Jim Klopp and Al Goss experienced some difficulties in their heat races at Champion Speedway on Saturday night. There certainly were no problems later in the evening because Klopp and Goss were both on track en route to winning their respective Legends and Late Model feature races.
South Lake Tahoe's Klopp, who didn't race in 2004, served notice that he will be a driver to reckon with this season when he won the Legends main event. Meanwhile, Goss posted his second straight Late Model Sportsman main event victory of the young season and Kim Robbins had a perfect night and won her second straight Hornets main on a mild evening.
Klopp, who finished second in the Legends main event one week before, showed no rust as he won a 40-lap race that saw 21 cars start. Earlier in the evening, Klopp survived a collision to finish third in his heat, then in the main event, he started in the next-to-last spot and worked his way through the field to win.
"I'm still a little rusty, but starting back in the field like that, I even surprised myself," said Klopp, who won the track Legends title three years ago.
"I looked up at the scoreboard on Lap 21 and said, 'Damn, that's pretty cool.' That wasn't bad after being on vacation for a year," he added with a smile.
Klopp was third after a yellow flag on Lap 21 and after the second of two restarts, he surged past Glenn Parman and Bobby Hodges into the lead on the backstretch of Lap 22 - and he never trailed again.
Wayne Estes dropped out of fourth-place and retired to the pits after 22 laps. Parman, who led the first 21 laps, went to the pits after a spinout, along with Denny Hadler (lost oil cap) and Rebecca Parmelee (spinout) after an oil spillage on the track on Lap 27.
"I drove a great race," Hadler said. "I had to start at the back of the pack (after winning last week's main event), which was unfortunate because there were a lot of fast drivers out there. The car was running great, my lap times were great and I was on the outside passing for the lead when I saw the red light on my dash come on. My heart just broke because there was no doubt in my mind I was going to win that race."
"It just wasn't a good night for me," added Hadler, who earlier qualified for the trophy dash despite losing the valve stem on his left rear tire in qualifying then came back to win the trophy dash.
Klopp took the checker flag ahead of Dave Sciarroni, Jack Randall, Chris Handley and 14-year-old Mackena Bell to round out the top five. Of the 21 cars that started, 16 went the 40-lap distance.
Klopp said he felt fortunate to avoid the late-race mishaps.
"I got it out of the way early in my heat race. I managed to get into a car that spun-out," said Klopp, who was quick to point out the race was a good one.
"You had 21 cars out there. That's a lot. You have to give the track and all the competitors a lot of credit; they did a helluva job of keeping everything in line," Klopp said, adding a word of thanks to his sponsor, RWW Fabrication Race Car & Parks in Sparks.
"Jimmy and me, that's going to be a battle all summer because we're so equal in everything we do," said Hadler, who finished second behind Klopp in the 2002 Legends points race.
Goss was all smiles after winning the 30-lap, 11-car Sportsman feature race.
"Two in a row. I'm jazzed," Goss said. "That was quite the run. I had to work for that one."
The Carson City driver only made seven of the eight laps in his heat race earlier in the evening.
"We crashed with Vince Malone in the heat race and the whole front end was smashed up," Goss said, giving credit to his brother, Ed Goss and David Korhummel for their help with the repairs. "The nose piece was ready to fall off, but we were able to get it patched up and set the front wheels, we got back out there and the car ran better before than it did before."
He experienced another close call when he ran into the back of Joel Worley at the outset of the main.
"I asked an official if anything was leaking and he said no, so we went with the green," said Goss, who started from the back of the pack.
"I just took off and went right through the front. I don't know how I did it. That's just a good car."
Goss never relinquished his late en route to the checker flag ahead of Worley, Chet Danburg, Henry Hodges and Christina Davis to round out the top five.
Robbins - of "Bad Girls Racing" - had a perfect night in the Hornet class as she won the trophy dash, heat race and then took the 25-lap main event.
Robbins worked her way through the field and moved into fourth-place before the end of the first lap and surged into the lead at the start of Lap 3. She went on to win the race ahead of Andy McCool.
Next Saturday, Super Late Models will make their season debut in the Desert Rose 100 series at Champion. In addition to the 100-lap Desert Rose feature race, the evening's show will include Legends and Hornets. Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. and racing starts at 7.
n Contact Dave Price at email@example.com or call 881-1220.