DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor Email address: DirtNews@aol.com Web site: ...
DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor
Email address: DirtNews@aol.com Web site: http://members.aol.com/dirtnews/digest =================================== CONTENTS: May 16-17 (published May 18) HAV-A-TAMPA: Moran wins King of the Mountain 100 at WVMS =================================== HAV-A-TAMPA DIRT RACING SERIES King of the Mountain 100
MINERAL WELLS, W.Va. (Friday and Saturday) Donnie Moran is King of the Mountain, and it doesn't look like the Ohio driver plans on getting knocked off anytime soon.
Moran, winning for the fourth time in his last six races, held off a late charge from Jack Boggs to lead flag-to-flag at the Hav-A-Tampa King of the Mountain 100 at West Virginia Motor Speedway and collect $25,000, the biggest dirt late model purse so far in 1997.
"The MasterSbilt chassis just worked to perfection," said Moran, who earned his third career Hav-A-Tampa victory. "The car's been working good all year, we've just had a lot of misfortune and a lot of bad luck, and it's kinda turned around."
"Kinda turned around" is an understatement for the three-time STARS champion who has led 290 of his last 480 racing laps and has pocketed a national-best $61,000 in purses since April 19. Included in Moran's hot streak is two Hav-A-Tampa victories, two STARS victories and two victories on the picturesque WVMS oval just off Interstate 77 south of Parkersburg.
Boggs gave Moran a bit of a scare over the final 20 laps, but Moran proved unpassable on the 5/8-mile oval and held on to win by about 10 car lengths. "They said (via two-way radio) he was getting a little bit closer, and our tires were going away a little bit and we was just trying to hang on there," Moran said in victory lane. "We were just lucky enough ....."
Bart Hartman turned in his typical impressive finish at WVMS, finishing third while Billy Moyer, who ran second for 65 laps before fading after the final caution at lap 79, was fourth. Wendell Wallace, Steve Francis, polesitter Todd Andrews, Rick Eckert, Gary Stuhler and Skip Arp finished fifth through 10th. Local Parkersburg, W.Va., drivers Steve Shaver and Mike Balzano finished 11th and 12th as the last drivers on the lead lap.
Moran, who celebrated his victory by drenching track publicist Ashley Ness with champagne spray, was prepared for his trip to the big oval.
"We was here a couple of weeks ago when Hav-A-Tampa got rained out, we come for the (April 26 STARS) event they had here and kinda got geared up for this a little bit," Moran said. "We didn't qualify the greatest but we got things turned around in the heat race and put us on the front row of the feature, and we knew if we could get everything right, the tires right, the chassis set right, we'd be good to go."
Andrews raced Moran evenly down the backstretch on the first lap, but Moran dove deeper into Turn 3 to take the lead he would never give up. He built a half straightaway lead on Andrews by the eighth lap, and was lapping traffic by the 15th lap when Moyer moved around Andrews coming off Turn 4 to grab the second spot.
A half straightaway lead on Moyer dissolved for a caution caused by Clint Smith's frontstretch spin on the 22nd lap, while Francis, Boggs and Hartman advanced to push a fading Andrews out of the top five.
Moyer took his best shot at Moran on the restart, trying to make his outside line work around Turns 1 and 2. But Moran was unfazed, sticking with his consistent low line to pull away yet again to a comfortable lead while Moyer, Francis, Boggs and Hartman gave chase. Moyer got another crack on a lap-30 restart after Davey Johnson brought out the caution, but Moran again repelled the outside challenge.
Moran methodically worked lapped traffic mid-race and by the 72nd lap -- just after Boggs had finally passed Francis for third place -- he led a struggling Moyer by his biggest margin, nearly a full straightaway.
A caution on the 79th lap gave everyone a final shot at Moran, but it was clear Moyer was through as his car fought for traction exiting the turns. While Moran pulled away to a 20-length lead, Boggs past Moyer on the 80th lap, and Hartman got past Moyer two laps later. Boggs put on his final charge, slicing Moran's lead to 10 lengths on the 85th lap, then pulling up on Moran's back bumper on the 93rd circuit.
"The crew chief, he was talking to me and telling me how much of a lead I had," Moran said. "It got down to about nothing there, but he said (Boggs) could run on me a little bit in the corners, but I was pulling him off the corners. As long as that usually happens, a guy usually don't pass you."
Boggs, who spent many tiresome laps trying to get past Francis, said the setup on his No. B4 wasn't quite right. "We missed the setup a little bit, not bad, but we were pretty close, pretty close," Boggs said. "I wasn't real consistent, but I ran (Moran) down, and I felt like if I would've got by him I don't feel like he could've gotten me."
Boggs would get no closer over the final six laps and settle for the runner-up spot, while Hartman was happy with his third-place finish, the first time in the past four races he's completed at WVMS that he wasn't first or second.
"I couldn't get up off (Turn) 4. That's where everyone was beating me," Hartman said. "I was good getting in, through the middle, both corners, I just couldn't get up 4. We was just trying to find something and get going. Every once in a while I'd run quicker lap times than Donnie, but you gotta run them consistently."
Moran's hot streak started with a second-place Hav-A-Tampa finish to Moyer on April 19 at Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway, and picked up steam when he swept a STARS weekend with victories at Cumberland (Md.) Raceway on April 25 and WVMS on April 26. Returning to the Hav-A-Tampa series, he won at Whynot (Miss.) Speedway on May 3 and followed that with a 10th-place finish at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 10 before his second victory at WVMS in three weekends.
CAR COUNT: 59 late models.
FAST QUALIFIER: Billy Moyer, 22.642 seconds (99.379 mph).
FIRST HEAT (top four advance): Todd Andrews, Billy Moyer, Bart Hartman, Skip Arp, Scott Bloomquist, Mike Head, C.S. Fitzgerald, Scott Hartley, John Gill, Larry Bond, Jeff Wood, Mike Faykus, Mike Benedum (Steve Lucas and Henry Hornsby Jr. scratched).
SECOND HEAT: Donnie Moran, Steve Francis, Gary Stuhler, Freddy Smith, Marshall Green, Gar Dickson, Jason Minnite, Clint Smith, Steve Russell, John Mason, Jerry Rice, Dale Smith, Bryan Rice, Wade Knowles.
THIRD HEAT: Davey Johnson, Jack Boggs, Mike Balzano, Bob Pierce, Bill Frye, Kennie Compton Jr., Dale McDowell, Earl Pearson Jr., Ricky Weeks, Clayton Christenberry, Rodney Combs, Gary Webb, Andy Bond, Greg Mitchell, Don Wright.
FOURTH HEAT: Steve Shaver, Wendell Wallace, David Gibson, Rick Eckert, Tim Hitt, Ronnie Johnson, Charlie Swartz, Randy Boggs, Joe Meadows, Johnny Virden, Ray Cook, Mark Miner, Mike Duvall, Wayne Hughes, Mike Johnson.
FIRST CONSOLATION (15 laps; top three advance): Scott Bloomquist, Earl Pearson Jr., C.S. Fitzgerald, Scott Hartley, John Gill, Bill Frye, Jeff Wood, Dale McDowell, Mike Head, Larry Bond, Gary Webb, Ricky Weeks, Clayton Christenberry, Rodney Combs, Andy Bond, Greg Mitchell, Don Wright (Kennie Compton Jr., Mike Faykus, Mike Benedum, Steve Lucas and Henry Hornsby Jr.).
SECOND CONSOLATION: Tim Hitt, Ronnie Johnson, Gar Dickson, Marshall Green, Johnny Virden, Steve Russell, Ray Cook, Mike Duvall, Joe Meadows, Mark Miner, John Mason, Clint Smith, Jason Minnite, Mike Johnson, Wade Knowles, Wayne Hughes, Dale Smith, Bryan Rice (Jerry Rice scratched).
FEATURE (Pos., driver, car no., hometown, chassis, laps; lap count unofficial) 1. Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, MasterSbilt, 100, $25,000 2. Jack Boggs (B4), Grayson, Ky., MasterSbilt, 100 3. Bart Hartman (75), Zanesville, Ohio, MasterSbilt, 100 4. Billy Moyer (21), Batesville, Ark., MasterSbilt, 100 5. Wendell Wallace (6m), Batesville, Ark., GRT, 100 6. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., Rocket, 100 7. Todd Andrews (42), Duke Center, Pa., Bullitt, 100 8. Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., Rayburn, 100 9. Gary Stuhler (19), Greencastle, Pa., MasterSbilt, 100 10. Skip Arp (31), Georgetown, Tenn., GRT, 100 11. Steve Shaver (30), Parkersburg, W.Va., Rayburn, 100 12. Mike Balzano (E1), Parkersburg, W.Va., Rocket, 100 13. Ronnie Johnson (5), Chattanooga, Tenn., MasterSbilt, 99 14. Scott Bloomquist (0), Mooresburg, Tenn., Barry Wright, 99 15. Bob Pierce (32), Danville, Ill., MasterSbilt, 99 16. David Gibson (G2), Ash Flat, Ark., GRT, 99 17. Clint Smith (1), Griffin, Ga., GRT, 99 18. Freddy Smith (00), Knoxville, Tenn., GRT, 99 19. Dale McDowell (17m), Rossville, Ga., GRT, 98 20. C.S. Fitzgerald (100), Lexington, Va., Barry Wright, 98 21. Gar Dickson (60), Flintstone, Ga., Barry Wright, 97 22. Scott Hartley (32), Ravenswood, W.Va., Rocket, 78 23. Tim Hitt (68), Weston, W.Va., Rocket, 65 24. Davey Johnson (1j), Greensburg, Pa., Bullitt, 22 25. Earl Pearson Jr. (7), Jacksonville, Fla., GRT, 16
NOTES: Scott Bloomquist split with Barry Wright three weeks ago but was still driving a Barry Wright-built car -- "something we just threw together," Bloomquist said -- that carried a yin-yang symbol rather than his traditional No. 18 .... the feature lasted about an hour and ended by 10:50 p.m. .... the top four in each heat were inverted, according to a provision in the Hav-A-Tampa rulebook that allows for tracks promoting races paying at least $25,000 to win to do so .... the weather was picture perfect as showers pushed off to the south early in the day .... Marshall Green started on the pole of the second consolation but got a horrible start and missed the feature, failing a late-race charge to pass Gar Dickson .... Hav-A-Tampa provisional starters were Dale McDowell and Clint Smith, while Scott Hartley started via promoter's option .... Dale Smith of Tasmania failed in his attempt to make the feature .... other notable drivers who didn't make the feature field were Gary Webb, John Gill, John Mason, Wade Knowles, Ray Cook, Rodney Combs and Joe Meadows .... Saturday night's worst accident was in the second consolation when Clint Smith spun backwards on the frontstretch, forcing Dale Smith to check up and Bryan Rice rammed into Dale Smith's car, suffering heavy damage to the front of Rice's No. 777 .... Joe Meadows was driving the Audie Swartz-built No. 11 that's occasionally driven by Charlie Swartz .... Bob Pierce was back in the Stephen McCullough Motorsports No. 32 .... Todd Andrews was back in a Bob Cowen-owned car .... Webb's No. 56 was a seldom seen tan color with orange lettering .... Gill's plain black car was numbered with duct tape .... Speedo the Speedway Clown briefly got caught on telephone duty early Saturday afternoon, reassuring fans who asked about rain with "we can see from here to Toledo!" .... don't forget to check out the West Virginia Motor Speedway web site at www.wvmsrace.com.
NEXT HAV-A-TAMPA RACES: June 13-14, Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway, $5,000 to win Friday, $10,000 to win Saturday.
CREDIT: Todd Turner <DirtNews@aol.com> of DirtNews Digest. -------------------------------------------------------------