By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Victorville, CA
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Victorville, CA -- Having had tough luck at his two previous 2002 visits to Route 66 Raceway, Dan Fitzgerald from Las Vegas took advantage of his front row starting slot and led all 20 laps to win the IMCA Modified main event there on Saturday night. Fitzgerald is chasing the Western Region champion with his West Connection Racing JetMod and was coming off a two win weekend in Elko, Nevada. Tonight's win was his fifth of 2002, the other two coming at Mohave Valley Raceway. Fitzgerald was chased to his win by fellow Las Vegas racer Mark Allison, the champion of recently concluded Imperial, CA season and Arizona's Darrel Zweifel. Chris Smith from Trona won his second straight 20 lap super stock feature with Mike Morris second over Frank Woodward. On the same night that brother Bruce Johnson won at Bakersfield Speedway Park, Chad Johnson won the street stock main event with Dave Tomkins second over Amin Torfi. Mini Stock point leader Mark Nustad won their feature with Hemet's Stacy Helms second over Marvin Grinder. John Abright from Apple Valley won the All American Stock main with Howard Smith second. Nine of the Mini Sprint 600's that race at Barona made the tow north and Corey Ballard from Orange beat Jan Ballard in their feature race.
The 18 IMCA Modifieds were divided into three heat races. Steve Smith beat Bob Forster Jr in heat 1 with Zweifel beating Rick Grimes in heat 2. Fitzgerald lined up outside front row for the 3rd heat, but struggled with the freshly watered track and ran 4th as Rick Arringdale beat Rex McGuire. For the 20 lap feature, McGuire and Fitzgerald shared the front row with Forster and Allison back in row 6. Fitzgerald easily won the start and actually built his advantage up to a half-lap when a late race caution slowed the action. Fitzgerald then had to fend off the challenges of Allison's Larry Shaw car for the win with Zweifel placing third over Al Bernal, Grimes, Wayne Francis, Smith, Forster and Jimmy Barttelt. The very tight point race then found Grimes and Forster tied for the point lead, one point ahead of Bernal and two ahead of Francis. Arringdale is just 3 points back with both Barttelt and Smith five points back of the leader.
The Super Stocks also had an 18 car turnout. Mike Morris beat Frank Woodward in heat 1. C Smith beat Robert Early in heat 2 as Scott Moore won heat 3 over Leonard Wahlquist. The top 12 point averages are inverted at the front of the A Main grid and that put Moore and Early on the front row. Smith won from fifth starting with tenth starter Morris second ahead of 7th starter Woodward. Mike Miller was fourth and Bakersfield's Ralph Cooke maintained his solid point lead with a fifth ahead of Jerry Crain, Dave Clark and Moore. Cooke ended the night with a 14 point lead over Woodward and 32 ahead of Moore. Clark is just one point back of Moore and four ahead of Morris. The street stocks had 24 cars in action, so they had a rare night without a B Main. Steve Johnson joined the action in a team car to C Johnson and he won the first heat over incoming co-point leader George. C Johnson won heat 2 with Keith Prischmann second. Tomkins beat Gary Owen in heat 3. C Johnson came from 4th for his feature win with Tomkins leaping into the point lead with a second over pole starter Amin Torfi, Phil Fiehler and Prischmann.
Jim Abright was sixth ahead of Lonnie Skillman and S Johnson. Tomkins ended the night just 4 points ahead of George in their championship duel. C Johnson pulled to within 31 points of the point lead as he climbed to sixth in points.
The mini stock count exploded to 22 cars. Paul Bender, Rick Lapka and Marvin Grinder won heat races. Nustad lives in Johnson Valley and came from 11th for his feature win as Stacy Helms moved into fifth in points with a second ahead of Grinder, Sam Reeder and Don Clark. Nustad has now stretched his point lead to 26 points over Bender and 35 ahead of Sands Sprague. Clark is now 2 points back of Sprague and just 5 points ahead of Helms. Nustad won the feature ahead of third starter Helms, Grinder, Reed, Clark and Daniel Dyer. The All American Stocks fielded 17 cars. Frank Hopkins won the first heat over Brian Moretz with J R Steele the second heat winner over Jeffro Blalock. John Abright came from 13th to win the feature race over Howard Smith, Bryan Gott, Joe Miller, Blalock and Tony Warner. Abright's win boosted him into the track point lead with a six point lead over Hopkins and 9 point advantage over David Anderson. Fourth ranked Tony Warner is just 12 points out of the point lead.
The visiting Mini Sprint 600's brought 9 cars. Jan Ballard won the heat race opver John Sparklund and Christine Root. Gary Winter broke in hot laps and Lloyd Biggs was also a feature scratch. Corey Ballard won the feature race over J Ballard, Root, Sparlund and Tony Martinez.
Summary Mini Sprint 600 Heat-Jan Ballard, John Sparlund, Christine Root, Tony Martinez, Corey Ballard. Main-C Ballard, J Ballard, Root, Sparlund, Martinez, Tom Gagnon, Ben Gagnon. All American Stock Heat 1-Frank Hopkins, Brian Moretz, Nathan Gruwell, Don Roland, Ruben Gonzales. Heat 2-J R Steele, Jeffro Blalock, Bryan Gott, Howard Smith, Billy Lyons. Main-John Abright, Smith, Gott, Joe Miller, Blalock, Tony Warner, Steele, Moretz, Hopkins, David Anderson, Gruwell, Roland, Lyons, Damon Felly, Gonzales. Mini Stock Heat 1-Paul Bender, Jimmy Helton, Stacy Helms, Sam Reeder, Bryan Clymer. Heat 2-Rick Lapka, Gary Prine, Chris Hibshman, Jim Bard, Daniel Dyer. Heat 3-Marvin Grinder, Don Clark, Mark Nustad, Sands Sprague, Gary Marshall. Main-Nustad, Helms, Grinder, Reeder, Clark, Dyer, Marshall, Hibshman, Bard, Bender, Ron Hester, Aaron McLaughlin, Clayton Northrup, Sprague, Denise Galloway, Lapka, Prine, Daniel Sandt, Dennis Duvall. Street Stock Heat 1-Steve Johnson, Jimmy George, Jeff Hildebrandt, Phil Fiehler, Rodney Steele. Heat 2-Chad Johnson, Keith Prischmann, Amin Torfi, Mike Milender, Rick Gilmore. Heat 3-David Tomkins, Gary Owen, Woody Sabers, Marvin Vanderwerff, Joe Pasquale. Main-C Johnson, Tomkins, Torfi, Fiehler, Prischmann, Jim Abright, Lonnie Skillman, S Johnson, Scott Curry, Gilmore, George, Sabers, Vanderwerff, Milender, Steele, George Agulare, Owen, Hildebrandt. Super Stock Heat 1-Mark Morris, Frank Woodward, Brandon Bennett, Johnnie Little, Mike Prather. Heat 2-Chris Smith, Robert Early, Mark Allen, Ralph Cooke, Mike Miller. Heat 3-Scott Moore, Leonard Wahlquist, Dave Clark, Jerry Crain, Malcolm Lawrence. Main-C Smith, Morris, Woodward, Miller, Cooke, Crain, Clark, Moore, Wahlquist, Little, Prather, Lawrence, David Smith, Allen, Early, Bennett, Mike Olson. IMCA Modified Heat 1-Steve Smith, Bob Forster Jr, Wayne Francis, Brad Bennett, Norman Matteson. Heat 2-Darrel Zweifel, Rick Grimes, Al Bernal, Mark Allison, Eddie Drost. Heat 3-Rick Arringdale, Rex McGuire, Dale Underwood, Dan Fitzgerald, Jimmy Barttelt. Main-Fitzgerald, Allison, Zweifel, Bernal, Grimes, Francis, Smith, Forster, Barttelt, Arringdale, Drost, Larry Blake, Joe Blackmore, McGuire, Underwood, Rich Rose.