DEWEASE CAPS-OFF STORY BOOK SEASON WITH STORY BOOK RUN IN NATIONAL OPEN Each year the Williams Grove National Open story always seems to get better. Fayetteville's Lance Dewease drove one of the most memorable races in history at Williams ...
DEWEASE CAPS-OFF STORY BOOK SEASON WITH STORY BOOK RUN IN NATIONAL OPEN
Each year the Williams Grove National Open story always seems to get better.
Fayetteville's Lance Dewease drove one of the most memorable races in history at Williams Speedway Saturday night in the most lucrative race ever run at the Mechanicsburg half-mile with $30,000 awaiting the winner, and the prestige of winning one of sprint car racing's crown jewels against the best racers in the business - the World of Outlaws.
But in the end, Dewease upheld the pride of the Pennsylvania Posse as he took the Outlaws to "school" as he raced from his 13th starting spot to track down race-long leader Danny Lasoski with less than 10 laps to go in what was one of the most improbable runs to victory against the best sprint car drivers in the business.
With the help of a timely caution restart on the 33rd lap, Dewease passed the defending World of Outlaw champion for the lead and then fought off a final caution restart with four laps to go to claim his third Williams Grove National Open title - and his second in row, on the heels of clinching his second consecutive Williams Grove track title.
And not once in victory lane was the money that he won even mentioned. For Dewease, the accomplishment of winning his third National Open title for three different car owners - Walt Dyer in 1996, Joe Harz in 2001 and Al Hamilton in 2002 - was all that mattered.
"I'm so happy to do it each time," said Dewease on winning that National Open for the third time with a different car owner each time. "I was so happy to win my first Open with Walt Dyer, and then last year for Joe Harz for the Open win and the track title...but this year we did the same thing for this guy over here (Al Hamilton).
"You can't say nothing bad about him. He gives us everything we need to win races. It's just up to me and the crew to go out and do it.
Dewease then conceded that the evening didn't start as they had hoped.
"We totally guessed on the set-up," said the outwardly happy Dewease in victory lane as exited his winning Al Hamilton-owned/Manheim Auto Auction No.77 sprinter. "If anybody heard in that last feature, when the motor went cold it wouldn't take off and it was doing it all night...it did it in the heat race and in the dash."
"We really didn't know how good our car was at all. So we just made a lucky guess. Our night started out pretty bleak but we kept working at it. I kept telling the guys this was 40 laps and we can win this thing if we're right."
Outside frontrow starter Johnny Herrera got the jump on polesitter Lasoski at the drop of the green to take the lead. But as the field raced into the first and second turns, Herrera spun, bringing out the caution flag with the rest of the field miraculously getting around the spinning Albuquerque, NM driver.
On the complete restart polesitter Lasoski got the edge over new outside frontrow starter Saldana. Following a caution restart on the fifth lap for a spinning Randy Hannagan, Lasoski stretched out his lead to nearly 20 car-lengths over Saldana before the first of two cautions by a spinning Keith Kauffman bunched the field on the 13th and 17th laps respectively.
Meanwhile 13th-starting Dewease had just begun to pick up the pace and made a spectacular two-car pass of Cris Eash and Steve Kinser exiting the second turn to move into seventh place on the 24th lap as Lasoski maintained what appeared to be a comfortable lead over Saldana.
"I showed him the middle of the track and didn't pass him," said Dewease on the turning point of the race as he tried to get around Steve Kinser. "He then came right down to it (my racing groove)...he was the hardest guy to pass once he was in my lane."
Dewease then continued his march to the front as he passed Tim Shaffer for sixth on the 26th lap, and then around Sean Michael to move into the top-five on the 27th lap.
With 11 laps to go Dewease passed the final Pennsylvania Posse racer, Todd Hestor, to move into fourth. He continued his assault by blowing past Saldana for third on the 30th lap, and then moved into the runner-up spot by passing a determined Craig Dollansky with nine laps to go.
It appeared Dewease might have been catching the leader with less than 10 laps to go when the Fayetteville racer caught a break as the caution waved for Randy Hannagan who had stopped in the third turn on the 32nd lap.
On the restart Dewease made his race-winning move by motoring around the Dover, MO, racer in the first and second turns and was pulling away to what appeared a certain victory.
But on the 36th lap, three-time National Open winner Steve Kinser came to a stop in the second turn with ignition box problems. A red flag was then subsequently display for fuel, allowing teams to make adjustments for the final four laps.
But Dewease made none.
Dewease simply pulled away from Lasoski on the restart as Saldana fought to get back around Dollansky into third place with two laps to go.
"I seen Danny's guys motioning for him to come down there on that restart and I just figured I'd go to the top and we'll see what happens. It just stuck and I ran right by him. We could have easily been into the fence back there but he gave me enough room, he didn't give me all of it, but he gave me enough so wee wouldn't wreck."
Dewease took the checkered for the $30,000 payday, 2.08 seconds over of Lasoski for car-owner Al Hamilton's 82nd feature win at Williams Grove, who took over undisputed possession of first place on the all-time car owner's win list. Dewease is atop the drivers list with 55 wins after gaining his 6th of the season en route to his fourth Grove title run.
"We just got beat by a better team tonight," said runner-up Lasoski. "I knew when he went by me in the middle, I wished my car would have drove like that."
"I don't think he even needed that caution because he was coming that hard he would have still probably got the win...we'll be back next year and try again."
"I'll tell you want, that guy who ran second wanted to win this thing bad," said Dewease about Lasoski's comeback after suffering serious injuries on the last appearance of the Outlaws at Williams Grove. "If you remember that wreck he took here, it probably cost him the Outlaw title this year. That was one heck of a wreck...and for him to come back here and run this place like he did tonight, he deserves a lot of congratulations."
Saldana then hung on for a hard-fought third place finish over Dollansky.
"He flat schooled everybody tonight," said third-place Saldana. "I was running the top and he took Lasoski out of one...he races here so much he knows that there are times to go to the bottom or the middle."
"When he went ot the bottom he drove by everyone and he just knew where to be."
Lasoski second place run was worth $12,000 while Saldana took $7,500 for third.
Fourth place Dollansky collected $5000 and Todd Hestor earned $4000 for finishing fifth.
Mark Kinser was sixth ahead of Fred Rahmer, who started 23rd. Tim Shaffer and Sean Michael followed. Greg Hodnett came from 24th to complete the top ten.
Heats were won by Jac Haudenschild, Kauffman, Danny Wood and Johnny Herrera. Dashes went to Lasoski and Johnny Herrera. Mark Kinser won the B-main. And Dollansky set fast time in qualifications over the 38-car field with a one-lap of 16.756 seconds.
Williams Grove will be back in action with the Fall Fest on Saturday night, October 12 to close out the 2002 season at Williams Grove.
OTHER WEEKEND RACING ACTION
McDOWELL WINS - ECKERT MOVES CLOSER TO UDTRA TITLE
Dale McDowell of Rossville, GA picked up his ninth win of the season with the United Dirt Track Racing Association Pro DirtCar Series Saturday night in the"Fire On The Mountain" 50 before a packed house at Rome Speedway in Rome, GA.
McDowell took the lead from Marshall Green of Dalton, GA on lap 15 and then pulled away for his 29th UDTRA Pro DirtCar Series career win, tying the 1999 UDTRA champion with Billy Moyer for second on the all-time list. McDowell closed the gap on York's Rick Eckert to 121 points with two races left in the 2002 season.
Eckert finished second, and all the Defending UDTRA Champion has to do is finish sixth or better in the next Pro DirtCar Series race on October 5 in Cumberland, MD to win his second straight title.
RAIN FORCES THURSDAY AND FRIDAY WORLD OF OUTLAW CANCELLATIONS
Remnants of Tropical Storm Isadore forced the cancellation a pair of scheduled World of Outlaw racing events last Thursday and Friday.
Thursday night's $51,600 World of Outlaw race at Hagerstown Speedway was canceled due to rain and will not be made up.
Then on Friday night lingering storms forced the cancellation of the first night of the Williams Grove National Open, relegating the $30,000-to-win event to a single night show on Saturday night.
JEFF SHEPARD WINS JOPLIN 66 ALL STAR/NCRA EVENT
Upperco, Maryland racer Jeff Shepard Made it six wins out of 12 co-sanctioned All Star/NCRA show in 2002 as he captured the win Saturday night at Joplin 66 Speedway in Joplin, MO.
Shepard inherited the lead on the seventh lap and went the distance to win the 30-lap A feature ahead of Danny Smith and Friday night winner Brooke Tatnell.
Tatnell, of New South Wales, Australia, moved one step closer to winning the 2002 NCRA 410 Outlaw Sprint Championship with a convincing victory in preliminary night competition at Joplin 66 Speedway.
PURCELL WINS URC BRIDGEPORT RUN
Scott Pursell of Frenchtown, NJ scored his second URC sprint victory of the season Saturday night at the Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. It was a race for the survivor as track conditions were extremely rough due to an all night rain on Friday.
The 20 lap URC feature saw Pursell taking the lead on lap twelve when a flat tire sent race leader Trevor Lewis to the pits. This was the final point race of the New Jersey Sprint Series and Greg Coverdale of Milford, DE claimed the title.