By T.J. Buffenbarger
Charlotte, MI — (04/06/2002) — The biggest pre race news was the involvement of Joe Darmofal buying a controlling interest in the All Star Circuit of Champions. Joe has sponsored teams in the past, and was formerly the head of the Motorsports Alloys division of TW Metals. Joe has been a staunch All Star supporter and will do a great job leading the group into the future. To avoid speculation, a press release from the All Stars will be forthcoming and we will have an interview with Darmofal this weekend.
Paul McMahan was at Eldora Saturday night for the All Star Circuit of Champions event after running a full season with the Pennzoil World of Outlaws. When asked if he missed being out on the road with the Outlaws, McMahan came back with a very quick “No, absolutely not!” McMahan says he is looking forward to picking and choosing his races east of the Mississippi, and even indicated he could make just as much money doing that as running the Outlaw tour.
McMahan also lit up while talking about his trip to Australia. “It’s just different down there. The racing is the same, but it’s just a different deal. The fans are like the ones that come to Eldora for the Kings Royal, but they show up every week. It’s just amazing!”
Matt Westfall made his first winged start aboard the HS Racing machine. This car will be driven normally during the season the 35 Raceway 600cc Micro Sprint standout Ryan Howard. Howard is 16 years of age, and was the rookie of the year and champion in the micros at 35 in 2000. Last year Howard ran a few 360 shows, but is stepping up to the 410 sprints this season.
All Star Rookie of the Year candidate Shawn Chaney had never even laid eyes on Eldora Speedway until he pulled into the gates Saturday afternoon. Chaney had never even seen a race at Eldora in person, and made his first start, missing a transfer by two positions in the “B” Feature.
Bill Rose’s first winged start at Eldora in many seasons was an eye opening experience when his steering locked up for a brief moment and just about cleaned off the fence in turn four. When Rose came back to the pits his right rear tire had some serious Eldora “scuff”. Rose was very colorful in describing his close encounter with Eldora’s concrete using vivid hand motions and mentioning the phrase “puckering up” to make the great save.
The fourth heat saw Todd Kane, Leonard Lee, and Mark Aldrich come together with Lee and Aldrich turning over. Chad Kemenah and Tony Kenedy helped Lee put a new wing on Lee’s car after it was pushed to the pits! Meanwhile the Pullins Motorsports team was able to get Kane’s car back out as well. Both cars were then able to make the transfer for the feature.
Butch Schroeder was the first victim of the new inversion rule for the All Stars where cars that qualify in the top six spots that do not transfer through the heat race must start behind the inversion for the feature. Schroeder was sixth quick and would have started on the pole had he transferred to the feature event. Schroeder was not able to qualify through his heat though, and had to start seventh in the main event.
Jim Nier almost turned Schroeder’s misfortune into his first All Star win at Eldora as Nier and Chad Kemenah put on a thrilling battle through traffic. While racing in tight quarters Kemenah’s engine let go, and Nier had no place to go. The crash sent Nier hard into the fence head on as the Eldora crowd went silent. Thankfully both drivers were okay, as Kemenah checked on Nier, a sign of great sportsmanship.
Blake Feese appears as if he is going to be something special. After figuring he drew a bad number that was too early in the order and had the wrong gear in the car, Feese went out and set quick time. Feese also drove with wreckless abandon through traffic diving inside and outside of cars, lapping up to sixth place. Feese’s antics through traffic had a majority of the Eldora crowd holding their breath.
Jeff Shepard’s first ride in the Denny Ashworth car also produced an exciting ride. After a lackluster qualifying effort Shepard won his heat and made a valiant effort to run down Feese. Shepard frequently through traffic was toying with Eldora’s inside wall in turn one, only missing it by inches, kicking up huge clouds of dust, and sweeping in front of the slower machines.
Dean Jacobs also had the drive of the night to overcome early engine problems, not posting a qualifying time, to run from donkey on the field up to the fourth position. The move put Dean up to third in the All Star point standings.
With Kemenah’s Eldora misfortune, Kenny Jacobs with the virtue of his third place finish has taken the points lead over Kemenah by five markers.