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Off-Road Gran Prix at San Diego : No Neck-and-Neck Fun for Harris

January 18, 1987|CHRIS DE LUCA

SAN DIEGO — The best thing about Stadium off-road racing for Glenn Harris is the "neck-and-neck" strategy of the sport.

Saturday night, Harris had little opportunity to enjoy any wheel-to-wheel action with his fellow drivers.

Harris, from Camarillo, gained big leads in both the qualifying heat and final heat of the grand national truck division to score an easy victory Saturday night in the second event of Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Gran Prix series in front of 37,405 fans at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. Steve Millen was second and Roger Mears a distant third.

Event officials said there were several no-shows, mainly because of the 30-degree weather Saturday night.

The only time Harris had much competition was in the trophy race to kick off the event. In that race, the passenger door on Harris' Mazada was caved in by Toyota driver Steve Millen.

"Last week (at Anaheim) he clobbered me," Harris said. "He's been leaning heavily on my equipment lately."

Harris' equipment was safe during the evening's feature race. Harris had the pole position for the feature race, which meant starting in the second row, something he hasn't done since 1985.

"It makes a big difference starting up front," Harris said.

Halfway through the first lap, Harris passed teammate Jeff Huber and took the lead for good. The only time Harris was challenged was during the final lap, when it appeared Millen was gaining ground on the opening turn of the lap.

Most drivers said they were pleased with the smooth track at the stadium. Mickey Thompson is working toward producing a similar track for each of the eight stadium races scheduled for the series.

In the evening's earlier races, Ontario's Greg George powered his way past Tim Maples (West Los Angeles) for the victory in the UltraStock main event.

El Cajon's Ron Pierce took the lead in his tiny 360cc Odyssey on the next-to-last lap, overcoming what appeared to be a safe lead by Dan Hamilton, to win the Odyssey division.

In the four-wheel ATV main event, Jimmy White of Yorba Linda nosed his Suzuki past Chino's Gary Denton to win.

Hometown favorite Ivan (Iron Man) Stewart, of Lakeside, withdrew from Saturday's event after he aggravated a pinched nerve in his back during a warmup Saturday. Last year's winner here, Sherman Balch, also withdrew because of a back injury suffered during a practice run Saturday.

During a preview run before last week's Anaheim event, Stewart, 40, suffered a whiplash to his lower back after his Toyota bottomed out on a jump.

Stewart, who was replaced by Toyota teammate Al Arciero, said he is planning to race in the Parker 400 in two weeks at Parker, Ariz.

"I didn't want to race Saturday and risk it," Stewart said. "I can still salvage a good year for desert racing. A lot of people came out to watch and I feel bad about missing the race. But if I (raced Saturday night) I may not be here next year."

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