By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Santa Maria, CA
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Santa Maria, CA --
Rookie NASCAR Grand American Modified racer Steve Pemberton from Salinas had never seen Santa Maria Speedway before he arrived at the track on Saturday, but he was a quick study and led the final 14 laps to score a $500 win in the open comp modified 30 lap main event. After a part-time American Stock effort in 1998, Pemberton purchased Todd Souza’s former Mesa Marin Raceway championship car for his rookie modified season. He chased Souza over the final 16 laps Saturday night before Souza broke a motor. Pemberton then outran Yuma, AZ UMP Modified point leader Alan Updyke for the win. Updyke was a $275 second with Santa Maria’s own Tim Esmay a $175 third. Defending track IMCA sprint car champion Mike Trogdon had finished 2nd in the first two 1999 races, but drove his aging Tognotti chassis to victory in their 30 lap main with Joey Layman nipping street stock graduate Jimmy Thompson for second.
The first of two open comp modified races on the track’s 1999 schedule drew 8 IMCA Modifieds, 3 NASCAR cars and Updyke’s UMP machine. Gary Curtis was impressive in his first heat win as he held off Updyke and Pemberton, who had started last. Souza easily won the second heat ahead of IMCA regional rookie of the year hopeful Kathy Pierson and Ventura ace Steve Greenland. Greenland was a feature scatch. The remaining 11 cars lined up off their heat finishes. Souza raced into the lead over Pemberton and Updyke, who had to drive through a lap 1 tangle with Curtis. Pierson spun on the first lap and Bill Waltman dropped out with a broken front end. Chuck Patterson dropped out after spinning on lap 5. The front threesome pulled away from the field with Donald Houghton taking over fifth as Curtis retired on lap 11. Souza’s engine soured on lap 2 and he was showered with oil on lap 17 as he lapped fifth place Pierson. Souza coasted into the pits and Pemberton inherited the lead over Updyke and Esmay. Pemberton had a 1/2 lap advantage over third place Esmay when a lap 21 red fell for Doug Thornton, who had thrown a wheel on the Chris Tonoli car. Despite heavy pressure from Updyke, the inexperienced Pemberton paced the remaining laps for the $500 win. Updyke was second ahead of Esmay, Houghton, Pierson, Steve Linthicum and Thornton.
The IMCA Sprint Cars had 8 in action and heat winners were Layman and Trogdon. They ran their 30 lap main event with just two yellow flags. Layman led the first 3 laps before Gary Rayburn Jr used a turn 3 slide job to take over the lead. Trogdon used the same kind of move to take second a lap later as Thompson settled into fourth ahead of Mike Knopf. John Abeytia spun for a lap 6 yellow flag. Rayburn had opened a 1/3 lap lead on third place Layman when was passed on the inside by Trogdon on lap 13. Abeytia broke for a lap 14 yellow flag and Rayburn pitted his overheating mount. Trogdon built a 1/4 lap lead over Layman in the remaining rounds and Thompson challenged Layman hard for that runnerup slot. Ventura regular John Jewett visited Santa Maria for the first time in 1999 and was lapped while fifth on lap 22. Trogdon won ahead of Layman, Thompson, Knopf, Jewett and Gordon Bales.
Summary IMCA Sprint Car Heat 1-Joey Layman, Mike Knopf, Gary Rayburn Jr, John Jewett. Heat 2-Mike Trogdon, Jimmy Thompson, Gordon Bales, John Abeytia. Main-Trogdon, Layman, Thompson, Knopf, Jewett, Bales, Abeytia, Rayburn. Open Comp Modified Heat 1-Gary Curtis, Alan Updyke, Steve Pemberton, Chuck Patterson, Bill Waltman. Heat 2-Todd Souza, Kathy Pierson, Steve Greenland, Donald Houghton, Tim Esmay. Main-Pemberton, Updyke, Esmay, Houghton, Pierson, Steve Linthicum, Doug Thornton, Souza, Curtis, Patterson, Waltman.
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