Mendenhall Marvelous; Meech Mashes McLauchlan EL CAJON, CA. Mike Mendenhall kept him slim title hopes alive Saturday night by scoring his fifth late model sportsman main event victory of the season in the 40-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series ...
Mendenhall Marvelous; Meech Mashes McLauchlan
EL CAJON, CA. Mike Mendenhall kept him slim title hopes alive Saturday night by scoring his fifth late model sportsman main event victory of the season in the 40-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series contest. But the story of the race involved point leader Todd McLauchlan who was unceremoniously dumped into the turn one crashwall by Mark Meech three laps from the finish.
Defending champion Mike Salm took over the point lead in the Grand American modified division with his fourth triumph of the season. In the most popular victory of the night, KGB radio Deejay Chris Boyer scored his very first main event victory in the 20-lapper for bomber stocks. Randy Buell was another first time winner, taking street stock honors after apparent winner Rob Overman was disqualified. Ed Hale edged out teammate Marty Schmidt to claim his seventh pony stock win of the year. Sean Bishop was victorious in the legacy cars.
Mendenhall and Bell played crack the whip for the opening 35 rounds of the 40-lap late model sportsman feature. Mendenhall was never able to shake his pursuer. Meanwhile Meech, Danny Gay, and McLauchlan were having a terrific tussle for the remaining spots in the top five. But just after the lap 30 mark, Bell's Monte Carlo started smoking. A yellow flag on lap 34 regrouped the field. Bell slowed bit after the restart and Meech gunned into second. But then on lap 35 Bell and Meech touched in turn two and Meech's tire was flattened. This allowed McLauchlan to move from fourth to second. Meech didn 't pit, but crept around the track for a couple of laps. He took up the charge once again on the front stretch as McLauchlan tried to lap him. Meech then parked him into the turn one wall. It was an obvious payback, but for what? Maybe he thought McLauchlan was to blame for the tire (but Todd's car is black and Bell's is white). Or maybe it was for something that happened years ago. Racecar drivers have long memories so you never know. After the race Meech quickly loaded up and vacated the pits.
McLauchlan pitted for quick repairs and limped back onto the track one lap down. He ended up tenth. McLauchlan still gained Cajon's automatic berth in the final standings for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series for the Pacific Coast. Those standings will be determined after next weekend. But the sportsman will have the night off at Cajon. Their Grand Prix (the final points race) will be on September 22. McLauchlan will start that night with a 29-point lead over Ron Overman. Mendenhall will be another 16 behind Overman. McLauchlan had started Saturday night with a 56 marker lead on Overman and was 66 ahead of Mendenhall.
Daniel Gay ended up second on the track. Ron Overman, who spun out and nearly lost a lap during the middle stages of the race, was the big beneficiary of the three late race caution periods and rebounded to third. Jerry Gay was fourth ahead of John Manke. With the last lap pass of Jerry Gay, Overman picked up the $200 Hard Charger Award for earning the most passing points. Had Overman not made the pass, Jerry's son Daniel would have earned the money.
Salm paced the final 22 rounds of the 25-lap modified feature. He lost the lead once to Ron Brown when he got pinned behind a lapped car. But a yellow flag erased that pass. Brown was not able to get around Salm again and came home second. Scott Brown, who has led the points chase all season, retired on lap 9 after blowing a head gasket. The problem developed in the trophy dash; he missed his heat race; then he was black flagged for spewing water just before he spun in the north turn on lap 9. In fact Scott Brown slipped to third in the season long hunt as his Uncle Ron is now second just four tallies behind Salm.
Buell was in the thick of the street stock battle from green to checkered. He led from early in the contest until lap 23. Buell drives an early model Chevelle, which looked out of place with the newer late model Monte Carlos which surrounded him. Buell lost the top spot when he and second running Rich Green started worrying too much about each other and allowed Rob Overman to scoot by underneath in turn one just two laps from the checkered. Then there was more contact between Buell and Green on the white flag lap and Green ended up in the infield. He shortened the track a bit and did some dirt track racing to reenter the track on the backstretch in second place. That is where he crossed the line. But he was penalized a position since you can't cut through the infield to gain a spot. Buell ended up taking the checkered in third place only to end up second after Green was dropped back. Rick Hagen and Richard Hinze ran fourth and fifth. But then in the post-race inspection, officials checked the wheelbase on the top finishers. Both Overman and Hinze came up short and were disqualified. That gave Buell the win ahead of Green, Hagen, Neil Rodvold, and Scott Moses.
Boyer ran at the front of the bomber stock race nearly all the way after starting on the outside pole en route to his well-received victory (bet his radio show will be wild this week). He was two lengths in front of polesitter Rodney Shaw at the conclusion of the 20-lapper. Bob Wickey, who is involved in a torrid point duel with Mark Holland for the 2001 divisional championship, got a bad break on lap 8. Jeff Coskey was running right in front of him and blew his motor in turn four. Wickey made contact with Coskey and turned him around. Since he was involved in the accident, Wickey was forced to restart at the back of the pack and lost valuable ground to Holland in the chase. Holland ended up fifth. Wickey could only work his way back up to ninth and dropped from 6 to 18 points behind his friendly rival for the title.
PIT NOTES: Rich Green can claim the street stock championship next week by carrying a 148 point bulge out of that show. He leads Hagen by a comfortable 194 point margin. John Manke brought a couple sand bags, which he placed next to his pits. There was a sign on his car which read "pull to release sand". Usually in the slow heat each week, Manke ended up in the fast heat for a change and was the fifth fastest qualifier.