Thursday, August 29, 2002

Bayless wins controversial late model race

Bayless wins controversial late model race

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Something must have been in the air on the Sunday night of August 24. In Bristol, Tennessee in the NASCAR Winston Cup race, there were several controversies involving several drivers. Hundreds of miles away in Eureka, California, there was no exception. While the prize money was less, the track was shorter and the incident was between two drivers, the controversy couldn’t have gotten any more incensed than it did in the late model main event between Oregonians Larry Bayless and David Miller. Using the “bump and run,” Bayless took the victory away from Miller on the last lap of the race.

In mini stock action, Jason Chand took the trophy home in the dash over rival Phil Wood. When the heat race action ended, Chand again beat Wood to the line to take the victory. These races were only a small dose of what was seen in the great main event race. Brian Murrell took the early lead in the race but unfortunately for him, it wasn’t long as Chand took the lead away within a few laps. Wood followed suite two laps later.

While racing for position, Chad Grammer and Joe Papa made contact but there was no resulting caution. This was great news for Chand who pulled out to a good lead over Wood. The lead would last for very few laps though as Wood reeled in Chand. Wood made an outside passing attempt on Chand but got loose and lost track position.

Behind the two, Murrell spun off of turn four on lap 12 but again, no caution was thrown. On lap 14, Wood got to the outside of Chand and challenged him for the lead. As the duo came to lap Ralph Miller, Miller moved up high to let the leaders go by on the inside. It wasn’t high enough however, as Miller and Wood made contact resulting in Miller spinning and a caution flag thrown on lap 19.

The great race between Chand and Wood would not continue after the restart because as the field took the green, Chand’s car lost power and pulled into the infield. Wood took the lead and never looked back taking the victory over Dan Brown, Jason Rhodes, Matt Wolfe and Grammer.

Long time Acres veteran, Angelo Marcelli took home trophy dash honors over David Henderson, Roger Sanderson and title rival, Pat Walsh. Marcelli’s luck would sour on him though as in the heat race, rookie Joe McDonald spun coming off of turn four. Marcelli, with no where to go, ran into McDonald. Both cars were essentially done for the evening as both only made a few laps in the main event for points. Sanderson took the heat win over Jim Norris, Walsh and Henderson.

Sanderson took advantage of the cars being grouped up for the main event as he took the early lead in the race; a lead he would not relinquish. Henderson moved in behind him and tried to apply pressure to Sanderson’s rear bumper. He could never get a good run on Sanderson and when the race concluded Sanderson took the win over Henderson, Walsh and Norris.

The real stock division once again showed their strength with 27 cars clocking in for qualifications. In the fast trophy dash, points leader Rick Fox took the victory over Mike Peters, Donnie Hyman and Travis Maytanes. In the slow dash, frequent victory lane visitor, Gary Adams won over Tony Rodriguez, James Henry and Craig Huffman. Adams won again in the first of the three heat races over Huffman, Bill Middleton and Troy Wood. In the second heat, Donald Brown held off a furious charge by Lissa Uselton, followed by Ryan Thomson and Steve Kimberling. Fox took the dash-heat sweep with the heat win over Hyman, Aaron Byers and Peters.

Adams made it three for three by taking the victory in the ‘B’ main event over Chad Trump. Both drivers transferred into the ‘A’ main event. Chad Gurney and Kimberling brought the field to the green flag. Gurney used the pole position to his advantage and stretched out to the early lead. Within a few laps, the caution was thrown when Jimmy Thornbury and Maytanes hooked bumpers and spun into the infield. On the restart, Mike Peeples took advantage of cool tires and a tightened field. On lap 8 he passed Brown and on lap 9 he passed Gurney for the lead. That lap, Thomson spun while on the same lap Brown spun resulting in another caution flag.

On the restart, Byers tried to do what Peeples had done the restart before making a move on Gurney on the outside. On lap 12, Marty Walsh spun off of turn four undamaged. Unfortunately, he would not go without damage as Brown, with nowhere to go, collided into the driver’s side of Walsh resulting in a red flag. Both drivers were all right but the same couldn’t be said for their cars. When the green flag came out Peters began to show his hand. On lap 14 he was up to second and within two laps he was challenging Peeples for the lead. On lap 16, Doug Way spun off of turn four but no caution flag was thrown. That very lap Peters took the lead away from Peeples. A few laps later, the two quick cars of Fox and Hyman moved into second and third. Peters’ lead was insurmountable as he took the main event win over Fox, Hyman, Byers and Gurney.

The all ways quick late model cars provided a great racing action. Larry Bayless took the trophy dash win over Rick Spencer. In the heat, David Miller won over local favorites Larry Pries and Jimmy Walker. The main event was bumper to bumper between most of the field. Miller led over Bayless, Pries and Preston O’Dell. About halfway through the race, O’Dell’s rear end locked up going into the third turn. His car turned backwards and spun in front of several cars including Pries, Walker and Spencer. Pries and Spencer spun and lost a lap while Walker barely made it through the mêlée.

Miller got a jump on the restart and pulled out to a good lead over Bayless and Walker. Both drivers caught up to Miller within five laps however. Bayless had the stronger car as he made several moves on Miller trying to get him to make a mistake. On the last lap going into turn three, Bayless gave Miller a bump moving him to the outside lane. Bayless went past Miller along with Walker and took home the victory. Miller was furious at Bayless and repaid the favor on the cool down lap on the backstretch. The win stood with the officials however with Bayless winning over Walker, Miller and Spencer.

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