EL CAJON, CA (10/19/02). In this 21st century, it is only appropriate that the car that Matt Arnold drove to victory in the season closing factory stock enduro at Cajon Speedway Saturday night was purchased on E-Bay. That was a year and a half ago.
EL CAJON, CA (10/19/02). In this 21st century, it is only appropriate that the car that Matt Arnold drove to victory in the season closing factory stock enduro at Cajon Speedway Saturday night was purchased on E-Bay. That was a year and a half ago. That same 1987 Ford Crown Victoria carried him to the factory stock car championship at the track this year and pointed him to victory lane for the second time in four outings in a 150-lap factory stock enduro on the 3/8 mile paved oval. Arnold took the lead this time just 11 laps shy of the checkered flag after being one-lap in arrears halfway through the grind. JR Trent, who dominated the leader board, ended up second. Arnold was closing in quickly on Trent when Trent's hood popped up on lap 138. Trent managed to continue to the stripe and finished a noble second. Those two were the only ones to complete the full 150-rounds. Finishing third were Arnold's teammates, the team of John Krempp Jr. and Rich Crutchfield. Krempp and Arnold had teamed together to run the previous three enduros at the track. Josh Nicholas was fourth and Donn Stewart was fifth. In the companion Boat Trailer race, Richard Elliott outsailed the 15 "car" field where the field was thinned to just six cars, boats, and trailers in 20-laps.
The event closed the 42nd season of auto racing at Cajon Speedway. Arnold was indeed lucky to take home the first prize money. In the first half of the contest he spun at least a couple of times and drove with a shredded right front tire much of the way. Somehow he managed to only lose one lap and was still sixth, one-lap down, at the halfway break. After quickly regaining his lost lap when the race resumed on lap 76, he found himself dead in the water following a lap 104 red flag. When the race resumed, Arnold's car would not fire. Bomber stock rookie Brian Fitzgibbons gave him a push and got him going. From that point on Arnold slowly worked his way back into contention.
The winner was not totally convinced he had won the race after he took the checkered flag. After all it took a scoring protest for him and Krempp to claim their first enduro victory back on July 4, 2001 and another one to gain them their second place showing on July 4, 2002. But this time the result was not in doubt. "I didn't know if I was two laps down or one-lap down or what," Arnold explained. "(On that lap 104 red flag), I saw the 42 (of Trent) on the other side of the track. I said I'm either going to get my lap back or go for the lead. I don't know which. I got turned around so many times (including as late as lap 97). I didn't know where I was. I just kept digging."
Even when he passed Trent for the lead, Arnold wasn't sure. "I still didn't know if I was going for the lead," he smiled.
"It just stalled," Arnold explained of his lap 104 woes where Fitzgibbons came to his rescue.
Recalling his tire problems in the first half of the race, Arnold said, "I got turned and someone cut it (the tire) down. It felt like two tires were gone on the right side. I just kept going because I figured I would lose four laps in the pits changing them and maybe only two on the track. I just figured I'd go for it."
Early leaders Mike Rumbaugh and John Robinson fared none too well after leading. A big smashup in turn two on lap 41 took Rumbaugh out of action. Robinson was ahead at the halfway point but ended his night in the crashwall at the end of the front chute in turn one. Trent also led during the first half. He was out front from the halfway point on until Arnold caught him.