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Andrews races to 'groovy' win at Speedway

October 26, 1998|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

Todd Andrews of Eldred, Pa., won the 24th Annual Hub-City National 150 at the Hagerstown Speedway on Sunday, but the race did not live up to expectations.

The 150-lap feature is the longest race on the schedule for the late models, the Speedway's featured division.

Excitement was high among the fans in the near-capacity crowd, expecting to see a strong battle between the local favorites and top names from other regions.

But by the time the late models were on the track for their feature, the previous races and the afternoon sun had transformed the surface into a one-groove track. That resulted in few opportunities for passing and forced drivers to use a follow-the-leader approach, waiting for someone to make a mistake or suffer misfortune.

Outside pole-sitter Tim Hitt jumped into the lead from the start and held it until the first fuel stop at the 50-lap mark. Andrews was in second since lap 2, and the two of them opened up leads of half a straightaway. Few of the trailing cars were able to change positions.

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After the fuel stop, Hitt's car didn't respond the way it had for the first third of the race. On lap 52, Hitt experienced mechanical problems, and he began dropping back. Two laps later, Hitt pulled into the pits, unable to continue.

Andrews inherited the lead and never lost it, capturing the trophy and first- place prize money of $10,000.

The only challenge to Andrews' lead came from second-place finisher Frankie Plessinger. Plessinger started 10th and gradually moved up as other drivers dropped out.

By lap 16, he was in third.

He realized that passing on the turns was futile, so he took a chance and attempted to pass the second-place car of Roy Deese on the inside of the back straightaway. It took three tries for Plessinger to make it.

Once in second, Plessinger began his assault on the leader but found the same difficulty on the turns. He tried several times to take the inside away from the front-runner, but Andrews closed him down each time.

Bob Close, Scott Haus and Kenny Pettyjohn completed the top five.

The race was not without its exciting moments, however.

Perhaps the most exciting moment came compliments of one of Gary Stuhler's pit crew.

Stuhler pulled into the pits on lap 21 with a flat tire during a caution.

Stuhler didn't make it back out onto the track before the flagman waved the green flag.

If Stuhler had returned to the field, which he didn't, he would have lost the number of laps it took the crew to change the flat. Crew member Robbie Allen was so incensed that he heaved the flat over the guard rail onto the track, creating another caution.

The late model sportsman were joined by the semi-lates in a 25-lap open competition.

Devin Friese of Mercersburg, Pa. won the feature, shortened to 18 laps by a 30-minute time limit, for his second victory of the year. The race began with a bang as two crashes on the first lap forced two restarts.

Friese, the pole-sitter, was the beneficiary of the yellow flags, having the chance to recover from a poor start on the first attempt to redeem himself and take the lead from the beginning.

He was passed briefly on the outside in turn 3 on lap 12 by Daryl Kendall when he was slowed by lapped traffic. But two laps later in turn 4, Kendall lost control and spun out, dropping back to fourth.

Kendall recovered to take second, but the early checkered flag left him without enough time to again challenge for the lead. Mike Yeakle came in third and Paul Crowl finished fourth.

Doug Slick took the lead in the pure stock feature from Jeff Bennett on the third lap and avoided several multicar pileups to win the 20-lap race in his first visit to the Hagerstown Speedway.

Slick finished with a 10-car length lead over Dan Bookwalter. George Beckett, Hans Stamberg and Randy McNabb followed Bookwalter to the checkered flag.

In the 4-cylinder feature, Tommy Jerin continued his late season success with a win in the 15-lap race. Jerin held off the late charge of Tim Smith, winning by half a car length.

Smith took second, followed by Eric Kerns, Sean Dawson and Eric Mellott.

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