Division champions crowned at Cajon
EL CAJON -- Danny Gay, Rick Hagen, Ed Hale, Brian Fitzgibbons, and Ryan Gay were crowned divisional champions Saturday (Sept. 25) at Cajon Speedway in the Grand American modifieds, street stocks, pony stocks, bomber stocks, and factory respectively.
Of that quintet only Danny Gay and his cousin Ryan made their way to victory lane during the Advertising Edge Grand Prix races on the 3/8-mile paved oval. Danny Gay prevailed for the sixth time this year in the Grand American modified main event. In addition to his title Gay will be awarded an additional $1000 as the Carpets Galore Hard Charger for earning the most passing points during the year. Neil Rodvold was a wire-to-wire victor in the 30-lapper for the street stocks. Earl Downing picked up his third victory in five weeks in the pony stocks but fell two points shy of overtaking Hale in the pony stocks. Marty Lehrke, one of five drivers with an opportunity Saturday to take the bomber honors for the season, grabbed his third main event win of 2004.
It was a record setting night at the track. The largest field in the track's history, 127 cars, was on hand for the final NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series regular season point race. The only remaining shows on the track's 2004 calendar are the Budweiser Open Competition for late model sportsman next Saturday and the factory stock enduro on October 9.
Downing did what he had to do Saturday night to win his first championship while Hale was fortunate to claim his fifth pony stock title and eighth overall during his 43-year career at the Gillespie Field oval. Hale started the night with a somewhat comfortable, but not anywhere near insurmountable 47-point lead over Downing. Saturday night started with Downing missing being fast qualifier by just nine thousandths of a second. Had he been the quick timer, he would have beaten Hale by a single digit.
With Hale third quickest, the duo started 11th and 12th respectively in the 21-car feature. Downing stormed through the pack and took the lead from Darrell McKee 15-laps into the 25-lap contest. Hale meanwhile was picking his way more slowly through traffic. When Downing grabbed the point, Hale was sitting in sixth. Then six circuits later a car many laps down suddenly pulled right down the track into Hale's path as he entered turn one. Hale suffered a flat tire and other damage in the fray and had to make a hasty trip to the pits. While his team could change the tire, the remaining damage could not be fixed. Hale returned and started about 15th. In the final four rounds, he was able to pick off just enough cars to win the title.
While Downing was obviously disappointed, he could still smile after the race that concluded his best season ever. "Whether its two or 102 (points), it?s a little hard to swallow, but that?s racing," he said. "We did what we had to do tonight. The only thing we could have done differently was beat Beeney (the fast qualifier). We?ll be back next year."
"I just need the confidence to win (this year)," he continued. "I had the car all along. (Coming into tonight) I knew I had an outside chance if Ed had a really bad night and I had a good night."
Hale of course had his ever-present smile. "We got lucky," he said. "(In the wreck) the car got bent real bad. The (many times lapped) black car was up (on the top of the track). Suddenly he came down to the bubble. I said 'oh no, I don't need this'. We had a flat (tire) and the front gears were down. The fan is hitting both the radiator and the hose. We were lucky. Earl has a good car. We had fun out there.
Danny Gay also came from deep in the pack in the modified feature. His title in his third different division at the track was wrapped up by the time qualifying started based on the division's car count. Hagen meanwhile backed up his 2003 bomber stock title with the 2004 street stock championship. Like Gay he did not have to compete Saturday night to sew things up because of the division?s car count.
Things were not that way in the bomber stocks. Entering the evening, Fitzgibbons was just three points in front of Scott Denton, who had to go to a backup car for the third consecutive week. Lurking just behind this duo were Hayden Smith, Lehrke, and Randy Hart - each of whom could have stolen the title. Early on in the bomber race it looked like Denton might gain the title. Fitzgibbons was buried deep in traffic while Denton had worked his way up to second. A lap 13 slowdown broke the double-file pack into a single file for the restart. That was all Fitzgibbons needed. He moved steadily forward until he was fourth at the stripe, just behind Denton. The final points rundown have Fitzgibbons nine markers in front of Denton.
In the street stocks, Rodvold went unchallenged
all the way. Despite a mid-race caution and a yellow with one-lap
remaining, Rodvold was 15 lengths out front of Hagen when the
checkered fell. The big loser in the street stocks was Rodvold's
teammate and brother-in-law Kenny Hall. He crossed the line in
eighth place and apparently finished second in the points chase.
But a post-race teardown of the top five finishers in points uncovered
an engine infraction unknown to the team and Hall lost all points
for the night. That dropped him to fourth in the hunt, moving
Eric Ferguson and Richard Hinze into second and third respectively.
Ryan Gay took over on lap 10 of the 25-lapper for factory stocks and cruised to his fifth triumph of the year. The first 12 circuits were run in a clockwise direction. At that point there was a yellow flag thrown and the field was turned around for the second half of the race. Either way made no difference to Gay, who clearly had the strongest car in the field. Charles Nevin, the only driver with a chance to catch Gay in the season-long chase, ended up buried in the front stretch crashwall following a lap 7 shunt.
BACK TRACKS -- Congratulations to Ivan and Rosemary Harrison whose racing team just completed 17 years of 100 percent participation to tie Mark Norris for the record for most consecutive years of showing up to compete every race night.
Cajon regulars Ferguson, Hale find way back
to victory lane
GILLESPIE FIELD -- Eric Ferguson and Ed Hale, a pair of drivers suffering through extended droughts, both found their way to the Cajon Speedway winner's circle in another week of exciting NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series action.
Ferguson, who captured the opening pair of Street Stocks main events this season, snapped an 11-race, non-winning streak by outlasting Matt Arnold in an exciting duel.
Hale found similar results in Pony Stocks, taking home his first checkered flag since claiming the drivers title in 2002. In another one-on-one showdown, Hale was able to pass Earl Downing with four laps remaining for his first victory since retiring his old car. Hale now owns 158 career main event victories -- the most in Cajon history.
Other winners over the famed 3/8-mile paved oval Saturday (Aug. 21) included Matt Hicks of Santee in Legend cars, while Ryan Gay of El Cajon extended his lead in the Factory Stock points standings with his fourth triumph of the season.
In both Street Stocks and Pony Stocks, the ability to overcome or avert tire problems proved decisive to determine which car would cross the finish line first. For Ferguson, who earlier lost the opening Trophy Dash by less than a car length to Brian Collins of Oceanside, was able to find a line to move his Monte Carlo in front after starting the outside of the second row.
"Our car handled well on the bottom," noted Ferguson, a resident of El Cajon. "No. 29 (Neil Rodvold, the pole sitter) hasn't run well of late, but he run us hard tonight and we couldn't pass him."
The caution-less race saw Rodvold lead for the opening 15 laps. But when lapped traffic faced the leaders, Rodvold became blocked behind Lakeside's Don Moore, as Ferguson and Arnold slipped in front along the back straightaway. From there, the pair raced side-by-side for several laps, but tire problems would doom Arnold, along with heavy body damage suffered in an early collision.
"Rich Green slammed into my fender pretty good, and after seeing the damage (after the race), they could?ve black flagged me, but didn't -- that was nice to see," noted Arnold, who lives in Allied Gardens. "Then Eric and I were battling pretty good, but when my tires heated up, I let him go to let them cool down. Then I just ran out of laps to try to pass him again."
According to track officials, Green was tapped from behind and turned into Arnold, who was left with a car with its right-front side panel partially peeling away. Rodvold finished a distant third, followed by Green and Rob Overman.
Hale, one of Cajon Speedway's charter drivers from its 1961 debut campaign, followed a similar storyline to victory following five frustrating runner-up finishes this year.
"We?re finally getting the car to work," declared Hale. "Dave Fox built this car from scratch after we retired our old No. 07 car after we won the title two year ago. And we?re finally getting the set-up we've always wanted."
Considering that Hale was already the Pony points leader despite not possessing a victory, could his competition be worried now that the Cajon Speedway veteran finally discovered the right combination?
"I won't say that, but I am extremely happy with the way the car is working right now," he added.
Hale and Downing, following the Street Stocks lead, were also engaged in a side-by-side battle for several laps. However, Downing's car was slightly slipping coming out of both turns because of tire instability, allowing Hale to force Downing to pull back when traffic came upon the leaders on Lap 12.
"Earl's car was definitely slipping and he had to make (steering) corrections," noted Hale. "So I was able to box him."
The move seemed surprisingly easy, but Downing, who entered the night in second place some 58 points behind Hale, knew about his car's potential problems prior to the race.
"We had to use a week-old tire, so we got loose a couple of times," noted the driver from Spring Valley. "And Ed's smart enough to do something with it."
The race required four tries (three re-starts) before finally officially starting, as a series of incidents diluted the opening field by nearly half from its original list of starters. Included was a 4-car pileup in the third turn which removed three cars from the track, so after three tries, track stewards elected to re-start from a single-file formation.
In the Factory Stock main, Gay, the only multiple winner in this classification this season, won for the fourth time this season to extend his lead in the points standings over Charles Nevin and David Liedke.
BACK TRACKS -- Adjustments were made in the points standings for Bomber Stocks, which joined the premier Sportsman class in being idle this weekend. In a race held July 31, the result of David Whisenant was switched to 14th place instead of 12th, losing eight points (four position points and four passing points) in the standings. In addition, Rodney Shaw from to 12th from 14th, gaining four position points, Michael Burford reclaimed 16th place instead of "did not start," regaining 20 (position) points, which bumped Brandon Haag to 17th place, dropping two (position) points.
TICKETS ON SALE -- The annual Cajon Speedway awards banquet will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Mission Valley on Jan. 8, 2005. Tickers for the event go on sale on Sept. 1. For further details, contact the track and ask for Becky McBride.
HE'S BACK -- Longtime Cajon Speedway publicist Bob Gardner returned to the track for a full racing card for the first since being sidelined with severe back problems some three months ago. Gardner noted he should be back to full-time duties immediately.
Sportsman win is first for Peace after emotional week
GILLESPIE FIELD -- Some thought it was a force from the heavens which allowed Michael Peace of El Cajon to capture his first-ever Sportsman Stocks main event Saturday (Aug.14) at Cajon Speedway.
Peace, driving for the recently retired Bob Wickey, dedicated his effort to Wickey's mother, Martha, a track fixture who passed away earlier in the week at the age of 84. Then Peace hit the track and completed the almost insurmountable task of holding off the challenge of series points leader David Beat to win by four car lengths.
Car owner Jim Kiley knew something special could occur during funeral services for the elder member of the Wickey family.
"During the services, the priest took a dove and tossed it into the air," noted Kiley. "But it didn't fly away -- it landed next to Bob."
However, the priest had a back-up dove available and tossed it into the air.
"And it landed right next to Bob, too," added Kiley. "So Bob said something to the doves like, 'So, you don't want to leave.' And with that, the birds suddenly flew away."
Seemingly protected by heavenly intervention, Peace then piloted the car normally manned by the Kiley-Wickey combination to victory in a race marked by several spinouts and collisions.
A multitude of caution flags slowed the Sportsman main event, starting a trend which extended through the balance of Saturday?s racing program. Including was a long stoppage for fluids spillage on the track when Lakeside's Rich Chavez blew his second engine in 24 hours.
The yellow flag also flew several times when frontrunners got into trouble. Included was a Turn 3 spinout by Claude Bell, who was racing third after eight laps; Billy Hoagland saw his car's front hood unlock and block his view out of the windshield while he was in second place during the same caution; and a Lap 24 spinout by Greg Voigt, who was fourth when accidentally punted from behind by Cajon veteran Ron Esau.
Voigt later had an apparent brake failure and pushed Beat into the wall on Lap 28, but the series leader's car seemed unaffected and made a late charge over the final 10 laps.
"I don't know what was going on back there," noted Peace, who overtook Scott Moses on Turn 4 for the lead on Lap 14. "The just minded my P's and Q's and stayed out of it."
After suffering heart problems following a race last month, Wickey announced his retirement, prompting team owner Jim Kiley to quickly find a replacement driver. And he couldn't be more pleased.
"This race was special for all sorts of reasons," noted Peace, who took over behind the wheel just three weeks ago. "Sure, it was big because it was my first win, but it was also special because of the Wickeys and everything Bob has gone through recently."
John Manke, who captured the Trophy Dash, avoided getting bumped by others unlike a week earlier to finish third, followed by Ron Overman and Stephen Peace.
For Manke, it was also a matter of family pride to take the opening 4-lap dash.
"My wife, Suzanne, was one of the trophy queens this week, while Barbara Teets, the daughter of the owners at STR Racing, was the other queen," noted Manke. "They are good friends, so it was nice to win this particular dash."
Manke also noted the work of engine builder Jim Watkins on the car's Weston motor, which ?he can really make it go."
The rest of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series card was dominated by Lakeside's Danny Gay, who captured two events and was in contention to complete a rare Cajon triple.
Gay completed a wire-to-wire victory to take the Street Stocks main from the pole position, then later captured the Legacy event. In between, Gay moved from the back of the field following a chain reaction accident on Lap 4 into third place of the Grand American Modifieds main before an overheating engine sent him to the pits on Lap 17 to end his aspirations of garner three victories on the same racing card.
The Grand Am race took nearly 20 minutes just to get four laps in following no fewer than four incidents. Included was a pre-race pile-up during hot laps, as the 18-car field finally dwindled down to as few as 10 remaining cars on the track.
Gay was sent back after he rammed the rear of Billy Cable?s car, but Gay contended he stopped in time, only to get rear-ended by Jimmy Dickerson after his car was also smacked from behind.
Dickerson overcame the incident to grab the lead on a Lap 10 restart, getting the jump on leader Scott Brown of Spring Valley for the pass. Pat Garity finished second behind Dickerson, while Brown held on for third, despite smacked the wall of the front straightaway at the checkered flag in a main event filled with bumper car activity.
"We just tried to hang on," noted Dickerson, who captured his first main of the season. "We made some bar changes to fight the tight conditions and it made it a completely different car. I couldn"t be more pleased."
Hector Leon carried the early lead before sliding too high into Turn 3 on the sixth lap, allowing Brown to pass and lead for three laps before Dickerson took command.
In other action, Earl Downing of Spring Valley captured the Pony Stock main.
TRACK RECORD -- Although his set-up only lasted less than an hour, it was long enough for John Luecht of Chula Vista to establish a track record in qualifying.
Luecht pointed his Grand Am Modified around the 3/8th-mile paved oval in 18.041 seconds, shaving two-thousandths of a second off the Cajon Speedway track record of 18.043, set by Dean Kuhn in 1999.
"I told the guys if I can run one clean lap, I'd have a chance," noted Luecht. "The car felt good and I knew it was close."
However, Luecht needed to make front end adjustments following a hard bump during a heat race, forcing his pit crew to replace the rotor on a front tire and make other front-end adjustments.
Rick Hagen and team celebrate a street stock victory Saturday night. (photo by Nick Pellegrino)
Rival helps Beat extend advantage in Sportsman
GILLESPIE FIELD -- It wasn't his idea to assist the leader among Sportsman Stocks in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series at Cajon Speedway, but that was the result after a bumping incident by Ramona's John Manke allowed David Beat of El Cajon a second opportunity to claim his ninth victory of the season.
Manke unintentionally sent Beat to the back of the field following a Lap 6 collision, which track stewards rule to be Beat's fault for getting in the way. Meanwhile, with the middle of the pack bumping each other, Stephen Peace was in perfect position to claim one of the easist wins of the season, mounting a huge 4-second advantage over his nearest rival.
"When I was sent back, I thought that might be it for the night," noted Beat. "Manke got involved in some bumping and went to the bottom of the track, but I was on the low line -- I was already down on the ripple strips -- and had nowhere to go. Yet they placed me at the back."
With Beat seemingly out of contention and Peace's Intrepid in cruise control, unknowingly, it was another Manke bumping incident which changed everyone's fortunes. This time, Manke's All-American painted Monte Carlo got involved with Lakeside's Rick Chavez, who got tapped from behind and slid into the Turn 3 wall, bringing out a Lap 22 caution flag and eliminating Peace's massive advantage.
"That's when it was time for me to take them to driving school and give them a lesson," noted Beat, who suddenly was in third place.
After passing Kenny Hall two laps after the restart, Beat was soon battling side-by-side with Peace for several laps, finally slipping into the inside line for the pass on Lap 29 and slowing pulling away for the victory. Lakeside's Ron Overman finished third, followed by Manke and El Cajon's Ben Carver.
Carver was in contention early, racing side-by-side with Peace for several laps before falling back and positioned himself just off Peace's back bumper. But when Carver made contact on Lap 8, the rear of Peace's car started to swing, but the pole-sitter was able to save it before spinning out and continued on in front over the next 21 laps.
"They all can blame me, but I didn't cause the bumping," added Beat. "So our team came back and showed them what driving is all about."
A mixture of familiar and fresh faces found their way to the winner's circle in other racing classifications around Cajon Speedway's 3/8-mile paved oval. Points leaders Rick Hagan and Ryan Gay both extended their respective leads with victories, with Hagan winning in Street Stocks, while Gay topped the Factory Stocks field; and Brian Fitzgibbons, the top Bomber Stock driver without claiming a checkered flag this season, finally broke through with his initial triumph.
Hagan never imagined he would have an opportunity to win after Eric Ferguson exploded to an early lead.
"It was the best our car has run in four weeks, but I thought everyone was going for second place," Hagan explained. "Then suddenly Eric pulled off."
A broken transmission prematurely ended Ferguson's hopes of cutting into Hagan's points lead. Then, in a microcosm of the entire season, Hagan stayed in front with an unspectacular yet solid win, outdistancing Jimmy Dickerson and Rich Green, both of El Cajon.
"There were some recent rule changes which hurt us, but then they changed the rules back, so it took the crew some time to get us back to basics," noted Hagan.
Fitzgibbons garnered his first victory of the season -- his third career triumph -- despite starting from the sixth row, yet eventually supplanted pole-sitter Rodney Shaw. Fitzgibbons slipped inside of Shaw on a restart on Lap 15, as the two dueled side-by-side before the Chevelle of Fitzgibbons broke free for the lead two laps later.
"It was just great, hard but clean racing," noted Fitzgibbons, who just celebrated his 22nd birthday. "It seemed like every hole we tried to take, we passed somebody and kept moving up."
Shaw built a command lead of seven car lengths by Lap 6, but the pack caught him following a near major accident on Lap 12, which was averted by some skillful driving.
Following a spin-out in the middle of Turn 4, Lyle Driscoll of Lakeside was about to get smashed by the Nova driven by Marty Lehrke. However, the driver from San Diego alertly avoided Driscoll was a swinging, intentional left-hand spin toward the infield, avoiding the accident and returning to the track in one continuous "X Games-esque" move to stay with the main pack.
Lehrke's move brought about a big ovation from the fans and pit crew personnel watching the race in front of the pit tower.
Gay's Camaro was one of the few cars able to successfully adjust to the second half of the 20-lap Factory Stock main, which was run in the opposite (clockwise) direction.
While several cars slipped and skidded with set-ups problems contesting the unorthodox course, Gay avoided such difficulties to defeat Charles Nevin, Tony Cortes, and David Liedike, all of El Cajon.
TRACK RECORD -- Cortes scrambled in order to race on Saturday, needing to quickly revert to an old engine.
"We worked all week putting in a new engine and a new tranny," noted Cortes. "But when we ran five practice laps on Friday, it seized up and I knew it was dead."
However, Cortes and crew chief Kenny Wikoren were able to re-install the old engine in time for Saturday?s session -- and with welcome results. In Factory Stock qualifying, Cortes found enough power to establish a Cajon Speedway track record, as Cortes' Cutlass circled the oval in 20.838 seconds, eclipsing the 20.984 mark established earlier this season by Liedike.
"We got it in there, and made changes to the transmission and some little jet changes," the driver added. "We found the combination, and the rest is history."
BACK-TRACKS -- Paul Seivert of Lakeside took early command of the Destruction Derby with a solid tailspin maneuvers, single-handily eliminating three cars to become one of the final two operational cars, but Seivert finally lost after getting pinned by derby veteran Chuck Gillock of Escondido.
Cajon Sportsman feature goes to Manke
By Nick Pellegrino
Courtesy of East County Sports.com (c)
EL CAJON, Calif. (July 31, 2004) -- With few prospects stepping forward to somehow defeat David Beat, the season-long Sportsman Stocks points leader in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series at Cajon Speedway, the other drivers finally found someone to defeat him.
The answer: David Beat.
With oil twice spilling from his Intrepid, the first causing a 20-minute delay after Beat's car lost an oil plug, John Manke of Ramona overcame a pile-up from a week earlier to take Saturday's Sportsman main event.
"I don't know if we could've caught the No. 6 (Beat)," said Manke. "But with him at the back of the field, It was just a matter of getting power to the ground."
Manke edged out El Cajon's Stephen Peace for the victory, followed by Ron Overman of Lakeside and Rick Chavez of Lakeside.
Manke's victory came under the yellow flag, after a second oil spillage by Beat ended the race after the white flag was waved. However, on the final lap, two more cars spun out with Manke just two turns from the finish line, including a hard spin by Ray Butler in front of Manke in the final turn, as the rear end of his Monte Carlo completely let go.
Instead of re-running the final lap, Cajon stewards awarded Manke his first victory of the season.
"I guess (Beat's) crew didn't fix it and it let go again," noted Manke, who started the day ranked third in the points standings. "And if we had to wait another 30 minutes again, it would've been a disaster."
Working frantically in the pits, Beat's pit crew tried several ways to remedy for lost of the oil plug, including hammering a piece of wood into the opening. (Yes, they tried a new oil plug, but it was the wrong size.)
The remaining winners on the racing card, fortunately, didn't to resort to such extreme measures. Included were Steve Dickerson of El Cajon in Pony Stocks, Richard Hinze of Lakeside in Street Stocks, National City's Randy Hart in Bomber Stocks, and Legacy cars winner Michael Peace of El Cajon.
The Pony main was a two-horse race when Dickerson and co-leader Earl Downing collided in Turn 3, with the rest of the field baring down on the sideways pair. Included were Ed Hale and George Behlman, who were battling for third place, as both punched the barrier.
Hale his the wall particularly hard, knocking the toe alignment of his front tires by more than two inches. However, his car continue to run well enough to post a second-place finish for the fifth this season, including being the bridesmaid for the fourth consecutive race. Hale, the Pony points leader, has yet to win a main this season.
Despite his objection, the stewards ruled Downing at fault and sent him to the back. And with Hale unable to pass after the jolt to his car's front end, Dickerson cruised to an easy triumph. Behlman finished third.
"I kind of knew he (Downing) was going to drill me," noted Dickerson. "I was running my line and hooking at the bottom and we went right into me."
Downing countered, noting that he "had nowhere else to go -- I was already running at the bottom of the track."
In the past, both drivers would have been sent to the back, but rule changes this season allow the innocent party to keep their position on the track.
"Since you don't lose your spot, it gives you a chance to calm down," noted Dickerson. "And there are a lot fewer fights in the pits."
In Street Stocks, Lakeside's Hinze gained the checkered flag for the second time in July, but needed to overcome disappointments in qualifying before finally coming out on top.
"We messed things up in qualifying, so we missed out on the fast heat race, but still got in (the main) by winning the slow heat race easily," said Hinze. "Our crew chief, Shaun McCarren, pulled some magic out of the hat to get the car ready."
Hinze noted it was the first time his car failed to reach Heat A for the fastest vehicles in four years. After gaining a Street Stocks main berth, Hinze easily held off Eric Ferguson of El Cajon and Josh Green of Lakeside for the win, only needing to avoid Dave Arce over the final lap, when the Santee drive entered the track from the pits, yet was not up to speed by the time the leaders caught and passed him without incident at the white flag.
The post-race happenings in the Bomber Stock main out-shined the easy victory by Hart, who posted his second victory in three weeks over Cajon's 3/4-mile paved oval by utilizing a low line to avoid the slick surface in the first two turns.
Just as the back of the pack crossed the finish line, Bombers points leader David Whisenant tapped the rear of a car operated by Rodney Shaw, sending it spinning into the infield. Shaw was driving Allen Basile's No. 225 Thunderbird after his own Monte Carlo had mechanical difficulties earlier in the day.
So Shaw, with the cars lined in single-file to exit the track, caught Whisenant from behind and spun him out along the grandstands next to the back straightaway. At press time, track stewards were considering sitting either or both drivers down for a week for their actions.
Earlier, Whisenant was involved in a bumping occurrence with another driver, too.
Michael Peace took the Legacy main after avoiding a nasty crash which saw cars driven by Ryan Gay and Dennis Hines towed from the track.
BACK-TRACKS -- Several crew members and drivers in the pits stated that Pony Stocks driver Ty Tipton of Spring Valley is retiring from racing, effective immediately, following his scary crash during Lap 3 of the main event. Tipton's Pinto rammed hard into the wall in front of the flag tower at the start-finish line.
Beat avoids incident to claim 8th Sportsman main
GILLESPIE FIELD -- Despite all his success, David Beat was two seconds away from seeing his entire racing season disintergrate into pieces Saturday night (July 24) at Cajon Speedway.
Beat, the runaway leader of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series' Sportsman Stocks division, was less than four laps away from his eighth main event victory in 12 races when a minor crash involving Billy Hoagland and Michael Peace, the substitute driver for Bob Wickey, occurred in Turn 3. Both cars spun together and were blocking most of the track, with the entire episode occurring right in front of Beat.
"It really wasn't that close to me," noted Beat, who easily avoided the mishap. "But you always have to be careful when other drivers are racing side-by-side in front of you."
A few heartbeats later and Beat's Dodge Intrepid may have been ticketed for the wrecking yard. Instead, Beat was soon enjoying the applause from the more than 4,000 spectators at Gillespie Field yet again, leaving the rest of the drivers to battle for second place in this season's points standings.
"David's car is so much better than anyone elses, so I just wanted to stay in front of everyone else so I can finish second in the points," noted runner-up Stephen Peace, Michael's brother, who finished four full seconds behind Beat. "I'm just trying to stay in from of Ron Overman's No. 2 car and John Manke's No. 5 car, especially after putting my car into the wall last week."
Manke was buried, literally, back in the pack during a pile-up on Lap 9, which started when Scott Moses spun entering Turn 4. The accordion-like, chain reaction immediately followed. Moses was tapped by Rick Chavez, whose car was lifted off the ground and landed partially on top of Manke's Monte Carlo, courtesy of a thrust from behind by Brain Collins.
"All the cars pushed together and Rick landed on top of me," noted Manke, yet his car was undamaged and the Ramona-based driver continued and placed third overall. Only Chavez, who was visibly -- and understandably -- upset with Moses, was forced from the field.
Hoagland, who earned the pole in an exciting heat race, still managed to finish fourth in the main. During qualifying, Hoagland out-dueled Murrieta's Dave Whisenant, the Bomber Stocks points leader, who eventually put his car into the wall of the back straightaway on the final lap.
"I didn't even know we tapped each other (at the white flag)," noted Hoagland, last week?s Sportsman feature winner. "Then I actually backed off a little bit after that, because I wanted to start (the main event) on the outside of the first row, but his car slid a bit and caught the wall."
Meanwhile, Overman's race was done on Lap 31 after spinning out hard between the first two turns.
Beat started in the fifth row, finally gaining the lead from Hoagland on Lap 12, passing low on Turn 3. Stephen Peace successfully completed the same move around Hoagland to grab second place three circuits later.
In other events, a Trophy Dash victory by Fallbrook's Mike Salm failed to translate into Grand Am Modified success later on the racing card, as he finished dead last in the main. Instead, the Grand Am checkered flag fell on Cajon Speedway veteran Danny Gay, while Ryan Gay (a not-too-distant relative) claimed the Factory Stocks. to become the first multiple winner of the season in the division.
In addition, Kenny Hall took the Street Stocks main, then James Boissier claimed the popular train race around Cajon Speedway?s Figure 8 course. Both drivers hail from Lakeside.
For Danny Gay, he was stunned when the white flag came down from the starter?s cage.
"I?m still blown away that race went so fast," said Gay, who claimed his fourth victory of the season. "When the race was over, I thought to myself, "Did they shortened the race?"
Gay finally climbed past rookie Hector Leon of Santee, who led the first 12 laps until he went too fast into Turn 1 and wafted higher than normal, allowing passing room to the inside.
"I had the faster car, but I was taking the same line as Hector, so I couldn't get by -- you run with what you've got," Gay explained. "When he went too hard, I was able to pull past him."
Except for a restart of the opening lap, the race went incident-free without any cautions.
Gay, the season-long Grand Am Modifieds leader, beat John Leucht, who ranks second in points, followed by Leon.
Hall, the former wrestling standout at El Capitan High, is pleased concerning his transition from motorcycles to four-wheel vehicles after claiming his second Street Stocks main.
"I was racing my motorcycle once, crashed, and got amnesia," Hall said. "So my father bought me a car and I haven't raced motorcycles since."
Hall and Richard Hinze, also of Lakeside, battled side-by-side over both Laps 17 and 18 before Hall's Monte Carlo pulled free to take the lead for keeps. Hinze's Grand Prix later lighted the track with sparks from a broken shock dragging on the racing surface under his car, eventually finishing third behind Matt Arnold of San Diego.
"I saw Richard hold off (points leader) Rick Hagen by going on the outside, so I figured I tried to do the same to him," noted Hall. "It worked out awesome."
For Boissier, it was his first victory of any kind over Cajon's 3/8-mile paved oval in more than seven years, albeit, it was just an exhibition train race.
"I've had lots of seconds, but no firsts in seven years, so I'll take it," noted Boissier. "It's was great. It was crazy out there."
BACK-TRACKS -- Following last week's Sportsman race, Wickey was taken to a local hospital with a heart condition. Although he did not suffer a heart attack, the Cajon veteran did suffer a so-called 'cardiac episode,' with an angioplasty performed later in the week. Wickey is now on blood thinners and is doing well, yet will not be allowed to race again until after he is off the medication. . . Longtime Cajon Speedway publisit Bob Gardner was spotted at the track's office prior to the racing card, assisting in compiling qualifying times. Despite problems with his back, he hopes to return to full-time duty by the end of the season.
Hoagland grabs first sportsman checkered
GILLESPIE FIELD -- In an evening of breakthroughs
for drivers in new divisions, Santee's Billy Hoagland captured
his first-ever Sportsman Stock main event, then Douglas Carpenter
of La Mesa followed with his initial career triumph in Grand Am
Modifieds to highlight Saturday's (July 15) NASCAR Dodge Weekly
Racing Series at Cajon Speedway.
Hoagland staved off a challenge by Rick Chavez of La Mesa in a 3-lap sprint to the finish following a caution flag to take a 1 1/2-length victory. Meanwhile, Carpenter successfully blocked the passing attempts of veteran Danny Gay of Lakeside to reach the winner's circle.
Other winners over Cajon?s 3/8th-mile paved oval included Tom Skahill of La Verne in Legend cars after national points leader Dustin Ash of Las Vegas went sent to the back of the pack late in the 25-lap main; Randy Hart of National City used a 5-year old engine to outlast the Bomber stocks division; and Douglas Wright Jr. of Santee closed the card with a triumph in Pony stocks.
Both Hoagland and Carpenter have captured main events at Cajon Speedway in the past, but in different classifications before advancing to their current racing divisions.
"I last won in Ponies, but this is my first one in Sportsman and it feels pretty good," noted Hoagland, who collapsed to the ground in celebration after stepping out of his Monte Carlo in the pits. "And beating a driver such as Rick makes it that much sweeter because it was hard-fought and not a gift."
Without the bumping and joisting found lately in national series events, Hoagland and Chavez went nose-to-nose over the second half of the 40-lap feature. And when Ramona?s John Manke smashed hard into the Turn 3 wall with six laps remaining, it set-up an exciting dual to the checkered flag.
"I got into Billy just a little bit after the restart, otherwise, it was just hard, clean racing," noted Chavez. "We just rebuilt have of our car this past week to make up for the one I busted up this past week. Yet, even though we lost, I was smiling inside my helmet because of the kind of race we both ran."
Hoagland, running a middle-to-high line, held Chavez off over Laps 36-38 before another yellow flag came out when Sportsman points leader David Beat of El Cajon spun out heavily at the start-finish line. Three laps later, Fallbrook's Bob Caron turned his car around betweens the third and fourth turns, yet Hoagland was again able to outlast Chavez.
"I heard Rich was coming inside, but we barely had enough, even though we only had one new tire on the car," added Hoagland. "We definitely were not the fastest car out there tonight."
Starting on the outside of the first row, Hoagland quickly past pole-sitter Ben Carver of El Cajon in the second turn, then managed to stay in front of Chavez's Grand Prix the entire race, while Bob Wickey of San Marcos gained and remained third after Lap 6.
Manke's late crash occured following a slight, accidental bump by Beat, but after regaining control, a right-side tire got cut and sent his vehicle into the barrier. Manke was not injured despite his car catching fire before emergency personnel raced to extinguish the flames.
Meanwhile, Carpenter took his first main event at Cajon since a Street Stocks triumph in 1999, although he did claim a dwarf car driver's title as recently as two seasons ago. However, side-swiping a wall and nearly losing his steering box were not in the plans.
"I didn't think the outside line would work, then I slapped the wall on Lap 8," explained Carpenter. "I pulledthe right-side of the car off the ground, then every time I came out of a turn, the steering wheel was crooked, so I had to wait a second to see which way the car would go."
On several occasions, Carpenter?s vehicle seemed to drift across the track, but oddly, it also assisted the car through the turns.
It allowed us to hold off the better cars, which hooked better on the bottom of the turns. Sure, the steering box is messed up, but our new Jackson chassis held strong, so it was worth it."
In Legends, Skahill waited a long time for his first victory in several years, receiving a pair of huge breaks to reach Victory Lane for the first time in four years. Just seven laps from the finish, Ash was sent to the back of the pack after building a tremendous 9-second, half-lap margin lead over his nearest competitor.
With Ash cruising and headed for certain victory, the caution came out when Sun City's Mitchell Thorpe spun out on the front straightaway, then put himself in jeopardy after backing his car back onto the racing surface, only to stall out with traffic approaching. Thorpe was black flagged for his indiscretion.
However, track officials noticed oil dripping off Ash's car, and after a cursory, on-track inspection, sent the Nevadan to the pits and an automatic relegation to the back to end the victory plans for the 16-year old. Upon closer examination, Ash's car was simply over-filled with oil and no lines were broken, but an opportunity to extend his national lead over more than 500 drivers vanished.
"That killed us, but that's racing," noted Ash, who opened the racing card by taking the Trophy Dash.
Skahill received yet another break after getting quickly passed on the re-start by Murrieta's Gary Scheuerell, but the lap didn?t count after Art Nevil of Acton hit the Turn 1 wall. Scheuerell twice more tried to pass Skahill over the final five laps, but Skahill clung to the lead for the victory.
"Gary and I touched a little, but him going inside and I stayed outside," noted the La Verne resident, who took his first main in four years. "He raced me hard yet clean."
In Bombers, Hart utilized a motor which
hadn't seen action since last century, but with an excellent pedigree.
"It?s the same engine Ivan Harrison used to win the Bomber championship in 1996," noted Hart. "And with Charlie Roebuck, the other half of the Thunderbird Racing team, helping out, too, I just needed to hit my marks and not mix it up with anyone out there."
The Pony race saw Wright edge out a tight field, nipping George Behlman of Santee and Pete Franke of Lakeside at the line.
BACK-TRACKS -- Hart also celebrated a victory by his daughter, Morgan, who was recently crowned as the youngest-ever winner of the Miss National City crown. She is a senior-to-be at Sweetwater High School, and the first underclassman to win the title since the competition started in 1955.
Kenny Hall Opens Door to Cajon Victory Lane; Beat takes 7th
BY Ramon Scott
EL CAJON - Kenny Hall has been chasing Rick Hagen all season in Cajon Speedway's CSCRA Street Stock division.
Saturday night at the 3/8-mile paved oval, it was Hagen, the division's points leader doing the chasing for nearly the entire second half of the 25-lap NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series main event at Gillespie Field.
Hall, of El Cajon, was only the fifth fastest qualifier of the evening, but he was more the fast enough to fend off the challenge of top qualifier Hagen to capture his first main event win of the year, taking the checkered in 18:53.52.
"You see yellow (the color of Hagen's Monte Carlo) in your mirror, and he's got the fastest car out there," Hall said. "I wanted to win more though."
Hall put forth a brave move down the back straightaway on lap seven to take the lead in the three-wide battle.
"I was just going to the front no matter what. I don't care what it took," said Hall, who is second in the season standings.
Hall then assumed a six-car length lead that would have Hagen chasing him throughout had a pair of yellows not brought the field together twice.
"After the first yellow, I started to pull away a little bit, and I thought 'All right, this isn't going to be so bad'," Hall said. "The second yellow came out and I saw my (engine) temperature go up and up and I thought, 'oh, no."
And his brow may have begun to sweat, as well, as Hagen put constant pressure on both sides of Hall's rear bumper. But the eventual winner withstood the challenge with defensive driving in the turns.
Richard Hinze moved up through the pack and into third on lap 17 and held the position. Dave Arce was fourth, while Rich Green, Jr., took fifth.
"I got one of these," Hall said displaying his main event win sticker. "I plan to get more. It's awesome. I'm glad we could get the win for everyone that works on the car.
"I just wanted to win. Rusty (Rodvold) has been working on both cars, but it doesn't matter. Chances are, two cars aren't going to come off the track in one piece every night.
David Beat, of El Cajon, captured his seventh NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Stock main event of the season, leading the final 32 of the 40-lap main to take the checkered in 34:11.59. Beat also earned his fifth Sid's Auto Body Hard Charger $200 award of the year by earning the most passing points.
Beat, who qualified fastest, took over from Billy Hoagland shortly after a restart on lap five and held off a strong run by Stephen Peace, who chased the leader for the final 30 circuits. Hoagland would hang on for third, besting Ron Overman and Bob Wickey. Ben Carver was sixth.
Season-long rivals John Manke and Rick Chavez got involved in the wreck that took out both drivers as Manke chased Chavez's left-rear bumper for the first 13 laps. Chavez resorted to getting out of his damaged car in turn three and threw his arms up in the air, upset about the way his night ended. Manke car came off while running, but didn't return after a discussion with officials at the track entrance from the pits.
Veteran Rodney Shaw, of El Cajon, took his second bomber main of the campaign, taking the 20-lapper in 19:39.81. Marty Lehrke was second, while Mike McGlone was third. Points leader David Whisenant finished fourth to retain his overall lead over Lehrke.
Greg McCown, of Lakeside, turned in the fastest qualifying time.
J.R. Trent, of Jamul, captured the 20-lap Factory Stock race in 12:12.39 for his first trip to victory lane this season, as he passed Pat Bradley on the inside down the backstretch and into turn three with seven laps remaining. David Liedike, who turned in the fastest qualifying lap, got up for second on the final lap, passing Bradley.
Michael Peace, of El Cajon, won the 20-lap Allison Legacy race after starting fifth in the seven-car field, taking the win in a swift 6:28.07. Scott Dannen, who started at the back after qualifying first, moved up for the second spot, while Chad Hines garnered third. Peace assumed the lead on lap seven from Ryan Gay.
Gay, Catania share Bud Factory Stock Enduro first prize
By Nick Pellegrino
Courtesy of www.EastCountySports.com
EL CAJON, Calif. (July 3, 2004) -- The combination of Ryan Gay and Doug Catania outlasted an enormous field of 48 cars, capturing Saturday's crowd-pleasing Budweiser Factory Stock Enduro at Cajon Speedway. Gay completed the first of twin 75-lap races in third place, then Catania avoided incidents involving the leaders to move in front, eventually pulling away and take the finale by more than six seconds.
Both drivers, who hail locally from El Cajon, will share a purse of $1,000.00.
A standing-room only crowd of more than 5,500 attended the Independence Day weekend festivities. Following the Enduro and the traditional fireworks display, another El Cajon driver, Joe Totten, captured the specialty 10-lap boat race.
Totten, starting from the middle of the field of 12 cars, each towing a trailer carrying a boat, immediately jumped to second place after two laps, then passed Josh Nicolas on Lap 4 to claim the lead, pulling away for a victory of 4 seconds.
For Catania, it was a madcap, time-consuming ride before finally collecting the checkered flag in the free-for-all, which needed just one red-flag, full stoppage in the opening race to clear debris and abandoned vehicles.
"It was a wild ride and a long time to be in a car with no rest," said Catania, an 8-year veteran over the 3/8-mile paved oval at Gillespie Field. "We were slipping all over the track, but so was everyone else out there."
Tom Smith of Long Beach secured the opening 75-lap race, despite getting temporarily caught by Eric Evans on Lap 71. Smith then held off the challenge of Rich Crutchfield early in the second race, which was run in the European clockwise rotation around Cajon Speedway. However, just 19 laps away from a victory, Smith's car slipped in Turn 1 and nearly made contact with the wall, eventually spinning out a lap later, but quickly gaining control to remain in the lead.
However, Smith and Evans made contact in Lap 133, giving Catania the space he needed to pass.
"I never looked at the scoreboard, so I never knew I was in the lead," said Smith. "In a race like this, you just try to keep going and avoid getting into trouble -- that's hard enough."
Smith finally finished in third, as Jimmy Dickerson passed low on Lap 144 to gain second place.
In the boat race, Totten shocked the competition with surprising power coming out of the turns.
"The car had a flat spot, but then it came out of the turn with a ton of power -- almost too much power," noted Totten.
A year ago, Totten, hauling an 18-foot, carbon-fiber boat, was slowed by the shear weight of the vessel, yet still finished fifth when no other competitor would run into the largest ship among the Cajon fleet.
"After that battleship, we opted to run with a lighter boat," joked Totten. "Hey, we're happy we came out of it in one piece."
Back-Tracks -- During last week's (June
26) qualifying laps of Street Stocks, Rich Hagan, who lives in
the El Cajon community of Rancho San Diego, drove his Monte Carlo
to a 1-lap track record. Hagan qualified for the pole position
with a run of 17.374 seconds, eclipsing the 1996 mark.
Sat., July 3
Budweiser Twin 75-Lap Factory Stock Enduro
1st race -- Tom Smith, Rick Crutchfield, Ryan Gay, Pat Bradbury, Matt Arnold, Eric Evans.
2nd race -- Ryan Gay/Doug Catania, Robert Freeman/Jimmy Delessan, Tom Smith, Pat Bradbury, Dave Catchpaw/Jimmy Kyte, Jim Tucker, Joseph McSchneider, Ken Rose, Eric Evans, Joey Summerhaup/Andy Papp.
Boat Race (10 laps) -- Winner: Joe Totten.
When a hot driver like Beat gets lucky,
East County Sports.com
EL CAJON - Not only is El Cajon's David Beat the top Late Model Sportsman driver at Cajon Speedway over the past 15 months, he may be the luckiest, too. And such racing luck allowed him to claim both of Saturday's (June 26) main event features on East County's 3/8-mile paved oval.
Coming inches away from completely wrecking his car when the leaders collided in the opening race, Beat evetually whipped through the field from the middle of the pack, as the defending NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series champion went on to collect his fifth and sixth feature wins through nine races this season, moving him well ahead of second-standing John Manke (Ramona) in the points standings.
Beat stood tucked behind the leaders in fourth place midway through both 30-lap events, getting a little lucky to take the opening main event, then displaying his skill to capture the nightcap.
In the opener, race leaders Stephen Peace (El Cajon) and Claude Bell (El Cajon) clipped each other just after the start-finish line to start Lap 19, as Peace's Dodge Intrepid got airborne after rolling over the front left wheel of Bell's Monte Carlo. Beat came upon the cars, barely denting into the pair, but suffered only cosmetic damage to the car.
Rick Chavez (Lakeside), the new leader upon the restart, could not hold off Beat, who made the pass along the inside at Turn One of Lap 26, easily pulling away for a 5-car length victory over Chavez. Manke finished third, followed by Bob Wickey (San Marcos) and Billy Hoagland (Santee).
"It was a rough race -- they made me work my butt off with a damaged car," noted Beat. "The two (leading) cars banged together and blocked the entire racetrack. I checked up, but had nowhere to go. Then after that, Chavez raced me hard, but my car somehow stayed together."
Meanwhile, Peace and Bell were unsure what caused the accident.
"I don't know what happened except the No. 41 (Bell) got sideways and I saw him turning right to try to save it," said Peace. "I tried to get around him, but I drove up the left front of his car and I was in the air."
Bell believed Peace could've avoided his sliding car.
"I had new tires and the stagger wasn't quite right -- I only had two laps on these tires," noted Bell. "But he could've lifted, but didn't. He's antsy -- he always drives that way."
Beat's second victory was more conventional, moving up to fifth place by Lap 10, then to third at the midway mark. While other cars were taking a high line around the 3/8-mile paved oval, Beat unconventionally took the low line, passing Wickey on Lap 19, then assuming the lead on Lap 20 by getting inside of Ron Overman (Lakeside), who had been leading the entire way.
"It was a rough night for us -- we struggled with the chassis, but in the first race it ran better, then in the second race it was even better," Beat added. "Then when the leader slipped up, it was the opportunity for me to go to the bottom of the track and pass -- it was the only thing I needed."
Wickey edged out Overman for second place, both driving Monte Carlos, followed by Peace in fourth and Manke in fifth.
In other divisions, Santee's Matthew Hicks (left) celebrated his 17th birthday one day early by claiming the Legend series; Richard Hinze of Lakeside claimed the Street Stock race; Danny Gay, also of Lakeside, took another Grand-Am Modified event; while Santee's George Behlman took the accident-shortened Pony Stock event.
In just over a month, Hicks went from a head-on wreck in the third lap of his first race to the winners circle, beating a group of three drivers to the inside of Turn One when race leader Dan Shaffner (San Diego) wiggled his vehicle coming out of Turn Four and was passed along the front straightaway.
Hicks mounted his lead to five full car lengths before Shaffner fell completely out of contention after spinning out on Lap 14. Even though the yellow flag allowed the pack to return to Hicks' bumper, the rookie held on over the final 11 laps.
"This was supposed to be my mom's car, but she didn't want it and I had to wait over a year before I was old enough to drive it," said Hicks. "It's been something I've been dreaming of since I was old enough to talk."
Hicks grew-up around Cajon Speedway, as his father once worked the garages for Mike Mendenhall, who ranks among the track's all-time main event winners. The younger Hicks will be a senior at Santana High School this fall.
Hicks nosed out Frank Chavez (San Diego) and Ryan Partridge (Rancho Cucamonga) at the first turn to grab the lead, with the three never changing positions over the remainder of the race.
In Street Stocks, Hinze became the fifth different driver to win in this classification this season, winning from the pole position. A pack of eight cars led the race for the first 10 laps, then Hinze and Rick Hagan (El Cajon) pulled away from the field, but Hagan's continuous attempts to pass were rebuffed in the closest contest of the racing card.
The pair skirmished one-on-one over the final 14 laps uninterrupted, including sportsmanship moves by a pair of racers who blew engines, yet quickly got off the track or moved to the infield without spilling any fluids to allow the exciting duel to continue.
Grand Am points leader Gay easily claimed his third victory of the campaign, winning by nearly three full seconds. The race was marred by a five-car pileup on Lap Three, as the vehicle of Mike Jackson (Bonita) completely lost its fuel cell, which slid down the front stretch with sparks flying, yet it did not explode or catch fire.
Gay was briefly passed by Lou Tompkins on Lap 5, but a yellow flag allowed Gay to re-assume the lead since there is no more racing to the start-finish line when a caution is called. Tompkins eventually faded to fourth, with second place going to Scott Brown (Spring Valley), followed by Jimmy Dickerson (El Cajon).
The race was marred when the Chevrolet of John Lecht (Chula Vista) was black-flagged four times for slow driving or racing on the inside line of the leaders. However, the driver never left the track, so he was disqualified and lost all points accumulated for the race. Further sanctions are possible.
Behlman's Pony Stock victory came after only 15 of 20 scheduled laps due to too many accidents and concern for the track's 11 p.m. curfew. Five incidents over the first four laps brought out yellow flags, then a red flag came out on Lap 15 when the cars of Amber Lee Harmon (San Clemente) and Robert Minnick (El Cajon) collided coming out of Turn One.
Harmon was checked by medical personnel after banging her head, but she was seen in the pits after getting discharged by paramedics.
Gay led the race through 12 laps, but was tipped by Marty Schmidt (El Cajon) and spun out. Gay was awarded his original position in front of the field, but on the restart, his car lost power and the entire field passed the veteran driver. In the pits afterward, Gay claims "a chunk of rubber got caught in the timing belt," although competitors believed he simply missed switching gears.
Following Behman over the finish line were Ed Hale (El Cajon) and Tim Beeney (Escondido).