By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Watsonville, CA
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Watsonville, CA -- Fast timer Bobby Hogge IV chased down race leader Steve Pemberton, his cousin, and grabbed the lead on lap 16 to win his fifth NASCAR Grand American Modified feature in 2003 Friday night at Watsonville Speedway. Hogge started the feature race one point behind defending track champion Bobby Scott Jr, but will take over the point lead with his $500 win as Scott ran a $200 third behind $300 runnerup Pemberton. Hogge IV races a Joe Carr chassis and also took another turn down his racing career path when he and father Bobby Hogge made a hurried trip to Pueblo, Colorado to purchase a dirt late model during the week. The debut date for the dirt late model will depend on how fast former Watsonville Speedway racer Steve Hendren can put together his engine for him back in North Carolina. Former track street stock racer John Prentice from Santa Cruz won the crash shortened 15 lap dwarf car main for his third 2003 win. Young rookie Matt Sargent again impressed with a second place run ahead of Al Ghiorsos dwarf truck. Rookie Steve Worstell won the 20 lap American Stock race that found the cars finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th all disqualified for having illegal rear ends. Improving Ray Ash lost his 2nd place run and point leader Sam Kennedy was disqualified from third ahead of brother Wally Kennedy, who was failed the tech test. It was Worstells third win and he collected a special $100 prize posted by former division regular Rod Herrick. The disqualifications moved John Dawson into second and nearly netted him the point lead from five time winner S Kennedy. Jerry Hooper gained a career best third. The mini stocks closed their first season at the 1/4 mile clay oval with a solid field of visitors. Ron Martinez drove his Super Toyota to a win in the 17 lap feature after earlier taking heat honors. Ron German from Atascadero missed the preliminary action but ran second in the main ahead of Ron Stefanis Pro Four mount. Former division champion Doug Snodgrass made his first 2003 appearance a winning one as he won the 15 lap figure 8 main ahead of Jim Gillespie and Kim Gillespie. J Gillespie was debuting a new body. Mike Finlen Jr became the new point leader with a 14 point margin on K Gillespie when incoming point leader John Keldsen scratched.
The modified turnout was a season low 7 cars as track regular Jim Pettit II cancelled plans to do a redeye flight to Denver for his Southwest Series race on Saturday night. Skipping Watsonville dropped Pettit to fourth in track points as Kenny Nott Jr passed him. Hogges fast time was a 16.233 clocking. Nott ran a 16.313, Pemberton a 16.453 and new Kings Speedway regular Dave Soito Jr returned to Watsonville action in fourth at 16.669. Pemberton won the dash ahead of Soito and Scott easily won the heat race ahead of Hogge and Jeffrey Priddy. The smaller field again got a 20 lap feature and they ran the distance caution free with an average lap time of 16.27. The four car inversion allowed Pemberton to take an early lead over Soito and Hogge. Hogge and Nott both passed Soito on lap 4, but Hogge found himself a quarter-lap behind his race leading cousin. Scott gained fourth on lap 5. Some handling issues for Pemberton allowed Hogge to cut the distance quickly and he raced under Pemberton for the top spot in turn 4 on lap 16. Soito was a late dropout as Hogge won ahead of Pemberton. Scott made a late move around Nott to finish third and Jeffrey Priddy was fifth over Todd Hermosillo.
The dwarf cars split 20 cars into three heat races. Sargent impressed with his heat one win over Prentice and Ryan Ameln. Gilbert Toste came from third to win heat 2 over Ted Rebardo and Ghiorso. Martin Whittingham took heat 3 from 4th starting and Toste was the dash winner over Whittingham. The scheduled 20 lap feature was restarted after Gene Pires Jr and Bill Brown tangled. Whittingham led the first 6 laps. Prentice was second on lap 1, but lost the spot to Toste on lap 2. Rebardo spun out of fourth on lap 3 and Ty Schmidt, Chris Dorto and John Anderson tangled for a lap 4 yellow. Toste broke on the restart to end his race and Sargent took the lead from Whittingham. Ian Moore blew on the front stretch for a lap 6 red flag. On the restart, Prentice raced into the lead over Sargent and Ghiorso. Dorto, Rebardo and Pires tangled for a lap 12 yellow. Jeff Mendes raced into fourth on the restart and the race came to an early conclusion when Rebardo crashed for a lap 15 checkered flag. Prentice won ahead of Sargent, Ghiorso, Mendes, Whittingham, Howard Fergerson, Anderson, Ameln and Schmidt.
The 30 American Stocks were split into four heat raes. Winners were Dawson, Ash, David Freil and Worstell. Ash beat Dawson in the dash. George Fernandez edged out Jeremiah Roma and Duane Bieser in the B Main. Joe McGregor suffered a flat after leading the first two laps of the A Main. Worstell inherited the lead over Ash and Dawson. W Kennedy took third from Dawson on lap 9 and he beat Ash to a lap 10 yellow flag. Ash retook second on lap 11 and Dawson was back to third on lap 12. McGregor battled his way back to sixth behind S Kennedy broke he broke an axle to end his race. The final caution came with five laps to run and Ash put heavy pressure on Worstell for the win. An infield excursion on lap 19 cost Dawson third, but also kept him out of the post race tech area. Worstell led Ash to the checkered flag. The officials penalized W Kennedy from third to fourth behind his brother. In the post race tech, the covers were removed from the rear ends for the first time this year and Ash, S Kennedy and W Kennedy were all found with posi-traction devices banned by the rules. Dawson was advanced to 2nd ahead of Hoooper, Jennifer Rood, Ross Killian, Paul Champion and Freil.
The mini stock field had 10 entries. Martinez won the heat race over Greg Stefani and IMCA Modified star Bob Williamson Sr, who was driving the Bob Terry owned Vega. Bill Sorianos night ended with a heat race crash. Williamson claimed dash honors over Ron Stefani. The main event lineup was just an invert 2 with German starting in the rear. G Stefani led one lap before Martinez drove by low in turn 2. G Stefani spun out of second with German gaining the spot on lap 3 ahead of Williamson. R Stefani raced into third on lap 4. By midrace, Martinez was a half-straight ahead of the dueling R Stefani and Williamson. The fast pace set up leader Martinez put fifth place Rick Crissafulli a lap down on lap 13. Williamson lost fourth with a lap 16 spin that produced the early checkered flag on lap 17. Martinez won ahead of German, R Stefani, Crissafulli, first time visitor Larry Otto in a mini truck, Chowchilla mini four point leader David Mullet and Williamson.
The John Keldsen mount was damaged in a hard heat race incident in the American Stock oval action. That left 9 starters for the 15 lap figure 8. Snodgrass led all 15 laps. J Gillespie took second from K Gillespie on lap 6. J J Keldsen and Richard Keldsen both broke early in the race and Snodgrass drove to the win ahead of J Gillespie, K Gillespie, Mike Finlen Sr, Ross Killian, new point leader M Finlen Jr and Billy Nelson.
Summary Figure 8 Main-Doug Snodgrass, Jim Gillespie, Kim Gillespie, Mike Finlen Sr, Ross Killian, Mike Finlen Jr, Billy Nelson, Richard Keldsen, J J Keldsen. Mini Stock Dash-Bob Williamson, Ron Stefani, Ron Martinez. Heat-Martinez, Greg Stefani, Williamson, R Stefani, David Mullet. Main-Martinez, Ron German, R Stefani, Rick Crissafulli, Larry Otto, Mullet, Williamson, George Penney Sr, G Stefani. American Stock Dash-Ray Ash, John Dawson, Steve Worstell. Heat 1-Dawson, Mike Kofnovec Jr, J J Keldsen, Jerry Hooper, Jeremiah Roma. Heat 2-Ash, Joe McGregor, Ross Killian, Melissa Keldsen, George Fernandez. Heat 3-David Freil, Wally Kennedy, Justin Mincey, Sam Kennedy, Duane Bieser. Heat 4-Worstell, Tom Reily, Bill Sorg, Paul Champion, Brent Hatchet. B Main-Fernandez, Roma, Bieser, Jennifer Rood, Les Bowers, Eli Mendoza Jr, Todd Stephens, Mike Kofnovec Sr, Don Gilbertson. A Main-Worstell, Dawson, Hooper, Rood, Killian, Champion, Freil, Mendoza, Fernandez, Sorg, Bieser, Kofnovec Jr, Mincey, McGregor, J J Keldsen, Roma, M Keldsen, Bowers, Reily. Dwarf Car Dash-Gilbert Toste, Martin Whittingham, Ryan Ameln. Heat 1-Matt Sargent, John Prentice, Ameln, Dave Penny, Gene Pires Jr. Heat 2-Toste, Ted Rebardo, Al Ghiorso, Ian Moore, Bill Brown. Heat 3-Whittingham, Jeff Mendes, Troy Wagner, Mark Tillinger, Chris Dorto. Main-Prentice, Sargent, Ghiorso, Mendes, Whittingham, Howard Fergerson, John Anderson, Ameln, Ty Schmidt, Tillinger, Wagner, Penny, Todd Damron, Pires, Brown, Dorto, Rebardo, Dan Zuger, Moore, Toste. Grand American Modified Fast Time-Bobby Hogge IV 16.233 Dash-Steve Pemberton, Dave Soito Jr, Kenny Nott Jr. Heat-Bobby Scott Jr, Hogge, Jeffrey Priddy, Todd Hermosillo, Nott. Main-Hogge, Steve Pemberton, Scott, Nott, Priddy, Hermosillo, Soito.
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