Abbottstown, PA, 7/12/03 -The third time was the charm for Lance Dewease in the All-Star Circuit of Champions thriller at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night. The Lincoln points leader ended a long dry spell by diving under Greg Hodnett for the race...
Abbottstown, PA, 7/12/03 -The third time was the charm for Lance Dewease in the All-Star Circuit of Champions thriller at Lincoln Speedway Saturday night.
The Lincoln points leader ended a long dry spell by diving under Greg Hodnett for the race lead entering turn one of lap 24, and drove away to a 1.48-second win over the nation's third-ranked sprint car driver in the 30-lap, $5,000-to-win event.
Twice before, the Al and Betty Hamilton-owned Manheim Auto Auction/Hank's Performance Products No.77 had taken the lead, but both times the pass was negated by caution flags. Though the leaders were past the flag stand, All-Star rules require that the field by lined up the way they were running the previous lap.
"The 12 car has been making us look bad, and we kinda' fell off the pace the last month," said the happy winner. "I kept telling 'em (the team), 'We just need to work hard at it, and we'll get it.' We were pretty good tonight...I passed him two different times and the cautions took it away from us, but we made sure that last one stuck."
"We were actually pretty bad last night (at Williams Grove) and ran second to him, so we knew if we could get our car back to where it's capable of being, we can run with him," Dewease added. "You have to race him, and then you can make him make mistakes or...you know, he hasn't been racing too many people lately, he's been that fast."
Most figured Hodnett would be the car to beat, after timing fifth-quick and starting second for the "A" Main. He didn't disappoint, driving out to leads ranging from 1.5 to three seconds over polesitter Chris Knopp between a second-lap caution (for Sean Michael, who lost a side panel on his front wing) and lap 11. That's when Dewease, who started sixth, grabbed the runner-up spot. One lap later, the caution came out for Stevie Smith, who stopped with a flat tire on the backstretch.
Dewease was unable to challenge on the restart, because the lapped cars of Michael Markey and Jason Hagenbuch were in between. Two laps later, he was on Hodnett's back bumper, and stayed there laps 13 and 14 before getting out of shape and losing ground exiting turn four of lap 15. Hodnett continued to show the way the next six laps before Dewease challenged again in heavy lapped traffic on lap 21. The two ran wheel-to-wheel for the next two laps before Dewease claimed the lead on the backstretch of lap 23. The pass was negated by a caution flag for Jeff Rohrbaugh, who stopped at the infield entrance of turn four.
Dewease again took the lead with a slider in turn four on the restart, but Doug Esh and Jeff Shepard collided while racing for sixth, leading to an eight-car pileup that took out Shepard, Fred Rahmer, Niki Young, Jason Hagenbuch, and Dean Jacobs. Dewease was scored the leader of lap 23 again, but the caution placed Hodnett back in front for the restart.
The pass that counted came a lap later. The 1.48-second win was Dewease's third All-Star win of the year.
"We just had a problem with the motor stumbling and it was killing us on restarts," said Hodnett afterwards. "We just were not good in traffic, we are normally a little bit better...we've had a good run here and we can't complain. But I think second does suck."
Hodnett settled for second, with Cris Eash third. Jason Johnson was the highest-finishing All-Star after passing Knopp on the final lap to finish fourth. Sixth through tenth were Esh, Chad Kemenah (who returned from a flat tire in the 23rd-lap pileup), Michael (the last car on the lead lap), Bobby Weaver, and Glenndon Forsythe.
The Crown Battery heat fell to Rahmer, the B&B Products heat went to Cris Eash, the Engler Machine and Tool heat was won by Rohrbaugh and the TP Wings heat fell to Brook Weibley. The United Aluminum Window Sales & Consulting B Main fell to Johnson, while Dewease captured the Haulmark Dash. Dewease was the Huggins Cams Fast Time qualifier over the 36-car field with a one-lap time of 13.570 seconds (99.484 MPH).