Hogge grabs the double Saturday night
BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
The one-week delay in the 69th season opener for the Bakersfield Speedway only whetted the appetite of the spectators and drivers. On a very fast track Saturday night, Bobby Hogge IV of Salinas made it two straight wins in the IMCA Modifieds when he won an entertaining 25-lap main event. Hogge, who won a week earlier at Chowchilla, battled through eight yellow flags prompted by multiple crashes and spin-outs. Hogge, starting on the inside of the front row, blew past pole sitter Brad Pounds at the start of the race and held the lead the rest of the way. Pounds, the defending track champion, saw his night end after the opening lap when his car began smoking and he lost all power, rolling to a stop just past the start-finish line.
The season opener prompted a nice-sized crowd. There were still several hundred lined up to purchase tickets at 6 p.m., the announced starting time of racing. Hogge, who won the IMCA Modified main event, followed that up with a win in the 30-lap West Coast Dirt Late Model main event. Hogge, who started on the outside of Row 3, had moved into second place by the seventh lap and took the lead for good on Lap 9. Hogge’s car simply overmatched the field. He led by as many as eight car lengths before a yellow flag tightened the field on laps 16 and 19. But Hogge simply pulled ahead of the pack after each restart. He avoided lapped cars the last several laps. Nick Bartels of El Segundo was second and Clay Daly from Watsonville was third. Late Model Trophy Dash winner Nick Bartels of El Segundo raved about the racing conditions. “This is the fastest we’ve seen this track in awhile,” Bartels said.
Hogge showed how fast the track was in his victory. He battled neck-and-neck with R.C. Whitwell of Bakersfield, a recent arrival in Kern County from Arizona who was making his Speedway debut. Whitwell’s bid for second place was dashed on the 29th lap when Bakersfield’s Jay Marks slipped past him and held that spot the last 1-1/2 laps. Jimmy Reeves of Hanford, who was battling for third place the first 10 laps, was sent to the rear of the pack after slamming the wall on Lap 10. He managed to work his way through the pack to finish fourth.
Tina Bell of Bakersfield won the 20-lap Mini-Stocks main event. She and runner-up Gary Spiller Jr. from Tehachapi were running second and third behind Steven Settlemire, but Settlemire was hemmed in behind a lapped car, which allowed Bell and Spiller to go high and past those two cars into the lead. Bell opened up a 5-car length lead within two laps and coasted from there.
Brian Childress of Bakersfield won the 20-lap American Stocks main event, taking the lead from Dakota Brown on the 10th lap and holding it the rest of the way. Childress started in the fifth spot and passed two cars on the ninth lap to close in on the lead. After taking the lead, Childress was nearly caught along the back straightaway on Lap 18 by Dale Frye Sr., but Childress pulled away on Lap 19 and wasn’t challenged the final 1-1/2 laps. Frye placed second. Chris Settlemire, who ran a strong race and was in third most of the way, finished third. Brown, who led the first 10 laps, saw his night end with a flat rear tire on Lap 14.