By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Fallon, NV
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Fallon, NV --
Lured by the prospect of two consecutive nights of racing and a promised $500 winner’s check, three of the IMCA Modified Western Region title hopefuls towed to Rattlesnake Raceway on the July 4th holiday weekend. Dan Fitzgerald from Las Vegas, NV outdueled Clovis, CA star Mike Johnson to win Saturday night’s main event. On Sunday night, Jason Pike from Pahrump, NV chased down Fitzgerald in the final six laps to post that win. Both Fitzgerald and Pike run Dirt Works Chassis. Fitzgerald’s win was his 4th in 36 1999 starts while Pike has won 10 times in 24 starts. Fitzgerald’s efforts pushed into the regional point lead with a 4 point margin over defending regional champion Rick Ward and 5 ahead of Mark Fowler. The drivers were disappointed at payoff when the track elected to only pay $200 for each win and pay only the top five finishers each night.
The first night drew 11 cars with Jason Pike’s father Jim Pike in action along with 7 Northern Nevada racers. Jason Pike won his heat and Fitzgerald won the other heat ahead of Johnson. Jim Pike was a feature scratch and Fitzgerald lined up 6th, Johnson 7th and Jason Pike 8th. Rattlesnake Raceway races to the yellow flag and Fitzgerald beat Lonnie Richey to a lap 2 caution to take the lead. Jason Pike quickly moved into second and made several inside runs at Fitzgerald, but couldn’t pull off a pass. Jason Pike got out of shape in turn 4 to hand second to Johnson. Fitzgerald and Johnson thrilled the crowd with their duel over the final dozen laps. When they lapped fourth place Harry Switzer, Fitzgerald dove underneath him and Johnson went high to continue their side by side effort. Fitzgerald emerged with a small lead that he held to the checkered flag. Johnson was second ahead of Jason Pike with Switzer fourth ahead of Alvin Barger, track point leader Richey, John Rogers and Glen Plake.
The same 11 cars returned for the Sunday night action. Wheel packing on a very heavy track, Johnson got into the wall and that led to a broken radiator mount in his heat that ruined his radiator. He still managed to win the heat by 3/4 of a lap over Plake. After trading the lead early with Arne Martin, Fitzgerald took the lead in heat two and won ahead of Jason Pike and Jim Pike. In the feature lineup, Johnson started 7th, Jason Pike 8th and Fitzgerald 9th. Jason Dye was a feature scratch. Martin raced into the lead over Richey. Fitzgerald broke into third, but some contact racing put him into the infield and Johnson took over third. Martin continued to lead as Johnson raced into second ahead of Fitzgerald and Jason Pike. In six laps, Johnson and Fitzgerald cut Martin’s lead to nothing before a yellow fell. During the caution, Johnson lost his nose piece and cut a hole in his oil filter when he drove over it to end his night. Rattlesnake lets the leader have the front row to himself, then double files the cars behind him. On the green, Jason Pike went outside Martin and Fitzgerald went underneath. Fitzgerald emerged in the lead, but Jason Pike was working well in the rutted outside groove and made his winning pass with five laps to run. Jason Pike won ahead of Fitzgerald, Martin, Richey, Rogers, Plake and Jim Pike.
IMCA Modified Heat 1-Jason Pike. Heat 2-Dan Fitzgerald, Mike Johnson. Main-Fitzgerald, Johnson, Jason Pike, Harry Switzer, Alvin Barger, Lonnie Richey, John Rogers, Glen Plake, Arne Martin, Jason Dye, Jim Pike.
IMCA Modified Heat 1-Mike Johnson, Glen Plake. Heat 2-Dan Fitzgerald, Jason Pike, Jim Pike. Main-Jason Pike, Fitzgerald, Arne Martin, Lonnie Richey, John Rogers, Glen Plake, Jim Pike, Harry Switzer, Mike Johnson, Alvin Barger.