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Kania scores big in Eriez 100-lapper; Decker dashes to third late model win

By Jay Pees

ERIE, PA (July 11, 1999) - Andy Kania, former Limited Late Model Champion, now a rookie in the super-competitive Super Late Model class visited Victory Lane for the second time this season in the longest race of the year at Eriez Speedway. After 100 laps, Kania had a six car-length lead over Randy Lobb, another former Limited Late Model track champion now in his rookie Super Late Model season.

Chub Frank had earned the pole position by winning last week’s qualifier at Eriez and immediately set off in the lead with Steve Halpainy, Kania, and Lobb in pursuit. The race was put under the first nine cautions at the conclusion of lap eight when Rob Blair spun into the second turn guardrail. On the restart, Frank again assumed command with the same trio chasing. Frank was setting a torrid pace and began lapping backmarkers on lap 18. At lap 21 a major pile-up occurred on the front straight with the cars of Dale Applebee, David Scott, Trevor Donnell, and Rick Briggs involved. Frank was able to drive through unscathed with cars spinning on both sides. One more caution for the stalled car of Dale Applebee slowed the field before the halfway break. At halfway the running order was Frank, Halpainy, Kania, Chevy Scott and Todd Andrews.

The race was resumed after a fuel stop with Frank again leading but was immediately slowed for Rod Maloy, whose engine was billowing smoke into turn three, apparently with major engine problems. Maloy had been the victor last week in Stateline’s 100-lap special. Once again, Frank pulled off to a five car-length lead until the caution was displayed for the stalled car of John Lobb on lap 69. At this time, Kania was running second with Randy Lobb, Brian Ruhlman, and Chevy Scott, rounding out the top five. Lap 82 proved to be the undoing of Frank when he had a tire let go down in the first turn on the restart from the race’s final caution. From that point it was all Kania as the Hammett, PA native was never challenged over the remaining distance. Randy Lobb wound up second with Brian Ruhlman, Chevy Scott, and Rich Gardner filling out the top five. Unofficially, Bruce Hordusky, Rick Isadore, David Scott, Dick Barton, and Dave Lundgren finished sixth through tenth.

Four heats were necessary four the thirty-nine Late Models in attendance with Steve Halpainy, Randy Lobb, Kania, and Chevy Scott capturing the qualifying heats. The B-Main, Last Chance race was won by Dale Applebee. Twenty-eight cars started the century grind.
Second-generation driver Bill Catania, Jr led the twenty Limited Late Models to the green flag and show the way for the first three laps when he became the victim of a flat tire. That left Kevin Decker in command and the young Erie driver ran off to his third Eriez victory in 1999. Ron Olson, fresh off his first 1999 win at Stateline the night before, was second, followed by Bobby Will, Jake Lechtner, and John Lacki. Joe Weber and Lechtner won the heat races.

Don Stanley led the fifteen Sportsman starters until lap five when Vern Plymier and Cris Dahlgren made it three-wide down the front straight with Dahlgren coming out at the head of the pack. Dahlgren never looked back as he captured his third feature of the season at Eriez. Don McGuire finished in the runner-up position with Dan Nocero, Jr third. Only one caution was required to complete the twelve-lap event. Dahlgren and McGuire won their respective heats.

Greg Johnson picked up his first win of 1999 at Stateline Saturday night and looked as though he were going to get number two the very next night as he took off to the early lead in the first Cadet feature. Through five yellow periods Johnson was able to hold off challenges until Brian Emory got to the low side on white flag lap and attempted the pass in turn one. Johnson began a spin to the infield, collecting Emory and allowing Jeff Gunnell to get by and go on for his first win of the year at Eriez. Steve Yokum also got by, but Johnson recovered for a third place finish, ahead of Pat Fielding and Marty Beal.
George Cole led the first three laps of the second Cadet feature before being overtaken by Herm Hilyer. Hilyer then held the lead until Chad Carlson was able to get by on lap eleven. Carlson then went on to his third triumph of the year at Eriez and eighth overall win on the Stateline-Eriez Circuit. Hilyer held onto second, ahead of point leader Wade Slaney, Andy Sweetland, and Quincey Turner.

John Pencille, Cubby Haupt, and Gunnell won the heats and Greg Fenno was the winner of the Run for the Money match race for last week’s winners.

Brad Pease won his second career victory in the first Spectator feature by defeating Art Churchill and John Wayne. Pease took over the lead from Churchill on lap nine of the scheduled ten. Spencer Carlson had led the first two laps.

Bill Baker, Jr held the point in the second Spectator finale for the first three circuits and then was replaced at the front by Dan Rothwell. Kelly Frederes then assumed command one lap past halfway and never relinquished it. He was followed to the line by Rothwell and Lou DiDenisio.

Spectator points leader Chris Sutton returned to the Winner’s Circle for the third time in 1999 at Eriez, leading the entire distance. Rick Thompson, the victor at Stateline Saturday was second and Aaron Jelley third. Pease, Rothwell, and Brian Guzowski won the heats.