Wednesday, June 20, 2007

SPORTS>>Win streak in modifieds finally ends

Leader sportswriter

Defending modified track champion Randy Weaver finally put his Fox Racing F1 car back in victory lane on Friday at Beebe Speedway. The Big Show fell just short of a two-class sweep, finishing right behind Bryant’s Joe Long in the street stock feature before holding off a vicious charge from veteran Mike Bowers in the modified feature.

Street stock wins have come relatively easy for Weaver this season, with only a few competitors each week, but the modified class has not been so kind. The Fox team got their modified program back on track last week with a second-place run behind Patrick Linn, and Weaver won his heat on Friday to earn a third-place starting position for the feature.

For the first time in over a month, there would be a new winner in the modified class, as Little Rock’s Linn was not on hand to defend his four-race win streak. Robert Davis of Searcy earned top-qualifier for the feature by winning the first heat, With second heat winner Jeremy Kester lining up on the outside of the front row.

Whatever momentum Davis had with him in the heats was completely absent during the 20-lap feature. The 5 car of Davis fell back as soon as the green dropped, leaving Weaver to challenge Kester for the top spot.

Bowers would be the hard charger on the night. The North Little Rock driver started in the 12th position, but methodically picked his way through the elite field. Bowers made his way into the top five by lap 12, and worked his way right behind the leaders with three laps to go.

While Bowers made his march to the front, Weaver and Kester battled for the lead until lap 13, when Weaver finally got around Kester. Kester would then give way to Bowers on lap 17, but Weaver had just enough to hold off the 60 car of Bowers to take his first modified win of the season at Beebe.

Points leader Casey Findley took the fourth spot, and Heath Stevens of Vilonia rounded out the top five. Donnie Stringfellow finished sixth in his 88 machine, while Davis fell back to seventh by race’s end, along with eighth-place finisher Jayson Hefley, who also struggled in the feature after looking strong in the heats to earn a fourth-place starting spot.

“We kind of went back to the basics,” Weaver said after the win. “We’ve been struggling some, but I think we finally shook that monkey off our backs.” Weaver was also complimentary of the track prep for Friday’s show.

“The track was a lot better tonight than it has been,” Weaver said. “The top and the middle were both fast, and it was real smooth. The last few weeks has kind of been like follow the leader, but you could go high or low and find grip out there tonight.”

Archie Conway, Jr. continued his domination of the economy-modified class with a caution-shortened feature win on Friday. Conway picked up his eighth win of the year in the curiously diminishing class, taking advantage of early mechanical troubles for fast qualifier Jason Young.

Young led the first two laps in his F1 machine, but pulled off the track during a lap-two caution for a spin by Corey Dumas. Vilonia’s Monty King put up a decent challenge on Conway for the lead on a number of occasions, but frequent cautions denied King of a complete opportunity to finish the deal.

The final caution came out on lap 12, setting up a green white checker finish, giving King only two laps to get things done. He would not, and Conway upped his points lead with the win, forcing King to settle for second.

Ryan Redmon of Beebe finished third, while Robert Woodard and Austin’s Mark Wells recovered from an early incident to finish fourth and fifth respectively.

Tommy Puckett took the win in the hobby division after an early challenge from Jacksonville’s Mike McDougale. McDougale and Joe Hodge of Lonoke made it a three-car battle for the lead with Puckett in the early going, but mechanical problems for McDougale and handling problems for Hodge gave Puckett room to breathe in the late going, along with the five cautions that shortened the race from its scheduled 20 laps to only nine.

Stan Yingling took his second win of the year in the mini stock class. Yingling took advantage of a spin by leader Ricky Wooten to inherit the lead on lap seven, and he never looked back. The 140 car of Tim Arnold finished second, and Wooten recovered for a third-place finish.

Brandon Capps of Jacksonville took his second-straight factory stock win, and Stacy Lingo took the win in the powder puff race over Shorty Wofford and Sandra Griffin.