Main events provide excitement on and off speedway
July 14, 2002
Before the main events started for Saturday’s Super Street Sprint at the Hayden Speedway some of the fans packed up to finish their night elsewhere. Those fans missed some of the more exciting action of the night with a big wreck, an unexpected switch of drivers and some interesting finishes.
“It is starting to get toward the end of the season and that’s when the racing starts,” said Yampa Valley Racing Association President Justin Gallegos. “People start to take fight pretty hard and take things serious once the points race sorts itself out.”
In the main event for the Street Stock class there were still 11 cars running strong. Gallegos said that was the most cars he’d seen on the Hayden Speedway track for a final race.
With that many cars packed into the small track, turns got a little tighter and the space more scarce. Early in the race there were several yellow lights due to cars spinning out but nothing out of the ordinary for a stock car race. Then, with the lead pack going around a slower car, Steve Duncan’s 38 car was tapped sideways into the guardrail and Jaceson Van Grant smashed into the side of Duncan. Initially the wreck looked bad enough that Gallegos, who thought a car was on fire, went running across the track to help the drivers.
Both drivers walked away from the track without serious injury but also without a car to race.
Warren Kramer and his 17 car were black flagged for the two car pile up. While the yellow flag was still out, Kramer, who is from Montrose, went over to Van Grant and offered him his car to finish the race. With the unusual but courteous move, Van Grant hopped in the foreign 17 and re-entered the race.
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“For a guy from out of town to offer his car to a stranger, that was tremendous sportsmanship,” said Gallegos. “I would have never expected that.”
Some of the spectators didn’t expect that either and were confused when the vehicle that had been black flagged went back on the track. Several of the crew for the current leader, Gary Lewis, were livid at first. After Gallegos calmed them down and explained what had happened tempers cooled a little and when Lewis went on to win, the emotions subsided.
In the IMCA modified race local favorite H.D. Craig was running well all night with the new engine that he put in before the Sport Stock Shoot Out on June 29. Craig was unable to show off his new engine for long that night because of a wreck that stopped his racing short.
In Saturday’s main event Craig was on the outside of the track taking a corner around Doug Tiffany when he said he felt a thud and started spinning.
“I thought I gave him enough room to make the turn,” said Craig. “But he side swiped me and it caused quite a bit of damage.”
Tiffany was black flagged, but it wasn’t enough for the Craig supporters. They were looking for race officials right away with words about the wreck.
“I was running well and I’m pretty sure I would have won the race,” said Craig. “The officials did what they could with the black flag, I think my crew was just pretty worked up since I was on the way to a good night.”
“Pit crews get pretty worked up at times,” said Gallegos, “But it just shows how much of the big time it is for the drivers and their crew.”
Other main event winners of the night were Gallegos in the pro stock, Scott McKinney in sport stock, Zack Allen in the Super Street and Steve Harris in IMCA modified.
Unofficial Craig Daily Press awards go to McKinney for the Comeback of the Week Award after his car broke the guard rail in the last race but “Herby” made it back. The Giving the Pit Crew Something to Cheer About award goes to Allen for winning his race after teammate H.D. Craig’s wreck almost ruined the night for the team that calls themselves 3 &75 (the numbers of Craig and Allen). Finally, the Running on Empty award goes to Mick O’Conor for riding the last six laps in his car during the sport stock race with three and one-eighth of a tire.