Ivan Stewart wins 16th Sport Truck main

The Pasadena Rose Bowl was the setting for round five of the Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road Series. The Rose Bowl had been dropped from the schedule recently but was serving as a replacement venue for the LA Coliseum which is currently being remodeled. Drivers and crews had to put out extra effort for this event as the previous week the series visited Phoenix, AZ.

At the end of the evening Toyota’s Ivan Stewart couldn’t have cared less where the event was held as he had won his heat race, and backed that up with his second main event win of the season in the Grand National Sport Truck class. Stewart now has 16 Sport Truck events to his credit. Team Jeep couldn’t have been happier either as Larry Noel captured the heat win and current champ Tommy Croft won the Sport Utility main. Marty Coyne weaved his way through traffic to win the Super 1600 main. And in the competitive SuperLite division Greg George added another feather to his main event victories. Larry Brooks rode his Yamaha to victory in his heat race and then came back to win the UltraCross main event. Mark Ehrhardt was also a repeat winner in the 4(c)Wheel ATV class at the Rose Bowl. After winning his heat race he returned for the main event victory as well.

When the Sport Trucks came out for heat one Brian Stewart started on the pole and had Roger Mears’ Nissan setting outside him. Row two had Roger Mears, JR inside and Danny Thompson outside. Due to the inverted starting order fast qualifier Rod Millen sat at the back of the pack. Rob MacCachren shared the fourth row with third fastest Ivan Stewart.

When Starter Gary Shimer set the event in motion Roger Mearswas able to slip inside Brian Stewart and take the lead. Roger Mears opened the door for son Roger Jr and Brain Stewart found himself in third midway the first lap. Before the racing action could get heated up Rob MacCachren rolled his Ford causing a restart. Ivan Stewart parked his Toyota after losing an engine because someone caught his oil cooler and cut off the engine’s oil supply.

On the restart Roger Mears grabbed the lead but was immediately pressured by Rick Johnson in the Chevrolet. Johnson dogged the Nissan for a lap before making an attempt for the lead. Johnson cut inside one of the sharp switchbacks but Mears was able to keep control of the race. But on the next lap Johnson replayed the inside move and stole the lead. However Brian Stewart had rolled his Dodge so the restart starting order went back to the previous lap.

On the second restart Roger Mears again took control of the event. Rick Johnson kept close hoping Mears would make a fatal mistake. On the next to last lap Roger Mears got up on two wheels and Johnson quickly took over the lead. When Mears got back on all fours he was not giving up and elbowed his way back around Johnson who was contending with a hood flapping around partially blocking his vision.

Roger Mears managed to hold onto the win with Johnson crossing over second. Rob MacCachren and Walker Evans battled for third place with MacCachren crossing over ahead of Evans. Current points leader Rod Millen was fifth. After the heat was over the Rough Driving Committee (RDC) penalized Brian Stewart one position for pushing Roger Mears Jr’s Nissan into the hydro barriers on one of the starts. So Brain Stewart was listed in eighth position.

The Sport Utility heat race began with Team Jeep on the front row so Larry Noel was able to jump off the line and head straight to the checkered flag. Noel did have to defend his lead once when Jim Smith rolled causing a restart. But once racing was underway the action was left up to Christopher Neil and Tommy Croft. When it was over Croft had to settle for third. Fourth was Jerry Whelchel who was trying out the Toyota of Paul Nissley. Brian Collins was fifth.

Mark Ehrhardt came from the second row to take over the first 4-Wheel ATV heat. Once out front the current champion showed the other 15 riders his backside all the way to the finish line. Mike Olmsted was able to keep Niclas Granlund at bay throughout the heat. Fourth went to Graig Newton and Ryan Strehorn managed fifth.

In the second 4(c)Wheel ATV heat race a fierce battle for the lead started off the line between Doug Eichner and Donavon Holland. Once Eichner got out front Holland had to battle with Sean Stubbs for the second spot. This time Holland was the dominate rider and Stubbs had to settle for third. Fourth went to Brian Acree and Kory Ellis crossed over in fifth.

Scott Klaers jumped out the early leader in the SuperLite first heat race. Klaers was able to hold the lead for a couple of laps until defending champion Jimmie Johnson maneuvered inside on the big sweeper for the lead. Klaers spun his Briggsbuilt allowing Frank Chavez to take the second spot. Klaers was able to hold third and Joe Price came across fourth. Erik Cobb was fifth.

In the second SuperLite heat Stacy Fay and Greg George shared the front row. Fay was able to jump George off the line and lead the 14 car field through turn one but the more experienced George maneuvered his Nature’s Recipe Briggsbuilt into the lead. Rennie Awana had settled in behind Fay but caught
a hydro barrier and fell back to fifth.

Greg George had ran away from the field when Peter Robertson rolled causing a restart. George however, had little trouble on the restart keeping his lead and went on to win. Stacy Fay held second and Rick Geiser crossed over third. Rennie Awana managed fourth ahead of Shannon Millen.

Heat one for the Super 1600’s had only nine cars lined up. Marty Hart and Kevin Smith shared the front row. Wes Banks and Ed Martensen made up the second row.

On the start Jimmy Nichols got sideways and defending champJerry Whelchel ended up sandwiched between Nichols and Goshen to cause a restart. Once restarted Marty Hart grabbed the lead and was able to pull a good lead over Jimmy Nichols and Jerry Whelchel who were arguing over the second spot.

While Whelchel was battling with Nichols, Kevin Smith slipped up and passed him on the fourth lap. However, Whelchel was able to pass on the following lap and take up his battle with Nichols. Nichols nosed under Whelchel at the end of rough section causing Whelchel to roll and while upside down the Ultra Wheel Special and caught fire causing a full course yellow.

Only one lap remained so on the restart Hart was able to sprint to the checkered. Kevin Smith managed second and Wes Banks crossed over third. Fourth was Ed Martensen and Jimmy Nichols worked his way to fifth after being sent to the back of the pack for causing the Whelchel roll over.

The Super 1600 second heat consisted of another set of nine cars. Ed Herbst hole shot but Gary Gall held the power on over the rough stuff and so did Aaron Hawley. Herbst shot the juice to his Chenowth and got sideways allowing Cory Witherill to also slip by. By the half way mark Gall controlled the race. Hawley held second but Witherill and Ed Herbst pressured. Gall’s engine began to smoke towards the end but had little trouble winning.

When the Sport Trucks came back out it was Brian Stewart inside row one with Roger Mears Jr outside. Ivan Stewart was inside the second row alongside Danny Thompson. Brain Stewart got spun sideways on the first turn and sardined all the trucks. Danny Thompson was able to get around the outside and grab the lead but since so many trucks were held up in the first corner a yellow flag came out.

On the restart Brian Stewart lost control of the Dodge on the first switch back and found himself last before getting
straightened out. Ivan Stewart took over the race and Roger Mears Jr slipped into second. Danny Thompson held third and Roger Mears Sr was fourth ahead of Rick Johnson.

With a clear track Ivan Stewart was able to pull away from the younger Mears who had Johnson a couple of lengths behind. The action now was for fourth as Thompson and Mears Sr fought for the position, and Rod Millen moved into the battle.

Johnson moved up on Mears Jr and had pulled some breathing room over Thompson about midway the eight lap race. On the last lap Johnson tried to cut inside the first switch back on Mears Jr but Jr was able to hold the second spot.

Ivan Stewart went on to win the event handedly with Roger Mears Jr taking second. Rick Johnson was a close third. The battle for fourth went to the finish line, or should I say just before the finish line. Roger Mears and Danny Thompson was fighting for the position around the sweeper when Thompson rolled the Ford and Mears was able to cross over fourth. Fifth was current points leader Rod Millen.

Joe Tuttobene was the early UltraCross heat one leader. Tuttobene had Erick Hilton in a close second place and a hard charging Mike Healey third. Healey only stayed in third for the first lap as he moved his Suzuki into the lead on the second lap and never had need to look back enroute to his first series win. Second went to Erick Hilton and Graig Canoy managed third. Fourth was former series champ Jim Holley. Early leader Joe Tuttobene finished fifth.

In the second UltraCross heat Tony Amaradio grabbed the lead with Larry Brooks trailing. Mike Bell held the third spot and Ryan Carlisle was fourth. Amaradio had some distance between himself and Brooks the first three laps but Brooks was able to close in and apply pressure. Meanwhile Carlisle was able to close in on Brooks making it a good three way fight for the lead. Amardio apparently had the race until the last corner when he drifted wide on the sweeper and Brooks was there to steal the win. Carlisle dropped to fifth on the last lap allowing Ray Crumb and A.J. Whiting to get by.

In the American Racing Wheels Sport Utility Main current defending class champ Tommy Croft and Super 1600 champ Jerry Whelchel shared row one. When the green came out Croft was able to show Whelchel how it was done in Sport Utility racing. And Whelchel, driving the borrowed Paul Nissley Toyota, rolled in turn one but landed on all four of his UltraWheels and stayed in the chase. Whelchel was able to pass Tim Lewis and make a run on the leader but once Croft settled in he pulled a comfortable lead.

Tommy Croft apparently got too comfortable all alone up front andby midway Chris Neil had moved up to challenge. But a challenge was all it ended up to be as Croft went on to win his third consecutive main event for the season. Behind Neil was JerryWhelchel. T.J. Clark managed fourth ahead of Brian Collins.

In the 4-Wheel ATV main 18 riders showed up to race. Although Sean Stubbs and defending champ Mark Ehrhardt provided most of the action. Stubbs pulled out early with Ehrhardt trailing in second. Niclas Grunlund slipped into third. Ehrhardt had to watch and study Stubbs the first half of the race then mounted a serious last half effort. Ehrhardt was all over Stubbs, especially on the last lap. Ehrhardt pulled alongside and squeezed Stubbs to the outside and stole the lead by cutting back inside.

The win was Mark Erhardt’s second consecutive win of the season. Sean Stubbs held second and Niclas Grunlund was third. Fourth went to Mike Olmsted and Doug Eichner crossed over fifth.

Starting on the front row is very helpful in stadium racing. When Rick Geiser was positioned on the SuperLite Main event pole it allowed him the advantage over Greg George, and he used it wisely on the start. Geiser’s lead was short lived as George made his move on the second lap. But Geiser was to get another chance as back in the pack Joe Price and Chris Urquidez got hung up causing a restart. The line up went back to the previous lap so Geiser was again up front. On the restart Geiser held his position and was able to pull some breathing room on the other 17 drivers as Greg George had trouble with Scott Klaers. Klaers spun and George was able to focus on Geiser. On the following lap George grabbed the lead and began pulling ahead. Geiser however did not give up and pickup up the pace resulting in the front two drivers pulling away from the pack.

Greg George was able to keep the lead and Rick Geiser stayed in second. Third went to Keith Ehlers and Shannon Millen crossed over fourth ahead of Steve Cobb.

A total of 18 cars came out for the Super 1600 Main. Aaron Hawley and Kevin Smith shared row one. Gary Gall and Marty Hart made up the second row and Wes Banks and Cory Witherill were in the third. Points champion Jerry Whelchel started on the inside of row six.

On the start Gary Gall and Marty Hart tangled at the starter area with Gall ended upside down causing a restart.

Three cars couldn’t make the restart so Kevin Smith sat out front alone. During the restart action Hart got hung on the barrier and held up traffic. Marty Coyne got going in second with Whelchel, Ed Martensen, and Jimmy May trailing. While running all alone Kevin Smith suffered mechanical woes and had to pull off. A roll over blocked the track back in the pack and a restart was called.

With Smith out Marty Coyne inherited the lead. Jerry Whelchel settled into second with Ed Martensen third. Whelchel made his move early but Coyne held the lead on the restart. With Whelchel being aggressive Coyne picked up the pace and the front two quickly pulled from now third place Marty Hart.

Marty Coyne gained a couple of lengths on Whelchel but then spun in the first switch back and Whelchel was able to again show him. Lapped traffic tightened the race up so Whelchel took the outside and on the last lap and closed in on Coyne heading into the sweeper, but he bumped into Coyne. Having to back off the throttle dropped Whelchel off the pace and gave away any chance at the win.

Marty Coyne enjoyed a well deserved win with Jerry Whelchel holding second. Third was Marty Hart and fourth was Eric Arras. Ed Herbst was fifth.

UltraCross Main was full of excitement as Robert Drew hole shot the event with Mike Bell taking over on the second lap. Drew closed in to challenge but tangled with Bell and they both fell allowing Yamaha riders Larry Brooks and Kyle Lewis to get by. Lewis clung to Brooks like a junk yard dog biting into a steak but wasn’t able to get around.

Larry Brooks won with Kyle Lewis a close second. Robert Drew managed third and Ryan Carlisle was fourth ahead of Scott Myers.

Setting inside row one was Roger Mears Jr when the Grand National Sport Trucks came out for their main event. Ivan Stewart sat outside row one. Row two was made up of Roger Mears and Rob MacCachren outside. Rick Johnson and Rod Millen made up row three. Walker Evans and Danny Thompson were next with Brian Stewart setting alone. The only B driver entered was Evan Evans who had petitioned the other drivers to get into the Rose Bowl competition after missing qualifying by a few hundredths of a second.

Once the green flag came out the younger Mears took charge with Ivan Stewart in close pursuit. Before the action could heatup a yellow flag came out to signify a restart. Rick Johnson had been pushed up on a hydro barrier on the start and had to be pushed off.

On the restart Mears again held the lead with Ivan trailing. Roger Mears Sr was settling into third and Rick Johnson fourth when Brian Stewart flipped the Dodge causing yet another restart.

After repeatedly studying Roger Mears Jr’s start Ivan Stewart was able to find the young Nissan drivers weak spot and this time took over after the switchback. A lot of shuffling occurred on this restart as Ivan Stewart lead, Mears Jr was second and Rob MacCachren was ahead of Rick Johnson. Somewhere Rod Millen got over anxious and was sent to the penalty box where he lost two positions.

Roger Mears Sr was able to keep going but dropped out of contention when he spun and broke a steering control arm. This put Johnson in third. At the midway point Johnson was closing in on Mears, Jr but just as he was closing in on Jr Ivan Stewart was pulling yet further ahead. When Johnson did get by Roger Mears Jr Ivan Stewart had pulled a good ten car lead and only two laps remained.

When Ivan Stewart crossed over the finish line he added another victory to an already impressive list. Rick Johnson brought the Nelson & Nelson Chevrolet across second and closed within 10 points of Rod Millen for the series championship. Third went to Roger Mears Jr and fourth was Rod Millen. Fifth was Rob MacCachren who is now third for the year in points.

After five rounds of racing Rod Millen is leading the Grand National Sport Truck points race. Tommy Croft has a comfortable 194 points to teammate Larry Noel’s 144 points in the American Wheels Sport Utility class. Defending champion Jerry Whelchel leads the Super 1600 battle with 193 to Gary Gall’s 153. Greg George appears to be the SuperLite champ for ’93 as he leads the class with 233 to Sean Finley’s 161. Mark Ehrhardt has totaled 187 points to Doug Eichner’s 161 in the 4(c)Wheel ATV division. Shaun Kalos can feel Larry Brooks breathing down his neck in the
UltraCross war as Kalos has 224 and Brooks has 222.

Toyota is again dominating the Grand National vehicle manufactures series with 474. Jeep is dominant in the American Wheels Sport Utility class with 381 points. Yamaha appears headed to the podium with 573 points over 422 for Kawasaki.

BF Goodrich (576) leads the tire wars with Yokohama (364) in the Sport Truck class and is also dominant in the Super 1600 battle. Goodyear (348) has the edge over BF Goodrich (313) in the American Wheels Sport Utility division.

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