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Evening Ends Early for Mintey, Cromsigt : Auto racing: Both drivers clinch Saugus championships by scoring victories in heat races.


For Pat Mintey Jr. and Gerrit Cromsigt, it was over before it even began Saturday night at Saugus Speedway.

Both drivers entered the evening in need of only a few points to clinch track championships. And both settled the issue with heat-race victories to claim their first titles before even lining up for the main events.

Cromsigt also became the track's single-season leader in main-event victories by recording his 18th in the 15-lap Street Stock figure-eight race, eclipsing the mark set by Larry Kreiger in 1988.

Mintey, a four-year veteran from Quartz Hill, had claimed the Sportsman division title by the time he lined up on the pole for the 40-lap main event.

From there, Mintey drove conservatively to a second-place finish behind Sean Woodside of Saugus. Woodside, with his division-high fourth main-event win, placed second in the points race.

John Higgins of Simi Valley finished third and Dennis Logue of Mission Hills was fourth.

"It means a lot," said Mintey, who finished fourth in points last season. "I've always wanted this from the time I was a little kid. It still hasn't sunk in."

Cromsigt, a seven-year veteran from Pine Mountain Club, started in the front row for the 25-lap oval main event, then immediately moved into the lead and drove to an easy victory.

"I was finally dedicated to running the entire season this year," said Cromsigt, who finished 13th in the Street Stock class last season. "It's not the car so much as the fact that I have an enthusiastic pit crew who wanted to work very hard and not settle for second."

In other races, Dave Phipps of Simi Valley moved closer to his third consecutive Grand American Modified championship by coasting to a division-high third 30-lap main-event win.

Phipps, who won Grand Am titles in the division's inaugural season in 1991 and again last season, began the evening with a 25-point advantage over rival Dave Blankenship of Reseda.

Blankenship finished second ahead of Gary Nazaroff of Covina and Rod Johnson of Canyon Country.

One Grand Am main event remains.

In other races, Dana Moore of Valencia won the 15-lap Street Stock oval semi-main event to lead four drivers into the main event. Steve Gilmore of Van Nuys, Frank Debiasio of Thousand Oaks and Oscar Sevilla of Mission Hills also advanced.

Heat-race winners included Woodside and Mintey (Sportsman), Robert Rice of Lakewood and David Andrews of Frazier Park (Grand Am), and Jeff Green of Los Alamitos, Debiasio and Troy Terry of Canoga Park (Street Stock oval).

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