Whitwell get first main event win

Whitwell get first main event win


BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer jevans@bakersfield.com


R.C. Whitwell won his first Bakersfield Speedway main event Saturday night when he held off points leader Kyle Heckman for the 25-lap IMCA Modified race.


“It was a great race. Awesome fast,” said Whitwell, who moved to Bakersfield late last season from the East Coast.


Whitwell was able to grab the lead from Heckman on the 18th lap moments after a restart following a yellow flag. It was Heckman’s third runner-up finish this season.


“I got loose there and he went right around me,” Heckman said.


Brad Pounds, who has won the last two IMCA main events, was one of four cars knocked out of the race on the first lap when pole sitter Roger Holder spun entering Turn 3 and triggered a chain reaction with several cars bouncing off each other.


Larry Hood, who finished third, led from laps 9-12 until Heckman got past him by going low into Turns 3-4 while Hood went high.


Heckman and Hood were neck-and-neck, but Whitwell was right behind them.


Once Whitwell took the lead, he held it. Heckman and Hood didn’t have the horsepower to offset Whitwell’s car.


Brady Bell of Bakersfield won a hard-fought Super Street victory.


This one wasn’t decided until the final seconds. Bell held a slight lead over Clay Daly of Watsonville entering the final two turns, but Bell got behind a lapped car for a moment and Daly slid underneath to inch ahead.


But Bell powered out of Turn 4 and had just enough horsepower to catch and pass Daly to win by a half-car length.


Wayne Coffman from Lake Isabella and Billy Simkins of Bakersfield ran 1-2 for the first half of the 20-lap race. Simkins spun out trying to wrestle the lead from Coffman on the third turn of lap 13 that sent him to the back of the pack.


Coffman was passed by Bell one lap later and seemed to lose power with several other racers moving past him.


Lloyd Wren Jr. won the Hobby Stocks 25-lap main event, grabbing the lead in the first lap and holding off Steven Johnson, who was trying for his second main event win in three races this season.


Johnson moved into second place on the 10th lap and rode bumper-to-bumper behind Wren most of the race after that.


Johnson was in possible position to take the lead with two laps left but a yellow flag came out that thwarted that threat. Wren held on the final two laps after the restart, with Kevin Collier placing third.


Kevin Irwin, who began the night in a tie with Johnson for the points lead, left the track during a yellow flag on the seventh lap and did not return.


On the seventh lap, a stalled car on the inside of the fourth turn caused several cars to spin out that were bunched together.


Mike Hill Jr. of Bakersfield won the 20-lap American Stocks main event, taking the lead from eventual runner-up Roger Welch along the back straightaway of lap 15.


Hill pulled away after that and appeared set to cruise to an easy win, but he bumped a lapped car driven by Rhett Spillers. Spillers appeared to respond by side-swiping Hill’s car as it entered the final turn, but Hill managed to cross the finish line for the victory. Mark Irwin was third.


Matt McCaslin, driving a 1940 Dodge, won the 15-lap Hard Top main event.


McCaslin, who started eighth in the 11-car field, was in third by the fifth lap and took the lead from James Bradborn, who was also in a 1940 Dodge, on the 14th lap. Dave Bauer, in a 1939 Chevy, was third.


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