Williams / Cline Snare Prelim Wins PERRIS, CA, November 1 - The 6th Annual Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals kicked-off Thursday at the Perris Auto Speedway with the rebirth of the "Twin 20" lap main events. For the...
Williams / Cline Snare Prelim Wins
PERRIS, CA, November 1 - The 6th Annual Temecula Valley Pipe & Supply / Budweiser Oval Nationals kicked-off Thursday at the Perris Auto Speedway with the rebirth of the "Twin 20" lap main events.
For the first three years of the Oval Nationals, the "Twin 20's" were a popular signature races of this event. In fact, Rip Williams' unbelievable inaugural run in 1996 has become legendary. After winning the first 20 lap race, Williams started last in the second 20 lapper and drove to victory after passing 17 cars.
Williams' wire-to-wire victory in this year's 20 lap opener conjured up memories of that race. Troy Cline was one of a handful of hotshoes that ran into problems in the first race and consequently started near the front in the second race. As Cline sped away to victory from the second row, Williams could only find satisfaction in the fact that his ninth place finish made him one of just five drivers to qualify for Saturday's 50 lap ($25,000 to win) finale.
"It's pretty nice to be able to start in the front row and be able to take off like that," Williams later said of his win in the first race. "l was trying to get through there (in the second race), but there were a couple cars running side-by-side in front of me which made it pretty difficult. We did the best we could and we brought it home in one piece so we can race it on Saturday, which was our goal."
Tony Elliott's Gardner Motorsports ride was not as lucky. After tangled with Brain Venard along the back straight on the opening lap, Elliott's team later reported that they would need a new car for Saturday night.
Like he did on the initial start, Williams beat pole sitter Richard Griffin to the first turn and led Jarrett Chaney, Mike Kirby and J.J. Yeley at the end of the opening lap. Setting a blistering pace in the Sharon Jory / Vista Paint No. 3 Gambler, Williams was never seriously challenged during the first race. For that matter, the only change in the top-five from the opening lap was Yeley's pass on Kirby five circuits into the race.
With Williams and Griffin sharing the tenth row, the second feature race proved to be a different story. Michael Hinrichsen was slated to start on the pole, but was unable to make the call in time, so Steve Ostling assumed his position. Ostling beat Cal Smith to the green flag and led the field into the first turn. Driving the Haas CNC Machine Tools No. 11 TCR, Cline jumped into the second spot down the backstraight.
Cline, who's flat tire brought out the first caution flag of the prior race, followed the Fischer Motorsports / Watt Enterprises No. 29 driven by Ostling into lapped traffic on lap 14. One circuit later, Cline used the lapped traffic in turn four to his advantage and took the lead. From there, Cline led the remainder of the nonstop race (5:43.00) and finished ahead of Ostling, Rodney Argo, Adam Mitchell and Andy Forsberg.
"We didn't have any luck in the first 20 lapper," Cline said with a disappointed tone. "The second 20 laps went real good. I can't complain about the car, even though it's all bent up. I just had some bad luck in the first one and got involved in an accident on the back straightaway. I don't know how the points are going to shake out, but I don't think we're in the feature for Saturday night."
Cline did, in fact, fail to transfer. Griffin drove the Ron Chaffin / Arizona Race Mart No. 50 Jon Boy to a seventh place finish in the second race making him the top combined point earner for the night. Bud Kaeding started 14th in both races and finished sixth in both races. When the points were all sorted out, it was determined that Kaeding would have pole for Saturday's championship race. Joining Griffin and Kaeding with direct transfers were Williams, Yeley and Argo.