By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Mohave Valley, AZ
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Mohave Valley, AZ -- Racing in the rain, 2004 IMCA Modified Western Region champion Dan Fitzgerald was able to use slower traffic as he passed Jim Bonetti for the lead on lap 17 to win the 20 lap feature at Mohave Valley Raceway on Saturday night. Normally, the Needles CA area is one of the driest spots in the west, but the racers have had to contain with rainy conditions for two straight races. The victory was Fitzgerald's second straight in his three Mohave Valley appearances in 2005. The Las Vegas school teacher was spending his Easter break on the road as the team was leaving the next morning to transport his second BMS mount back to Kansas to be re-clipped. The $300 feature winner was chased at the checkered flag by Steve Simpson Jr and Jeff Sheppard Jr as Bonetti lost third with a spin in the final turn. Bonetti did manage to salvage fourth. Point leader Aaron Williams made it three wins in four races in the mini sport class by leading just the final 3 laps of their 15 lap feature. Stacey Pike led the first 12 laps but settled for second. Bill Munger made his first 2005 appearance and made an outside pass on the final lap for third. The Southern Nevada dwarf cars joined the action for a second straight race and young Ryan Cotrell from Las Vegas dominated the action as he grabbed the lead from Mark Ramey on lap 7 and lapped everyone except for runnerup J D Gardner and Roland Kent before the lap 20 checkered flag. Colorado's Gardner is wheeling the Jay Ewing car here early in 2005. Only two super stocks were able to start their feature so they were lined up in front of the four factory stocks for a combined event. Kevin Turner led all 15 laps to get the super stock win ahead of DeeRay Bruce's truck. Harold Ralph got his first ever factory stock feature win to snap Gene Chambers three race winning streak. Steve Smith ran second.
The IMCA Modified split 16 cars into a pair of heat races. Bonetti won heat 1 from an outside front row start as Fitzgerald started 4th and finished 2nd. Paul Hurns broke a motor and was joined as a feature scratch by Brian Turner. Outside front row starter David Boardman won heat 1 ahead of Sonny Wahl and pole starter Simpson Jr. The only rain in the heat action had happened during the dwarf car heat races, but the heaviest rain of the night fell during the IMCA Modified feature. Simpson Jr and Boardman shared the front row for the 14 car feature with Sheppard Jr and Bonetti in row 2. Wahl and Harry Anderson in row 3 ahead of Fitzgerald and Jerry Buesig Jr. Point leader Bill McIntosh, the defending track champion, shared row 5 with Jeff Talley. Fitzgerald is not the point leader because he elected to race at Pahrump on the one weekend that the two tracks conflicted in February. Boardman took an early lead over Bonetti, Simpson Jr and Sheppard Jr. Heavy contact between Fitzgerald and Anderson saw Anderson spin in turn 4 for a lap 2 yellow flag. Fitzgerald was able to take fifth from Wahl on the restart. When Bonetti slipped high in turn 4, he lost second to Simpson on lap 5. Talley stalled for a lap 5 caution and Wahl lost fire under the yellow to end his night. After leading six laps, Boardman pushed high and division newcomer Wayne Peterson spun. Bonetti was the new leader ahead of Fitzgerald, Simpson Jr and Sheppard Jr. Boardman recovered in fifth and Anderson spun for a lap 10 yellow flag. Jeff Sheppard Sr dropped out on lap 15 and Fitzgerald continued to put heavy pressure on leader Bonetti. As the leaders were lapping both Anderson and Peterson, Fitzgerald saw his opening and darted into the lead on lap 17. Simpson was able to take second from Bonetti on lap 18 and Bonetti lost one more spot when he spun in the final turn. Sheppard Jr moved by to finish third and Bonetti drove through the spin to finish 4th ahead of Boardman, McIntosh, Don Glover, Buesig and Jason Lee. McIntosh came out of the night with an 11 point lead on Sheppard Sr and Sheppard Jr is now just one point behind his father. Glover is another four points back in fourth.
The mini sports split 11 entries into a pair of heat races and pole starter Gary Ferguson won the first heat ahead of Munger and Scott Pike. Outside front row starter Stacey Pike dominated heat 2 in his mini truck ahead of Williams and last starter Brandon Ferguson. Brandon Davis would not fire for heat 2 and he scratched from the 15 lap feature. Stacey Pike took a quick lead in the feature ahead of Scott Pike and Jeff Jones. Jones spun for a lap 2 yellow and B Ferguson had to pit with a flat tire. Jeff Peterson was also out. The two Pikes continued to set the pace with G Ferguson into third on lap 4. Williams claimed third on lap 5 and took second from Scott Pike on lap 7. A sick running Shane Tucker fell out and Williams staged a brief side by side duel with leader Stacey Pike before taking the lead on lap 13 on the bottom of turn 2. Williams raced to the win ahead of Stacey Pike and Munger, who passed Scott Pike on the outside on the last lap. Scott Pike ran fourth ahead of G Ferguson, Jones and Stacey Perez. Williams holds a six point lead on G Ferguson with Stacey Pike another 8 points back in third.
There were 10 dwarf cars and R Cotrell came from last to win heat 1 over pole starter Ramey and Gardner. Roland Kent started third and won heat 2 ahead of Joe Kent and Rex Freymond. Shauna Cotrell was unable to fire for the heat action, but she tagged the 20 lap feature lineup. A four car inversion placed Ramey and J Kent on the front row ahead of R Cotrell and R Kent. Ramey paced the first six laps. Jason Romans spun for a lap 1 yellow and Gardner went high in turn 2 to take second from R Kent on lap 3. R Cotrell raced into third on lap 3 and took second from Gardner a lap later. Romans dropped out and Ramey got too high in turn 2 after leading the first six laps. R Cotrell emerged as the leader ahead of teammate Gardner and R Kent. Ramey had blown a right rear tire and he pitted. At the midway mark, only leader R Cotrell, Gardner, R Kent and Mark Dillie were on the lead lap. Ron Chamberlain spun and J Kent was a late dropout as R Cotrell flew around the 3/8 mile clay oval for the win. Gardner stayed close for second and third place R Kent was in R Cotrell's sights at the checkered flag. Dillie was lapped with three laps to run, but finished fourth ahead of S Cotrell, Freymond and Chamberlain.
With Jim Morris missing after wins in the first three races on the schedule and 2004 champion Shawn Hanna also sidelined, the super stocks appeared with just four cars and a hard tangle in the heat ended the night for both Rick VanBuytene and David Scott. Bruce won the heat race ahead of K Turner. K Turner stayed in front of Bruce for all 15 rounds in the rain in the feature action for his first win of 2005. K Turner also emerged with the point lead, just 3 points in front of Bruce. With Ed Haller still sidelined with his broken motor, the factory stocks again fielded four cars. Mike Thomas won the heat race ahead of Chambers and Smith. Thomas led Chambers on the first lap of the feature, but Chambers was out front on lap 2. Contact from Ralph on the very rough turn 2 section of the track sent Thomas spinning on a lap 4 restart and Ralph emerged as the new leader. Thomas lost a tire for a lap 6 yellow and his race was over. On the restart, Chambers got spun by Smith but both continued without a yellow. Ralph was left with a huge lead and he stayed out front for the win. Smith ran second ahead of Chambers. Chambers is now 9 points in front of Smith and 12 ahead of Thomas.
The super stocks are off on April 3, but the other four classes return to action that night.
Summary Factory Stock Heat-Mike Thomas, Gene Chambers, Steve Smith, Harold Ralph. Main-Ralph, Smith, Chambers, Thomas, Super Stock Heat-DeeRay Bruce, Kevin Turner, Dave Scott, Rick VanBuytene. Main-K Turner, Bruce. Dwarf Car Heat 1-Ryan Cotrell, Mark Ramey, J D Gardner, Mark Dillie, Jason Romans. Heat 2-Roland Kent, Joe Kent, Rex Freymond, Ron Chamberlain. Main-R Cotrell, Gardner, R Kent, Dillie, Shauna Cotrell, Freymond, Chamberlain, J Kent, Ramey, Romans. Mini Sport Heat 1-Gary Ferguson, Bill Munger, Scott Pike, Jeff Peterson, Shane Tucker. Heat 2-Stacey Pike, Aaron Williams, Brandon Ferguson, Jeff Jones, Stacey Perez. Main-Williams, Stacey Pike, Munger, Scott Pike, G Ferguson, Jones, Perez, Tucker, Peterson, B Ferguson. IMCA Modified Heat 1-Jim Bonetti, Dan Fitzgerald, Jeff Talley, Bill McIntosh, Harry Anderson. Heat 2-David Boardman, Sonny Wahl, Steve Simpson Jr, Jeff Sheppard Jr, Jerry Buesig. Main-Fitzgerald, Simpson, Sheppard Jr, Bonetti, Boardman, McIntosh, Don Glover, Buesig, Jason Lee, Anderson, Wayne Peterson, Jeff Sheppard Sr, Talley, Wahl.