By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Watsonville, CA
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Watsonville, CA --
Santa Cruz’s Joe Antonetti led the final 8 laps to score a $500 win and pad his season point lead in Friday night’s time shortened 25 lap NASCAR Grand American Modified feature at Watsonville Speedway. B Main winner Jeff Silva made a strong charge from 19th starting position to run a $275 second ahead of dash winner Dave Byrd. The NCMA modifieds paid the 1/4 mile clay oval their second 1999 visit and beat curfew with their 15 lap main as club president Ed Amador from Modesto posted his first 1999 win. Amador led all 15 rounds from his pole start and Patterson veteran Don Hicks made his 1999 NCMA debut with a strong second after earlier winning the dash. The dash win gave Hicks a victory in all 48 years that he has been involved in the sport.
With several of the San Jose Speedway regulars joining the action on an off weekend there, the modifieds had a solid 29 car field and Todd Souza posted fast time with his 15.257 lap to just nip the 15.313 effort of Antonetti. Byrd ran 15.427 for third fast time and won the dash. Heat winners were rookie Doug Hagio, Kenny Pelphrey and Silva. Only five of the 11 scheduled starters made the call for the B Main that was won by Silva ahead of Jim DiGiovanni. Both dedicated point racer Fred Lind and San Jose ace Bill Wesenberg were late for the call on the B to end their nights.
The main event lineup was an invert 5, putting defending track champion Bobby Hogge IV and Bobby Scott on the front row for the scheduled 30 lapper. Scott jumped into the lead and Hogge settled into second ahead of Antonetti and Byrd. John Keldsen stalled for the first yellow on lap 4. Hogge stalled with a right rear flat for a lap 11 yellow and Antonetti took the lead from Scott on the green flag. On lap 13, contact between Antonetti and Scott left Scott with a flat tire and his limping mount was hit hard by Jim Pettit II. Pettit lost a lap making repairs and Scott restarted in the rear. On the restart attempt, leading Antonetti and Souza got together and collected both Byrd and A J Kirkpatrick to allow Jeff Botelho to take over the lead. Antonetti and Byrd drove through the incident to settle into 2nd and 5th with Hagio now third ahead of Silva. When DiGiovanni stalled for a lap 17 yellow flag, leader Botelho was forced to pit with a broken front end. Souza also pitted and Hagio tangled with Ron Parker and Joe Cipparone. The officials announced that the race was being shortened to 25 laps to give NCMA a window to run their feature. Antonetti led Silva, Byrd, Ed Jacobs and Dennis Pelphrey on the final green flag and he paced the remaining rounds to win with Silva’s impressive run to second ahead of Byrd, Jacobs, Souza, Scott, A J Kirkpatrick and Chuck Harrell.
The NCMA modifieds had a 9 car turnout and Hicks won the dash after heat race wins went to an impressive Dave Cunha and defending series champion Scott Holloway. Holloway blew a tire in the dash where Hicks collected the win ahead of Cunha and former Merced Speedway ace Eddie Rhodes. The lineup for the 15 lap feature was an invert 6, but invited guest driver Hicks had to start in the rear as his sprint car was lacking a starter. Amador and Del Quinn shared the front row. Amador charged into the lead over Quinn and Cunha. Jim Janssen spun for a lap 1 yellow and Cunha took second from Quinn on the restart. Holloway made a strong run through the bottom groove of turns 3 and 4 on lap 4 to climb from 5th to 2nd, only to hook a rut in turn 2 and blow his left rear tire. His car reacted violently and Holloway actually thought that he had flipped as he limped off the track without a yellow flag. Rhodes spun for the final yellow flag and Amador led Quinn, Cunha and Hicks on the final green flag. Hicks took third from Cunha on lap 7 and went underneath Quinn in turn 4 on lap 9 for second. There was no catching his longtime Merced Speedway rival for Hicks as Amador won by 10 car lengths. Hicks ran second ahead of Cunha, Quinn, Bill Felver and Burt Siverling.
Summary NCMA Modified Dash-Don Hicks, David Cunha, Eddie Rhodes. Heat 1-Cunha, Hicks, Del Quinn, Burt Siverling, Jim Janssen. Heat 2-Scott Holloway, Rhodes, Ed Amador, Bill Felver. Main-Amador, Hicks, Cunha, Quinn, Felver, Siverling, Janssen, Rhodes, Holloway. Grand American Modified Fast Time-Todd Souza 15.257 Dash-Dave Byrd, Bobby Scott Jr, Joe Antonetti. Heat 1-Jeff Silva, Jim DiGiovanni, Bill Wesenberg, Joe Cipparone, Steve Wallace. Heat 2-Kenny Pelphrey, Scott, Tim Stratmeyer, Ed Jacobs, Dennis Pelphrey. Heat 3-Doug Hagio, Jim Pettit II, Bobby Hogge IV, Byrd, Souza. B Main-Silva, DiGiovanni, Wallace, John Keldsen, Robert Marsh. A Main-Antonetti, Silva, Byrd, Jacobs, Souza, Scott, A J Kirkpatrick, Chuck Harrell, Tim Etchison Jr, D Pelphrey, Wallace, Hagio, Pettit, Cipparone, Jeff Botelho, Hogge, Ron Parker, DiGiovanni, Stratmeyer, Keldsen, Phil Indihar, K Pelphrey.
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