Spartan Speedway race report 2002-07-14

Doug Finley was the winner of the second and final race of the first annual Michigan State Quarter Mile Championship held at Spartan Speedway Sunday evening. The first race held in June at Flat Rock Speedway gave seven drivers a chance to win a...

Doug Finley was the winner of the second and final race of the first annual Michigan State Quarter Mile Championship held at Spartan Speedway Sunday evening.

The first race held in June at Flat Rock Speedway gave seven drivers a chance to win a $500 bonus for finishing highest in points in the two races. Spartan's race, unlike Flat Rock's did not allow the drivers to use radios or mirrors. Another difference between the races held at the two tracks was the tires. Flat Rock required the drivers to run slicks, while treaded tires were used at Spartan.

St. Denis came home third but won the first ever Michigan State Quarter Mile championship and took home the $500 bonus. Ron Allen finished second, followed by Robbie Loving, Tim Hebert, Charlie Ryan Jr, Jimmy Thiel and Tim Ryan.

Competition was close with all 27 competitors qualifying in the 13 second bracket. Spartan regular, Chris Place was the fast qualifier with a lap of 13.189.

Dave Stehouwer qualified 12th and started on the pole even though the invert was an 11. Dale Lewis shared the front row with Stehouwer for the 75-lap all green flag race. Jon McNett who won at Spartan last Friday, qualified seventh but actually started 12th, since Spartan rules require that their last feature winner start behind the invert.

Stehouwer jumped into the lead for the first nine laps. He was closely followed by Finley and Lewis. The first of eight cautions (including one red) flew for a spin by Chuck Garrison and Leonard Cousino on lap two.

Finley applied heavy pressure to Stehouwer and finally got around him on lap 10, moving out by several car lengths. Lewis and Don St. Denis were able to finally get around Stehouwer by lap 16. Lewis' run in second place was short lived when he spun out in turn four on lap 20. He retired at this point with mechanical problems.

St. Denis paced himself three car lengths behind Finley with Stehouwer following closely. At the halfway point it was still Finley, St. Denis and Stehouwer with Phil Massuch next, who had steadily moving up from his eighth place starting position.

After a long period of green the caution again flew on 46 for a spin. A red flag was thrown to clean up oil on the track which had been deposited by Leonard Cousino car. Stehouwer who had spun in the oil was given his third place position back.

Finley got a big jump on the ensuing restart but it was negated when the final caution flew three laps later for spin by Jon McNett and John Ledwidge.

When the green flag flew again Massuch began his charge towards the front. After working his way past the lapped car of Robbie Loving and third place Stehouwer and went after second place St. Denis. It took him another five laps to finally get around St. Denis.

Massuch set sail for leader Finley who was moving through lapped traffic. Phil closed within a few car lengths but also had to navigate the lapped cars. Finally with four laps remaining both cars cleared the lapped traffic, allowing Massuch to pull right onto Finley's rear bumper. Massuch moved to the high side of Finley on the final lap but was unable to complete the pass with Finley winning by a couple of feet.

"We don't run mirrors or radios here but I could still see Phil (Massuch) coming when I was going into turn three and knew he was coming fast. The handle on my car was going away towards the end of the race and the car was getting pretty bad. It's been a rough season and I'd like to thank my parents and everyone that have stood behind me ... and of course all my sponsors," said Finley who resides in Lansing, Mich.

NOTES:

Doug Finley's Camaro is sponsored by Nalett Trucking Co., Northside Service, The Ultimate Body Shop. Tonight's car was the team's "long track" car that they normally drive at Owosso and special events.

The Quarter Mile Championship is between the only two quarter mile tracks in the Late Model Alliance (six Michigan tracks and Angola Speedway in Indiana). The two quarter miles are vastly different with high banked Flat Rock having wide sweeping turns and semi-banked Spartan having tight turns.

The first 20 laps was a battle of the "flag" cars. Both Dave Stehouwer's and Dale Lewis' cars were painted in flag motif while Doug Finley's #29 sported numbers painted as a flag.

The three heats were won by Tim Hebert, Jim Heeney and Tim Ryan.

Hebert who broke a rocker arm heat replaced it before the feature.

Bryan Ausmus who gave Hebert quite a battle in their heat, suffered mechanical problems during the "hot laps" that preceded the race and retired to the pits.

Doug Finley, 75 laps
Phil Massuch, 75 laps
Don St. Denis, 75 laps
Dave Stehouwer, 75 laps
Jeff Hackworth, 75 laps
Charlie Ryan Jr, 75 laps
John Dunivon, 75 laps
Jon McNett, 75 laps
Ron Allen, 75 laps
Chris Place, 75 laps
Bill Heeney Jr, 74 laps
Lee Tayler, 74 laps
Tim Hebert, 74 laps
Robbie Loving, 74 laps
Chuck Garrison Jr, 73 laps
Chad Bissett, 72 laps
Steve Tabor, 71 laps
Carl Sodman, 69 laps
Ben Hidy, 67 laps
John Ledwidge, 49 laps
Jimmy Thiel, 46 laps
Leonard Cousino, 45 laps
Dale Lewis, 20 laps
Jimmy Gallagher, 20 laps
Brian Ausmus, 0 laps

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Series Stock car
Drivers Phil Mass