By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Watsonville, CA
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Watsonville, CA -- Forced to come from the 8th row after a sixth place heat race finish, dirt late model star Bobby Hogge IV grabbed the lead from Tim Balding on a lap 21 restart and raced to a $1000 win in the IMCA Modified 25 lap feature on Friday night at Ocean Speedway. Hogge is making occasional appearances at the clay ¼ in the brand new JDK Racing GRT. When he won the car’s debut race, his own dirt late model program was winless for 2006 and he made it four dirt late model feature wins for 2006 with his $3000 win at Antioch on Saturday night. Hogge has now won the feature in two of the car’s three appearances, breaking a motor prior to the feature in the third appearance. Balding had been racing with a flat left front tire since lap 12 and he ended up fading in the standings after losing the top spot to Hogge. Laton’s Jimmy Reeves made the tow for the special event and ran a $500 second in his own GRT. Chuck Harrell overcame late race engine woes to get third ahead of Kellen Chadwick, who was in the Sargus Performance mount. Switching back to their normal engine after trying a crate engine at the previous race, another dirt late model star Jeff Decker got his third $500 win in the Ocean Late Models. He took the lead on lap 13 by outracing Chris Messmer around a turn 4 incident. Decker drives for Paul Salaiz in this class and Messmer is a division rookie after a long super stock career. Messmer did get a $250 second ahead of Ed Sans, who was making his division debut. American Stock dominator Tim Clark Sr won their 20 lap feature for the fifth time in 7 races and earned $100. Dash winner Norm Ayers was a $75 second and Tony Oliveira drove his Ford to a $50 third. Jim Gillespie was a wire to wire winner in the time shortened 12 lap figure 8. J J Keldsen gained second with a spin by Gillespie teammate Matt Medina and finished there ahead of Ross Killian and Wayne Reeder. The modified midgets were booked for a guest appearance. Only one of the 7 cars that appeared was an all out 600 and Ryan Bernal easily won both the heat and 10 lap feature. Driving the car that he normally crews on, Jim Keltner got second when the unwinged mount of Dean Dealy spun out of second in the final corner. Lani Mead ran third ahead of Dealy. Jumping over to a new car, Andrew Camperud not only won the 10 lap four banger main, but fell just 4 car lengths short of lapping race runnerup Scott Clark, who was driving the old Camperud car.
Drawing a 29 car field, the $1000 to win IMCA Modified special was very successful and track promoter John Prentice is looking for the right date to award a $1500 winner’s purse. Many of the teams fought an incredibly bad traffic situation on Pacheco Pass to get to Watsonville as the road construction issue added over 2 hours to the travel time. The cars were divided into three heat races. Phil Indihar turned a front row start into a win in heat 1 over Kenny Nott Jr and Andy Obertello. Hogge started 7th and ran 6th. He was getting ready for the B Main when he was told that the track elected to transfer six cars from each heat. Balding came from fifth to win heat 2 over Jim DiGiovanni and Harrell. Coming off a two win Saturday the previous weekend, Chris Shannon flew into the track on a helicopter, but crashed in his heat to end his night. Chadwick came from 7th to get the heat 3 win over incoming track point leader Brian Cass and Bobby Scott Jr. With some of his Montana relatives watching, Nott won the dash ahead of Chadwick and DiGiovanni. Taking 18 cars from the heat race action, the track expanded the A Main grid to 22 cars and transferred the top four finishers in the B Main. Eli Mendoza Jr dropped a drive line on a B Main pace lap and Dave Graves spun out of 2nd. Randy Miller won the B Main ahead of Tim Clark Jr, Robert Marsh and Raymond Keldsen Jr. Todd Hermosillo also transferred with the scratch of Joey Golz. It was a tough night for defending champion Garrett Steitz and fellow valley star Alex Stanford. They ran at the back of the B Main and Stanford went on to change engines and request a couple practice to test their work.
The top 12 transfers from the heat action were inverted by their track averages in the front six rows for the 25 lap feature. That placed Indihar and Obertello in the front row ahead of DiGiovanni and Scott. The yellow flag dropped on lap 1 as Obertello spun in the front of the field and trapped Chadwick. Both restarted in the rear and Don Breeden lost laps making repairs. Indihar led the first 10 laps. Scott took second from DiGiovanni on a lap 4 restart after a spin by John Dawson Jr. Brad Coelho got the chance to wheel the Buck Cox Pierce car, but fell out on lap 4. Balding also got by DiGiovanni for third and he took second from Scott on lap 6. Reeves sold his wingless sprint car stuff to concentrate on the IMCA Modified action in 2006 and he raced by DiGiovanni for fourth on lap 8. Obertello spun for a lap 9 yellow and Cass was now sixth over Harrell. Balding grabbed the top spot from Indihar on lap 11 and Cass leaped all the way to third at the same time. Cass spun coming off turn 2 on lap 12 for a yellow and both Nott and Miller pitted. Leader Balding was now running on a flat left front tire and Indihar remained in second with Reeves now third. Hogge broke into the top five as he passed Harrell for fourth on lap 13. Reeves got around Indihar for second on lap 17 and Hogge was third a lap later. Clay Daly spun for a lap 18 yellow and Indihar spun out of 4th for another caution on lap 20. The leaders had to race around the spun Indihar as they came to the caution flag. Hogge went high and Reeves low with Hogge beating Reeves to the flag for second. Nott fell out and new race runnerup Hogge made short work of Balding and his flat tire on the restart. Hogge led the final five rounds for the win. Balding slipped back to 4th on lap 22 and fell further behind in the final 3 laps. Reeves got second and Harrell battled a failing engine to salvage third. Chadwick had a good drive to 4th, but his car was hurt in the closing rounds. New father Joe Antonetti ran fifth ahead of Obertello, Cass, Balding, Scott and Merced’s Adam Silveira.
With Mike Meazell on vacation, the nine car Ocean Late Model turnout included the division debuts for former track star Sans and super stock racer Phillip Priddy. Outside front row starter Steve Ewbank won the heat race over 2005 champion Ken Gregg and Messmer. Ewbank also won the dash ahead of Messmer and Jeff Mead. The feature lineup was just a two car inversion of the heat result and outside front row starter Ewbank again leaped out front of Gregg and Messmer. Gregg spun for a lap 4 yellow and Messmer was now second over Eric Van Hooser. Just before the caution, Ewbank had heard a noise and his car handled badly the rest of the way. He quickly faded to the back with Messmer the new leader over Van Hooser and Decker. Decker took second from Van Hooser on lap 8 and Sans was now fourth. On lap 12, Priddy got into the rear of Mead and Priddy then spun. The leaders had to race around the incident with Decker picking inside and pitting Messmer to the yellow flag. Once in front, Decker was never headed as he won ahead of Messmer and Sans. Van Hooser spun on lap 18 and the leaders again had to race around an idled car with Gregg getting back to fourth ahead of Merced’s Larry Pedrelli, Priddy and Ewbank.
Twenty three American Stocks were divided into three heat races. Bill Sorg won heat 1 from the pole over new father George Fernandez Jr and Les bowers. Outside front row starter Clark Sr won heat 2 over Ayers and Chad Bisordi. Steve Taddei came from fourth to get the heat 4 win over Oliveira and Paul Duncan, who subbed in the Tom Reily car. Ayers beat Clark Sr and Sorg in the dash. The feature lineup was straight up off the heat results with Clark Sr having to start 12th as the previous race winner. On lap 1, Clark Sr had to dart through the infield to avoid involvement in a tangle as Sorg took an early lead over Taddei and Ayers. Fourth place G Fernandez Jr spun for a lap 5 yellow and Taddei had to pit with a flat. Ayers was now second and took took the lead from Sorg on the green. Sorg spun on lap 7 and Clark Sr took second from Bisordi on lap 8. Duncan grabbed fourth from Oliveira on lap 9 and Clark Sr got underneath friend Ayers for the top spot in turn 4 on lap 11. The race was red flagged on lap 14 when a limping Jimmy Fernandez got clipped by Clark Sr, Ayers and Bisordi with Billy Nelson II hard into the front wall. The race was over for Bisordi, but the others continued. On the restart, Clark Sr led Ayers, Duncan and Oliveira. Duane Orsburn was riding in fifth and there was a lap 19 yellow that forced a restart with one lap to run. On that final lap, Tommy Laliberte spun and both point chasers Steven Montgomery and G Fernandez Jr crashed hard. Clark Sr won ahead of Ayers, Oliveira, Duncan, Orsburn, Kyle Camperud, Jennifer Rood-Ash, Sorg and Taddei.
The figure 8 had a dozen starters and the track was watered after severe dust conditions in the opening rounds. J Gillespie started on the pole and took the lead over Reeder and Medina. Taddei got into an infield tire. Tim Clark Sr fell out and John Keldsen had to pit. Medina got around Reeder for second and J J Keldsen raced into second on the restart. Medina fell from 2nd to 3rd with a spin on alp 6 and John Keldsen crashed for a lap 7 yellow. Reeder spun and Medina ended up being penalized to the rear for spinning Richard Keldsen. With so many cautions, the scheduled 15 lapper was cut back to 12 rounds and J Gillespie stayed out front all the way for the win over J J Keldsen, Killian, Reeder, Richard Keldsen, Oliveira and Medina.
Most of the modified midgets that appeared were 250s and Bernal won the heat race by 2/3 of a lap over Mead and Keltner. Dealy runs in the only class that races at Delta without a wing and he ran fourth in the heat race. Bernal thought that he would be starting in the rear of the feature, but he was again placed on the pole and dominated. David Baumiller fell out before the green and Bernal charged into the lead over Mead and Keltner. Frankie Luhdorff broke while 4th on lap 3 and Max Graxiola also fell out before a lap 5 yellow. Keltner had taken second from Mead, but got out of shape on alp 7. The wingless mount of Dealy raced between Keltner and Mead to take over 2nd. Bernal won by 2/3 of a lap again. On the final lap, both Keltner and Mead made a run at second place Dealy and Dealy spun in turn 4. Keltner got second in his first ever race and Mead was third over Dealy.
There were only 7 four bangers and point leader Jeff Wilson won the heat race over last starting Rick Steel and Alex Bieser. Steel beat Wilson in the dash. The feature action had a rough start as Steel crashed hard into newcomer Frank Chaz, ending the race for both. Bieser led two laps before Wilson took over. Wilson lost the lead to A Camperud on lap 4 and got lapped when he spun. Clark was now second ahead of Michael Johnston as a flat also sidelined Bieser. Wilson dropped out late and A Camperud came within the few car lengths of lapping the field. Newcomer Clark got second ahead of Johnston.
June 30 will see the annual Fireworks show with the IMCA Modifieds, Super Stocks, American Stocks, Dwarf Cars and Figure 8 racing.
Summary Four Banger Dash-Rick Steel, Jeff Wilson, Alex Bieser, Andrew Camperud. Heat-Wilson, Steel, Bieser, Camperud, Frank Chaz. Main-A Camperud, Scott Clark, Michael Johnston, Wilson, Bieser, Steel, Chaz. Modified Midget Heat-Ryan Bernal. Heat-Bernal, Lani Mead, Jim Keltner, Steve Dealy, David Baumiller. Main-Bernal, Keltner, Mead, Dealy, Max Gaxiola, Frankie Luhdorff, Baumiller. Figure 8 Main-Jim Gillespie, J J Keldsen, Ross Killian, Wayne Reeder, Richard Keldsen, Tony Oliveira, Matt Medina, Kim Gillespie, Jimmy Fernandez, John Keldsen, Tim Clark Sr, Steve Taddei. American Stock Dash-Norm Ayers, Tim Clark Sr, Bill Sorg, George Fernandez Jr, Steve Taddei, Tony Oliveira. Heat 1-Sorg, G Fernandez, Les Bowers, Wally Kennedy, Tommy Laliberte. Heat 2-Clark Sr, Ayers, Chad Bisordi, Albert Acosta, Josh Davis. Heat 3-Taddei, Oliveira, Paul Duncan, Jennifer Rood-Ash, Gary Baker. Main-Clark Sr, Ayers, Oliveira, Duncan, Duane Orsburn, Andrew Camperud, Rood-Ash, Sorg, Taddei, Baker, Billy Nelson II, Bowers, Davis, Steve Montgomery, Kennedy, Ken Jewell, Laliberte, G Fernandez, Acosta, Cody Burke, Bisordi, J Fernandez, Remy VanHoose. Ocean Late Model Dash-Steve Ewbank, Chris Messmer, Jeff Mead, Ken Gregg. Heat-Ewbank, Gregg, Messmer, Mead, Eric Van Hooser. Main-Jeff Decker, Messmer, Ed Sans, Gregg, Larry Pedrelli, Phillip Priddy, Ewbank, Van Hooser, Mead. IMCA Modified Dash-Kenny Nott Jr, Kellen Chadwick, Jim DiGiovanni, Brian Cass, Tim Balding. Heat 1-Phil Indihar, Nott, Andy Obertello, Jimmy Reeves, Joey Golz. Heat 2-Balding, DiGiovanni, Chuck Harrell, Joe Antonetti, Clay Daly. Heat 3-Chadwick, Cass, Bobby Scott Jr, Brad Coelho, Adam Silveira. B Main-Randy Miller, Tim Clark Jr, Robert Marsh, Raymond Keldsen Jr, Todd Hermosillo, Dave Graves, Lisa Riordan, Garrett Steitz, Alex Stanford. A Main-Bobby Hogge IV, Reeves, Harrell, Chadwick, Antonetti, Obertello, Cass, Balding, Scott, Silveira, DiGiovanni, Hermosillo, John Dawson Jr, Daly, Indihar, Marsh, Nott, Don Breeden, Keldsen, Clark Jr, Miller, Coelho.