September 13th, VMRA, Season Championship

Posted by | Posted in General | Posted on 15-09-2008

Jones wins 2008 Vintage Modified Season Championship

Exciting season finale at Port Angeles for the Vintage Modifieds.

It was a full moon kind of day for the last race of the 2008 season.   The point chase was as close as it has ever been. Point leader Jim Jones needed only to start every event to clinch the season Championship.  Bob Fulmer, in second, led Mike Clother by a mere 4 points. Kiel Hobbs and John Mustered were in a close battle for 4th and 5th.  The night was full of drama, speculation, and racing action.

The drama started when Jones’ car broke a clutch during hot laps.  He was unable to make repairs to his car and to save his championship hopes turned over his number and thus his point gathering for the event to Erik McClain who was there to drive Todd McCartney’s car.  Jim was able to by pass the clutch in his car, not legal for this class, but it was decided to let the car run for no points.

Bob Fulmer was on vacation in the tropics and sent Henry Weichel to drive for him in his quest to take over the point lead.

Mike Clother set the fastest time, 16.127 seconds, just ahead of Weichel, moving Clother 3-points ahead of Fulmer in the season standings.

The point chase was put on hold during trophy dashes where no points are awarded.  There was still plenty of action on the track.  The B dash had rookie Josh Peterson on the pole next to Kiel Hobbs.  Those two got together on the first lap, spinning and resulting in a restart.  They later bumped and spun again this time sending Petersen to pits and Hobbs to the rear.  Chuck Peterson inherited the lead and the trophy just ahead of Tom Smitham and Hobbs.

The A dash was lead off by Robert Rux with Weichel on his right.  Dave Trapp and Clother were behind.  Rux got a good start and was followed by Weichel into the first turn.  In turn 4 Weichel slid a bit high allowing Clother to pass low at the end of the sraightaway.  Clother was trying to pass on the outside of Rux and got a bit too high and off the track on the back straightaway causing his car to slide very high and wide into turn 3.  Trapp slowed in the dust cloud to avoid a collision with Clother’s nearly out of control car.  Clother was able to avoid the spin and regained the chase for the trophy.  Rux beat Clother to the checkers winning by ½ car length.  Rux later said that was his first trophy of the 2008 season and he wanted it badly.

B heat action saw racing rookie Petersen on the pole flanked by former champion and salt flat record holder Erik McClain. Kiel Hobbs and Chuck Peterson were just behind.  McClain’s car faltered on the start allowing Petersen to take the early lead.  Hobbs chased him down quickly and this time made the pass with no contact.  Chuck Peterson followed Hobbs pulling Tom Smitham with him.  Hobbs led the remainder of the 10 laps and finished ahead of Peterson and Smitham.

The A heat was lead off by John Mustered driving for Leonard Schmidt.  On his right was Robert Rux.  Weichel and Dave Trapp followed in the second row with Clother alone in the rear. Mustered took the early lead followed by Clother.  Jones began his regular routine of passing everybody on the high side.  Weichel and Rux followed him.  The 6 car field stayed in a tight group for the entire ten lap race that finished with Jones in the lead, Weichel second, Rux third, followed by Mustered and Clother.

Here is where the season point chase got reallllllly interesting.   Remember McClain was running for the point leader Jones and only needed to start every event to attain the championship.  Well, when Erik’s car faltered in the B heat race it was due to a blown head gasket that allowed water into the cylinders and put out the fire needed to make the engine run.  The car would not restart.  After the A heat race points were awarded Clother and Fulmer (with fill in driver Weichel) were tied for second in season point race. There were a lot of calculators being used during the time after the heats.  The result of all the math was: Jones needed 4 more points to clinch the championship. If McClain was unable take the green flag for the main event either Clother or Weichel could win the season championship by finishing first in the feature main.  Second place would not give enough points to pass Jones.  Talk about drama.  The Nextel Cup chase has nothing over this.  It was down to the last event of the last race date of the season with 3-contenders for the championship.

Once again this group of racers proved that they are all about racing and having fun.  Everybody that could was helping in every way they could to be assure Jones would retain his point lead.  McClain’s car was eventually started with one spark plug absent to allow water to escape.  He would attempt to start the main by waiting in the pits until just before the start.  Hopefully he could make the car last long enough to get the points Jones needed to win the season title.

At the start of the 50-lap main rookie Josh Petersen was once again on the pole with Hobbs beside him.  Chuck Peterson was next to Tom Smitham in the second row.  Weichel started just ahead of Clother on the outside of rows 3 and 4.  At the green flag Hobbs got a great start and lead the field into turn one.  McClain did make the start at the rear of the field securing Jones’ season championship but was black-flagged after two laps for mechanical problems.  That brought out the first caution flag of the 50 lap main.  During the caution Hobbs gave up the lead, taking his car to the pits with a broken rear wheel bearing.  For the second time that night Chuck Peterson inherited a lead.   It would not last long.  After the restart Peterson lead Weichel and Clother until lap nine when Peterson got into the dirt just off the back straightaway and made a wild spinning slide off the track at turn 3.  The race was stopped as track officials searched for Chuck and his car in the dust and tall grass.   He was eventually pulled out of the weeds and rejoined the field.  As Henry Weichel took over the lead Tom Smitham limped his broken car to the pits and Jones was sent to the rear of the field for “passing during the yellow”.   That didn’t deter Jones from working his way to the lead in a matter of a few laps.  Clother eventually slid past Weichel to take over second in the current race and the season point race.  Meanwhile, Peterson was patiently working his way threw the field with Rux and Trapp.  With 5-laps remaining caution flew once again for the spun car of Dave Trapp.  The restart put the top three point standing cars in order, bumper to bumper for a 5 lap shoot out.   One mistake could ruin an entire season for someone.  No mistakes were made and Jones took the checkers for yet another feature win.  In a sign of great sportsmanship Jones declared himself disqualified due to illegal equipment and the win and the trophy were awarded to Clother, his first of the season.  Henry Weichel finished in second followed by Peterson, Rux, Trapp, Mustered and Petersen.

Jones had a phenomenal season.  Officially winning six of ten races and setting the fast time mark almost every race.  He is well deserving of the title “Season Champion”.  Defending champion Mike Clother finished 2nd, only 19-points behind Jones and a mere 4 points ahead of 3rd place Bob Fulmer.  Kiel Hobbs held on to 4th place just 20-points ahead for Mustered in 5th.  Robert Rux, Chuck Peterson, Schmidt racing, Dave Trapp, and Stubbs racing rounded out the top 10 for the season.

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