Speedway finally gets green flag

March 28, 1999|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

At long last - racing.

After five weeks of succumbing to the elements, the Hagerstown Speedway opened in a big way, combining some of the featured events from the canceled shows to produce a program of unusual early importance.

The late models kicked off the evening and the season with a 33-lap affair that handed the winner $1,999 and placed him in the Octoberfest 350.

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Roy Deese Jr. started third and moved into second by Lap 3 behind Kevin Denton, the inside pole sitter. On the eighth lap, Deese and Gary Stuhler sandwiched Denton on the third turn and left him behind to begin a two-car duel that lasted the rest of the race.


Deese had too much for everyone but Stuhler, who had several valiant efforts at passing Deese on the turns but could not hold on entering the straightaways. Deese won the race going away for his first victory ever at the local half-mile oval.

"Oh, man I can't believe it," Deese said. "There's no better place to win a race than at the Hagerstown Speedway. It's been my goal to win a race here in my car and it's a dream come true."

The big block modifieds and the small block modifieds each had two coveted spots at stake. Each winner qualified for the Octoberfest 350 and the Syracuse race in the fall.

In the big block 33-lap feature, Mike Romano sat on the outside pole and jumped into first from the drop of the green flag. Romano made short work of the field, taking advantage of a clean race that saw no cautions after the third lap.

His biggest threat came from Keith Hoffman, who had the pole position and stayed within five car lengths for two-thirds of the race before fading to 19th.

When Romano took the checkered flag, he held slightly more than a straightaway lead on his brother, and eventual second-place finisher, A.J. Romano.

Darin Rust blew away the field and collected a flag-to-flag victory in the 33-lap small block modified feature.

Rust and Al Shawver Jr. staged a two-car battle during the early part of the race, but Shawver eventually faded as the leaders encountered lapped traffic.

Shawver held on for a second place finish, well ahead of third place finisher Bret Hearn who came from far back in the field but ran out of laps to pose a threat. Brightbill, doing double duty at Hagerstown in both modified features and fresh from racing earlier in the day at Susquehanna, finished fourth.

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