St. Augustine Race Report 1999-08-14

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA -Todd Ponce led all 50 laps of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Snap-On Sportsman division feature in the Summer Meltdown '99 program Saturday night at St. Augustine Speedway. Ponce's demonstration of dominance began...

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLA -Todd Ponce led all 50 laps of the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Snap-On Sportsman division feature in the Summer Meltdown '99 program Saturday night at St. Augustine Speedway. Ponce's demonstration of dominance began as the green flag fell to start this event. The St. Augustine native grabbed the point from his inside front row starting position and was never seriously challenged, stretching his lead of the course of the event to more than half a lap over his closest competitor, Kenny Hall, also of St. Augustine. Tiny Cline held on to the third spot in front of Scott Hezel and Bo Allen, who had to race his way to a top five finish, coming from his eighth starting position. Hall continues to lead the divisional standings as far as track points are concerned, but following a dismal outing just two weeks ago, the St. Augustine driver dropped to the second tier in the NASCAR Winston Racing Series Regional point rankings behind rival Tiny Cline. Hall has until Sept. 11, the date set by NASCAR after which no further N.W.R.S. points can be accrued, to make up the deficit. George Thrift of Fernandina Beach continued his magic act in the Rick's Muffler Modified division, winning his seventh race in a row and increasing the bounty on his head to $300 at the next event. Thrift's consecutive wins streak came very close to coming to an end in this event as he was forced to follow Jacksonville's Russ Miscally for most of the 35-lap event. But Miscally's bid for the win and the bounty suddenly went south on lap 28 when mechanical problems on the No. 2 Modified sent him to pit road for repairs. Miscally eventually finished seventh, at least one lap off the pace. Behind Thrift, Joshua Manning, Justin Moore, J.F. McClellan and David Hollingsworth rounded out the top five. Larry Osteen of Clermont, Fla. continued his winning ways in the Late Model division. The sleek, black No. 22 took the lead from pole sitter Scotty Lagasse on the third circuit of the 35-lap affair, a pass that also allowed the No. 41 car of John Crawford and the No. 2 car of Harold Rankin to also slip past Lagasse's No. 22. The 17-year-old college freshman fought his way back to second by lap 29 but could not make up the distance between himself and Osteen quickly enough to try to set the leader up for a pass to reclaim the lead. Behind Osteen and Lagasse, Crawford, Rankin and Lake Butler's Donnie Oden rounded out the top five. The Thunder Truck division saw Alan Moore pick up his fourth consecutive win and his eighth win of the 1999 season. Moore's win bolstered his point lead in the truck standings to 38 points over Ricky Cooper, who also finished second in this event. Wade Lynn, Ron Thomas and Andy Waldron picked up the remaining spots in the top five of Saturday's finishing order. Bobby Thornton picked up his third win in four attempts in the Hobby Stock division taking the lead on lap 17 of the scheduled 20 lap show from pole sitter Grady Lundquist with a daring inside move entering turn three. Thornton's pass for the lead resulted in significant door to door contact between the two leaders as they battled through the corner. Significant enough to send Lundquist spinning through turn four but not significant enough to rule it rough driving. "Just good hard racing" was the immediate call from race control as the accident unfolded. Lundquist was able to resume, eventually finishing ninth overall. Behind Thornton, Scooter Hicks, Jimmy Bunn, point leader Rodney Norman and Shea Clay finished in the top five. Aside from the excellent racing, one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the evening was the hot rod demonstration and burnout contest staged in between events. More than 60 hot rods courtesy of the 1st Coast Car Council made several parade laps around the St. Augustine oval before approximately 10 entries, made up of club members and grandstand spectators, participated in a wild burnout contest on pit road. Tom Maturco, a club member, and Jesse Beckman, a spectator entry, were ruled co-winners by the crowd who judged the event. Beckman became the sentimental favorite for his spectacular burnout when he literally blew the rear tires off his pick-up truck during his 20-second run. Next week, it's 50's night at St. Augustine Speedway. Lot's of music, giveaways, 50-cent hot dogs, and special treats that will strike a nostalgic chord among those who remember the good old 50's. Plus, fans will be treated to 50-lap events for the Snap-On Sportsman and the Rick's Muffler Modified divisions. It will also be a double point event for the modified drivers. Grandstand gates will open at 4:30, qualifying at 6, and the features start at 7:30.

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Drivers John Crawford