SUBJECT: SPTS Hialeah, FL - RIS - ORGANIZATION: Racing Information Systems HEADLINE: Trucks at Hialeah HIALEAH, FL - RIS - The Southern Pro Truck Series moved into Hialeah Speedway under threatening skies and forecasts of rain for its third...
SUBJECT: SPTS Hialeah, FL - RIS - ORGANIZATION: Racing Information Systems HEADLINE: Trucks at Hialeah
HIALEAH, FL - RIS - The Southern Pro Truck Series moved into Hialeah Speedway under threatening skies and forecasts of rain for its third points paying race of the 1997 season. The powers-that-be were good enough to hold off the wet stuff and allow the racers ample time to put on a good show. When the racing was over and the checkered flag had fallen the winner was the Francisco's Auto Body/Lisa's Barber Shop/Berry's Sign/Curtis Motorsports #12 of Ron McCreary.
The fast time in qualifying was set by the powerful Chevrolet of Dan Perez, in the Pletcher Racing/Specialty Cars/CR Construction Chevrolet, who used his experience in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series to quickly get the handle on the tricky 1/3 mile slightly banked oval. Perez set a track record of 17.67 seconds on his fast lap, but the rest of the field was not far behind. The first casualty of the evening was the truck of John Jackson, who suffered engine problems on his qualifying attempt and became a spectator for the rest of the evening.
As is the norm for the Southern Pro Trucks, the top eight qualifiers are inverted, which put the Tasker Motorsports Chevy S-10 of Jimmy Carter on the pole for the start of the race. Due to overheating problems encountered in practice and qualifying, Carter elected to start at the rear rather than provide an obstacle for the other drivers at the start of the race and to allow him to preserve his engine. This placed Fred Wagner in the Marine Surplus truck on the pole for the fall of the green flag.
Besides being one of the best appearing trucks on the circuit, the Wagner machine proved it is also one of the fastest in the series as he and outside polesitter Brian Teeters in the Fumble Inn/Dr's Laukhof/Toys for Trucks/Edmunds Sheet Metal Chevrolet set off on the first lap door-to-door into turn one and remained that way for all of the first and second laps. The two trucks swapped the lead four times before Teeters was able to get the advantage and take the lead. Behind the two front runners there were battles ensuing for every position as others tried to work their way to the front.
Teeters was able to stretch out a lead of two truck lengths, but Wagner fought back and reeled in the leader and began looking for a way to get by. It did not take Wagner long to find a hole and drop his nose inside to grab the lead and as the eighth lap went into the books it was Wagner who was out front. Teeters soon began to fade as the tires went away thanks to the abuse they had taken on the first two laps trying to grab the lead around the outside.
McCreary, meanwhile, was working his way towards the front, and also coming on strong after being sent to the rear for an incident on lap 5 was Perez. Teeters allowed a couple of laps to let his tires cool down and then made a run at Wagner and retook the lead. This left Wagner in second and the fast approaching duo of McCreary and Perez were right behind. Todd Blevins in the Prolong/Blevin's Automotive/Herbie Cope's Racing Decals Toyota T-100 had moved up behind Perez and rounded out the top five at the halfway point.
Wagner now began to feel the effects of not preserving his rubber early on and the trio behind him soon got by and headed to the back bumper of Teeters. McCreary camped on the tailgate of Teeters and then in a superb move to the inside he took the lead. This was the end of the rubber for Teeters and he was soon passed by both Perez and Blevins.
Perez was now the hunter as he looked high and low for a way around McCreary, but McCreary was holding a tight inside line and not making mistakes. As the final laps ran down Perez tried every move to take the lead, but McCreary was up to the task of making his truck as wide as possible. The fastest truck at the end was likely Blevins and he spent the final laps pestering Perez and hoping for a chance to get by while Perez himself was absorbed in passing McCreary. Neither driver was able to find a chink in the armor needed to gain a spot and the checkered flag came out with McCreary taking the win, Perez second, and Blevins in third.
In the fourth spot at race's end was the Certified Maintenance Dodge of Mark Manfredi, who had suffered damage to the left rear during a brush with the wall in qualifying, and holding on for dear life to finish in fifth was Teeters.
The truck most deserving of a headache award was the Crazy Soap/Wynn's/Wayne's Automotive/Herbie Cope's Racing Decals Chevrolet "Crew Cab" of Wayne Metcalf. Metcalf was caught up in a wreck early on that damaged the right side of the truck, and then cut down a tire that required a trip to the pits for a replacement. Later in the race, he returned to the pits under caution for a left rear and front rubber without losing a lap and used the fresher tires to finish in sixth place. The crew did some excellent work getting him in and out.
In the 1997 Sothern Pro Truck Series point standings, Perez is holding on to a slight advantage over Metcalf with Mark Manfredi in third and Teeters in fourth. It is still early and there is plenty of time for others to join the battle for the points championship.
HIALEAH RESULTS 1. Ron McCreary 2. Dan Perez 3. Todd Blevins 4. Mark Manfredi 5. Brian Teeters
1997 SPTS POINTS STANDINGS 1. Dan Perez 126 2. Wayne Metcalf 107 3. Mark Manfredi 100 4. Brian Teeters 82 5. Jimmy Carter 78 6. Randy Smathers 70 7. Fred Wagner 64 8. Todd Blevins 60 9. Dave McCabe 60 10.John Jackson 53
John Kaiser, Racing Information Systems