Old Dominion Speedway / September 13, 2003

The Icing Is On The Cake……………….

It’s only a matter of time at this point – technically speaking, one more week must go by before the “official” announcement can be made. But, if I were a betting man, my money is on Mark McFarland. Basically, all McFarland had to do was to start the 75 lap feature for the NASCAR  Dodge Weekly Series Late Model Stock Cars at the Old Dominion Speedway Saturday night and the Atlantic Seaboard Regional title, and, more than likely, a NASCAR National Championship, was his. But, with the impending weather around the 3/8 mile oval, weather that had earlier drenched the speedway for most of the day, made the Popeye’s team and everyone concerned very nervous. Not only did McFarland have to start the event, but the event had to go to at least 38 laps, the halfway point, to be declared official. And McFarland desperately needed those 38 laps to complete a dream season that started way back in April, and now has turned into one of the most dominant seasons at the famed Old Dominion Speedway since Wes Troup picked off 13 wins in 1996. That year, Troup took home the Atlantic Seaboard title, but fell just short of the National championship. This season, however, is a bit different as McFarland has been so dominant, that he has won 16 of 18 races, and finished 2nd in the other two events that he has not won. The National title was his, but 38 laps were between him and his goal. What made this night a must, was, as of this release, the impending landfall of Hurricane Isabel late next week, the deadline for NASCAR points. If the night activities gets rained out, and Isabel releases her fury next weekend, McFarland could possibly fall short by just one race, just 38 laps, in securing the first NASCAR National for not only himself, but the Old Dominion Speedway as well. So, all eyes were on the track, as well as the clouds…..
Qualifying was led by McFarland for the 12th time in 2003, with a lap of 15.594 in his Popeye’s Dodge. His teammate, Mike Colabucci was 2nd quickest with a 15.616 lap, followed by Jack Bailey in the Century 21 Ford with a 15.702 lap. Rounding out the top 5 qualifiers were Stan Owens in the Tires Plus Chevy (15.774) and Andreas Kestermann (15.878). On the initial start, things almost went from good to bad for McFarland as pole sitter Ricky Exline and Andreas Kestermann made contact coming out of turn 4, virtually blocking the entire track. McFarland was able to squeeze by with out a scratch, however, several cars were not so lucky. A complete restart was in order, with McFarland now starting 4th. The green waved again, and the cars quickly got single file around the 3/8 mile oval. McFarland wasted no time in taking the lead, and began to stretch it out on every lap. But then a light sprinkle cam, forcing a yellow flag on lap 20, just 18 laps shy of the “the goal”. The drizzle stopped almost as fast as it had started, and the cars were underway once again, with McFarland leading the way. The halfway signal was given to McFarland, and one could just about hear the sigh of relief throughout the pit area over the noise of the cars. McFarland went on to breeze home to win number 16 on the season. Following McFarland across the stripe was teammate Mike Colabucci, followed by Jack Bailey, Richard Boswell II, and Danny Fair.
Chris Donnelly picked off both 50 lap features for the Redman Fleet Service Grand Stocks, turning a 2 point deficit into a 14 point lead in the points chase over Willard Lawrence with 2 races remaining. Donnelly, using the borrowed car of Danny Fair, led just about every lap in both events, while Lawrence was battling back in traffic. The top 5 in race #1 was Donnelly, teammate Jim Todd Jr., Les Miranda, Ron Jardine, and Joel Brown. The top five finishers in race #2 were Donnelly, Lawrence, Michael Arnold, Ron Jardine, and Jim Todd Jr.
James Lucas took home win number 5 on the season in the 25 lap Gaston Automotive Speedway Sportsman feature. With his win, and Jamie DeMattio finishing 5th, Lucas now re-takes the point lead in the division by 6 points with 2 races remaining.
Bobby Able took home his first feature win this season on the 30 lap Mini Stock feature, battling his way through the field, and taking the lead late in the event. Finishing 2nd was point leader Mike Carte, followed by Vince Langan, and Tom Beckman.
Next Saturday night is the Popeye’s “No-Beef” 200 lap feature for the Late Model Stock Cars. Also on the schedule is a 30 lap feature for the Legends Cars, along with a 50 lap event for the Grand Stocks, a 30 lap feature for the Mini Stocks, and a 25 lap feature for the Speedway Sportsman. The BDE Racing Series Pro Trucks are also scheduled for competition. Qualifying begins at 5:15 PM, with racing starting at a special time of 6:30 PM.

Old Dominion Speedway Feature Winners From September 13:
Bobby Able - Mini Stock
James Lucas - Gaston Automotive Speedway Sportsman
Chris Donnelly - Redman Fleet Service Grand Stock
Mark McFarland - Dodge Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car