WATSONVILLE, California -- In a crowd pleasing battle up front with Eric Jacobsen and Mark Cooper, Dennis Pelphrey scored the victory in the Mike Cecil 100 for the NASCAR Street Stocks Friday night at Watsonville Speedway. The win clinched Pelphrey his second championship in three years and was his ninth of the season. CarQuest Late Model racer Jacobsen settled for second ahead of Scott Fuhrman. The fifth annual event, which honors former Street Stock champion Mike Cecil, who passed away in 1997, drew a solid 30 car field.
The season high 30 Street Stocks were given a rare time trial qualifying opportunity. Several drivers had prequalified for this event, but after signing autographs for the fans at the entrence before the races, prequalified Tony Olivera blew a motor in his Ford in hot laps to end his night. Early qualifier Pelphrey set the fast time with a lap of 17.814 to beat the 17.886 effort of Jacobsen. Third quick Rich Firato just missed the 17's with his 18.016 effort. Chris Messmer made a Turn 2 pass on Firato on the last lap to win the four lap Trophy Dash. With the 100 lap Main Event on tap, heat races were not on the schedule, but a 12 lap B Main was run to fill the last six spots of the extra distance feature. Jason Rood held off Stu Cornick and Bruce Pestana in a close race to win the B Main.
The invert ten lineup off of time trials put Jacobsen and Pelphrey in the fifth row of the 24 car feature, and outside front row starter Fuhrman set the early pace ahead of 2001 track champion Ken Gregg and Mark Cooper. Rood spun in Turn 4 for a lap three caution flag. Yellow flag laps counted in this event up to the final ten circuits, and Fuhrman led the lap six restart from his outside spot. An outside move on the front stretch of the eighth lap gained Cooper second from Gregg, and Jacobsen made his first top five appearance on lap 11. Jacobsen made an inside pass on the front stretch of the 13th tour to take fourth from Messmer. An outside move on the back stretch of the 17th lap gained Cooper the lead from Fuhrman. Gregg and Jacobsen followed Cooper into second and third, and a high move in Turn 4 of the 22nd lap gained Jacobsen second from Gregg. The lead duo were working traffic, and Jacobsen raced past Cooper on the back stretch of the 29th lap for the lead as Pelphrey made his first top five appearance of the race behind Gregg and Fuhrman. John Harville spun in Turn 3 for a lap 30 caution flag. Jacobsen chose the outside and continued to lead Cooper and Gregg on the lap 35 restart. Pelphrey passed Fuhrman for fourth on the 36th circuit. Cornick spun in Turn 4 for a lap 43 caution flag. From the outside, Jacobsen led the lap 47 restart, and Pelphrey raced by Cooper on the outside of the front stretch for second. Pelphrey made a strong inside move on the front stretch a lap later and grabbed the lead from Jacobsen. A yellow flag slowed the pace at the halfway point of the race for Rood, and the top five at that moment was Jacobsen, Pelpgrey, Cooper, Gregg and Messmer.
Pelpgrey led the pack from the outside on the lap 54 restart, but Jacobsen regained the front spot a lap later in this crowd pleasing duel. A lap 60 yellow flag fell when Mitch Lettunich and Cornick crashed hard in Turn 4. Track officials had announced prior to the race that yellow flag laps during any caution period would not count after eight laps, and the cleanup from this crash took them to lap 68. Jacobsen led Pelprey and Cooper on the restart, but Pelphrey again slipped past Jacobsen on the inside for the lead on lap 69 as Gregg took third from Cooper. Harville spun in Turn 2 for a lap 71 caution flag. Pelphrey chose the outside groove, which was starting to go away, for the restart, but an aggressive low move in Turn 4 of the 76th lap regained Jacobsen the lead. Jaconsen, Pelpgrey and Cooper continued to race hard for the lead, and Jacobsen got out of shape in Turn 2 of the 81st lap, dropping him to third behind Pelphrey and Cooper. An inside move in Turn 2 of the 83rd lap gained Cooper the lead from Pelpgrey, and a caution flag waved on lap 85 for Paul Burton in Turn 4. The green flag flew on lap 88, and Pelphrey and Jacobsen dropped Cooper back to third. Separate spins by Bill Hyland and Mike Finlin brought out a lap 93 yellow flag, and Pelpgrey changed strategies and went with the inside on the restart. The smooth running Pelphrey continued to repell Jacobsen's bids for the lead. The final lap saw Cooper make contact with Jacobsen in the battle for second and fall back several positions as Pelphrey brought it home to a well earned victory ahead of Jacobsen. Gregg made a late pit stop, and Fuhrman was a respectable third in front of Messmer, Greg McGregor and Cooper, the final lead lap car. Firato, Bill Hyland, Steve Ewbank and Pestana rounded out the top ten finishers.
FT-Dennis Pelphrey 17.814.
DASH-Chris Messmer, Rich Firato, Pelphrey, Eric Jacobsen.
B MAIN-Jason Rood, Stu Cornick, Bruce Pestana, John Prentice, Phil Priddy, Mike Franco Sr., Sheila Wallace, Ray Keldsen Jr., Albert Alcosta, Joey Silva.
MIKE CECIL 100 LAP MAIN EVENT-Pelphrey, Jacobsen, Scott Fuhrman, Messmer, Greg McGregor, Mark Cooper, Firato, Bill Hyland, Steve Ewbank, Pestana, Rick Ray, Ken Gregg, Mike Finlin, Patruck Sandoval, Paul Burton, Gene Blakeman, Kelly Knight, John Harville, Prentice, Cornick, Mitch Lettunich, Priddy, Rood, Eric Van Hooser.