STARS Chupp story

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: May 9 results (May 10) STARS: Randle Chupp gets first series win as a driver CAPSULES: Teammates on front row in Fayetteville, N.C. =================================== SHORT TRACK AUTO RACING STARS (STARS)

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (Friday) Randle Chupp has plenty of STARS victories -- including three Dirt Track World Championships -- as a dirt late model crew chief. On Friday, he earned his first series victories turning a steering wheel instead of a wrench, picking up $6,000 for a 40-lap victory at Thunder Ridge Speedway.

Chupp, the 1995 track champion at Thunder Ridge, blazed past Delmas Conley early in the race and built leads of more than a straightaway before eventually holding off a charging Steve Francis at the 3/8-mile oval tucked among southeastern Kentucky's mountains.

"It feels awesome to win one of my own," Chupp said.

Francis was far ahead of third-place finisher Conley, who recorded his third top-10 finish in the past four STARS races. Jackie Boggs got past Steve Shaver in the closing laps for fourth place, while Tim Hitt, Shawn Holliday, C.S. Fitzgerald, Mike Balzano and Jack Boggs rounded out the top 10 and were the only cars on the lead lap.

"I would love to have seen it be a 45- or 50-lapper," said Francis. "I think Randle went a little soft on tires and we went a little hard on tires, and he got by Delmas and Shawn there early in the race, and I messed around there too long trying to get by 'em and let him get too far out in front of me."

Conley, getting the preferred line as the outside front-row starter, beat polesitter Rick Aukland to the first turn to open the race, and pulled away to a 12-length lead as Chupp, who started outside the third row, opened the race in fourth position.

Chupp shot past Aukland and Holliday on the third lap to grab second place, a lap before Aukland brought out a caution with a spin in Turn 2. As Aukland tried to spin his No. 12 into the infield, Rod Conley clipped Aukland's car, then Conley was hit from behind by R.J. Conley and Paul Harris. Only Harris was able to finish.

On the restart, Chupp left Delmas Conley standing still coming out of Turn 4 and began building a substantial lead over the next 15 laps. Behind Chupp, Francis couldn't muster enough out of his No. 15 to get under Conley, and the two drove side-by-side down the straightaways for several laps until Francis finally got past for good on the 21st lap.

With Chupp entering traffic, Francis began slicing the lead, cutting it to half a straightaway by the 27th lap, and continuing to close as Chupp came upon the slower cars of Shawn Toczek and Jack Boggs. "I caught Jack Boggs and the 55 running side by side and there was just nowhere to go," Chupp said. "I had a little bit of a lead and I wanted to use up a little of it instead of crashing my car out."

He almost crashed anyway. As the leader came across the stripe on the 35th lap, Toczek pinched Chupp against the concrete wall, upsetting the steering on Chupp's No. 114 and bending an A-frame. Despite the scary moment, Chupp recovered and finally lapped Toczek. Francis spent too many laps trying to get past the lapped cars of Rick Eckert and Mike Benedum, and was a dozen lengths behind Chupp at the finish.

CAR COUNT: 41 late models.

FAST QUALIFIER: Charlie Swartz, 17.59 seconds (3/8-mile oval).

FAST DASH (six laps; sets first three rows of feature): Rick Aukland, Delmas Conley, Shawn Holliday, Steve Francis, Charlie Swartz, Mike Balzano.

FIRST HEAT (10 laps; top four advance): Jackie Boggs, Tim Hitt, Paul Harris, Ronnie Johnson, Paul Davis, Scott Hartley, Richard Callihan, Brandon Kinzer, Greg Lucas (Jeff Geno scratched).

SECOND HEAT: Randle Chupp, Eddie Carrier Jr., Jack Boggs, C.S. Fitzgerald, David Dixon, Barry Bragdon, Henry Hornsby Jr., Benny Feltner, Shawn Toczek, Doug Hall, Shannon Thornsberry.

THIRD HEAT: Steve Shaver, Rod Conley, R.J. Conley, Rick Eckert, Willy Kraft, Mike Benedum, Joe Davis, Ryan Markham, Mike Cornett, Wayne Pennington.

CONSOLATION (15 laps; top four advance): David Dixon, Shawn Toczek, Mike Benedum, Brandon Kinzer, Paul Davis, Ryan Markham, Scott Hartley, Richard Chaney (nonfinishers not included).

FEATURE (Pos., driver, car no., hometown, chassis, laps, purse) 1. Randle Chupp (114), Knoxville, Tenn., GRT, 40, $6,000 2. Steve Francis (15), Ashland, Ky., Rocket, 40, $3,500 3. Delmas Conley (71), Wheelersburg, Ohio, Rocket, 40, $2,000 4. Jackie Boggs (4B), Grayson, Ky., MasterSbilt, 40, $1,500 5. Steve Shaver (30), Parkersburg, W.Va., Rayburn, 40, $1,200 6. Tim Hitt (68), Weston, W.Va., Rocket, 40, $1,000 7. Shawn Holliday (66), Ironton, Ohio, Rocket, 40, $900 8. C.S. Fitzgerald (100), Lexington, Va., Barry Wright, 40, $850 9. Mike Balzano (68) Parkersburg, W.Va., Rocket, 40, $800 10. Jack Boggs (B4), Grayson, Ky., MasterSbilt, 40, $750 11. Shawn Toczek (55), Griffin, Ind., Rayburn, 39, $750 12. Ronnie Johnson (5), Chattanooga, Tenn., MasterSbilt, 39, $650 13. Mike Benedum (25), Bristol, W.Va., Rocket, 39, $650 14. Rick Eckert (24), York, Pa., Rayburn, 39, $550 15. David Dixon (99), Hazard, Ky., Swartz, 39, $550 16. Paul Harris (10), Prestonsburg, Ky., Swartz, 39, $450 17. Brandon Kinzer (18), Allen, Ky., MasterSbilt, 39, $450 18. Charlie Swartz (1), Ashland, Ky., Rayburn, 27, $350, mechanical 19. Rod Conley (71r), Wheelersburg, Ohio, Rocket, 5, $350, steering 20. Rick Aukland (12), Fargo, N.D., Bullitt, 3, $350, accident 21. R.J. Conley (71c), Wheelersburg, Ohio, Rocket, 3, $350, accident 22. Eddie Carrier Jr. (1), Hazard, Ky., GRT, 3, $350, mechanical

NOTES: Thunder Ridge doubles has a harness-racing track and simulcasting center for parimutuel wagering .... the gravel harness-racing track encircles the 3/8-mile auto racing oval, and the tracks are separated by a mixture of concrete barriers, huge tires and guardrails .... throughout the night, several cars went too high and slid over the banking down a 30-foot slope and into the big tires ..... among those suffering damage in such accidents during hot laps or qualifying were Tim Hitt and Rick Aukland, who parked his damaged Rayburn chassis and drove a backup Bullitt .... Mike Balzano drove Tim Hitt's backup No. 68 after Balzano lost a motor in his No. E1 in the fast dash .... Steve Shaver started on the third row of his heat but led the first lap .... first-year late model driver Brandon Kinzer, 19, capitalized on a last-lap error by Paul Davis in the consolation to grab the final transfer spot and start his first STARS event .... Minnesota driver Willy Kraft, Barry Bragdon and Joe Davis were eliminated in a wreck in the consolation .... Thunder Ridge pays $4,000-to-win Saturday in a race that's sure to keep some drivers in eastern Kentucky .... light rain was bothersome all night and twice the program had to be stopped and the track reworked .... the heat races finally began at 11 p.m. and the feature didn't wrap up until 1:15 a.m. .... accompanying the rain were gusty winds and unseasonably cool temperatures of about 40 degrees .... Bob Pierce scratched after the first rain delay, as did Jeff Geno .... among those failing to qualify for the feature was Shannon Thornsberry, who's still on crutches after a March 8 wreck at Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tenn., that severely damaged his right foot .... it was Thornsberry's first race since the accident .... Jimbo Smith had axle problems and never raced .... the track lights also went out for about 10 minutes and caused a delay .... Benny Feltner caused three cautions throughout the night.

NEXT STARS RACE: Saturday, Florence (Ky.) Speedway, "Bluegrass Nationals," $8,000 to win.

CREDIT: Todd Turner <> of DirtNews Digest. ------------------------------------------------------------- OTHER FRIDAY NIGHT EVENTS

TEAMMATES ON FRONT ROW IN FAYETTEVILLE: Monday Motorsports teammates Wendell Wallace and Dale McDowell put their blue machines on the front row at Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Saturday's Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series feature, which pays $15,000 to the winner from a $65,000 purse. Other heat-race winners besides Wallace and McDowell were Bill Frye and Clint Smith, who will form the second row of Saturday's 100-lapper. Among other notable drivers, NASCAR Busch Grand National driver Rodney Combs finished fourth in his heat and will start 13th; last week's Hav-A-Tampa winner Donnie Moran was fourth in his heat and starts 14th; and Billy Moyer, the Hav-A-Tampa points leader and only multiple winner on the series in 1997, failed to transfer to the feature field after a fifth-place heat finish and will start in the front row of Saturday's second consolation race.

MACS OPENER CANCELED: The debut of the Mid-Atlantic Championship series will wait a week. Friday's MACS season opener at Interstate 79 Speedway in Shinnston, W.Va., was canceled and rescheduled for next Friday, May 16. MACS, which primarily runs at Pennsylvania tracks, replaces the former Northeast Winners Series (NEWS) this year. ------------------------------------------------------------- CAPSULE CREDITS: Ozzie Altman <> of Hav-A-Tampa and Dixie Phillips <>. -------------------------------------------------------------

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Series Stock car
Drivers Donnie Moran , Rick Eckert , Steve Francis