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Cars off, bikes on at Hagerstown Speedway

August 24, 1998|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

Two-wheeled racers replaced the four-wheeled regulars Saturday night at the Hagerstown Speedway.

Motorcycle racers from 14 states, Japan and Canada visited the local track as part of the AMA-sanctioned Grand National Dirt Track Series, sponsored by the D.C. Ramblers.

Will Davis of Goldsboro, N.C., rode his TCR/MI Harley Davidson to his second straight victory in the Rodney Farris Memorial/Hub City Classic, showing the skills that allowed him to finish second in the Grand National Series in 1997.

Davis started second behind Kevin Varnes of New Holland, Pa. Varnes shot into the lead immediately with Davis hot on his rear tire for the first 10 laps of the 25-lap feature.

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As Varnes rode surprisingly high on turn 4 of lap 11, Davis passed him. He never relinquished the lead and earned his third victory of the series.

"When I was going into turn 4, my hand slipped off the throttle," said Varnes, who raced in his first Grand National in Hagerstown in 1985. "It surprised me so much, I almost slid off the back of the bike."

"Man, this is just wonderful. I figured he'd be right on my rear wheel trying to pass me back,'' Davis said of his second consecutive victory in Hagerstown.

"My first race was in Hagerstown in 1989. I want to thank the Hagerstown Speedway. They get this track so nice, it's like racing on a pool table. Randy (Grove, the track steward) does a good job."

Meanwhile, a battle for third place was going on between Scott Parker of Swartz Creek, Mich., and Steve Morehead of Findlay, Ohio.

Parker, the eight-time national champion and winner of last year's Grand National Series, started fourth and quickly jumped into third on the first lap. But Morehead, who started seventh, was just as quick and posted himself on Parker's outside to challenge for third.

The two riders battled for half the race, often riding handlebar-to-handlebar. They narrowly missed spilling onto the track on several occasions as each tried to put the other away on the turns.

Finally, on lap 10, Morehead daringly passed Parker on the outside of turn 2 and pulled ahead on the back straightaway to take third, which he held until the finish.

"I don't know how I did it," Morehead said. "But I got a flat tire on the 24th lap and somehow rode that whole last lap on a flat. I wish we could do two or three races here every year. This is the best crowd we've run in front of all year."

Parker eventually finished fifth, after young, promising Kentuckian Nicky Hayden passed him on the 20th lap.

Joe Eades of Petersburg, Va., won the Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance National Final. Eades led every lap of the 12-lap feature for his first career victory.

"Well, we've been trying hard all year, and we've been up there," said Eades. "We just couldn't seem to do it until tonight."

Points leader Jess Roeder of Monroeville, Ohio, took a spill on the first turn on the eighth lap when his front tire hit Eades' rear tire, separating him and the bike and sending them into the hay bales.

Roeder lay still for 15 seconds while medical personnel tended to him. He finally arose to applause from the near-capacity crowd. Series rules allowed Roeder 10 minutes to get his bike back in the race, which he did, but he had to go to the end of the 17-bike field.

Roeder amazingly fought his way back to finish fifth. Gary Rogers of San Jose, Calif., finished second, Scott Stump of Langhorne, Pa., came in third and Shaun Russell, also of San Jose, took fourth.

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