ALLSTAR: TBARA: East Bay Raceway Saturday race report

GIBSONTON, FL - Joey Saldana flirted with the lead early on, but Gary Wright had the field covered Saturday night at East Bay Raceway in the All Star sprint 50-lap feature. The 25th annual East Bay Raceway Winternationals Championship paid...

GIBSONTON, FL - Joey Saldana flirted with the lead early on, but Gary Wright had the field covered Saturday night at East Bay Raceway in the All Star sprint 50-lap feature. The 25th annual East Bay Raceway Winternationals Championship paid $25,000 to the victorious Texan, who utilized a year old Maxim Chassis, Salina engines and Hoosier tires for the big win.

From victory lane, an elated Wright stated, "We’ll be back in November," referring to the season ending All Star and 360 show scheduled for Nov. 1-2-3 here. "On the red we changed two shocks and the weight on three corners," which improved the handling on his 80-race old Maxim. He then thanked Terry Pannell Trucking for his truck and trailer, his crew consisting of his dad, Ernie Cochran and Fred Winnenburg and also credited Todd Roberg at Salina Engines.

With the top six in week-long points inverted for the start, Wright sat on the pole in his own No. 9 with fellow Texan Ronald Laney outside in his No. 52. Jason Johnson in Lanny Row’s No. 41 was next, alongside Friday winner Greg Hodnett in the Apple Motorsports No. 12. Danny Lasoski in the Tony Stewart Racing No. 20 and two-time winner Saldana made up row three.

Wright led the initial circuit before Saldana powered around outside in turn four to lead lap two. Saldana remained on top strong with Wright second through a lap five spin by Jason Sides and a lap six twin spin by Danny Wood and Len Thompson. Under the second yellow, Saldana lost a muffler and retired to the pits. His crew worked furiously, but could not get the muffler reattached in time to rejoin the race. This put Wright back on top with Laney second, Hodnett third, seventh starting Tim Shaffer fourth and Lasoski fifth. Wright pulled out to a three car length lead, with a lap nine caution for Sides and Kurt Winker again slowing the action. Sammy Swindell flipped on lap 14 for a red, allowing teams to refuel and regroup.

Wright, after the shock and weight change, was still on top over Laney, Hodnett, Johnson (who had to repass Lasoski and Shaffer), Shaffer, Lasoski and Craig Dollansky. Wright again pushed out his lead when the green flew, holding off Laney by 1.5 seconds when another yellow appeared, this for Todd Gracey, who made contact with Lance Dewease and hit the back stretch wall. Wright powered away again from Laney on the restart, and now held a half straightaway advantage when Ryan Flynn spun into the inside wall, smashing his front end on lap 23.

It was still Wright, Laney, Hodnett and Shaffer when action resumed, as the race went green until Kurt Winker lost power on lap 38, with the lead pack consisting of Wright, Laney, Hodnett, Shaffer, Dollansky and Lasoski. Wayne Johnson flipped violently on lap 42, setting up an eight lap dash to the finish.

Wright could not be headed, winning by three quarters of a straightaway over Laney, Hodnett, Shaffer in his own No. 45, Dollansky’s Karavan No. 7 up from tenth starting spot, Lasoski, Jason Johnson, 12th starter Terry McCarl in the Holbrook No. 8H, Jeff Shepard in the Peterbilt No. 7 and Indiana’s Danny Smith.

"If we would have had the green longer, we might have caught him in lapped traffic," Laney lamented from the second place spot on the frontstretch.

Hodnett summarized the event this way, speaking from third place, "The track took rubber and we were all bolting on the hardest rubber we could find. But Saldana had checked out on the field."

The K-T Equipment heat went to Shaffer, the JB Enterprise Racing Products heat to Danny Smith, the Crown Battery heat to Shepard and the Engler Machine & Tool heat to Swindell. Flynn won the fifth heat and Dean Jacobs won the Georgia Marketing & Promotions C Main. Sean Michael was the B Main winner while Lasoski captured the Haulmark Dash and Greg Wilson won the Strawberry Dash. Buddy Griffin of Blue Ribbon Tomatoes gave $100 to each heat race winner and Louis Long awarded $50 each to the last five spots in the Strawberry Dash while Sports Plus Video donated $50 to the highest point man not making the A Main. Dollansky was awarded $1,000 for his new track record on Friday. Bert and Brigitte Emick of the All Stars also awarded track owner Stanley Kolan a special plaque for the 25th anniversary of the East Bay Nationals and praised him for turning East Bay into one of the top facilities in the country.

-Scott Hall

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Series Sprint
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tim Shaffer , Danny Lasoski , Sammy Swindell , Craig Dollansky , Jason Sides , Joey Saldana , Greg Wil , Wayne Johnson , Jason Johnson