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East Bay Winter Nationals Modifieds
 

RAY GUSS, JR. LEADS LAST FOUR LAPS TO WIN $8,000 AT EAST BAY RACEWAY

 

TAMPA, FLÖ..2/17/07Ö..ĒIíve been driving for 27 years and Iíve won some big ones, but itís been a while,Ē explained Ray Guss, Jr. standing in victory lane Saturday night at East Bay Raceway Park beside a five-foot trophy and the big check declaring him the eighth different winner of the 8th Annual Open Wheel Modified Winternationals.

            The finale to the four-night stand was a 75-lapper and once again in this series, the race played out to a surprise finish, with four lead changes and Guss making his winning move with three laps to go.

            Driving a brand new RC (Robert Crump) House Car powered by a used engine, Guss was quick to point out, ďI was going backwards early in the race because I was way too tight.  Last year, I came here for the first time with a Hoosier A on the right rear and finished fourth.  This year I stuck with Dís and that worked out better late in the race.Ē   His crew, Bobby and Joe made very little changes on his Massey Auto Sales sponsored No. 112.

            The Peoria, Illinois past track champion had previously won big races at Little Rock and Burlington, but as he sampled the fresh strawberries after his interview, it was clear that he and his friends had waited a long time for a big victory like this one.

            Steve Arpin, the only Canadian in the field, who spun out while leading a preliminary race, also came on late and went high entering the turn and used his momentum to take second spot away from Joey Jensen on the white flag lap.  Piloting a new Larry Shaw chassis, Arpin had to go with a 360 engine after blowing up his good engine earlier in the week.

            Arpinís long list of sponsors include Shaw Chassis, New Vision Graphics, Afco, BSB Manufacturing, Hess Technology, Fast Shafts, Comp Cams, Schoenfeld Headers, Action Engineering and Reich Concrete.  His father Chuck and Joey Galloway made up his pit crew and following the race, the talk was all about heading to Phoenix for the next big race.

            The top six in points accumulated during the week were locked in and supposed to draw for their starting order.  Ironically, the top six, Kevin Weaver, Raymond Rogers, Guss, Jeff Leka, Jeff Mathews and Jamie Burrows all drew the same order as their points.

            It was outside pole sitter Rogers who jumped to a five-car length lead early and started to lap cars by lap ten.   He did a masterful job when he came upon two slower cars running side-by-side on lap 18 and actually managed to split them coming off turn four to continue leading lap 19 when the first caution was displayed for flames on William Harrisonís car.  Fifth starting Mathews was up to second and took the lead away from Rogers on lap 22.  Weaver, who had dropped to third, moved to second using an inside move on Rogers and started to pressure Mathews. 

            Weaver had a strong run off the inside groove coming off turn four to lead lap 41.  With Weaver leading, Mathews in second and Jensen holding off Rogers for third on lap 45, the yellow came out for Stan Donahoo who spun in turn four.  This turned into a red flag fuel stop.

            When the green replaced the red, Weaver continued to lead despite three more yellow flags before lap 70.  However, it was a broken right front suspension that perhaps robbed Weaver of a chance to become the only repeat winner of this event.  The incident sent Weaver pitside with Jensen inheriting the lead.  After just two laps, Guss made his winning move on lap 72.  One lap later Arpin slipped into second and Rogers, despite losing a shock in the first half of the race, charged back into third. 

            Jensen and Mathews had top five finishes with Dave Groves, Junior Nolan, Todd Gilpin, Nicholas Allen and Shawn Peterson rounding out the top ten.

            Kenny Carlson and Chad Ogle advanced from the lst C-Main, while Tyler Ivey and Arby Burton moved up from the 2nd C-Main.  Donahoo and Rob Fuqua moved to the A-Main from the 1st B-Main and Shawn Peterson and Harrison earned their way to the A-Main from the 2nd B-Main.

            The format called for two provisionals.  Devin Dixon was a past champion and started 23rd and Matt Miller was added as the highest East Bay regular that did not qualify for the A-Main.  The field was expanded to 26 cars when track owners Al Varnadore and Todd Hutto added two Indiana drivers, Mike Sullivan and Kenny Carlson, who had their cars stolen and by the time the equipment was recovered, they had missed two nights of point racing.

                        Thanks, Jean Lynch for East Bay Raceway Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

       

 

       

 

       

 

       

 

       
East Bay Winter Nationals Modifieds

 

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