NCRA Liberal race report

LIBERAL, Kan. (May 30, 2004) - Tonight the O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series paid tribute to one of their fallen comrades, David Lahey, from nearby Moscow, Kan. A veteran of the modified wars, Lahey received the third place award and prize money for...

LIBERAL, Kan. (May 30, 2004) - Tonight the O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series paid tribute to one of their fallen comrades, David Lahey, from nearby Moscow, Kan. A veteran of the modified wars, Lahey received the third place award and prize money for the 2003 season at the January NCRA awards banquet in Tulsa. He was killed shortly afterwards in an auto accident.

Before the evening's racing, the 35 NCRA drivers and all local support class drivers on hand did a parade lap in a "missing driver" formation. With all the racecars parked in front of the packed grandstand, Lahey's seven-year-old great nephew sang the national anthem. This year the NCRA is starting 24 cars in each modified feature; 24 was Lahey's car number. And before tonight's feature, the 24 drivers released balloons on the parade lap.

But what may have been the ultimate tribute this evening came from the winner of the A feature. Liberal's John Schwab led flag-to-flag and was never challenged in capturing his first NCRA modified series race. He quickly admitted the tribute to Lahey was an emotional factor in his win.

"That was a huge incentive for me," Schwab said. "David and I raced together for a long time and we were fierce competitors. I knew that I had set my sights on his car every time I pulled on the track."

"Today when I pulled on the track I just told myself, 'where would David go,' so that's where I went."

Schwab led the field to the green with Dave Hardesty alongside and defending series champion Brian Franz directly behind..

But this was Schwab's night - or should we say, Lahey's night. Schwab stayed low and led the field through turn one with Franz right behind, as Hardesty dropped into third. Rounding out the top five after the first lap were Scott Green and Marc Hurd.

That was the top five for most of the race. The field bunched for the only caution of the 29-lap race on lap five. But Schwab again took off on the restart, opened up a huge lead just five laps later and never looked back.

By lap 13 the leaders had distanced themselves from the rest of the field but were still pretty strung out, with no one able to challenge Schwab.

With Schwab well on his way to the win, some others racing up front suddenly had to fight to hold their position. Franz was fairly well set in second with a cushion over now-third place driver Green, who passed Hardesty on lap 10.

Hurd was fifth and beginning to feel pressure from Bobby Joe Scott, another Liberal driver, by lap 15. Scott was having quite a night, having transferred to the A after finishing second in the B, which he started on the pole. Coming all the way from the 12th starting spot in the A, Scott was now pushing hard for fifth.

As the laps wound down, Hurd looked like he might keep Scott on his back bumper and hold the position. But they crossed start/finish side-by-side to begin both laps 19 and 20 before Scott slipped by Hurd in turn two of the final lap to claim fifth.

Schwab took the checker followed by Franz, Green, Hardesty and Scott. Rounding out the top 10 were Hurd, Conner Ward, Tommy Weder, Brian Powers and Alan Dix.

This was a big win for Schwab - on David Lahey night, in front of the hometown fans.

"Like I told my car owner, this is the biggest win in my career," he said. "We've won quite a few races but this is the most exciting one we've ever had."

Schwab has been a part-time competitor on the NCRA circuit but hopes to run more in the future.

"We're going to try and run some more NCRA just because of Lahey," Schwab said. "We've always liked the series but work sometimes interfered a little bit."

In the B feature, Scott and Greg Stephens broke away from the field early. They stayed in that order until Stephens took the lead on lap nine of the 12-lap race and held Scott at bay for the win. Larry Greider was third, followed by Jason Schniepp and Rick Taylor of Liberal.

There was plenty of crashin' and bashin' in the heat races as drivers adjusted to an unfamiliar track.

Brian McGowen and Gary Chambers got together on the front straight on lap six of the first heat. Chambers got the worst end as he crashed into the grandstand wall and left on the hook. When the dust cleared, McGowen rolled to victory.

Conner Ward passed Don Renfro for the lead on lap two and went on to capture the second heat.

The third heat saw Hardesty roar from fifth on the grid into the lead in just two laps. He beat back Franz for the win.

Green went from third to the lead on the first lap of the fourth heat with Hurd and Powers on his tail. Not even a yellow flag restart on the next-to- last lap could keep Green from winning.

For Franz, tonight capped a good weekend of racing with two seconds and a third after a last-place B feature finish in the season opener May 9 in Wichita.

"We had a great weekend and can't complain," he said. "We didn't get a win but were really close a couple of nights and were really consistent."

Trackside announcer Warren Hardy with Speedways Inc. said it best before the race. He called racing a family with drivers, crew, officials and fans all belonging to that family. Those in attendance tonight, especially Schwab, paid tribute to the loss of a family member - David Lahey.

"We didn't hang around together but we were buddies. We worked on cars together and we showed each other things. He's good . real good," said an emotional Schwab.

NCRA Modified Series
Seward County Speedway
Liberal, Kan.

May 30, 2004

HEAT 1 - 1. Brian McGowan; 2. John Schwab; 3. Tommy Weder; 4. Bobby Joe Scott; 5. Rick Taylor; 6. Glenn Thompson; 7. Gary Chambers; 8. Ron Emmerson; 9. Randy Woodside.

HEAT 2 - 1. Conner Ward; 2. Don Renfro; 3. Zach Wood; 4. Alan Dix; 5. Greg Stephens; 6. Jim Armstrong; 7. Jim Graves; 8. Cody Gearhart; 9. Shannon Gilchrist.

HEAT 3 - 1. Dave Hardesty; 2. Brian Franz; 3. Barry Crane; 4. Larry Greider; 5. Jason Schniepp; 6. Eddie Martin; 7. Brent Howe; 8. Jason Roe; 9. Travis Govern.

HEAT 4 - 1. Scott Green; 2. Marc Hurd; 3. Brian Powers; 4. Greg Burt; 5. Marc Crough; 6. Jeff Erickson; 7. Bubba Harvey; 8. Bryan Hubbard.

B FEATURE - 1. Stephens; 2. Scott; 3. Greider; 4. Schneipp; 5. Taylor; 6. Martin; 7. Armstrong; 8. Harvey; 9. Gilchrist; 10. Chambers; 11. Erickson; 12. Cody Gearhart; 13. Roe; 14. Thompson; 15. Crough; 16. Graves; 17. Howie; 18. Hubbard.

A FEATURE - 1. Schwab; 2. Franz; 3. Green; 4. Hardesty; 5. Scott; 6. Hurd; 7. Ward; 8. Weder; 9. Powers; 10. Dix; 11. Wood; 12. Stephens; 13. Renfro; 14. Gilchrist; 15. McGowan; 16. Taylor; 17. Chambers; 18. Crane. 19; Greider. 20; Burt; 21. Schniepp; 22. Martin; 23. Armstrong; 24; Harvey.

-Randy Fisher, guest writer-

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Series Stock car
Drivers Eddie M