EL CAJON, CA.(June 16, 2001). When Danny Gay got to the scales following the late model sportsman main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night, he turned to Mike Mendenhall and asked, "Where did you come from?" Gay had just watched as Mendenhall...
EL CAJON, CA.(June 16, 2001). When Danny Gay got to the scales following the late model sportsman main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night, he turned to Mike Mendenhall and asked, "Where did you come from?"
Gay had just watched as Mendenhall came from deep in the pack to pass him for the lead seven laps from the checkered flag of the 40-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series contest. After starting 11th in the contest, the season-long point leader picked off his competitors one by one to lay claim to his third feature win of the campaign and 27th of his career. Young Gay was second while his dad Jerry ran third. Ron Overman slipped to fourth after putting on a dazzling battle with Danny Gay for the lead. Claude Bell was fifth.
Ron Brown captured the 25-lap feature for Grand American modifieds. It was the first victory in three years for the former two-time street stock and three-time modified champion. Defending champion Pat Garity inherited the bomber stock triumph after apparent victor Marty Lehrke was disqualified for having too much left side weight. Rich Green regained the street stock point lead with his first win of the season. Bob Landreth triumphed over the legend field.
Brown, who has only been a part time racer for several seasons, took over the number one spot in the modified event when he drove high and hard into turn three around polesitter Doug Carpenter on the fourth circuit. Once in front he was never headed. A couple of yellow flags put the field back on his bumper, but it made no difference. Second year racer Mike Jackson ran a strong second, fending off point leader Scott Brown, who is the nephew of the winner, for the final twenty rounds. Carpenter came home fourth ahead of defending champion Mike Salm. Brown started fifth and was third after the opening round. Then after Stan Perkins smacked the wall on the second lap, Brown made short order of Dave Williams and then Carpenter to move to the front.
Mendenhall was involved in at least two of three first lap incidents that delayed and delayed and delayed the sportsman green flag. At one point while crews scrambled to make minor repairs, there were only six cars still on the track. All but one of the 13, finally took the green. A single file start was finally necessary. But once underway the race was definitely a crowd pleaser. Danny Gay led from the pole. But he had to battle veteran Ron Overman for at least a dozen rounds before brake problems led to his undoing. Lap after lap the veteran Overman would draw underneath Gay in the turns. Sooner or later though a broken brake line would cause Overman to break traction and leave Danny back out front.
On the 27th lap Overman got really loose in the south turn. That gave Mendenhall, who had spent most of the race trying to work his way past the elder Gay on the low side, an opening. There was some slight contact between Overman and Mendenhall and the eventual winner got by. He then quickly ate into the young Gay's lead. Getting past Danny Gay turned out to be easier for Mendenhall than getting past his dad. He was on the leader's tail on lap 31 and in the lead a lap later. Then he was gone.
"We wanted to make sure we really didn't have anything wrong with the front," Mendenhall replied when asked about his numerous pit stops before the race finally started for good. "If the air box is badl, it will overheat. Every wreck that happened, I kept running into the back of Jerry (Gay) - not really hard, but just hard enough."
"(The pass) of Overman wasn't' really clean," Mendenhall said while reviewing his march to the front. "He got sideways by himself earlier in the race. But I knew I shouldn't have touched him. But it really sent him. I don 't think he was real happy about it." The next lap Overman repaid him. "I felt it and went OK, I know it wasn't real nice," Mendenhall noted. "Then I got under Danny and then he just kind of disappeared. Starting back that far, I didn't think we could do it. The car didn't handle that good - especially after all those little wrecks at the beginning."
Overman was still smiling about his run and what it could have been after the races. "It was a fun race," the gentleman racer noted. "We could have used to the old body slam trick (to get by Danny). But we didn't. The brake line broke about lap 20. So all we had was rear brakes. You'd go in and touch the brakes and pitch it sideway to turn. But then the car would be lit up. We couldn't go forward."
"I let Mendenhall know that he hit the old guy," Overman said of his payback to Mendenhall a lap after he was passed for second. "That was OK. I love racing Mike. He's the guy who raises the bar."
The street stock was another race that took nearly an eternity to run. Four yellow flags extended the 25-lap affair to nearly 30 minutes. Randy Buell led early until Neil Rodvold slipped past on lap 5. Green's pass for the lead came five rounds later when Rodvold skated up the track in turn three. Once in front Green motored away to a nearly quarter lap margin. But that was erased by a lap 23 caution. Still Green was five lengths ahead when the race concluded. Rodvold maintained second. Ivan Harrison made a daring three wide pass coming off two on the final lap to squeeze into third place. Gordon Anderson and Richard Hinze rounded out the top five. Rick Hagen, who started the night with the point lead, ended up 13th, several laps in arrears after a night of gear box woes.
It looked as if Bill Holland would get his second straight victory in the bombers. But it was not to be after Marty Lehrke, the night's quick timer, roared past following a lap 9 slowdown. Lehrke was cruising out front hunting for his first win while Pat Garity, fresh from his vacation in Mexico, was on the move. Garity managed to get within three car lengths of Lehrke by the end of the 20-lapper. But then Lehrke failed the post-race inspection. Garity, the defending champion, ended up number one ahead of '99 champ Randy Wallace. Holland was third. Eric Seene limped home fourth after breaking some suspension in the right front in the last turn. Chris Boyer moved up to fifth.
PIT NOTES: Only the modified and legend mains were relatively clean. ... The bombers had four slowdowns between the 9th and 13th laps. ... Don Kerr missed the sportsman main after winning the quick heat. Apparently a tooth on a gear in the distributor broke and the team didn't want to take any chances. ... Mendenhall easily won the Del Taco Hard Charger $200 award for earning the most passing points in the sportsman. ... Mendenhall is experimenting with a setup suggested by his good buddy Charles Utts and Greg Voigt, who run Irwindale. ... No doubt there was a family discussion in the Brown pits after the modified dash after young Scotty bumped and spun his uncle Ron while the two were running one-two on lap 3. ... All but two of the 14 sportsman timed in in the 16 second bracket. ... Next week there will be twin 30's for the sportsman to make up for the May 26 rainout.