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Spangler Holds Off Track Veterans at Saugus for 1st Win

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Keith Spangler found himself ahead of some really big wheels with eight laps remaining in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sportsman “40" before a crowd of 3,697 at Saugus Speedway.

Spangler, a 19-year-old track sophomore from Northridge, cruised around the one-third-mile oval under a yellow flag, leading the pack and quite likely licking his chops at the prospect of taking his first career checkered flag.

Yet Spangler had to be glancing in his rear-view mirror.

In second place was Gary Sigman of Carson, currently atop the Sportsman Division standings three weeks into the season and winner of the evening’s trophy dash.

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In third was three-time defending Sportsman champion Dave Phipps of Simi Valley, currently sixth behind Spangler in the standings and winless thus far this season.

Yet, it was experience that yielded to youth--though only by the margin of a bumper.

Spangler withstood a second yellow flag and hard charges by both Sigman and Phipps to take the flag and increase his lead over Phipps, which stood at seven points when the evening began.

“I thought I was as good as they were,” Spangler said. “They’re only human. So am I. I just tried to drive as hard as I could. That’s about all you can hope for.”

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Spangler moved into the lead for good when Jim Morrill of Lancaster spun out on Lap 17 and surrendered the lead.

Canoga Park’s Doug Renno posted his first career victory in dramatic fashion, winning the 25-lap Hobby Stock oval main event over Brian Kelley of Arleta.

A nudge from Kelley nearly forced Renno to spin out in Turn 4 of the final lap. But Renno’s tires held and he beat Kelley to the flag by a half-length.

Kelley lamented Saugus’ inverted starting system, which places fast qualifiers in the rear in order to promote a more competitive contest. “Starting in the back,” he said, shaking his head. “By the time you get to the front, the race is over.”

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Kelley moved steadily through the pack until moving into second on Lap 16. Renno had assumed an eight-car-length lead, but a yellow flag on Lap 23, caused by Scott Roark of Agua Dulce slamming into a wall, set up a trophy dash to the finish.

“One more lap,” Kelley said. “Oh, man, I was trying so hard. But he held good.”

Joe Barreras Jr. of Canyon Country won the 15-lap, Hobby Stock figure 8 main event.


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