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DirtNews Digest Your Online News Source for Late Model Dirt Track Racing "Get Some Dirt On Your Computer!" Todd Turner, editor Email address: 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: Web site: =================================== CONTENTS: April 25 results (published April 26)

STARS: Moran dominates at Cumberland, Md. CAPSULES: Hav-A-Tampa rain delay, UMP result =================================== SHORT TRACK AUTO RACING STARS (STARS) Cumberland Raceway

CUMBERLAND, Md. (Friday) Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, dominated in his first trip to Cumberland Raceway, beating Gary Stuhler by nearly half a lap for his first 1997 victory. In collecting the $5,000 winner's purse at the half-mile oval tucked along the Potomac River in western Maryland, Moran denied the second-finishing Stuhler his third consecutive STARS victory.

Moran's win was somewhat overshadowed by a controversy that cost polesitter Steve Shaver three spots in the finishing order.

Defending series champion Steve Francis, who drove a backup car and took a last-row provisional starting spot after an oil pump failure in his heat race, was awarded third place when he passed Scott Haus, Rick Eckert and Shaver on the last of 40 laps after the three drivers mistakenly slowed, believing the checkered flag intended for Moran meant the end of the race for them, too.

Eckert ended up fourth, Haus fifth and Shaver -- who, thought to be the third-place finisher, was interviewed immediately after the race on the frontstretch by the track announcer -- was sixth in the disputed official finishing order. Charlie Swartz, Mike Balzano, Tim Hitt and Delmas Conley rounded out the top 10, all one lap down.

Moran, a three-time STARS champion who has spent much of the season with the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, got his first STARS victory since winning $15,000 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse on Oct. 12. Moran's win Friday came on the first-ever STARS visit to the slightly banked oval on the West Virginia-Maryland border.

Moran made a smooth outside pass around Shaver on the sixth lap, and no one ever contested him the rest of the way. Moran was nearly a quarter-mile ahead of Stuhler at the finish, and was on the verge of lapping the cars running third through sixth -- Shaver, Eckert, Haus and Francis -- as the laps wound down. That set up the confusion because Moran was so close behind those cars when the flagman dropped the white flag, the other drivers claimed it wasn't clear that they indeed had *two* more laps.

When the checkered flag waved as Moran came out of Turn 4 on the next lap, Shaver, Eckert and Haus needed to complete another lap to finish the race, but they let off the throttle as Francis -- tipped by his spotter on the two-way radio -- sped past them on the backstretch to finish third.

To make sure he would get his third-place finish, Francis parked his car in the pits then quickly joined the victory celebration on the frontstretch to question the official finishing order. It was then that Shaver learned his third-place congratulations were premature, and the Parkersburg, W.Va., driver quickly climbed in his No. 30, slammed the gas and revved his way to the pits.

When STARS race director Bret Emrick arrived in the infield 20 minutes later with the official finishing order, he was peppered with questions from Eckert, Shaver, Haus and Swartz. Emrick insisted the scorers agreed on the official finish, but it turned out that the drivers were mostly upset by the flagging.

"The guy was throwing the checkered way too soon," Haus told Emrick during the intense-but-friendly discussion near the STARS trailer.

Swartz added that the flagman should've continued waving the white flag while dropping the checkered flag specifically on Moran's car as he went under the flagstand. "It was totally the flagman's fault. I saw it as plain as day," Swartz said.

"We already got the checkered," Eckert said, explaining why he slowed on the final lap. "Do you race a lap after you get a checkered? I don't."

CAR COUNT: 45 late models (feature results official; preliminary results unofficial).

FAST QUALIFIER: Rick Eckert, 20.695 seconds (half-mile oval).

FAST DASH (six laps; sets first three rows of feature): Steve Shaver, Scott Haus, Donnie Moran, Gary Stuhler, Rick Eckert, Delmas Conley.

FIRST HEAT (10 laps; top four advance): Dave Troutman, Rod Conley, Doug Timmons, Steve Lucas, D.J. Myers, Scott Rhodes, Ryan Markham, Ricky Edmonds, Chuck Clise, Shane Beegle, Johnny Bauer, Steve Francis (Davey Johnson scratched).

SECOND HEAT: Bob Salathe, Bob Wearing Jr., Doug Horton, Jeff Miller, Barry Bragdon, Scott Brode, Mike Johnson, Jeff Thomas, Kevin Malick, Scott Hartley, Tom Clise, Jim Mazur (J.R. Kiefer scratched).

THIRD HEAT: Charlie Swartz, Chris Harr, Mike Balzano, Tim Hitt, C.S. Fitzgerald, David Williams, Chuck Harper, Mike Benedum, Andy Fries, Johnny Harr, Gene Furlow, Tommy Armel (Denny Bonebrake scratched).

FIRST CONSOLATION (12 laps; top two advance): C.S. Fitzgerald, D.J. Myers, Ryan Markham, Jeff Thomas, Scott Hartley (only top five finishers listed).

SECOND CONSOLATION: Barry Bragdon, David Williams, Mike Johnson, Kevin Malick, Tommy Armel.

FEATURE (Pos., driver, car no., hometown, laps) 1. Donnie Moran (99), Dresden, Ohio, 40, $5,000 2. Gary Stuhler (19), Greencastle, Pa., 40 3. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., 40 4. Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., 40 5. Scott Haus (1H), Hamburg, Pa., 40 6. Steve Shaver (30), Parkersburg, Va., 40 7. Charlie Swartz (1), Ashland, Ky., 39 8. Mike Balzano (E1), Parkersburg, W.Va., 39 9. Tim Hitt (68), Weston, W.Va., 39 10. Delmas Conley (71), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 39 11. Steve Lucas (2L), Charleston, W.Va., 39 12. Dave Troutman (7), Hyndman, Pa., 39 13. Doug Timmons (95), hometown unavailable, 39 14. Rod Conley (71r), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 39 15. Chris Harr (w1), Claysburg, Pa., 39 16. Bob Salathe (rg3), Bedford, Pa., 39 17. Bob Wearing Jr. (55), Renfrew, Pa., 39 18. Jeff Miller (2), Cumberland, Md., 39 19. David Williams (25w), Avenue, Md., 39 20. Doug Horton (46), Morgantown, W.Va., 38 21. Barry Bragdon (77), Wheelersburg, Ohio, 38 22. Scott Hartley (32), Ravenswood, W.Va., 38 23. C.S. Fitzgerald (100), Lexington, Va., 29 24. D.J. Myers (70j), Greencastle, Pa., 21

NOTES: Some in the big crowd booed when it was announced that Steve Francis, not Steve Shaver, finished third .... Rick Eckert and Gary Stuhler were the only drivers to have qualifying times below 21 seconds, but Eckert's time was well off Lynn Geisler's treck record of 20.292 set in 1993 .... local favorite Bob Salathe's feature hopes were hampered by a first-lap spin as he did a 360-degree move in Turn 1 before righting the car with a loss of at least six positions .... getting in and out of the Allegany County Fairgrounds track wasn't quick or easy with one entry/exit over a rough railroad crossing .... Davey Johnson loaded up after a puff of smoke during time trials signaled a damaged engine .... Denny Bonebrake never was on the track besides hot laps .... scattered rainshowers in the area never fell on the track, but the temperature dipped to about 40 .... Cumberland's biggest late model event, the Queen City 50, is scheduled for Sept. 13 .... Stuhler and Eckert are former Queen City 50 winners .... driver J.R. Kiefer of Bedford, Pa., was back at the track as a new father after Garrett James was born Sunday .... the 50-50 winner got more than $1,000.

NEXT STARS RACE: Saturday, West Virginia Motor Speedway, Mineral Wells, W.Va., $6,000 to win.

CREDIT: Todd Turner <> of DirtNews Digest ------------------------------------------------------------- WEEKEND'S OTHER TOP EVENTS

RAIN DELAYS HAV-A-TAMPA RACE IN ARKANSAS: Rain on Friday delayed this weekend's Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series event at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Ark. The event, originally scheduled as a $15,000-to-win two-day affair, has been rescheduled as a one-day $10,000-to-win event Saturday. If rain continues and cancels Saturday's GRT 100, the event will be rescheduled as a $10,000-to-win event on Aug. 1.

WEAVER TRIUMPHS AT SPOON RIVER: Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., collected $2,000 for a United Midwestern Promoters victory Thursday at Spoon River Speedway in Banner, Ill. Weaver was the fastest among 34 qualifiers at 15.069 seconds, won the dash and cruised in the feature. Rounding out the top five in the feature were Mike Mullvain, Tom Rients, Ed Dixon and Ed Bauman. ------------------------------------------------------------- CAPSULE CREDITS: Ozzie Altman <> of Hav-A-Tampa and Jeff Adams <> -------------------------------------------------------------

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Series Stock car
Drivers Donnie Moran , Rick Eckert , Jeff Miller , Mike Johnson , Jeff Adams , Steve Francis , David Williams
Teams Williams