Cajon Speedway report 2002-05-11

Overman and Karma yield Cajon victory for Manke, EL CAJON, CA (05/11/02). John Manke had a good luck charm that helped him find his way to victory lane in the 40-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge feature at Cajon Speedway...

Overman and Karma yield Cajon victory for Manke,

EL CAJON, CA (05/11/02). John Manke had a good luck charm that helped him find his way to victory lane in the 40-lap NASCAR Weekly Racing Series presented by Dodge feature at Cajon Speedway Saturday night.

"Look at this; this is my good luck charm," Manke said as he pointed inside the cockpit of his blue Monte Carlo. Neatly folded in the seat was a Ron Overman tee-shirt. "I stuffed that under the old seat belt before I got in," Manke smiled.

Overman, who had won the first two races of the season, was involved in a serious accident at the track on April 20. On Friday, May 10, he underwent emergency surgery to repair a dislocated, cracked vertebra in his neck. Doctors were pleased with the surgery and the 59-year-old friend of everyone should be released from the hospital shortly. Overman has already told family members he will not return to racing this year. Two years ago Overman broke his back in a racing accident at the track.

The victory was the first of the 2002 season and fifth of Manke's career. Chasing Manke to the stripe was fast qualifier Jeff Seifert. Current point leader Danny Gay was third ahead of Claude Bell and Mark Meech. Seifert was the race's hard charger by virtue of earning most passing points for the night.

Ed Hale captured his 149th career main event by taking honors in the 20-lap pony stock feature. Of that total, 46 have come in the pony stocks where he has earned three championships and is setting the pace again this year. Ivan Harrison outlasted point leader Rich Green in the 25-lap affair for street stocks. Randy Wallace drove through traffic quickly while the rest of the fast qualifiers were buried in traffic. That enabled the 1999 bomber stock champ to make his second visit of the 2002 to victory lane in the bomber stocks. Eddie Secord dominated the Pro-Four modified 30-lapper, taking the checkered flag a quarter lap in front of runner-up Tony Edwards. Slow qualifier John McCain paced all 20 rounds of the Allison Legacy car feature.

Manke and Bell battled door-to-door for six laps early in the feature 40-lapper for the late model sportsman. Bell had started second and Manke eighth. Bell had out-maneuvered pole sitter James Roland at the start. A skirmish on lap 6 in the north turn scrambled the lineup. It was triggered when Roland and Mark Meech got together. Also involved were Gay, Bob Wickey, and Rick Chavez. The melee left Manke on Bell's bumper and set up the half dozen lap battle for number one. Jeff Wright backed his Monte Carlo into the turn three barrier on lap 16, but was able to return to the fray. He was battling for fifth when he spun out with Stephen Peace in the north turn of the final round.

Even though Manke won the race, he lost just a bit of ground to Gay in the points chase. He started the night 12 points in arrears in second spot, but concluded the night 13 digits behind. "We lost a few (actually only one), but it's a long season," the 38 year old said. "We have to work on our qualifying. We know that. And we got a little better tonight. We found some stuff after qualifying that hopefully will make it better for us next week. We had a great car for the race. We knew that in the heat race."

"We never touched," Manke said of his battle with Claude Bell. "It was a clean deal, a fun race. When Seifert got back there, I thought he was going to have something. But I guess not because we kind of ran away with it. We both have Watkins motors. Todd McLauchlan (last year's champ) gave us some pointers on stuff we could try. That helped too"

Then Manke turned his attention back to Overman. The two pitted nose-to-tail for years. "We had that Ron Overman good luck charm," Manke said. "We miss him. He's a great guy. He's always been great to us. He's fun to race with."

"This is Sid's race car," Manke then said of Sid Rodriguez, the guy is making Manke's 2002 racing season possible. "He's been great. I can't ask for a better car owner. The guy is awesome. He wants to win. It's our fifth win. It's the fifth race of the season. And our car number is 5. What kind of weird karma is that? It's the fifth month too. Aha. What else can we figure out?"

Harrison and Green had quite a tussle in the street stocks with the 60-year-old ending up leading the entire 25-lap distance. Green started last in the 15-car field after posting fast time and then missing his heat race. But he marched steadily forward and was on Harrison's bumper by lap 20. On lap 21 Rob Freeman and Kenny Hall locked horns. Green made a bid on the restart and ran even with Harrison for a round or so. Then he backed off and made a final charge on the final circuit but the defending divisional titlest fell a car length short. Richard Hinze was third ahead of Brian Collins and Jason Pontsler, who was making his first start of the year.

Hale was shadowed by Hector Leon most of the pony stock feature. The race was only slowed twice, on the eighth and 19 circuits. Hale started seventh while Leon came from 11th in the 22-car field. Marty Schmidt led from the pole until Hale powered past on the seventh circuit. Rounding out the top five were Billy Hoagland, subbing for Eric Clark, Schmidt, and Mike Weimann.

In the bombers Pat Garity was closing fast on Wallace when the checkered fell. Wallace started 13th while Garity came from 18th. Wallace picked the field off one-by-one to move into the number one spot past Scott Denton on lap 11. Garity didn't even crack the top five until lap 12. Bottled up in traffic, he finally broke loose on the high side, storming by three or four cars on lap 11. But Wallace was too far in front by the time Garity got up to second lap 18. Point leader Mark Holland also struggled through traffic, but ended up third ahead of Kevin Gantz and Greg McCown.

Secord only bobbled once en route to his first hometown victory in the Pro Four modifieds. He took the lead after fast qualifier Don Minut spun in turn two on lap 3. Following a lap 13 slowdown, Secord was bumped by second running Tony Edwards and broke loose. But he quickly gathered things back up and was a quarter lap in front at the conclusion of the 30-lapper.

-cs-

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Series NASCAR , Stock car