EL CAJON, CA. (07/14/01). To put it mildly things haven't gone too well for defending Grand American modified champion Mike Salm at Cajon Speedway this year. He had managed to win one time in five starts during the first half of the season. But...
EL CAJON, CA. (07/14/01). To put it mildly things haven't gone too well for defending Grand American modified champion Mike Salm at Cajon Speedway this year. He had managed to win one time in five starts during the first half of the season. But still things just weren't clicking on a regular basis. Now Salm hopes all that has changed for the remainder of the season after he scored a come from behind victory Saturday night on the 3/8 mile paved oval in what may have been Salm's best drive ever.
Salm took the checkered flag five lengths ahead of Ron Esau in the feature 25-lapper after using the high groove to move from fifth to first in the final five circuits. Current point leader Scott Brown ran third ahead of his uncle Ron Brown. Doug Carpenter was fifth.
Rick Hagen atoned for his disqualification a week ago by pacing the street stocks. Point leader Bob Wickey earned his second bomber stock win. Fast qualifier Randy Brown led all 50-laps of the Speed Truck feature. Stephen Peace outclassed the Allison Legacy cars.
Esau dominated the Grand American field from the second go-round and looked to be en route to victory. Salm, who started seventh, ran fourth most of the way until he was picked off by Ron Brown on lap 14. For the next half dozen rounds, the top five of Esau, Mike Jackson, Scott Brown, Ron Brown, and Salm played crack the whip - running bumper to bumper all the way around the track. About lap 20 Salm decided to move to the high side and scooted back around Ron Brown. He slipped past Scott Brown on lap 22 and shot by Jackson on lap 23. Going into turn one on lap 24 Esau got a bit loose. Salm did make contact with the leader and Esau slid up the track just a bit. Salm gunned by on the low side to take over the top spot. The victory was the eighth of his career; the first six of those came in the final half of his 2000 championship run.
Jackson slipped from third to sixth when he went into a half-spin in turn four just a lap from the finish. The field was augmented by a couple of new cars. Making their first starts in the open wheelers were pony stock rookie Lou Tompkins and first-nighter Dan Jones as a season-high 12 modifieds were in the pits.
"We drove our hearts out tonight. That was the most fun race I've been in," the easily excitable Salm said while Esau was trying to give him a giant bear hug. "The car seemed to get better when we got in the high groove."
"I had a little problem (with lapped traffic) on the back straightaway. Ron Brown got around me on the inside. Then we had that caution come out. The car had a push in the middle of the corner. So Steve (Teets) was on the radio saying to try the higher groove. It just came in for us. My crew has done an excellent job working on the car. Esau was going to be hard to beat. But he got a little loose down there; I think I got into the back of him a little bit. I apologized for that. What an excellent race."
Hagen came from tenth starting position and overhauled Brian Collins 14 laps into the 25-lap street stock contest. Once in front Hagen had trouble opening up any lead because five yellow flags were needed during the last ten laps of the contest. Point leader Rich Green ended up second ahead of Collins, Rob Overman, and Scott Holmberg.
Four street stock drivers, Dave Arce, Rob Freeman, Ivan Harrison, and Todd Phelps, have had nothing but bad luck throughout this year. Only Phelps was around when the checkered fell on the street stock feature Saturday night. But his Lumina was hardly unscathed. Arce failed to make it out of his heat race when his car went up in smoke. Freeman and Richard Hinze locked horns exiting turn two on lap 7 of the feature. The duo was part of a terrific ten-car battle for the runner-up spot at that point. Freeman ended up dead on the track halfway down the backstretch where he was nailed by Ben Carver. That ended both of their nights. Also caught up in the incident were Harrison and Phelps. Seven rounds later Harrison and Phelps ended up pinned together in turn two and Harrison retired to the pits.
The bomber feature was scored as a 19-lapper instead of the full 20 rounds. That became necessary when third running Marty Lehrke may have been helped around just a tad in the final corner just after Wickey and second place Mark Holland took the checkered. The yellow light was turned on for Lehrke's spinning Nova and part of the field checked up. Scorers reverted the finish to the running order on lap 19 except for Lehrke, who was scored on the tail of the lead lap. That put last week's victor Jeff Coskey in third ahead of Rodney Shaw and Mark Wendell. Wickey came from 12th starting position. Unlike a week earlier he did not find his path blocked when he moved onto leader Rodney Shaw's bumper. Wickey dipped low in turn three on lap 10 and ran even with Shaw for a full circuit before easing into the lead.
PIT NOTES: In a strange and unprecedented move, track officials made Coskey requalify after posting fast time in the bombers due to some alterations in his muffler. Coskey ended up third fast just a tenth slower than his original round.
Mark Holland (bombers) and Rick Green street stocks each earned the Big O Tires Hard Charger $100 bill for gaining the most passing points in their respective divisions.
Rob Overman and Rick Hagen were disqualified from the July 7 street stock feature for having intake manifolds that did not meet the stock specification. Overman had won the race and Hagen was fifth. Each lost his points for the night. Brian Collins ended up gaining his first main event victory.
July 15 marks the 40th anniversary of Cajon Speedway. It was on July 15, 1961 when the track hosted its first oval track race on a then quarter-mile clay oval. Jack McCoy won the feature 50-lap San Diego Racing Assn modified sportsman contest.