Cajon Speedway race summary 2002-07-20

Tartaglia outruns Sid's Auto Body Supermodified field. EL CAJON, CA (07/20/02). I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. Yes he can. Even better, yes he did. Jim Tartaglia ran his 360 against the unlimited cars of the Supermodified Racing...

Tartaglia outruns Sid's Auto Body Supermodified field.

EL CAJON, CA (07/20/02). I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. Yes he can. Even better, yes he did.

Jim Tartaglia ran his 360 against the unlimited cars of the Supermodified Racing League at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. But that made no difference at all as the two-time 360 supermodified champion captured the Sid's Auto Body main event for the open wheeled cars on the San Diego County oval.

Tartaglia paced all 40-laps of the contest. There was a wild scramble for position just behind the leader the last few rounds. Troy Regier, the four time SRL champ, made a banzai charge and slipped into second in the final turn. Jim Birges, who chased Tartaglia for 39-3/4 laps, ended up third. Bob Bigiogni was fourth and Mike Baisch claimed fifth.

"Well that little 360 was purring," the very happy race winner told the appreciative 3,259 fans on hand. "I guess it figured if it got caught it would get run over. It made out there like a scared rabbit. This is really unbelievable to me. We didn't decide we were coming down here until Friday about 1:00. My wife didn't want to some. She said those big motors were going to eat us up. We weren't going to make it over the Grapevine. We made it over there at about 15 mph. It was the little train that thought it could."

In the companion events, Mike Salm's car suffered from vapor lock on the warmup laps. But Salm was still victorious in the 25-lap Grand American modified feature. Jim Smith was triumphant in the legends.

The supermodified main event had a little trouble getting started and then had only two slowdowns along the way. On the warmup laps, Larry Dietz got into the third turn crashwall. On lap 25 Ray Stebbins broke and skated along the front stretch crashwall. Then on the restart Jim Pasquin faltered and was tagged by Lonnie Adamson. The rest of the way the action was torrid and nonstop.

Tartaglia started on the outside pole and Birges, who started right behind, dogged him the whole way. He made several bids for the lead. Some were on the high side and some down low. But each attempt came up short. Back in the pack, the action was equally hot. Lonnie Adamson, the night's quick qualifier and second in the 2002 points chase, sat ninth on the grid. Passing was at a premium on the tight 3/8-mile paved oval and both Adamson and current point leader Troy Regier were unable to make much forward progress.

By the halfway point, it was Tartaglia, Silsby, Bigiogni, Baisch, Pasquin, Adamson, Regier, and Silsby in a seven car high speed game of crack the whip. Regier and Adamson were going at it tooth and nail. On the 17th curcuit, Regier bounced off the front stretch wall. Just before the lap 25 slowdowns, Baisch suddenly drifted back to seventh. The pair of yellows on lap 25 allowed time for everyone to catch their breath and set-up a 15-lap sprint to the finish.

The restart found Adamson and Regier now sitting in fourth and fifth. It took until lap 37 before Adamson was able to get past Bigiogni into third. Tartaglia had gained just a tad little bit of breathing room himself as Birges had a hot pursuit on his tail. But on lap 38 Tartaglia's lead had evaporated again. On lap 39 things really heated up behind the leader. Adamson got run up into the marbles in the middle of turns three and four and lost four spots. Regier meanwhile found holes or made holes and was on the move. In the final turn, he dove underneath Birges and outsprinted him to the stripe -- fifth to second in just two circuits.

In victory lane Tartaglia was quick to compliment Birges, who chased him so long. "Jim Birges, bless his heart, helped us out," the winner explained. "We were a little short of funds. He put fuel in our motorhome to get us here. Right now he probably wishes he didn't. I knew he (Birges) was back there. I have a borrowed pit crew -- my son and my nephew are here along with the two Tuey Brothers. Their dad crashed his super a couple of months ago. So I borrowed their crew. It's just unbelievable for us."

"I have to be honest," Tartaglia continued. "We normally run the 360 races. I've had my share of bad luck and bent a lot of parts the first five or six races. I've been saying that our luck had to get better. We won last Saturday at Bakersfield too (in the 360 division). I found out in the first practice session that it would be really tough to pass here even if you are a little faster. Realistically we probably have a 150 pounds on everybody. We're still running our SRL/CAM 360 weight which is a good 150 pounds heavier."

The second supermodified heat had to be stopped halfway through its scheduled 10-lap distance. There was a four-car battle for second place. As the field entered the third turn, Dave Adamson got into the left rear of A.J. Russell. Russell spun around and made hard impact with the cement crashwall. The 19-year-old was not hurt though he was shaken. His car was destroyed. Also caught up in the melee was second quick qualifier Eric Silsby. Silsby had his car repaired by the feature, but was never a factor. The senior Adamson lined up for the main event, but then returned to his pit.

In the Grand American modifieds, it seemed as if some of the racers didn't want to run their race. It took an eternity to get the race underway. On the first start point leader Scott Brown ran over the back of Salm's car and broke a tie rod. Then there were the cars being black flagged willy-nilly while re-lining up the field while other cars were off and on the track. It was at this point that Salm's motor suffered from vapor lock. The lengthy delay gave Brown's crew time to fix his broken beast. He returned to the fray just as the field got the green flag.

Paul Brunette led early before ceding number one to Doug Catania. Salm was in front by the conclusion of lap 10 and the Brown Boys were second and third by lap 19. For the final six circuits Salm stayed about three lengths in front of Ron Brown and gained his third win of the season. Ronnie Brown maintained second over his nephew Scott. Catania fell back to fourth ahead of Douglas Wright Jr.

PIT NOTES: This was Tartaglia's second visit to Cajon's victory lane. He won one of the two supermod main events held at the track back on July 4, 1992. -- Davey Hamilton joined his SRL cars for their trek to Cajon. Good to see the popular driver up and around though he still walks with quite a limp after nearly losing his feet in a ghastly accident at the IRL race last year in Texas. Davey wants to get back to racing and will be testing a Silver Crown car this Wednesday at Indianapolis Raceway Park. -- Wally Peat, a familiar name to long, long time Cajon fans, built the supermodified of Jim Pasquin. Wally and the Peat Bros field the famed #71 supermodified of the San Diego Racing Assn back in the 1960's. That car was driven by at Balboa Stadium by Don Edmunds, and then here at Cajon by Edmunds, Billy Vukovich Jr., and Don Hamilton. After being destroyed in a fire at a race in Alabama in 1967, she was resurrected for some open comp shows in the late 60's and early 70's when Wayne Weiler and then Al Pombo drove it.

-cs-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Davey Hamilton , Scott Brown , Jim Smith