Once again, Ed Horst played the tortoise, Scott Dinger the hare.
And Dave Phipps just kept on playing Dave Phipps.
In the final points races of the season Saturday night at Saugus Speedway, Horst and Phipps successfully defended their Pro Stock and Grand American Modified division championships before a crowd of 3,563.
Phipps, a three-time Sportsman division champion at Saugus (1984, ’87 and ’88), bagged his third consecutive Grand Am title with a flair, driving from a 10th-place start in the 30-lap main event to his division-high fourth victory of the season and 50th of his 14-year career.
However, Phipps, who has led the Grand Am points race virtually every week since the division’s inception in 1991, had clinched the title even before the green flag dropped for the main event.
But Phipps wasn’t about to forgo the final race of the year.
“I came here to race, I didn’t come here to fool around,” Phipps said. “If I was batting .400 on the last day of the season, I’d try to hit .401.”
Even more impressive, the championship was an unprecedented sixth at Saugus for Phipps.
For Horst’s part, the 25-lap Pro Stock oval main event unfolded like much of the past two seasons.
Horst drove cautiously to a fifth-place finish behind winner Sean Monroe of Los Angeles while Dinger, who led the race with three laps to go, slammed into the Turn 4 wall with a flat front tire and finished last.
For the season, Dinger, who for the second year in a row won more main events than Horst, repeated as runner-up to Horst.
“Finish the races, do the best you can and don’t overdrive the track,” Horst said of his strategy. “It was a little tougher this year. We had some problems.”
Horst probably will have it tougher next season when he joins Phipps in the Grand Am division. And Dinger expects smoother speeding.
“We did as good as we could do,” Dinger said. “Ed had some breaks and we had some problems. We’ll be back next year (in Pro Stock) and we’ll win the championship.”
In other races, Mal Borders of Van Nuys won the Pro Four Modified division championship by one point over Kenny Smith of El Monte by virtue of a fourth-place finish. Smith drove to his second victory of the season.
Greg Benner of Whittier won the 12-lap Pro Stock semi-main event to lead four drivers into the main event. Eric Sunness of Canyon Country, Bruce Dorn of La Canada and Glen Whitton of Lancaster also advanced.
Thad Friday of Northridge and Bruce Gallion of Littlerock posted Grand Am heat race victories.
Other heat race winners included Neil Conrad of Arcadia, Rick Hopkins of Simi Valley and Bob Lyon of Newhall (Pro Stock oval); Earl Dorman of Saugus and Gerrit Cromsigt of Pine Mountain Club (Pro Stock figure-eight); Chuck Jezulin of Redondo Beach and Terry Limberopoulos of Bellflower (Mini Stock); and Dennis Arena of Monrovia (Pro Four Modified).