EL CAJON, California -- Rich Green Jr. served notice on the street stock division at Cajon Speedway Saturday night. The two-time divisional champ is back.
Green, who earned street stock honors in 2001 and 2002 and was points runner-up in 2003, had gotten off to an awful start in the first two races of 2004. But Saturday night he stormed from eighth starting position, moved past Dave Arce five rounds from the checkered flag, and collected his 23rd career first place trophy in the 25-lap NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series contest.
After having their first race of 2004 rained out two weeks ago, the Grand American modifieds got their season underway and Mike Salm took the checkered flag in front of the 25-lap feature. Marty Lehrke paced the bomber stocks; that division contested a 20-lap feature.
It was a night for rare events as a pair of one-of-a-kind incidents helped determine the outcome of the main events. First in the street stocks while the field was running under caution on lap 16 of 25, race leader Ivan Harrison noticed that his car seemed to run without him stepping on the gas. Sure enough when the field increased their speed to blow off the track, Harrison’s throttle stuck wide open and his Taurus slammed the first turn crashwall.
Then when the field was piling out of the pits for the Grand American modified feature, Danny Gay gunned his motor. The result blew the driveshaft and who knows what else out of the bottom end of the car and severely oiled down the front chute. Gay’s crew however was able to make repairs and he was able to run a few laps in the main event.
The actual racing on the other hand was much tamer. Only the jarring incident that preceded Harrison’s wall banging interrupted the street stock main event. And while the modified go ran with their usual assortment of spins and melees, there were no serious incidents.
Dave Arce, who really, really, really wants his first career victory, led early on in the street stock contest. But Harrison, who was back from a blown engine a week earlier, would have none of it. He overhauled Arce with a low pass on laps five and six. On lap 16 Brian Collins nipped Kenny Hall who spun. Hall’s teammate and brother-in-law Neil Rodvold got collected. A few seconds after the yellow was thrown rookie Eric Sweetman came upon the scene. Never lifting Sweetman rammed hard into the side of Rodvold’s Monte Carlo. Fortunately no one was hurt thought Sweetman’s Taurus was torn asunder. After Harrison’s woe, Arce was back on the point. But Green was moving steadily forward. He got by Rob Overman on the restart for second and four rounds later he surpassed Arce.
At the finish, Green was sixth lengths in front of Overman. Richard Hinze was a close third. Arce faded to fourth. Defending bomber stock champ Rick Hagen was fifth and has gained the number one spot in the street stock standings over Hinze.
“That was fun. I like working for it when we can do it,” the relieved race winner expounded. “It was a good, clean race.”
Then the conversation turned to Green’s problems the first two races of the year.
“The first night it didn’t have just what it needed,” Green related. “I ended up pushing it pretty hard and ended up getting in a tangle with Jimmy Dickerson. Then last week we had a vibration all night long. The guys did clutch, transmission, they did driveshaft, u-joints, and yoke. All that stuff and then the vibration was actually worse. Then for the main event, the axle broke. So I think we found that.”
Train-and-factory-stock-racer extraordinaire Danny Hildebrand was making his first start in a Grand American modified. He led the opening laps. First-nighter Richard Townsend, a transplant from Brewerton Speedway in New York, spun across the track in mid-pack on lap 2. But there was no contact with any other cars or anything else. He was not as lucky a bit later when he caught the backstretch wall exiting turn two. Salm, who started fourth, moved around Hildebrand on lap 6. Though he was pressured by John Tyczki, who was making a one-time start in the division before turning the car over to James Scheel, Salm held Tyczki at bay to the finish. Jimmy Dickerson, who failed to qualify after his engine broke a rocker arm, came from last to third. Hildebrand stayed near the front and earned a fourth place finish. 2003 pony stock champ Hector Leon was fifth.
“We did a lot of testing in the off-season and it seemed to pay off,” Salm, the 2000 GA mod champ and points runner-up last year, said after his 18th career win. “I do feel bad about one thing though. John Tyczki bought my old car and he out-qualified me tonight. And then he finished second. His car was working. I told him he got a good car. But I don’t think he believed me until tonight.”
Unlike the other two features, the bombers had no unusual activity on the track. Like the two other races, it was clean. The only yellow came on lap 14 when point leader Dave Whisenant got turned around in turn two. Greg McCown led from the pole in his borrowed machine from Mark Wendell. McCown’s own car had been decimated in a previous week pileup and Wendell loaned McCown his car for this time around. Lehrke shared the front row with McCown, dogged him early on, and then pulled even with him on lap 7. By the end of the next lap Lehrke was out front to stay. Randy Hart took over the number one spot in the standings with another fine run and ended up second ahead of McCown. Brian “The Kid” Fitzgibbons got his early-model Chevelle repaired from the damage it suffered in the “big one” a week ago and finished fourth. Scott Denton was fifth.
PIT NOTES: Sterling Marlin outlasted Bill Elliott, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmy Spencer to win Saturday night’s 20-lap KGB Dodge Race of Champions. … Mel McCay prevailed in the Celebrity race. He outran Scotter, Jen Sheyun, and Curt August in that 10-lap affair.
1st Heat (8 laps) - 1. Dan Hildebrand, El Cajon; 2. Richard Townsend, Lakeside; 3. Hector Leon, Santee; 4. Andy Papp, La Mesa; 5. Jeff Thompson, Lakeside; 6. Steve Lloyd, Carlsbad; 7. Jimmy Dickerson, El Cajon; Time - 11:15.25.
2nd Heat (8 laps) - 1. Mike Salm, Fallbrook; 2. Danny Gay, Lakeside; 3. Pat Garity, El Cajon; 4. John Tyczki, Lakeside; 5. Mike Jackson, Bonita; 6. Mark McGowan, Santee; 7. Douglas Carpenter, La Mesa; Time - 3:49.26.
Main (25 laps) - 1. Mike Salm, Fallbrook; 2. John Tyczki, Lakeside; 3. Jimmy Dickerson, El Cajon; 4. Dan Hildebrand, El Cajon; 5. Hector Leon, Santee; 6. Andy Papp, La Mesa; 7. Steve Lloyd, Carlsbad; 8. Mark McGowan, Santee; 9. Mike Jackson, Bonita; 10. Pat Garity, El Cajon; 11. Jeff Thompson, Lakeside; 12. Danny Gay, Lakeside; 13. Richard Townsend, Lakeside; Time - 21:44.65.
Fast Time - Kenny Hall, Lakeside; Time - :17.689.
1st Heat (8 laps) - 1. Dave Arce, Santee; 2. Brian Collins, Oceanside; 3. Ivan Harrison, Santee; 4. Josh Green, Lakeside; 5. Eric Sweetman, Santee; 6. Keith Donohou, Lakeside; 7. Randy Buell, San Diego; Time - 6:14.78.
2nd Heat (8 laps) - 1. Rob Overman, San Diego; 2. Rich Green Jr., El Cajon; 3. Rick Hagen, Rancho SD; 4. Eric Ferguson, El Cajon; 5. Richard Hinze, Lakeside; 6. Neil Rodvold, Lakeside; 7. Kenny Hall, Lakeside; 8. Rob Freeman, Santee; Time - 2:23.79.
Main (25 laps) - 1. Rich Green Jr., El Cajon; 2. Rob Overman, San Diego; 3. Richard Hinze, Lakeside; 4. Dave Arce, Santee; 5. Rick Hagen, Rancho SD; 6. Eric Ferguson, El Cajon; 7. Rob Freeman, Santee; 8. Kenny Hall, Lakeside; 9. Brian Collins, Oceanside; 10. Josh Green, Lakeside; 11. Randy Buell, San Diego; 12. Keith Donohou, Lakeside; 13. Ivan Harrison, Santee; 14. Neil Rodvold, Lakeside; 15. Eric Sweetman, Santee; Time - 26:06.46.
Fast Time - David Whisenant, Murrieta; Time - :20.279.
Dash (4 laps) - 1. Rick Nies, Lakeside; 2. David Whisenant, Murrieta; 3. Brian Fitzgibbons, El Cajon; 4. Hayden Smith, San Diego; Time - 1:21.90.
1st Heat (8 laps) - 1. Greg McCown, Lakeside; 2. Marty Lehrke, San Diego; 3. Darrell Moore, Ramona; 4. Bill Holland, El Cajon; 5. Kevin Gantz, Spring Valley; 6. Brandon Haag, Santee; 7. Perry Humphries, San Diego; 8. Michael Burford, Ramona; Time - 2:46.08.
2nd Heat (8 laps) - 1. Brian Fitzgibbons, El Cajon; 2. Scott Denton, Fallbrook; 3. Randy Hart, National City; 4. Rodney Shaw, El Cajon; 5. Hayden Smith, San Diego; 6. Rick Nies, Lakeside; 7. David Whisenant, Murrieta; 8. Mike McGlone, Fallbrook; Time - 5:47.22.
Main (20 laps) - 1. Marty Lehrke, San Diego; 2. Randy Hart, National City; 3. Greg McCown, Lakeside; 4. Brian Fitzgibbons, El Cajon; 5. Scott Denton, Fallbrook; 6. Darrell Moore, Ramona; 7. Hayden Smith, San Diego; 8. Rick Nies, Lakeside; 9. Kevin Gantz, Spring Valley; 10. Rodney Shaw, El Cajon; 11. Bill Holland, El Cajon; 12. Brandon Haag, Santee; 13. David Whisenant, Murrieta; 14. Mike McGlone, Fallbrook; 15. Michael Burford, Ramona; 16. Perry Humphries, San Diego; Time - 8:03.71.