Reseda's Gunnarson Storms to Win in Hobby Stock Main at Saugus

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Yellow was the color of the night in the 25-lap Hobby Stock main event Saturday night at Saugus Speedway as four caution flags slowed matters considerably.

But from his back-of-the-pack starting position, all Jim Gunnarson of Reseda wanted to see was the coveted black-and-white flag.

After several skillful passes, Gunnarson, who started 22nd in a field of 27 cars, bumped and burned his way to the victory in front of 3,882 to celebrate his 44th birthday in style.

In the 40-lap Sportsman main event, Larry Krieger of Reseda restored a recent Saugus trend by starting on the pole and leading all the way for his second main-event win of the season. Keith Spangler of Northridge took second.

"I was worried," the 24-year-old Krieger said of Spangler. "But Keith Spangler drives the fairest race I've ever seen from anybody behind me. And if anybody would pass me, Keith would do it, but if so, he'd do it fair and square."

There would be no lead changes, though, as Pat Mintey Jr. of Quartz Hill took third and Craig Rayburn of Simi Valley, also celebrating a birthday, took fourth. John Cran of Reseda took fifth.

The absence of passing was unlike the Hobby Stock race, during which Gunnarson weaved his car in and out of traffic.

"It is pretty tough (starting in the back)," Gunnarson said.

"Except that the guys in front seem to make a lot of mistakes. So the first 15 laps, until the field settles down, you keep an eye on 'em and then try to push 'em off."

On Lap 20, Gunnarson executed a forceful pass of leader Joe Barreras Sr. of Canyon Country and coasted the final five laps for the win.

"I was passing out out there," Gunnarson said of the repeated delays. "But when they turn off that caution light, it keys you up again."

Gunnarson wasn't the only fast qualifier to overcome the inverted Hobby Stock field. James Kusch of Sepulveda, who started 19th, finished second overall, and Bob Vigil of Lancaster, who started 23rd, finished third behind Gunnarson and Kusch.

Bad luck continued to befall Gerald Gledhill of Reseda, who won a trophy dash earlier in the evening, then sustained heavy damage to his car's front and back ends in a Lap 18 crash.

The same scenario occurred the last time the Hobby Stocks ran at Saugus on May 26, when Gledhill won a trophy dash, then sustained serious damage in the figure-eight main event.

"That's just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Gunnarson said of Gledhill.

In the Hobby Stock figure-eight main event, Shannon Slavin of West Hills pleased a fan club of about 100 by overtaking Oliver Aguilar of Sun Valley on Lap 9 for the win.

Starting in the seventh position of an inverted field of 19 cars in the Jalopy main event, Andrew Debasio of Van Nuys took the lead on Lap 3 to win the 15-lap race.

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