Stuhler wins big at Speedway

July 06, 1999|By MIKE SIRBAUGH / Staff Correspondent

Gary Stuhler was a flag waver at Hagerstown Speedway on Saturday.

But instead of stars and stripes, Stuhler was hoisting his usual checkered flag.

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Stuhler, of Greencastle,Pa., maintained his stature as one of the best drivers in the region, outlasting Richard Irwin to gain the victory and earn the $2,600 purse in the 34th Annual Johnny Roberts Memorial, a 50-lap feature for the late model division.

The Independence Day program lived up to its pre-race hype with exciting racing, capped off with a magnificent fireworks display.

Pole-sitter David Williams led for the first nine laps until Rick Workman passed him to take control for the next 13 laps.

Irwin passed Williams to move into second on lap 14 and staged a two-car battle with Workman for 13 laps while Stuhler closed on their tails after starting from the 12th position.


Irwin finally passed Workman on lap 26 and Stuhler followed suit on the next lap to set up an exhilarating duel between the two drivers.

Stuhler pressed Irwin from the low groove, and even nosed ahead on several occasions, but Irwin regained his lead with a burst out of turn four.

But just as it appeared that Irwin's car was powerful enough to hold Stuhler's challenges, his car suffered mechanical failure on the back straightaway on lap 41, nearly taking out both of the leaders.

On the restart, Stuhler proved he knows what to do with a lead. He shot out to a comfortable lead ahead of Workman and cruised to victory. Jeremy Miller came in third and Nathan Durboraw finished fourth.

The double points awarded for the special race allowed Durboraw to take a 34-point lead in the standings over Rodney Franklin, who finished a disappointing 10th.

"I think we had a second-place car, really," Stuhler said. "I didn't mean to get into him (Irwin), but something just broke. I needed to get up there where he was running but I couldn't get far enough ahead of him to get up there."

In the 20-lap late model sportsman feature, rookie Mike Walls led for the first 10 laps but couldn't hold off his father, Wayne Walls, Jr., the division's defending champion. The elder Walls won his second consecutive race and fourth of the season.

Mike Walls held off the hard charging Richard Clipp for seven laps before a Daryl Kendall had to pit, bringing out the yellow flag and closing up the field.

On the restart, Wayne Walls shot past Clipp and headed high on turn two to leave his son behind, still searching for his first career victory.

Clipp continued to press Wayne Walls but had to settle for second, followed by Richard Walls, Darryl Burkholder and Devin Friese.

Kendall re-entered the race but his misfortune caused him to fall 91 points behind Wayne Walls for the points lead.

Smoky Pharo, who went two decades between victories, won his second straight by taking the 15-lap pure stock feature, beating Eugene Conlee by a quarter panel in a photo finish.

Pharo had the outside pole position and took a one-lap lead from Phil Madagan on lap five before being passed by Conlee. Conlee ran strong for seven laps, running three-wide with Pharo and Jim Snyder at times, before Pharo got by him on lap 13.

"This back-to-back is a pretty good thing to do, I guess," Pharo said. "I got a little bit better bite on the outside. The car really ran a lot better on the outside."

Defending champion Brian Miller took his sixth consecutive trip to Victory Lane in the 10-lap 4-Cylinder feature. Miller started ninth in a race that took four tries to get started.

Miller gradually worked his way to the lead on lap five before pulling away from Brad Jones to tie his brother, Barry Miller, for the 4-cylinder consecutive victory record and become the all-time leading driver in that class.

Jones was followed by Sean Dawson, Dean Holmes and rookie Larry Baker II. Miller also widened his points to 58 points over Holmes. Following the race, Josh Angle and Tommy Jerin were disqualified.

In the Vintage car race, featuring cars from the 50s and 60s, Oscar Fields broke out of the field on the race's only restart and won going away. Doug Stine charged from far back in the field to take second and Curtis Neiman came in third.

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