EL CAJON, CA. (June 30, 2001). Todd McLauchlan had a near disaster in his heat race. But he came back to lead the entire NASCAR Weekly Racing Series main event for late model sportsman at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. McLauchlan took the ...
EL CAJON, CA. (June 30, 2001). Todd McLauchlan had a near disaster in his heat race. But he came back to lead the entire NASCAR Weekly Racing Series main event for late model sportsman at Cajon Speedway Saturday night.
McLauchlan took the checkered flag just a couple car lengths ahead of Danny Gay in the feature 40-lapper on the 3/8 mile paved oval. Ron Overman was another two lengths back in third. Mike Mendenhall came out on the losing end of the wall-banging shunt in the heat race, but drove a conservative race in the main event to take fourth. John Manke was fifth. It was an all around good night for McLauchlan, who leapfrogged past Overman into second in points, had fast time and also earned the $200 Hard Charger Award donated by Kirk's Radiator.
Douglas Wright Jr. outbattled the ageless one, Ed Hale, for honors in the pony stock feature. Point leader Scott Brown led the Grand American modified race the entire distance. Bob Wickey, who paces the bomber stock points, finally picked up his first victory of the season.
Mendenhall, numero uno in points in the sportsman, almost had his night come to an early and abrupt end when he had a jarring encounter with the backstretch concrete barrier on the first lap of the heat race. Mendenhall tried to move into the high groove around Jerry Gay in the middle of turns one and two but the hole just wasn't big enough. Mendenhall's right rear made contact with the left front of McLauchlan's mount as they come off the corner. He was then urned into the crashwall. After spending the whole week repairing the car after a jarring accident in the closing laps of the second main event just a week ago, his crew had to go to work again. Repairs by Mendenhall's crew got him back on the track for the feature, but minus the hood and the front end. McLauchlan's Monte Carlo only suffered fiberglass damage. He was able to complete the heat race in second place to earn the outside front row starting position for the feature. His crew, along with assitance from Paul Brunette's modified crew, had the car looking as good as new by the time the main event rolled out.
The main event ran non-stop. Danny Gay seemed content to run behind McLauchlan the entire way. But his brakes were red hot within ten laps and finally blew out at the scales. Overman also ran third from green to checkered. He tried the low groove a couple of times. But his brakes too were glowing before the halfway point. Jerry Gay was sitting in fourth until the lapped car of David Arzola got sideways and clipped him on lap 29. The senior Gay did finish sixth however.
"It's harder when you're out there like that," McLauchlan said of his run. "You're trying to get a pace where you don't use your car up. I was trying to keep Danny far enough away and didn't want to do something stupid where I had to use the brakes. Mark Norris told me something many years ago. He said, don't ever when you're out front use everything you've got - save your car."
McLauchlan did have to make a brief pit stop on the pace laps. "The left front tire was just rubbing the fender," the winner pointed out. "It was from the heat race deal. It was just cosmetic (damage from that heat race wreck). I got on the brakes real hard to try to get out of there. I don't think Mike knew I was out there."
Scott Brown was another green-to-checkered victor. It marked his third win of the campaign and left him 26 markers ahead of his uncle Ron Brown in the modified standings. Brown's 20-lap sprint run appeared flawless, but he dropped a cylinder a quarter of the way into the contest. Ron Esau ended up second ahead of Ron Brown, who had to change yet another motor prior to qualifying (unfortunately he may hold the record for most motors changed at the track). Doug Carpenter was fourth and Dave Williams fifth. Salm lost out on a third place finish when he was the meat in a chain-reaction rear-ender sandwich exiting turn four on lap 12 and ended up spinning into the infield and lost a lap.
"Five laps into the race, the rocker arm on number one popped off," Scott Brown noted after his run. "(It was nothing major), it just bent a push rod. We got lucky. I was out there cruising. It was a good night."
"We got all the bugs out last year and the year ago," Brown replied when asked why he is doing so much better this year. "We have decent motors behind us now. And we've learned a lot. There is a lot to learn in this class."
Wright's triumph in the ponys marked the second time the third year racer had passed the 62-year-old Hale during the closing stages of the main event. A few weeks ago the 28-year-old waited until the final corner to steal the victory from Hale, who started racing about ten years before Wright was born. This time he made his move with six laps remaining in the 20-lapper. The two ran side-by-side for a couple of rounds before Wright made the pass stick on lap 16. Andy Papp got nailed in the passenger door during a skirmish on the second circuit, but still came back to finish third. Early leader Marty Schmidt ran fourth ahead of Jimmy Kyte.
Wickey came from 11th starting position to prevail in the bombers. Rooki Hayden Smith was in the driver's seat until Wickey finally caught him on the 15th of 20-circuits. Once in front Wickey motored away. Smith retained second while Eric Seene claimed third. Mark Holland and Arne Knufman ran fourth and fifth. Only one yellow flag was displayed. That came just six laps in. Several of the top runners in the division got bottled up in traffic and were never factors. Pat Garity, who was undefeated in four starts this year, ended up 11th behind Randy Wallace and Bill Holland.
RACERS REACHING OUT: Racers Reaching Out is donating $200 to the favorite charity of the trophy dash winner each week. So far this year checks have been sent to the Santana High School Memorial Trust Fund (in the name of Mike Mendenhall), American Cancer Society in memory of Lt. Col. Thomas Garity (Pat Garity), The Cindy Matters Fund (Douglas Wright), Childrens Hospital in memory of Amber Arban (Mike Jackson), Ed Curtis and Brian Vowles Memorial Golf Tournament in memory of Brian Vowles (Ron Overman) and The Burn Institute (Mike Weimann). Racers Reaching Out is spearheaded by that all around great guy Ron Overman and the rest of his Gray Thunder Racing Team. The had a fund raiser last Saturday night at the track with a dinner catered by Pat and Oscar's and a raffle. They raised $1620.