East Bay Raceway 25TH Anniversary - 3RD Annual King of 360's Sunday 2/4/01 (Saturday night rained out) TAMPA, FL...."I can not believe it! I can not believe it! I was completely out of tear-offs and couldn't see the car ahead of me,"...
East Bay Raceway 25TH Anniversary - 3RD Annual King of 360's Sunday 2/4/01 (Saturday night rained out)
TAMPA, FL...."I can not believe it! I can not believe it! I was completely out of tear-offs and couldn't see the car ahead of me," shouted Jeff Shepard in his victory lane interview after becoming the third winner in three years running of the $64,000 King of the 360's at East Bay Raceway Sunday afternoon. Rain on Saturday had forced a one-day delay of the finale.
The unbelievable part was that Jason Sides had led 39-3/4 laps of the 40lap event, playing the lapped traffic to perfection , until having to go a little high around a lapped car in turn four looking for the checkered flag. Shepard, who ran second behind Sides from the start, saw this happen, and about 200 feet from the flagstand, took the lead and the$12,500 win.
For Shepard, it was his first ride in the Nickles Brothers built No. 31J,NBC Steering and Pumps owned car, sponsored by Dennis and Chris Kaiser. The new Stealth was delivered to their shop in Fremont OH just two weeks ago and they installed a Gaerte engine and used American Racer tires fort his win. Shepard was also eligible for the highest finishing rookie ofthe event prize worth $250 from Buddy Griffin's Blue Ribbon Tomato Farms, presented to him by Doug Auld, Editor of Open Wheel Magazine.
Griffin served as honorary flagman on Kenny Marshall's flag stand. Understandably, Sides had a hard time holding back tears in his interview, explaining his problem with the car he was about to lap. But car owner, Wayne Rhodes who joined Sides last summer, feels it was a great effort bythis new team doing its first series together. He and Jason had tried the USCS Fall Nationals here in November and didn't have much luck. Rhodes hired Ricky Warner (formerly with Jack Elden's car driven by JacHaudenschild) and ordered a new Maxim, installed a Wesmar engine and felt they were ready for the King of 360's race. He has two main sponsors, The Hunting Catalog and the country western group, Diamond Rio.
Kenny Adams, a past East Bay Champion and winner of the second preliminary night here, was flying, but ran out of time to get up to third spot after starting 11th in a race that saw only two caution flags. One for Terry McCarl, who lost power on lap 21 and the other for Zach Chappell, stalled on lap 31.Wayne Johnson and Lance Dewease ranked fourth and fifth while Jason Johnson, Greg Wilson, Tim Crawley, Mike Woodring and Travis Rilat rounded out the top ten.
With series points determining the line up and the top eight inverted, this put Woodring and Sides on the front row. Next came Wilson and Shepard. Row three consisted of Rilat and Wayne Johnson while Joey Saldana and highpoint man, Lance Dewease making up the fourth row. However, it was Sides who drove into the lead using his outside groove on the start and looked impressive, both on an open track and through traffic, except for the turn four problem at the end.
Heats went to Laney, Larry Neighbors, McCarl, George Suprick and Jason Johnson. Sport Allen won the C-Main, Sport Allen took the B-Main and Curt Michael won the Invitational Dash.
-East Bay Raceway