injuries, but both cars had to be towed back to the pits. Yellows on laps 17, 20, and 21 interrupted the great battle up front. Then on lap 23 a second red flag was necessary when the cars of Brian Brown, Ivan Harrison, Dave Arce, and point leader Rick Hagen stacked up in turn two and then RJ Stockman slammed into the melee. Here too there was only injuries to the automobiles. By this point Hinze had already taken over the number one spot from Holmberg, who had moved back on top on lap 17. At the line Hinze was six lengths ahead of Holmberg. Rich Green, who was sent to the back of the pack after being involved in the lap 20 slowdown, took great advantage of the restarts to move back up to third. Eric Evans ran fourth while Meese faded to fifth.

The pony stocks had their trouble early. Two restarts and then two lap four caution periods left Ed Hale challenging for rookie Tim Beeney and Dave Pardo for the top spot. Hale roared around the outside of both before they got to turn one after the lap four slowdown. Fast qualifier, Mike Weimann, another rookie, followed in Hale's tire tracks. But he was unable to seat Hale from the lead. It marked Hale's 140th Cajon victory. His teammate Marty Schmidt ended up third ahead of Andy Papp and Douglas Wright Jr.

Five yellow flag periods extended the 20-lap bomber main to nearly twenty-five minutes too. Eric Seene managed to hold onto the lead from his outside front row starting position until Garity moved by on the high side on lap 8. But in the second half of the race, Mark Holland was on the move. Not even in the top five until lap 15, Holland mowed down Mark Schilling, Seene, and Bob Wickey in short order to end up second. Wickey grabbed the point lead with his third place run. Seene and Greg McCown ran fourth and fifth.

PIT NOTES: Two sportsman were unable to run all night. David Arzola lost a tranny hot lapping. Then Michael Peace had gasket problems and an irresolvable water pump leak that kept his team in the pits. ... Ivan Harrison finally got to race after missing all of the first three races with engine problems in his Torino. His wife, Ro, said the team had never made peace with the Thunderbird god when they made the switch to the Taurus body this year. So they finally paid their respects and it apparently paid off. Harrison was second quick in qualifying. He was running well in the feature until he was spun on lap 20 and then got kicked around in the lap 23 melee.


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Drivers Brian Brown