Cajon Speedway report 2002--04-20

Jerry Gay surprised winner at Cajon. EL CAJON, CA (04/27/02). Jerry Gay didn't even think he had won the 40-lap late model sportsman main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. He thought he had finished second. But win the NASCAR Weekly...

Jerry Gay surprised winner at Cajon.

EL CAJON, CA (04/27/02). Jerry Gay didn't even think he had won the 40-lap late model sportsman main event at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. He thought he had finished second.

But win the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge he did. And the victory came after a terrific side-by-side duel by John Manke for the final half of the contest. Manke fell just a car length short at the stripe after running even with Gay for several laps. Dee Cable came home third in the accident-riddled contest, which was marred by a serious accident involving point leader Ron Overman. Rounding out the top five were Bob Wickey and Gary Jenkins. Only the top four cars were on the lead lap.

Brent Jones took over the number one spot when the leading duo of Jim Smith and Ralph Alexander got together just three laps from the conclusion of the legend main. Jones went on to victory in the 30-lapper. Alexander had paced the field for the opening 25 circuits until Smith slipped past. But then they bumped in turn two on lap 28 and Smith was turned around. Jones was just a length ahead of Tom Landreth at the stripe.

Scott Moses paced all 25 rounds of the street stock finale to finally pick up his first career victory after 5+ years of competition. Dean Kuhn repeated that in the Grand American modified season opener. The street stocks ran non-stop in their finale. Ivan Harrison gained the runner-up spot while Eric Ferguson worked his way forward from his eighth starting position to take third. Rounding out the top five were Brian Collins and Rob Freeman. Point leader Richard Hinze lost the fifth position on the final lap when he was bounced into the infield and spun. Kuhn's ride was easy. The modifieds , short on car count the last two years, had 18 cars in the pits for their opener. The feature ran surprisingly clean with only three slowdowns. With a large number of rookie drivers in the field, Kuhn had to tiptoe through lapped traffic. But he had no other problems en route to victory. Scott Brown ran second the whole way. Mike Salm and Ron Brown, the 2000 and 2001 champs in the division, battled hard for third before Salm prevailed. Michael Jackson ran fifth.

Gay thought that Jeff Wright had actually won the late model sportsman race. Wright had worked his way from the back of the pack to wind past both Manke and Gay between the 20th and 26th rounds. But Wright had actually pitted early in the contest and lost two laps. Wright's demise came after a lap two shunt when he, David Arzola, and Jeff Seifert tried to tango in the fourth turn. Arzola got the worst of the dance and ended up in the crashwall.

The race had to be stopped on the fourth lap when Ron Overman's Monte Carlo rammed the tire barrier in turn three. The incident was triggered when Overman and Gary Jenkins came together on the back chute. Overman's Monte Carlo was turned sideways and made contact with the crashwall. At that point it was sucked into the wall and rode into the tire barrier at the pit entrance.

Overman, the track's current point leader, had suffered serious injures in a turn two racing accident two years ago. He still has titanium rods in his back. As a precautionary move, track officials used extreme caution to remove the 59-year-old to insure that his neck and back remained stable. He was cut from his car and taken to Sharp Hospital for observation. But Overman was alert and responsive when he left the track. He had a small cut on his chin. He was complaining of a stinger in the middle of his neck and experienced some numbness in his left arm. According to Tom Henkel, Director of the Fire and Rescue Crew, "The Hutchens Device and the seat that he used were very instrumental in saving Ron from most serious injury." (A report on Ron's condition will be released later this morning when it is available).

Unfortunately that accident overshadowed the fantastic battle between Gay and Manke for supremacy. The two had started on the front row and ran in tight formation the entire contest. But for the second half of the race, the duo was either nose-to-tail or side-by-side the whole time and seemingly never touched each other. Gay ceded Manke the low groove just then ran his line on the high side. When Wright moved in to challenge, things were altered just a bit. Wright actually got into Gay just a bit in turn three on lap 24 and the leader got sideways. But once Wright worked his way past to regain one of his two lost laps, Gay and Manke resumed their tussle.

"I thought he (Wright) was a winner." Gay explained even though the scoreboard showed him leading all the way.

"The car still wasn't right," Gay continued. "We changed some stuff after hot lapping. It got real loose getting into the corners so I was a little leery of qualifying. Driving it in, it wanted to turn around. Then we changed some more stuff after the heat race. I was wanting to throw this thing (my car) in the trash car today."

"I had fun with John. My son (Danny) couldn't give his wife a birthday present so I did. So happy, let's just say 29th, birthday Tonya."

Danny Gay, whose crew spent the entire week rebuilding his Dodge after it clobbered the turn one wall a week ago on both ends, was eliminated on lap nine. At that point Claude Bell and Michael Peace tangled. The younger Gay was clipped and backed into the turn four wall. All escaped injury.

But everyone's concern was for Overman, who is everybody's buddy. The elder Gay, who himself will turn 50 this year and shares a birthday with Ron Overman, showed concern when talking about his friendly on-track rival. "I'm just concerned about him," Gay offered. "I pleaded with him and pleaded with him to go to the doctor the last time (when he hit the wall hard in turn four last year). He did go to the doctor and got me a note saying he went. This time they took him to the hospital where they will do all that stuff."

PIT NOTES: Despite losing many laps in the pits, Jeff Seifert was awarded the $200 for the Hard Charger Award. That money goes to the late model sportsman driver who earns the most passing points. The money was donated by Triton Imaging, who does the decals for many of the cars at the track.


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About this article
Series NASCAR , Stock car
Drivers Ralph Alexander , Jim Smith