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Merced Speedway
Date Posted — August 11, 2001
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Winning an entertaining battle with title contender Danny Baldridge Jr., John Clarke scored the victory in the CCMR Food 4 Less Series 25 lap Street Stock main event Saturday night at Merced Speedway. It was the third win of the season for Clarke aboard his Harris Electric/The Cigarette Store sponsored Camaro. Baldridge scored second, but he didn't gain much in the championship battle as point leader Jimmy Lust was third. In a wild, double point Pure Stock 30 lap main event that saw most of the competitors crash or spin at least once, Raul Rodriguez Sr. won his fourth feature of the season ahead of Martin Hernandez and Eddie Brand. Street Stock Qualifying was particularly interesting on this night as Clarke flirted with Steve Stone's qualifying record with his 17.936 lap. Lust was second quick at 18.202. Rookie Jack Chapman Jr. impressed with his first career six lap heat race win as Randy Brewer won the other heat race. Lust claimed four lap trophy dash honors. Baldridge set the early main event pace ahead of Johnny O'Brien Jr. and Clarke. Clarke and Al Loewen were second and third on lap three as O'Brien pitted, but Loewen spun out of third for a caution flag. Baldridge led the restart, but a lap four caution flag for Chapman in Turn 2 slowed the pace again. Working the inside to the high groove running Baldridge, Clarke gained the lead on the restart lap as Buddy Thatcher settled into third. The lead duo of Clarke and Baldridge were waging an exciting, side-by-side battle up front as Thatcher, Brewer and Lust battled closely for third. A high move in Turn 4 of the ninth lap regained Baldridge the lead as Brewer made an inside pass on the front stretch to take third from Thatcher. Clarke was persistent on the low groove and made a front stretch pass on lap 11 to regain the lead. A low pass in Turn 4 of the 13th lap gained Lust third. Clarke held off Baldridge the rest of the way for the well earned victory as Lust was third ahead of Brewer and Chowchilla Hobby Stock racer Mark Funkhouser.

The Pure Stocks were run in the opposite direction for their two six lap qualifying heat races with Brand winning the first heat. Newcomer Richard Hogue rolled his car off of Turn 2 without injury early in the second heat, which was won by Rodriguez. Danny Holcomb won the four lap trophy dash. The fact that Merced caunts yellow flags in the Pure Stock main events would play a big part in the finish of this race. Chris Shelton paced one lap of the main event before title contender Mike Hamilton took over as Shelton spun on the front stretch. Hamilton led Hernandez and point leader Robin Fast back to a lap three caution flag for debris on the track. Hamilton led the lap five restart, and Rodriguez was fourth behind Hernandez and Fast at the lap eight caution flag for Brand. Brand was scored a lap down during the caution period. Hamilton continued to lead Hernandez and Fast on the lap ten single file restart. An inside pass on the back stretch of the 12th lap gained Fast second from Hernandez as Rodriguez followed into third. Hernandez spun on the front stretch to move Holcomb into fourth. A low pass in Turn 4 of the 14th lap gained Rodriguez second from Fast. Holcomb made an inside pass on the back streetch of the 16th lap for third as Hamilton continued to lead Rodriguez. Fast was back in third a lap later as Holcomb spun in Turn 2. Holcomb and Fast tangled for a lap 26 yellow flag. Fast was scored a lap down before yellows stopped counting on lap 27. Hamilton led Rodriguez and Hernandez on the restart, but Hamilton fell off the pace before taking the white flag. Brand passed Rodriguez to regain his lap, but Rodriguez was scored the winner of the wild race ahead of Hernandez, Brand, Hamilton and Fast.



FT-John Clarke 17.936. DASH-Jimmy Lust, Randy Brewer, Clarke. H 1-Jack Chapman Jr., Lust, Johnny O'Brien Jr. H 2-Brewer, Clarke, Danny Baldridge Jr. MAIN EVENT-Clarke, Baldridge, Lust, Brewer, Mark Funkhouser, O'Brien, Al Loewen, Buddy Thatcher, Chapman, Earl Deal (DNS).


H 1-Eddie Brand, Jim Ford, Robin Fast. H 2-Raul Rodriguez Sr., Danny Holcomb, Martin Hernandez. DASH-Holcomb, Rodriguez, Brand. MAIN EVENT-Rodriguez, Hernandez, Brand, Mike Hamilton, Fast, Ford, Holcomb, Richard Hogue, Chris Shelton, Rob Zoelin (DNS).####

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Article posted by staff on August 11, 2001.