posted July 08, 2001 10:53 PM
Stacy Taylor Tops MARS Field at Malden
July 6, 2001
David & Sara Darnell
A field of 44 Late Models highlighted a huge night of racing at Malden. Stacy Taylor of Jacksonville, AR took the top honors as he led the final 36 laps of the feature. Claudie Cook took the Modified checkered. Doug Moore returned to victory lane in Super Street. Steven Cunningham made the long haul from Milan TN to win the Pure Street feature. Scott Austin and Darrell Ham took the Cruiser honors. Paced by the large MARS field, the speedway boasted a car count of 138, its largest turnout of the 2001 season.
Making their second and final appearance of the 2001 season at the Malden Speedway, the MARS Late Models series put on another great show. The 40-lap feature opened with Leslie Essary winning the drag race to turn one over Stacy Taylor to open with the lead. Taylor grabbed the lead going into turn one on lap four and led the rest of the way. Jeff Taylor who won the first MARS race at Malden, took over second and challenged Stacy midway through the race, but never rested the lead away. Following the Taylor’s were Jeff Floyd, Bill Frye, and Essary in the top five. Complete MARS coverage including current point standings can be found at www.whowon.com. Scott Gibbs had the best showing of Malden Speedway regulars as he finished third in his heat race, but was still relegated to the last chance qualifier. Gibbs had a commanding lead with four laps to go in the last chance race when a caution flag reset the field. Gibbs was outrun on the restart and later suffered a flat battling in traffic to end his night of racing. Good show Scott.
Claudie Cook topped another excellent field of Modified drivers. Ronnie Vernon jumped out to the early lead, leaving Cook, Brent Thompson, and Tony Anglin in a three wide battle for second. When the dust settled on that battle, Cook held the position and set his sites on Vernon. Cook dove low under Vernon in turn two to take the lead on the third lap. Vernon hounded Cook the rest of the way as the pair separated themselves a little from the field. The fastest car at the end of the race was track newcomer Mark Norris in the 32 N. Norris found a fast groove on the very bottom of the track to pick off four positions the final 3 laps, and was starting to close the gap on the lead pair. Makes you wonder “what if” it was a 25-lap feature instead of 20. Anglin and Thompson rounded out the top five. Heat winners were Thompson, Vernon, and Cook. Scott Cunningham won the B-Main. With three wins in the past five weeks, Cook has opened a 52-point lead over Larry Hull in the season standings.
Doug Moore returns to the Super Street victory lane, one week after losing an engine in the heat race. Moore grabbed the lead following a half lap duel with Gene Fowler. Moore started extending his lead, while Fowler suffered handling problems the first third of the race. Paul Keena found a good groove at the top of the track late in the race and was able to run wide open, allowing him to make up time on Moore. Keena took over second on lap 13 and closed to Moore’s back bumper on the back straight of the final lap. Moore held on to win by about a half a car length as Keena was closing in down the front straight. Randy Martin had his third straight top five finish in third. John Stephens took fourth, with Fowler gamely holding onto fifth despite his early troubles. Fowler won the heat race. Moore leads the season standings by 44 over Steve Santie, who is now just 10 ahead of Stephens.
Steven Cunningham drove the slick looking 96 car to his second feature win of the year. Cunningham jumped out to the lead from the pole position and led all 15 laps for the win. The race for second developed into a four-way battle on lap three and was up for grabs until the whole race. Greg Perkins, Jared Wagster, and Billy Hopkins battled three wide just behind Tim Gage early in the race. Following a lap 8 restart, Wagster started challenging Gage for the second spot, while Perkins and Hopkins dueled for the fourth spot. Gage held on for second. Wagster clipped a lapped car while coming out of turn four on the final lap, and crossed the finish line slipping and sliding just ahead of Hopkins. Perkins held on for fifth. Cunningham, Perkins, and Gage won the heat races. Jamie Robards won the B-Main. With 10 top five finishes in 12 weeks of points racing including five wins, Wagster holds a commanding 62 point lead over Mark Williams.
Darrell Ham and Scott Austin in the Z71 car led from start to finish to pick up their fourth A-Main Cruiser feature of the year. Eric Allison and Jason Pennington took second, followed by Grayson Simpson and Darren Spillman. Chris Williams and Tracy Redden won the B-Feature, Rutherford and Foster won the C-Main.
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