Phil Perry received the $1,000 check as he won the final 100-lap Super Late Model race in the Desert Rose Series on Saturday night at Champion Speedway.
However, the Lincoln, Calif., driver and long-time local favorite at came up one position short of sweeping all four races in the series, having won the first three handily.
The main event got off to a bizarre start. Chris Baker spun on the first lap, bringing out a caution. Seeing the yellow flag at start/finish, Ken Crome jumped on the brakes, much to the dismay of the drivers directly behind him. Dan Knight, Mike Garcia, and Harold Long all bounced off Crome, the wall, and each other, sending Garcia and Long to the pits for attention to their wounds. Both returned for the full restart.
When the green flew, Jay Bradley grabbed the lead only to be passed by Tim Bost on lap three. Perry and fast qualifier Rich Lawlor were rocketing up through the field from the back of the pack, starting there due to a full invert.
Richard VandePloeg spun on lap eight, bringing out a caution which was to prove disastrous. On the restart Bost kept the speed deliberately low, and the cars farther back got caught up in a chain-reaction accident thinking the pace would be faster than it was. Henry Hodges, Jason Lloyd, and Virgil Miller were involved, with only Hodges able to continue.
The race was red-flagged while the mess was cleaned up, and Bost nearly precipitated a similar incident on the next restart. He was warned to pick up the speed on the next restart or go to the rear of the field. Bost seemed to have things well in hand for the first half of the race, while behind him Jay Bradley tenaciously hung on to third until Harold Long and Perry knocked him off his perch on lap 12.
Dean Heller was clinging to Bost's rear bumper in second, and the front four began to open up a gap on the rest of the field. Long-time rivals, Long and Perry, collided on the front straight on lap 19, bringing out the caution and sending both to the rear of the field. This put Gary Glenn in third, and he began to harass Dean Heller for second as soon as the green flag flew again. Glenn took over the position on lap 24, and now it was Byron Gonzales' turn to give Heller fits.
Meanwhile, Perry and Long were moving back up through the pack, and by lap 40, the order stood; Bost, Glenn, Lawlor, Gonzales, Chet Danburg, Knight, Bradley, Heller, Perry, and Long in the top 10.
Ten laps later, the only change was that Perry and Long had passed Bradley. The complexion of the race changed on lap 51, as Lawlor slowed with a mechanical failure and pitted, followed almost immediately by leader Bost. Both would retire.
This left Glenn in the lead, and he made the most of the situation, opening up a gap and extending it to the end of the race. Gonzales, Danburg, and Knight staged a protracted battle for second place, while Perry crept up on them, taking over fifth from Knight on lap 85. Four laps later Perry nabbed third from Danburg, and got by Gonzales on lap 92 for second. But that was as high as he was going to go, because Glenn had a half-lap lead with only a few laps remaining.
Glenn took the win in only his 10th Super Late Model start.
"I won my first Modified race with this big a lead, too," Glenn said in victory lane. "That kind of lead makes you feel good!"
Perry, who had already clinched the Desert Rose Championship with three wins, came home second, followed by Gonzales, Danburg, Long and Knight, all on the lead lap. Bradley had his best-ever Desert Rose finish, one lap down in seventh. Heller was eighth, VandePloeg ninth, and Baker 10th, the last car still running. Finishing in the pits, in the order of laps completed, were: Garcia, Lawlor, Bost, Al Draper, Hodges, Crome, Lloyd, and Miller.
Danburg won the $100 Dash for Cash earlier in the evening.
Wayne Estes won the Legends main, but the show was all 14-year-old Zachary Kavert from Redding, Calif. Kavert set fast time in qualifying and put on a driving display that had the fans on their feet and other drivers in awe.
Brent Holman nailed the wall at the start, putting him on the trailer and necessitating a full restart. Gary Hale took the early lead, but Kavert was already on the charge. Bobby Hodges brought out a brief caution with a spin in turn 2, and Kavert took fourth on the restart, third a lap later, and second on the next circuit. By lap six he had taken the lead and was driving away.
Estes also came through the pack to move into second by lap 10. Five laps later, he was closing on Kavert, a classic match up of youth and enthusiasm versus age and treachery. Kavert spun in the middle of the back straight on lap 18, lost three places, but kept going. Dave Sciarroni, in his first Legends outing of 2004, spun (apparently in his own oil) on the next lap, bringing out a yellow, then a red to deal with oil spread all the way around the track. Sciarroni himself manned a broom to help with the cleanup.
On the restart, Denny Hadler, Jr. was right behind Estes and the two battled for the position while Kavert took over third. Kavert passed Hadler for second four laps from the end, but ran out of race before he could deal with Estes, whose win moved him closer to first-place in the Legends season points. Hadler hung on for third, followed by Richard Malugani, Hale, Terry Madjeski, Rebecca Parmelee, Jack Randall, Robert Humphreys, and Katie Crome, all on the lead lap. Jack Randall, Sciarroni, Hodges, and Holman finished the race in the pits.
Estes won the trophy dash and his heat race, scoring a hat trick on the evening, while Malugani captured the other heat race win.
Although the Hornet division's season is over and Andy McCool has been crowned Champion, a double-handful of Hornets showed up for the "Tim Maloney Silver Cup, This Bud's for You" memorial race. Maloney, a Hornet competitor and Capital Beverage employee, passed away from cancer in August.
Andrew Montilo, in his first and only 2004 Hornets start, got the jump at the lead, but was soon overtaken by Bill Bernard. Bernard yielded the point to Steve Moore on the next lap, with Tony Polistena moving into second. Division champ McCool was moving up from the back of the pack, into fifth by lap five. By lap nine he was in second and caught Moore on the thirteenth circuit. The pair negotiated slower traffic with neither getting an advantage, then ran side-by-side for three laps until McCool finally got his nose in front two laps from the end.
McCool took the win with Moore second, Polistena third, Bernard fourth, and Montilo fifth, all on the lead lap. Chris Walton, John Gallio, John Hauck, and Jacob Baker rounded out the field.
Moore had the satisfaction of beating McCool to the checker in the trophy dash.
Next Saturday night is the final race of the season at Champion Speedway, featuring a 100 lap race for the CASA sprint cars and a 50 lap double points race for the Legends.