GIBSONTON, FL -- After running a perfect race and leading wire-to-wire, Greg Hodnett sat in victory lane Saturday night at East Bay Raceway Park as the apparent winner when the 50-lap feature race was over. But it was only temporary as Hodnett was...
GIBSONTON, FL -- After running a perfect race and leading wire-to-wire, Greg Hodnett sat in victory lane Saturday night at East Bay Raceway Park as the apparent winner when the 50-lap feature race was over. But it was only temporary as Hodnett was later disqualified for running a larger left rear wheel than allowed. The wheel was 17 & 1/2 inches and 16 inches is the maximum size allowed. Thus second place Danny Lasoski was declared the winner after a protest was lodged by the second and third place finishers and race officials measured the part in question. This moved up Lasoski to the victory podium and also moved up Chad Kemenah to second and Fred Rahmer to third. The 27th Annual East Bay Winternationals title was worth $15,000 in the Haulmark All Star sprint car 50 lap feature for Lasoski, the pilot of Tony Stewart's Kistler-Mopar powered Eagle Chassis on Hoosier Tires. Hoosier won all seven Florida All Star races this year.
With the top six in East Bay points inverted for the start, it was Dean Jacobs on the pole with Hodnett alongside. Kemenah and Lasoski gridded in the second row ahead of Craig Dollansky and Jeff Shepard. Hodnett jumped out into the initial lead on the brutally fast third-mile oval with Jacobs second in the Pullins Motorsports No. 29. Hodnett caught the tail end of the pack and was into lapped traffic on lap five with Jacobs still second ahead of Lasoski and Kemenah. Hodnett built a straightaway lead by lap 11 and by lap 26 Lasoski began to challenge Jacobs for second, but he could not move by. Hodnett continued in the top spot, and had built a four second lead when the first yellow of the event flew on lap 40 for a spinning Brian Ellenberger, who collected Tim Shaffer in the process.
The restart order was now Hodnett, Jacobs, Lasoski, Kemenah, Craig Dollansky and Terry McCarl. When the green reappeared, Hodnett once again pushed out to a six car length lead as Lasoski pressured Jacobs again. It was heartbreak for Jacobs on lap 46 when his machine lost power on the frontstretch, bringing out the final caution of the evening. This moved Lasoski to second over Kemenah. Dollansky and Rahmer.
It was a four lap dash to the checkered flag, which Hodnett won easily, crossing the line ahead of Lasoski, Kemenah and Rahmer, who nipped Dollansky at the finish line on the final circuit.
Following Hodnett's disqualification the official finish became Lasoski winning over Kemenah's Jim Harble Eagle, Rahmer's Joe Harz J&J, Dollansky's Karavan Maxim, 12th starting Dale Blaney's Maxim, Jeff Shepard's Denny Ashworth Eagle, Paul McMahan's Miller Rigging Maxim, Shane Stewart's mIn Motorsports MCI Chassis, Joey Saldana's Shaw and Terry McCarl's Wesmar-powered Eagle chassis.
"Lapped cars were fast, everyone was fast," stated Kemenah the defending All Star champion who ended up second in the final tally.
Third place Rahmer revealed he used his weight jacker to loosen up the car on the lap 40 caution, making it faster for the end of the race. His third place finish was his best in Florida this season in a year-old J&J chassis.
The Crown Battery heat fell to Fred Rahmer, the B&B Products heat went to Dale Blaney, the Engler Machine and Tool heat was won by Shane Stewart and the TP Wings heat fell to Lance Dewease. The United Aluminum Window Sales & Consulting B Main went to Greg Wilson while Greg Hodnett captured the Haulmark Dash and Billy Pauch won $500 in the Goodson Farms Strawberry Dash. The Strawberry Dash trophy was presented by Julia Cates, Ambassador for the Florida Strawberry Growers Association. Brian Brown jumped the start twice in the dash and was disqualified and moved to last in the final rundown.
Ralph Arndt of Prior Lake, MN was the fan survey drawing winner, earning free airfare and tickets to next year's East Bay Winternationals.
"America's Series, The All Star Circuit of Champions" will present a slate of 80 sprint car race dates in 2003 from February to October in action at 31 speedways in 17 states. America's favorite dirt track series is in its' 23rd year and has presented fans with the largest average car count and greatest number of different race winners in the United States over the past two decades.