WS: Cajon Speedway race report 2001-03-31

EL CAJON, CA. Randy Bauer was just a little faster than. Tony Hunt when it counted in the USAC "Western States" sprint car main event presented by Sid's Auto Body at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. Bauer took the checkered flag at the end of...

EL CAJON, CA. Randy Bauer was just a little faster than. Tony Hunt when it counted in the USAC "Western States" sprint car main event presented by Sid's Auto Body at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. Bauer took the checkered flag at the end of 50-laps just a car length in front of Hunt in the inaugural USAC "Western States" sprint car race on the 3/8 mile paved oval. Early leader Kevin Kierce ran third. Fast qualifier Jeff Gardner took fourth. John Ryals got around Rick Hendrix on the final circuit to claim fifth.

Bauer started fourth in the 19-car field but took the green flag in third place after two first lap wrecked resulted in a single file restart. The second try at a green had been aborted when front row starters Bryan Bullard and Kierce bounced together on the front stretch. Bullard ended up in the turn one barrier and was out for the night.

The event ran clean for quite awhile once it got underway. Kierce, who was seeing Cajon's pavement for the first time, led early over Hunt and Bauer. Hunt, whose only experience at Cajon had come in a Winston West car, kept trying to put moves on the leader on the low side. Bauer, who had competed at Cajon only once before (in a Supermodified event back in 1995) made his bid on the high side. First he got past Hunt on lap 16. Then three rounds later he put a similar move on Kierce in turn four to grab the advantage in his Don Newman-owned, Asphalt Contracting - Say When Casino Chevrolet powered Beast.

Once in front Bauer motored out to a comfortable lead in his Idaho based car. By lap 29 he had opened up nearly a quarter lap margin. That lead was erased however when Shauna Hogg stopped on the track in turn three.

Three more caution flags in the next seven rounds resulted in USAC's officials stopping to race in a precautionary move to allow the cars to refuel. Just three laps before the red, Hunt had finally worked his way underneath Kierce on lap 34.

The final 14 rounds nearly ran non-stop. Hunt stayed glued to Bauer's tail and kept trying to slip by on the low side. But despite Bauer's car being tight after the red flag, the Kingston, Washington driver was able to hold Hunt at bay. Just after the two took the white flag, Troy Cline, Ryan Flynn, and the lapped car of Greg Giardina stacked up in the second turn. This resulted in a two-lap sprint to the finish. But Hunt just couldn't get by.

The result leaves Bauer number one in the USAC Western States standings. He had run second to Tracy Hines in the season opener a week earlier. Hunt sits second in points.

"Before the event tonight I was talking to my car owner, Don Newman," Bauer recounted in victory lane. "I told him I thought the only way you were going to get to the front of this deal was to go upstairs. Everyone can cover the bottom pretty well. Early in the race the car was sticking well once the tires got heated up. I thought it's now or never. And here you just hope they will give you enough room coming out of the corners because the track narrows up. Everyone just did a great job."

Bauer said he really didn't need the red flag because he (and everyone else as it turned out had plenty of fuel). But the stoppage did change the handling of his car.

"I didn't want to see that red flag" Bauer smiled. "As long as we kept running the car was good. Later in the race we kept getting those yellows and the car would tighten up. I was really tight at the end of the race. The car was pushing and I was losing corner speed. They kept telling me Tony was right behind. So I was thinking I better just stay on the bottom and hope he can't get upstairs like I did earlier."

-Bob Gardner

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About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Tracy Hines , Troy Cline , Tony Hunt , Rick Hendrix