By: Gary Jacob and Don Low|
Where: Bakersfield, CA
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Bakersfield, CA --
After a last lap duel with Jeff Miller, Dave Sweet emerged with his first IMCA Modified 40 lap main event Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway Park. Miller appeared to have wrapped up the track championship with his second place run, but was found with an illegal brake proportioning valve in post race inspection and disqualified. This would have handed the title to Kevin Nichols, but he was penalized to last place for limping the final laps as the officials felt that he was intending to block or crash someone. This leaves the track title to Wayne Coffman, who broke a motor on lap 18 unless the appeals of either Miller and Nichols are ruled in their favor. It was the final IMCA Modified point race of 1999 at the track. Keith Heaslet won his sixth hobby stock 20 lap victory and climbed into third in points. Ivan Crawford won the 10 lap American Stock main.
The IMCA Modifieds had a 17 car field and heat winners were Sweet, Scott Pruett and Kevin Nichols. Kenneth Cleavland was a feature scratch. Former pavement racer Mick Baltz and Sweet shared the front row and Sweet led the first 5 laps. Kevin Nichols gained third when Baltz spun for a lap 3 yello wand Nichols took second from Pruett on the restart. Eighth starter Nichols took the lead from teammate Sweet on lap 6 and 10th starter Miller was second on lap 10. Coffman had settled into fourth and Kelly Nichols broke into the top five on lap 15. Coffmanís engine began to smoke and he exited on lap 19 to hand fourth to Kelly Nichols ahead of Pruett. Pruett spun for a lap 26 yellow and leader Kevin Nichols pitted with sparks flying from his mount. Miller inherited the lead over Sweet, Kelly Nichols and Chris Mendenhall and Kevin Nichols returned several laps down. In the closing laps, Kevin Nichols was circulating slowly up against the crashwall. Sweet made an inside run at leader Miller in turn 3 on the last lap. Exiting the final corner, they made contact and Miller hit the wall with Sweet one foot ahead at the checkered flag. Kelly Nichols was the only other lead lap finisher with Mendenhall fourth ahead of Jim Deines and Lin Deines. Miller was disqualified from second for his right front brake setup. He was found with a legal front to rear proportioning valve, but also an illegal left to right proportioning valve. He has appealed the ruling to the IMCA offices in Iowa and Kevin Nichols was dropped to last in the order for his late race activities. He also protested the call, but if both lose their appeals, Coffman will be crowned track champion.
The hobby stocks had a 22 car field and heat winners were James Cagle, Chad Johnson and Rodney Jennings. The main had 20 starters as both Roger Brewer and Chris Taylor scratched. Paraplegic Taylor had lost his power steering and he canít drive the car with his hand controls without it. The first attempt to start the 20 lapper saw several cars crash on the wet surface with win contenders Dave Bauer and Paul Smith both restarting in the rear after pitting. Jennings led four laps with Heaslet second as Johnson climbed into third. Heaslet used an outside pass on the restart to take the lead from Jennings. Earl Siler moved up to duel Johnson for third and Bauer advanced to fifth on lap 10. When Steve McWhorter spun with a broken axle for a lap 11 yellow, Bauer and Johnson both pitted with flat tires. Siler took second from Jennings on lap 13 and Chris Swank passed Jennings on lap 19 to finish third. Jennings crossed the finish line in fourth, but was disqualified in tech for exceeeding the divisionís engine compression limit. Heaslet won ahead of Siler, Swank, point leader Smith, Johnson, Lee Walker, Donnie Britt and Kenton Miller. Smithís point lead is now 10 points over Johnson, 42 over Heaslet and 50 ahead of Bauer.
The new American Stock class had 8 entries this week and Bryson Lynch won the heat in front of Neal Leander. Bobby Turner led the first lap of the 10 lap main, but Lynch took over on lap 2. After trying both inside and outside moves on leader Lynch, Ivan Crawford pulled off his winning pass on lap 8. Lynch ran second ahead of Leander.
Summary American Stock Heat-Bryson Lynch, Neal Leander, Bill Little, Ivan Crawford, #112. Main-Crawford, Lynch, Leander, #112, Little, Bobby Turner, Joe Showenstein, Lindsey Bynam. Hobby Stock Heat 1-James Cagle, Chris Swank, Keith Heaslet, Jacky Wood, Paul Smith. Heat 2-Chad Johnson, Roger Brewer, Earl Siler, Matt Barrett, Charles McMinn. Heat 3-Rodney Jennings, Dave Bauer, Curtis Dietzsch, Donnie Britt, Bill Howard. Main-Heaslet, Siler, Swank, Smith, Johnson, Lee Walker, Britt, Kenton Miller, McMinn, Troy Morris, Wood, Bauer, Cagle, Barrett, Dietzsch. IMCA Modified Heat 1-Dave Sweet, Wayne Coffman, Lin Deines, Dustin Abernathy, Kelly Nichols. Heat 2-Scott Pruett, Jeff Miller, Roger Varner, Jim Deines, Kenneth Cleavland. Heat 3-Kevin Nichols, Chris Mendenhall, Mick Baltz, Jim Keister, Matt Brock. Main-(Unofficial) Sweet, Kelly Nichols, Mendenhall, J Deines, L Deines, Bill Gates, Keister, Brock, Baltz, Pruett, Varner, Coffman, Abernathy, George Scott, Kevin Nichols.