By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Watsonville, Ca
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Watsonville, Ca -- Taking the lead from point leader Dennis Pelphrey in lapped traffic on lap 57, Mark Cooper of Scotts Valley drove to victory in the annual Mike Cecil Memorial 100 lap NASCAR street stock feature at Watsonville Speedway Friday night. Cooper started the 2003 season with the intention of spending one final year in the street stocks to chase the NASCAR National Short Track honors, but recently moved his racing over to the tracks new limited late model class to join teammate Steve Ewbank. Like many others of the track competitors, he considers the Cecil 100 to be the race of the season and returned with his street stock in recent weeks to prepare for this race. The race purse paid $300 to win, but Cooper also received a $100 prize for former American Stock track regular Rod Herrick, another $100 from an anonymous donor and over $200 of the nearly $600 in lap prize awards. A flat left front tire slowed Pelphreys pace in the final 15 laps and Phillip Priddy grabbed the $200 second place prize. Pelphrey was able to limp to the $150 third place award and he also grabbed over $200 of the lap prize awards. Bill Hyland won $125 as the final lead lap finisher and his drive line fell out as he took the checkered flag. Eric VanHooser finished two laps down in fifth and won $100. The donations and lap money pushed the total purse over the $3,000 mark and tenth place had a special $100 prize. Hard luck Doug Hagio gained that award. A special thank you needs to be given to Samantha Harper for organizing the lap prize money collections over the past month.
Twenty one cars appeared for the long distance affair. Last weeks CarQuest Western Dirt Late Model Tour winner, Eric Jacobsen grabbed quick time honors in the season debut for the Ricky Sanders car as Jacobsen ran a 16.952 lap in time trials on the 1/4 mile clay oval. Pelphrey second quick at 17.076 and Cooper ran a 17.205. Hylands 17.493 ranked fourth ahead of the 17.640 for Ken Gregg. Jacobsens mount began to smoke heavily in the dash which was won by Cooper ahead of Hyland and Pelphrey. The dash win paid $15. The lineup inversion came up a zero putting the repaired Jacobsen and Pelphrey in the front row.
Jacobsen raced into the lead over Pelphrey and Cooper. Hagio gained fourth when Greggs race ended in a plume of smoke on lap 3. As the field came down for the green flag on lap 8, Jacobsens problem returned and he coasted to a stop in turn 2 to hand the lead over to Pelphrey. Cooper and Priddy were 2-3, but Hagio raced into second shortly after the lap 12 restart. The race was redflagged on lap 15 for a turn 1 incident that involved 7 cars. The race was over for Melissa Fuhrman. Another caution fell on lap 16 as Chris Kulvicki, Chris Pochop and Mickey Sanders tangled. Priddy shuffled Cooper back to fourth on this restart and Ray Martin moved into the top five when Stu Cornick spun out of the race on lap 24. Hagio got a big jump on this green flag and he took the lead from Pelphrey on lap 28. The race was again red flagged on lap 35 as M Sanders got tangled up with the leaders to trigger a front stretch incident that saw Chris Messmer clip the mount of VanHooser. In time trials, Messmer had crashed into the front fence and this incident ended his night. Pelphrey retook the lead from Hagio on lap 36 with Cooper settling into third ahead of Priddy and Hyland. Cooper drove by Hagio for second on lap 46 and the midway standings found Priddy in fourth ahead of Hyland, VanHooser, Tony Oliveira and Mike Finlen Sr. Priddy shuffled Hagio back to fourth on lap 51. Working heavy lapped traffic, Cooper grabbed the top spot for the first time on 57. VanHooser, Oliveira and Finlen went down to leave just five lead lap cars. Cooper stretched his lead to 1/4 lap over Pelphrey with the third place duel between Priddy, Hagio and Hyland falling a half-lap behind the leader. The final yellow flag came on lap 81 as Raymond Keldsen Jr spun and Hagio had to pit when he lost his steering. On the restart, Hyland began to smoke heavily, Pelphrey was limping on his left front flat and Oliveira was running at a severely reduced pace. Priddy was the only contender left to pressure Cooper over those final 15 laps. Cooper won with Priddy second as Pelphrey hung on for third in front of Hyland. VanHooser claimed fifth ahead of Finlen Sr, Patrick Sandoval, Albert Acosta, Oliveira and Hagio. The win was Coopers first in 2003.
Summary Fast Time-Eric Jacobsen 16.952 Dash-Mark Cooper, Bill Hyland, Dennis Pelphrey. Main-Cooper, Phillip Priddy, Pelphrey, Hyland, Eric VanHooser, Mike Finlen Sr, Patrick Sandoval, Albert Acosta, Tony Oliveira, Doug Hagio, Raymond Keldsen Jr, Ray Martin, Chris Messmer, Chris Kulvicki, Mickey Sanders, Jason Rood, Melissa Fuhrman, Chris Pochop, Stu Cornick, Jacobsen, Ken Gregg.
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