Baker Breaks Through at East Bay
By Larry Jewett
The road to Victory Lane can be a long and winding one, but the arrival is a moment to remember. For Jim Baker of the motorstats.com 4 Cylinder Bomber class, the time has come for the feature win.
Baker has been close in the past and his steady performance has vaulted him to the top of the division points. Through it all, a feature win remained a goal unsatisfied. On Saturday night, it looked like a similar outcome, but Baker charged to the lead in the last few laps from back in fourth place. Once he took the lead, there was no denying the victory. Collin Kruse brought home second, ahead of Roberto Morfin Jr., Curtis Book, and George Handy. Kruse and Roberto Morfin Sr. had heat wins.
The night started with Q Auto & Injury Attorneys Limited Late Models coming out for a 15-lap feature. J.R. Prather Jr. took the early race lead and held off the challenges from Forrest Gough and Tim Gay before John Bradley stuck his car into the mix. Bradley slipped into the lead by the halfway mark. Some good racing took place between Roger Crouse and Alex Boerner. The two were joined by Gough in a position battle through the late stages, but it was Bradley who could not be headed off in pursuit of his victory and a shot at moving up in the point standings. Gough, Crouse, Boerner and Gay, who nursed a damaged race car, completed the top five. Ricky Land and Gay were heat winners.
Heat race winners Buzzie Reutimann and Jeff Mathews would provide plenty of drama in the main event for the Gagelís Auto Parts Open Wheel Modifieds. John Bradley started on the pole of the 15-car event and snatched the early lead in pursuit of his daily double. Reutimann went to the outside line by the fifth lap to take second and pursue Bradley. Meanwhile, Mathews moved up and the heat race winners made contact in challenging for positions. Mathews ended up with the short end of the deal, going to the pits only to return two laps later. Reutimannís restart in second put him in position to haunt Bradley, using the outside line for the pass by lap 10. Kyle Bronson took second and finished there, ahead of Bradley, Jamie Burrows and Bruce Harvey, who started deep in the field. Reutimann apologized for the contact in his Victory Lane interview. It was his second main victory in 2009.
The Outlaw 4s had a special 25-lap main that saw Brian Danforth as the early leader. Mavrick Varnadore slipped into second, battling Cecil Martin for the spot. Matthew Haynes got in on the action, but his car suffered steering problems and put him out of the event. By the halfway mark, Varnadore had taken control. Danforth lost second to Jesse Brown but slipped back. Martin, Brown and Danforth kept swapping top five spots through the distance of the event until Dorsey Strickland, subbing for Amanda Rogers, worked into the battle. With smoke trailing, Strickland closed but could not catch Varnadore, who became the first three-time winner in the class. Strickland started on the tail and got second with Martin, Danforth, and first-time starter Travis Staats in the top five. Martin and Varnadore were heat winners.
The South Shore Auto Sales Late Models saw Jeff Mathews notch his sixth feature win of the year to boost his division point lead. It was an exciting race with Steve Miller and Travis Varnadore giving Mathews plenty of challenge. Mathews acknowledged the numerous cautions served to break momentum and give concern about the tires. After he masterfully worked the lapped traffic, Mathews was able to keep his young challengers at bay. Miller picked up his first top five with a second place run. Varnadore was third while Phillip Cobb was fourth from a start deep in the field. Bill Howard was fifth. Mathews, Miller and Doug Watson claimed heats.
ASA sanctioned racing resumes at East Bay Raceway Park Saturday, October 10th, 2009 at 6:30pm. The Top Gun Sprints return, along with the Florida Mini Sprint Association and East Bay regular divisions including Street Stocks, motorstats.com 4 Cylinder Bombers and Dirt Daubers. The Florida Old Time Modifieds will also be in action. For more information, call the track office at 813-677-7223 or visit us on the web at
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