BELLEVILLE, Kan. (Sept. 1, 2002) - To most people, home cookin' sounds better than most anything else. For Belleville's Darrick Klima, winning at home sounds even sweeter. "It's always great to win at home," Klima said, after holding ...
BELLEVILLE, Kan. (Sept. 1, 2002) - To most people, home cookin' sounds better than most anything else. For Belleville's Darrick Klima, winning at home sounds even sweeter.
"It's always great to win at home," Klima said, after holding off three-time defending season champion Johnny Allen to win the O'Reilly Auto Parts/NCRA modified race Sunday night on the Belleville high banks.
After winning his heat, Klima started the A feature on the outside of the first row. Scott Green nabbed the pole by fighting his way from 10th to second in the first heat, finishing right behind Klima.
It was a tough night for drivers all around and the A feature was no exception. On the first lap, turn two collected four cars. Two of those directly involved went to the pits, along with a third car. Dustin Huehl's racecar came in on the hook, done for the evening. Curt Fulps was also caught up in the melee and went to the pits but later returned. Although not directly involved in the pile-up, David Lahey drove slowly around the track and into the pits, also done for the night.
After a lengthy cleanup, they tried it again with slightly better results. Allen, starting from the inside of row two - the same position he started and won from in Saturday's feature at Thunderhill Speedway in Mayetta, Kan. - looked poised to make it two-in-a-row.
He jumped into the lead going into the first two turns, but it was short-lived. On the backstretch, Klima and Green sandwiched Allen, sending him to third in the blink of an eye.
After completing the first lap, another yellow bunched the field. Klima held his position on the restart and Green suddenly had Allen knocking on his back bumper, wanting to move into second. Allen finally got around Green on lap 11 and set his sights on reeling in Klima.
"We got hung up in third for quite awhile," Allen said. "Once we got to second, we had a really good racecar."
Klima padded his lead and had smooth sailing through most of the race. He took the high line through lapped traffic but eased up a bit, which almost cost him later.
"I was getting into lapped traffic and I just kinda slowed down a little bit to make sure we were going to clear everybody," he said.
Allen noticed this - the break he needed to catch the leader.
"It seemed like Klima was backing up to us at the end," Allen said. "I think the longer I went, the better we got."
Allen slowly moved up on Klima and distanced himself from Green in third, setting up the battle for the lead. But Klima still felt comfortable with his lead and his racecar.
"I didn't think anybody was going to be running me down because the car still felt pretty good," Klima said. "All of a sudden, Johnny Allen came out of nowhere, slide-jobbed me and passed me."
Allen took over first on lap 18, but not for long as a determined Klima was not to be denied in front of his hometown crowd.
"I thought (after Allen's pass), `I'm not gonna let this happen after I did all this work,'" Klima said. "I got back on the gas and did what we needed to do to get back around him."
Klima retook the lead and they battled nose-to-tail for the last two laps. On the last lap, Allen slid down low again, trying to slip around Klima for the win. But Klima slammed the door shut and held on for the win.
"It was a great battle. Allen's real great to race with," he said. "He gave me plenty of room; I gave him plenty of room and we put on a really good race."
For Klima, it was his second NCRA victory, both coming on the historic highbanks.
"We try to run with the NCRA guys when they come to Belleville, which is generally the only place we do," he said. "We did win two years ago and this is our second win. I think it's as good or better than the first one."
Klima traveled to Thunderhill on a whim Saturday. He made it to the A feature and ran as high as fourth, before mechanical problems left him 19th out of 20 cars.
Allen was pleased with the results of the race.
"You can't feel bad about running second in a deal like that because that was a helluva race," he said.
Green held on to finish third, his second straight top five finish. This one was much easier than the night before at Thunderhill, where he fought from the D feature to a fourth-place finish in the A.
Rounding out the top five were Greg Stephens and Marc Robe, second in points on the season. He made up a little ground on leader Greg Skaggs, who finished eighth.
With 40 drivers to start the evening, four heats were run.
Klima started the first heat in third place but led all eight laps for the win. Green moved from 10th to second.
In the second heat, Kurt Johnston, who won the last NCRA event on the highbanks, bounced off the turn one wall on the first lap, ending his evening. Allen went on to win the heat.
Jimmy Segraves and Dena Wilson hooked up in a real tussle in the third heat. Wilson looked low for the lead several times late in the race but Segraves held her off for the win.
Heat four saw Greg Stephens and Dave Hardesty fighting for the lead early until Hardesty slowed on lap three after loosing the drive shaft on his racecar. Stephens went on to capture the heat victory.
Ten cars advanced from the heats directly into the A feature, while two 10-lap B features were run with the top seven in each advancing to the A.
In the first B feature, two cars hit the turn four wall on the first lap to stop action. On the restart, Jeremy Chambers and Don Renfro broke away from the others, looking for that top spot. Chambers put some distance between himself and Renfro, taking first place with Renfro second. The other qualifiers for the A feature were (in order of finish) Skaggs, Brad Johnston, Rick Mueller, Jeff Olson and Bob Loveless.
The second B saw David Lahey take the early lead over Brian Powers, Curt Fulps and Dave Hardesty. A yellow flag came out on the second lap for Joe Cleveland's blown engine. NCRA officials penalized Hardesty for jumping the restart, dropping him two positions to sixth for another restart. Lahey kept the lead, fighting off Fulps for the win. Other qualifiers were Hardesty, Powers, Zach Wood, Justin Bosart and Jeff Erickson.
With six races left in the season, Skaggs still holds the points lead with Robe second. Allen's chances of four-peating seem slim at this point but he's still out there having fun.
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the year," he said. "Everybody else is getting tired while we're just getting fired up."
Heat 1 (8 laps) - 1. Darrick Klima, Belleville, Kan.; 2. Scott Green, Derby, Kan.; 3. Don Renfro, Wichita, Kan.; 4. Brian Powers, Wichita, Kan.; 5. Jeff Erickson, Wichita, Kan.; 6. Randy Woodside, Wichita, Kan.; 7. Greg Skaggs, Glenpool, Okla. 8. Rick Mueller, Wichita, Kan.; 9. Micah Johnson, Courtland, Kan.; 10. Julius Johnson, Courtland, Kan.
Heat 2 (8 laps) - 1. John Allen, Chanute, Kan.; 2. Jeremy Chambers, Yates Center, Kan.; 3. Marc Robe, Wichita, Kan.; 4. David Lahey, Moscow, Kan.; 5. Curt Fulps, Wichita, Kan.; 6. Joe Cleveland, Bennington, Kan.; 7. Justin Bosart, Mankato, Kan.; 8. Ed Putnam, Esbon, Kan.; 9. Kurt Johnston, Concordia, Kan.; 10. Steve Burch, Junction City, Kan.
Heat 3 (8 laps) - 1. Jimmy Segraves, Valley Center, Kan.; 2. Dena Wilson, Coweta, Okla.; 3. Tod Jones, Unidella, Neb.; 4. Brandon Blochlinger, Concordia, Kan.; 5. Bob Loveless, Salina, Kan.; 6. Travis Govern, Wichita, Kan.; 7. Brook Phillips, Wichita, Kan. 8. Tony Foster, Wichita, Kan.; 9. Scott Phillips, Smolan, Kan.; 10. Troy Johnson, Concordia, Kan.
Heat 4 (8 laps) - 1. Greg Stephens, Wichita, Kan.; 2. Dustin Huehl, Bennington, Kan.; 3. Brad Johnston, Peck, Kan.; 4. Justin Bell, Colby, Kan.; 5. Zach Wood, Wichita, Kan.; 6. Jeff Olson, Salina, Kan.; 7. Larry Greider, Wichita, Kan.; 8. Dave Hardesty, Minneapolis, Kan.; 9. Steve Withee, Clay Center, Kan.; 10. Kenny Cross, Salina, Kan.
B1 feature (10 laps) - 1. Chambers; 2. Renfro; 3. Skaggs; 4. B. Johnston; 5. Mueller; 6. Olson; 7. Loveless; 8. J. Johnson; 9. Foster; 10. Bell; 11. B. Phillips; 12. Woodside.
B2 feature (10 laps) - 1. Lahey; 2. Fulps; 3. Hardesty; 4. Powers; 5. Wood; 6. Bosart; 7. Erickson; 8. Burch; 9. M. Johnson; 10. Withee; 11. Govern; 12. Greider; 13. Cleveland. Did not start - Putnam, Cross.
A feature ( 25 laps) - 1. Klima; 2. Allen; 3. Green; 4. Stephens; 5. Robe; 6. Segraves; 7. Chambers; 8. Skaggs; 9. Powers; 10. B. Johnston; 11. Mueller; 12. Blochlinger; 13. Bosart; 14. Wilson; 15. Jones; 16. Olson; 17. Wood; 18. Fulps; 19. Hardesty; 20. Erickson; 21. Renfro; 22. Loveless; 23. Lahey; 24. Huehl.