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Source — Santa Maria, CA
Date Posted — August 20, 2002
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After timing in 7th fast and struggling to a 5th place heat finish, an ill Jimbo Clark took full advantage of his front row start and paced all 27 laps to win the time shortened dirt late model feature Saturday night at Santa Maria Speedway. Clark's $1,000 win was his first for 2002 and only the second ever for the 2nd year dirt late model racer and this was the first dirt late model to be shortened by the track's new 40 minute time limit for each feature. Former track champion and point leader Steve Drake ran second from lap 10 on and pressured Clark all the way in his potent Ford. For the first time in 2002, Scott Pounds was available to wheel the Bob Oathout car and he ran an impressive third after starting in the very rear of the 16 car field. Having dropped from action when he sold his car to Bakersfield's Joe Wilson Jr, 2001 street stock track champion Joey Claborn jumped at the chance to wheel Ron Wiley's new car and he impressed with a 20 lap feature win after earlier capturing his heat race from last starting. Claborn appeared to be headed for a second place finish as Willy Oathout had dominated the race from a up front start. On the final lap, Oathout hooked bumpers with the lapped car of Mitch Caldwell in turn 1 and he couldn't break free until Claborn had raced by. Oathout ran second ahead of point leader Brandon Cortner.

2001 track champion Rick Coffey led the 16 dirt late models in time trials with his 15.100 lap. Chris Kearns was just a tick back with a 15.115 run and Tom Johnson was a surprising third with his 15.209 lap. Late arrival Vance Beltran ran first and timed fourth quick with previous race winner Doug Jeffers in fifth. The dirt late model heat races are run straightup and a strong first lap move by Donnie Hampl saw him pass pole starter Coffey and win heat 1. Coffey was second over Chet Buckley and Jeffers. Kearns won heat 2 from the pole with Beltran second over impressive rookie Craig Gardner. The inversion for the feature came up a ten that put the fifth place heat finishers on the front row. That was Clark and Brian Whitford with point leader Drake in row 2 after he timed 10th fast and ran fourth in his heat. Clark jumped into the lead over Drake with Buckley into third on lap 2. Gardner gained fourth on lap 3 and Beltran was fifth on lap 4. Buckley used a dive play to take second from Drake on lap 5 and the first yellow came on lap 7 as Kearns stalled high in turn 4. A pair of yellow stopped the action on lap 8 as Doug Powell, Johnson and Mark Nation tangled, then fourth place Gardner spun and was hit by Whitford and Coffey. Both Gardner and Coffey lost laps making repairs and Kearns returned after missing one lap. Drake retook second from Buckley on lap 10 and Beltran suffered a flat tire. Hampl was now fourth. Having had carburetor problems in both time trials and his heat, Pounds was flying from his back of the pack start and he raced into fifth on lap 14. After contact from Hampl in their third place duel, Buckley got into the fence in turn 3 for a lap 18 yellow flag. Hampl was penalized to the rear and Buckley's race was over. On the restart, Clark led Drake, Pounds, Jeffers and Mike Riccardi. Kearns raced with the leaders after he returned from his stop and Nation put his father in law Pete Van Iderstine's car into fifth. Brian Whitford spun for a lap 27 yellow flag and the restart saw Nation, Hampl, Gardner and Powell all crashed together in turn 4. The 40 minute countdown clock had expired, but the officials attempted to quickly re-align the cars and race those final 3 laps. That didn't happen and checkered flag dropped as they paraded under yellow with Clark the winner over Drake, Pounds, Jeffers, Hampl, Powell and Brian Wirtz.

The 18 street stocks were divided into three heat races. Claborn took his borrowed car from fifth starting to a win in heat one as Ed Perry ran second. Rick Wilkinson won heat 2 over Joey Silva and Oathout. After Tim Randolph got spun out of the lead by a tap from Chad Weber, point leader Cortner won heat 3. Randolph came from the rear to finish second, but crashed into Weber as they pulled into their pit stalls and Randolph was disqualified for the night. Their feature also had a ten car inversion and Oathout charged itno the lead over Caldwell and Weber. Charlie Dowdy pitted his misfiring car early and Silva leaped to second on lap 2. Cortner was third on lap 3 as Larry Mickey lost several stops when a tap put him in the infield. Tom Stephens and Bakersfield visitor Steve Cargill tangled for a lap 4 yellow and the race was over for Cargill. Claborn was fifth behind Elton Shaffer at the caution flag and he raced into fourth on lap 6. The lap 6 tangle between Steve Suchowirsky and Stephens was the race's final caution. Oathout emerged with a large lead when an out of shape Silva clipped Cortner allowing Claborn to race by both for 2nd on lap 8. Oathout still held his big margin as he took the white flag seeking his 2nd 2002 win, but he got tangled up with Caldwell in turn 1 and couldn't break free until Claborn had motored by. Claborn won with Oathout second over Cortner, Silva, Shaffer, Perry, Mickey, Billy Simkins and Wilkinson.

Summary Street Stock Heat 1-Joey Claborn, Ed Perry, Larry Mickey, Billy Simkins, Kenny Kirkpatrick. Heat 2-Rick Wilkinson, Joey Silva, Willy Oathout, Elton Shaffer, Steve Cargill. Heat 3-Brandon Cortner, Chad Weber, Mitch Caldwell, Tom Stephens, Charlie Dowdy. Main-Claborn, Oathout, Cortner, Silva, Shaffer, Perry, Mickey, Simkins, Wilkinson, Kirkpatrick, Caldwell, Stephens, Steve Suchowirsky, Robert Meneley, Weber, Cargill, Charlie Dowdy. Dirt Late Model Fast Time-Rick Coffey 15.100 Heat 1-Donnie Hampl, Coffey, Chet Buckley, Doug Jeffers, Brian Whitford. Heat 2-Chris Kearns, Vance Beltran, Craig Gardner, Steve Drake, Jimbo Clark. Main-Clark, Drake, Scott Pounds, Jeffers, Hampl, Doug Powell, Brian Wirtz, Whitford, Mark Nation, Mike Riccardi, Kearns, Coffey, Gardner, Buckley, Beltran, Tom Johnson.####

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Article posted by staff on August 20, 2002.