By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Chowchilla, CA
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Chowchilla, CA -- Tough luck in his Friday night heat race forced Coalinga's Rich Denman to start his Saturday night effort in the C Main, but the California State Street Stock Championship Series titlest battled his way to an A Main starting spot and then picked off the $2000 feature victory in the 20 lap super street stock A main without leading a single lap as the 5th Annual Dirt Track Shootout presented by George Steitz concluded it's three night weekend at Chowchilla Speedway. Denman started 16th in the time shortened race and worked his way to second behind Friday night preliminary feature runnerup Danny Scott on lap 15. Seeking a third straight special event win, Bakersfield Speedway champion Robby Sawyer came from 17th starting to fourth in those 15 rounds. On the final lap, Sawyer made contact passes on Steve Ewbank, Denman and Scott to take the checkered flag in front of the field, but the officials ruled his moves to be too aggressive. Told to park his car in the infield as the decision was finalized, Sawyer drove to the pits and a further altercation in the pits found him completely disqualified from the event. Denman had nosed ahead of Scott in the last lap action and he was awarded the $2000 win and the huge winner's trophy. Watsonville rookie of the year Scott added the $1250 runnerup prize to his $150 second on Friday night, but was disappointed to lead so many laps each night and come out of the weekend winless. Wheeling the IMCA Stock Car that he purchased out of Iowa, Ewbank was the $750 third and Tim Clark Sr capped a long night with a $500 fourth. Clark Sr opened the night with a $40 slow dash win after breaking on Friday night, then battled his way through the D, C and B Mains to earn his A Main starting slot. Johnny Cardoza battled back from a lap 11 flat tire to finish in the $400 fifth slot ahead of Antioch's Todd Gomez.
The Saturday night action started with the slow dash for the participants who had problems in the Friday night heat action. Clark Sr wheeled the Albert Acosta car to a $40 win in that race over Bakersfield's Rick Childress and Merced star Gary Tucker. The scratch of Ricky Thatcher left 8 transfer spots available out of the 15 lap B Main. Placerville Speedway champion Shane Miller took the lead from Chester Kniss on lap 3 and won with 13th starter Denman second ahead of Sawyer and Ramon Neilson, who was in the John Clarke car for the weekend. C Main winner Andy Aust suffered heavy damage when he ran into a spun Kniss. Watsonville champion Dennis Pelphrey was racing in a transfer spot when he blew a left front tire. That drew a black flag that he ignored, leading to his disqualification. Red Williams ran fifth ahead of Steve Noland, Clark Sr and Syd Finn. Placerville's Fred Jensen had battled through the D and C mains into the B Main, but his night ended when a spinning Brian Zachary ran into him. Aust was a wire to wire winner in the 12 lap C Main with Pelphrey a race long second. Denman gained third with a Paul Pelletier spin on lap 8 and finished there ahead of Jensen, Clark Sr and D J Petrell. Royce Patterson broke leading on lap 9 of the D Main and Jensen got that win ahead of Clark Sr, Petrell, J T Contente, George Lefler Sr and Placerville's Kevin Ward. The Saturday addition of Tony Contente gave the super street stocks a 53 car turnout for the weekend.
Petaluma's Mitch Machado had earned the pole position for the scheduled 25 lap A main by scoring his $250 win in the Friday night preliminary feature over Scott, Cardoza and Santa Maria's Elton Shaffer. The drivers were given the message that curfew considerations had shortened their race to 20 laps as they pulled onto the track. Machado paced the opening lap over Scott, Cardoza, Shaffer and Ewbank. There was contact between Chowchilla champion Chris Messmer and Dudley Burrows on that first lap to force a lap 2 yellow. Scott outraced Machado to the caution for the lead. Because of the time problems, the officials had went to a single file restart strategy and the caution again fell on lap 3 as Jimmy Lust spun and Neilson pitted with a flat tire. Shaffer took third from Cardoza on lap 6 and B Main winner Miller was already up to 6th ahead of Antioch champion Bobby Motts Jr. Tim Ragsdale fell out and Shaffer got into the infield in turn 4 on lap 8, falling out of the top five. Cardoza was now third over Ewbank and Miller. The front foursome were racing in tight formation when Motts spun and got hit headon by Messmer. Machado beat Scott to the yellow flag, but was penalized back to second for the restart. Cardoza restarted in the rear after pitting with a flat tire. Darren Thomas had to pit with a flat tire. New fourth place runner Miller broke his rear suspension for a lap 12 red flag. Both Shaffer and Machado had spun at the other end of the track to end their race. Denman and Sawyer were now in 4th and 5th behind Scott, Ewbank and Santa Maria open comp winner Tim Randolph. Denman claimed third on lap 14 despite running over his own nose piece. Some contact racing saw Randolph spin out of contention on lap 15. The next caution was going to end the race, but the field managed to get to the lap 20 checkered flag. Sawyer was now fourth ahead of last row starter Clark Sr. Denman grabbed second from Ewbank on lap 16. Messmer was able to continue after his heavy contact with Motts, but he got into the front wall on lap 19. The wild last lap saw Sawyer muscling way around Ewbank, Denman and Scott to be the first car to the checkered flag. Denman nosed in front of Scott. As the emotional Sawyer pulled into the winner's circle and leaped to the top of his car, promoter Steitz and the officials informed him that they were setting him back for his actions. Rather than park his car in the infield and await the outcome, Sawyer elected to drive to his pit where another encounter with an official saw him draw a complete disqualification. Denman got the $2000 winners pay and the large event trophy without leading a single lap in any of his events on the night. A disappointed Scott got the $1250 for second and Ewbank was third ahead of Clark Sr, Cardoza, Gomez, Porterville's Noland, Williams and Thomas.
Summary Slow Dash-Tim Clark Sr, Rick Childress, Gary Tucker. D Main-Fred Jensen, Clark Sr, D J Petrell, J T Contente, George Lefler Sr, Kevin Ward, Tucker, Tony Contente, Royce Patterson. C Main-Andy Aust, Dennis Pelphrey, Rich Denman, Jensen, Clark Sr, Petrell, Ward, Trint Peterson, Lefler Sr, Paul Casner. B Main-Shane Miller, Denman, Robby Sawyer, Ramon Neilson, Red Williams, Steve Noland, Clark Sr, Syd Finn, Brian Zachary, Chester Kniss. A Main-Denman, Danny Scott, Steve Ewbank, Clark Sr, Johnny Cardoza, Todd Gomez, Noland, Williams, Darren Thomas, Jimmy Lust, Elton Shaffer, Mitch Machado, Bobby Motts Jr, Tim Breshears, Chris Messmer, Tim Randolph, Finn, Dudley Burrows, Neilson, Miller, Tim Ragsdale.