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Franklin wins 15th race of year at Speedway

September 28, 1998|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

Rodney Franklin of White Post, Va., continued his assault on the Hagerstown Speedway's record book Sunday afternoon by winning his 15th race of the year in the late model division.

His 107th career victory tied him with Nathan Durboraw's season record with four races remaining in 1998. He made it look so easy, even though he was breaking in a new car.

Franklin began fourth, took second by lap 3 when Jeremy Miller dropped out with a flat tire, and moved inside leader Ernie Davis on the fifth lap.

By lap 13, he led by a straightaway and began to encounter lapped traffic. After a yellow flag tightened the field on the next lap, he again rocketed ahead and built a lead of half a straightaway twice before a caution closed the field again. No matter. He opened another half-a-straightaway lead.

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"I give thanks to my crew and a lot of hard work," Franklin said. "This is a new car, and it still has a few bugs in it. The brakes need work, and we had a drive shaft problem in warmups."

In the late model sportsman feature, Clear Spring's Mike Yeakle took off from the outside pole position and never let up, earning his first career victory in the 20-lap race.

Daryl Kendall, the inside pole sitter, dogged Yeakle from the beginning and positioned himself to make his move on the last lap. But entering turn 1, Kendall went a little higher than planned and lost control in the loose dirt, spinning out.

Devin Friese and Alan Sagi, in third and fourth for much of the race, were the beneficiaries of Kendall's mistake, following Yeakle across the finish line.

Jeff Bennett of Chambersburg, Pa., also scored his first win in the 15-lap pure stock feature.

Track champion Kim Ramer led from the drop of the green flag until a caution after the 13th lap gave Bennett an opportunity to test his mettle.

On the restart, Bennett hit the throttle coming out of turn 4, went low on the track and finished his pass at the end of the front straightaway entering turn 1.

Ramer came in second with Smokie Pharo, Rick Stouffer, Jr. and Ronnie Dennis rounding out the top five.

The race was halted briefly on the first lap when contact forced David Mikolajski into a spin on the back straightaway. The car's rear end hit the inner guard rail with such impact that Mikolajski was knocked unconscious with his foot still pressing the accelerator.

A small fire spewed smoke from the car. Track steward Randy Grove reached in and turned the engine off, and the rescue crew quickly put out the fire. Mikolajski was treated at Washington County Hospital for a concussion and released.

Eric Mellott and Derek Wink put on a masterful bit of racing in the 10-lap 4-cylinder feature with Mellott edging Wink by inches.

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