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Phipps Wins at Saugus in Main Event Marred by Eight-Car Collision

June 05, 1988|VINCE KOWALICK | Times Staff Writer

Four tow trucks, one maintenance truck and an ambulance made a sudden--and emergency--appearance during the Sportsman Division main event Saturday night before a crowd of 3,685 at Saugus Speedway.

A major chain-reaction crash on Lap 8, involving at least eight cars, halted the race for 25 minutes. The mess began when Norm Wareberg of Canoga Park spun out on the front straightaway and banked off the outside wall in front of the starter tower.

The race was resumed, and finally completed, 62 minutes and seven yellow flags later, with Dave Phipps of Simi Valley, the current points leader and one of the few drivers who will avoid repair bills this week, emerging victorious.

"I was ahead of the pack when it happened," Phipps said. "I didn't see it happen.

"The car ran great, handled great. I've been working on it the past few weeks."

Phipps, who began the race in the eighth position, dashed past Jerry Bosson of Simi Valley after the crash and held the lead until the end.

Rusty Parr of Newhall finished second and Marcus Mallett of Carson finished third.

As Wareberg skidded down the straightaway, several cars tried to avoid a collision and ended up sideways at the starting line.

The rolling wounded included Keith Spangler of Northridge; Will Harper of Tarzana; Jerry Johnson of Harbor City; John Cran of Reseda; James Delong of Reseda; Rodney Peacher of Sepulveda and John Watkinson of Canyon Country.

Peacher's car was towed from the track and several others also headed for the pits for repairs.

Surprisingly, all except Wareberg returned--Watkinson without front fenders and a hood, and Peacher eight laps later--to complete the 30-lap race.

In the Sportsman semi-main event, Watkinson maintained a comfortable lead throughout the 15-lap race, which was delayed by three yellow flags and one red flag.

The race was halted on the 10th lap when Frank White of Altadena and Richard Delong Jr. of Van Nuys both skidded into the wall on Turn 2. White continued racing with a dangling rear fender.

Dick Altman of Redondo Beach passed Johnson on the final lap to finish second. Tom Colgan of Cucamonga finished fourth.

Ron Hornaday Jr. of Palmdale streaked into the lead on Lap 34 of the 40-lap Modified Main Event and went on to win.

Hornaday surrendered the lead to Dan Press of Frazier Park on Lap 26, but Press suddenly headed for the pits after smoking heavily with six laps to go.

Terry Stevens of Valley Center, the current points leader, was towed from the track with severe front-end body damage after a crash on Lap 3.

Eight-lap heat-race winners included Terry Stevens of Valley Center and Sig Nelson of San Bernardino (Modified), Watkinson, Michael Ayers of Camarillo and Mallett (Sportsman), and Ed Horst of Reseda (Street Stock Figure Eight).

Trophy-dash winners were Jim Vermillion of Moreno Valley (Modified), Darren Kelsey of Moorpark (Sportsman) and Gerrit Cromsigt of Palmdale (Street Stock Figure Eight).

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