Bogart Misses Cajon Carnage EL CAJON, CA. (09/01/01). You'd think it was a full moon. Well actually the full moon was still one day away. Maybe it was because Charles Utts was in the pits stirring things up. Maybe it was the usual late ...
Bogart Misses Cajon Carnage
EL CAJON, CA. (09/01/01). You'd think it was a full moon. Well actually the full moon was still one day away. Maybe it was because Charles Utts was in the pits stirring things up. Maybe it was the usual late season heebie-jeebies. But whatever the cause, the result was dreadful. T late model sportsman main event at Cajon Speedway Satrurday night was a crashfest. Only two of the 15 starters escaped unscathed. One of them, Rick Bogart, came home in front for the first time in the shortened 21-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series main event on the 3/8 mile paved oval.
George Behlman won the battle of the ages (or perhaps the aged) in the pony stock feature. Bob Wickey passed Bill Holland on the 18th lap to take honors in the bomber stocks for the fifth time this year. Rick Hagen won in the street stocks. Michael Wright won the shortened 11-lap Pro Four modified contest, where seven cars started and only four were running 30 minutes later when the checkered was mercifully thrown.
A series of accidents resulted in the sportsman feature being shortened from its scheduled 40-laps. First there was a false start when polesitter Wayne "Doesn't Get on the Gas" Morse got turned around in turn four before the green. Then on the restart a serious-looking accident occurred. Stephen Peace, always on the gas, got into Morse, who had been slow since the green as the field entered turn three. The result was predictable though very scary. The next thing you knew, Ron Overman was soaring skyward, sailing over Mike Mendenhall. Overman ended up hard into the wall at the top of the homestretch. Everyone's concern was for Ron, who has a titanium rod in his back. That came after he broke his back in a hard crash two years ago. Fortunately Overman was unhurt though his Monte Carlo was a write-off.
Things weren't calm for long when the race restarted. Danny Gay got into Mike Salm entering turn three on lap 2, sending him backwards into the wall. Jerry Gay ended up pinched into the wall. Point leader Todd McLauchlan ended up with his nose buried under the rear end of fast qualifier James Roland. Roland, incidentally was subbing for Jeff Seifert. After a visit to the doctor during the week, it was determined Seifert had broken a bone in his neck in a wall banging incident several weeks ago.
Once that mess was cleaned up with all but Salm continuing and Danny Gay being sent to the back of the pack, things calmed down a bit. Most everyone was tiptoeing gingerly around the track though there was still more trouble to come. On lap 7, Roland slapped the wall at the starting line and flattened a tire. Nine circuits later, David Arzola got into Peace and sent him for a ride into the infield on the front stretch. The final straw came on lap 19 when fifth running John Manke ran over the front end of the surprising Ray Burns in turn two. That is when the officials decided to go green-white-checkered and send everyone home where they could hide from any more peril in their beds.
Lost in the shuffle was Bogart's fine ride. He started 12th and was on a mission to avenge. Within seven rounds he was overtaking Burns, who had led from the green. Danny Gay moved into challenge Bogart late in the event, but the former pony stock champ went unchallenged. Bogart's victory was sweet for his team. They failed to start the feature just a week earlier when a crewman inadvertently filled the fuel tank from a water junk instead of the gasoline jug. Bogart's victory came aboard a Dodge Intrepid. That may be the first Chrysler car to visit victory lane since the Manlow Brothers had their Dodge Daytona super stock.
Bogart kept his winner's interview brief and to the point. "That was ugly," he beamed after climbing atop his unscathed car. "I was just watching way ahead (and managed to miss everything). The car was really good. It was tight on center, really nice in, and really good off. It was just tight on center."
In stark contrast to the sportsman and the Pro-fours, the pony stock race was everything any race fan wanted - nothing but hard, very close racing from green to checkered. Behlman's victory came with each of the seven top finishers separated just by inches in that exciting 20-lapper. There were less than six car lengths dividing the lead pack that ran so close together the last half of the race. Marty Schmidt took second ahead of rookie Kenny Hall. John Swink, who at age 64 may be the oldest rookie ever to run at Cajon, took fourth ahead of Andy Papp, Douglas Wright Jr., and yet another first year driver, Mike Weimann. Marty Schmidt was in the driver's seat yet again seeking his first victory in the division. But the ageless (actually he's 57-years-young) "Blackberry Bush Bomber" just wouldn't give up. He took the lead for good on lap 17 after he, Schmidt, and Kenny Hall came off turn four three wide. Surprisingly it was the first main event victory in the division for Behlman, who has been a fixture in west coast auto racing for some thirty years.
There was another tough tussle at the head of the bomber stock feature during the final stages of that 20-lapper. It appeared as if the senior citizen of the division, Bill Holland, would be a wire-to-wire victor and score another one for the soon to be Social Security recipients. That 64-year-old held Wickey and Pat Garity at bay for many rounds until Wickey finally slipped past. Garity took over the number two spot on the final circuit and Holland dropped to third. Top point man Mark Holland took fourth. He and Wickey both gained the same number of points, 73, for the night. Holland thus remains just six markers in front of Wickey in a great battle for the championship.
The street stocks had another rough and tumble event. The result turned out the same as the previous week with Rick Hagen in front of the pack. Randy Buell set the pace during the early stages of the 25-lapper. When Hagen moved in to challenge, Buell ran him really well during a five-lap stretch. Hagen finally made the low groove work and edged in front just before a lap 11 caution slowed things down. When the race restarted, Hagen motored away to a nearly quarter lap lead before backing off on the final round. Buell came home in second. Scott Moses was third ahead of "always the gentleman" Brian Collins. Rob Overman drove his shortened down Grand Prix to fifth. Overman was one of several victims of a lap 3 shunt when Jason Pontsler spun in turn four. There was a chain reaction pileup behind him with Rob Freeman and Overman both getting squished. Point leader Rich Green was the caboose in the rear-ender and he lost a radiator.
PIT NOTES: Dee Cable was the only driver other than Bogart not to get her sportsman scratched, dinged, dented, or mutilated. Todd McLauchan won the drum of VP Racing Fuel for winning the Hard Charger Award. Like most, Todd was anything but a hard charger, but he got the most passing points. It was great to see Charles Utts down at Cajon for a visit. He is still recuperating from his back injury at Irwindale a couple of months ago. Utts came down with defending Irwindale super late model champ Greg Voight, who says he should be back to compete in the open comp on October 6.