Tuesday, July 06, 2010

SPORTS>>Bigger purse entices cars out to track in modifieds

Leader sportswriter

An increased payout led to an increased car count in the modified division at Beebe Speedway on Friday.

The weekly feature paid $1,000 to the winner, and brought 26 modifieds to the track for the biggest field of cars this season.

But in the end it was points leader Randy Weaver in his F1 Shaw chassis winning in dominant fashion over North Little Rock’s

Mike Bowers and Keith Craft.

Most of the support classes struggled on the dry-slick racing surface, but the mods ran a clean show with only three cautions, one of which caused the race to end under caution when Cabot’s Jason Flory spun in turn four just after Weaver had taken the white flag.

Weaver started the 25-lap feature from the outside pole alongside fast qualifier Donnie Stringfellow. The two former state IMCA champs had a drag race to the green flag, and Weaver took the hole shot on the outside entering turn one.

Bowers and Craft started the feature from the second row, but disposed of Stringfellow by lap 12. Their window to make up ground on Weaver was small, as the leader had already hit backmarkers by the 11th circuit and quickly began to lap cars.

The driver on the move was Robert Baker, who started seventh but quickly began to work on Blake Burns for sixth. He took the spot from Burns just before the first caution on lap eight that came because of a spin by Jim Freeman and local driver Jody Jackson.

Baker took fifth from Robert Davis on the restart and followed Craft past Stringfellow two laps later for fourth, but the front three cars proved to be too stout. Baker settled into the fourth spot and had a front-row seat for Craft’s battle with Bowers for the second spot in the final laps.

The biggest incident of the night came on lap 15, when Jackson and Freeman spun again, this time hitting Flory and Dale Proctor. The crash ended the night for Jackson and Freeman as Flory and Proctor rejoined the race in the rear of the field.

Weaver handled the lapped cars with ease and cruised to his second-straight modified victory and his sixth of the season at Beebe.

Bowers held off Craft for second while Baker finished fourth and Stringfellow fifth. Searcy’s Davis held on for sixth while Little Rock driver Patrick Linn was seventh.

Vilonia’s Curtis Cook was hard charger with an eighth-place finish. Cook did not finish his heat and had to earn a transfer spot in the B-main by winning the consolation race to start the main event in the 17th spot.

Burns’s quiet run resulted in a ninth-place finish and Todd Greer rounded out the top ten in the K1 car.

Benton’s Jeff Porterfield won in the hobby-stock division while Willy Gillam beat Scotty Miesenheimer in the street-stock feature. Paul Shackleford held off a race-long challenge by Cabot driver Mike Millwood to win the mini-stock feature.

The E-mod division had its share of yellow flags and came down to another green-white-checkers finish, and it was Lane Cullum taking the victory in his No. 15 car over Bald Knob’s Kevin Conway and Ryan Redman of Beebe.

Augusta’s Robert Woodard struggled to an 11th-place finish after getting caught up in a pair of early accidents, but was still able to reclaim the points lead with leader Blake Jones and second-place points man Todd Joslin of Cabot both absent from the field on Friday.

Beebe driver Larry Wise took the most dominant victory of the night in the factory-stock feature. Wise, a veteran of the hobby-stock class, held a smooth, consistent line around the low line in his black No. 23 car and left the rest of the field to struggle through the slippery corners.

Glen Melton and Danny Garringer battled for the second spot most of the race, well behind Wise. They were never able to get close enough to the leader to contest, as the hometown favorite cruised to his fourth victory of the year.

Melton hung on for second while Garringer stayed atop the point standings with another consistent third-place run. Johnny Brown finished fourth and Beebe’s Jacob Kurtz was fifth.

The USCS is scheduled to make its second stop at Beebe this year for another modified Speedweek on Friday.