By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Watsonville, CA
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Watsonville, CA --
Continuing his incredible early season efforts, Joe Antonetti stretched his large Watsonville Speedway point lead with his 4th $500 feature win Friday night in the 30 lap NASCAR Grand American Modified main event. Antonetti used his victory in the Las Vegas open comp to finance a new Harris modified for the 1999 season and he has posted four wins and three seconds in the first 7 races on the schedule. Jim Pettit II finally overcame his early season mechanical woes and was a $275 second ahead of Dave Byrd, who collected $200. Bobby Hogge IV blew a tire dueling for the lead with five laps to run and limped to a 9th. After the event, Hogge flew to Boone, Iowa where Ron Parker had towed his second car to race on Saturday night. The figure 8 point standings were shuffled when a crash took out point leader Jim Gillespie and Doug Snodgrass staged a fender-banging late race duel with John Keldsen. Snodgrass won the 15 lapper and emerged as the new point leader.
The modified car count fell back to 22 cars and Hogge posted fast time with a 15.289 lap on the 1/4 mile clay oval. Antonetti ran a 15.541 and Pettit a 15.581. Pettit wheeled his Cobra Chassis to the dash win and heat victories went to Tim Stratmeyer, Ed Jacobs and Santa Maria open comp winner Steve Pemberton. The feature lineup was an invert 5 and Todd Souza led the first 7 laps from his outside front row start. Antonetti settled into second and Jeff Botelho took third from Byrd on a lap 4 restart. Bobby Scott Jr spun for a lap 5 yellow and Botelho broke on the restart. The race was redflagged on lap 7 for a huge turn 3 tangle between Mike Franco Jr, Scott, Pemberton, Robert Marsh and John Keldsen. The yellow flag was flashing as the leaders drove into the area and leader Souza suffered heavy damage when he broadsided the Marsh car. Antonetti was the new leader over Hogge and Byrd. Pettit gained fourth on lap 10 with a contact pass on A J Kirkpatrick. Antonetti and Hogge had checked out on the field when Silvaís race end in a crash with Scott. On the restart, Pettit slapped the front wall, but continued in fourth. The final yellow came on lap 24 when Chuck Patterson spun in the groove in turn 1. In their race to the yellow, Hogge got around the incident faster than Antonetti and gained the lead. This gave Hogge the favored outside spot for the restart, but he had a right rear tire going flat and Antonetti retook the point. Hogge faded to fourth before his tire went flat and Pettit took second from Byrd on lap 26. Hungry for a dirt track win in 1999, Pettit ran hard off turn 2 on the final lap and got into the backwall, but survived to finish second. Byrd was third ahead of Ed Jacobs, Fred Lind, Jerry Movrich, Stratmeyer and Scott as Hogge limped to a 9th. Antonetti ended the night with a 56 point lead over Souza and has emerged a serious challenger for the rich Winston Pacific Coast Regional honors.
The figure 8 feature had 12 starters and a lot of action at the X. Snodgrass raced into the lead over Steve Casner and Mike Finlen Sr. Jim Gillespie was running fourth when he had to pit on a lap 6 yellow flag with a flat tire. John Keldsen took second from Casner on lap 8 and Finlen Sr was third a lap later. A lap 11 yellow flag saw Finlen Sr drilled at the X by newcomer James Blouvet to trigger a melee that heavily damaged J Gillespieís car. Snodgrass now led John Keldsen and senior statesman Lloyd Keldsen Sr. J Keldsen used an inside pass in turn 2 on lap 13 to take the lead, but Snodgrass did not give up and came back with the same move on the final lap. J Keldsen made a final bid in the last corner, but Snodgrass shut off the inside groove and J Keldsen crashed into that cornerís tractor tire. Snodgrass won over L Keldsen Sr with J Keldsen recovering for third ahead of Finlen Sr, first time 1999 racer Wayne Reader and J J Keldsen. Snodgrass is the new point leader with a four point margin on Finlen Sr and 8 ahead of J Keldsen.
The CarQuest Dirt Late Model Tour makes itís only visit to Watsonville on June 4 with the modifieds and street stocks also racing.
Summary Figure 8 Main-Doug Snodgrass, Lloyd Keldsen Sr, John Keldsen, Mike Finlen Sr, Wayne Reader, J J Keldsen, Tony Oliveira, Steve Casner, Kim Gillespie, Jim Gillespie, Mike Finlen Jr, James Blouvet. Grand American Modified Fast Time-Bobby Hogge IV 15.289 Dash-Jim Pettit II, Hogge, Todd Souza. Heat 1-Steve Pemberton, Fred Lind, Mike Franco Jr, John Keldsen, Dennis Pelphrey. Heat 2-Ed Jacobs, Jeff Silva, Bobby Scott Jr, Souza, Doug Hagio. Heat 3-Tim Stratmeyer, Pettit, Hogge, A J Kirkpatrick, Jerry Movrich. Main-Joe Antonetti, Pettit, Byrd, Jacobs, Lind, Movrich, Stratmeyer, Scott, Hogge, Hagio, Pelphrey, Tim Etchison Jr, Kirkpatrick, Chuck Patterson, Pemberton, Raymond Keldsen, Souza, Silva, Franco, J Keldsen, Robert Marsh, Jeff Botelho.
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