Phipps Survives Delays at Saugus


Dave Phipps has been hard to stop the past three years, and two 45-minute delays only slowed his victory Saturday night.

The three-time defending Grand American Modified division points champion spent almost as much time standing beside his car as driving it during the delays that stalled the conclusion of the 75-lap Grand Am feature race.

That only prolonged the inevitable, however. When action resumed, the Simi Valley resident picked up where he left off and pulled away from the competition for the victory in front of a capacity crowd of 6,133 in the Fall Spectacular.

Phipps took the lead for good on the 25th lap after he boxed Reseda's Dave Blankenship behind a lapped car and maneuvered past on the outside.

"The biggest challenge was getting past No. 43 (Blankenship)," Phipps said. "He's a tough guy to get around. He was just starting to get a little loose. When we got into traffic, he was in one lane and I was in another. I was fortunate to get by him."

The 45-year-old driver increased his lead until the race came to a 30-minute halt with just 54 laps completed while track crew members cleaned up an oil spill.

Phipps nearly lost his position on the 64th lap when he was forced to the infield while trying to avoid a pair of lapped cars. The incident set off another 30-minute delay while the track crew cleaned up again.

Blankenship, who finished second in the points standings for the second straight year, was Phipps' closest challenger throughout, but finished well back in second place.

John Watkinson of Canyon Country was third, followed by Robert Rice of Lakewood.

Blankenship started on the outside of the front row, but quickly moved past pole-sitter David Andrews of Frazier Park.

Final results from the 100-lap Sportsman race were unavailable by press time. The race is the first in a four-race Southern California Sportsman series race that will be hosted by four Southern California race tracks.

El Cajon's Jerry Gay (Sportsman) and Blankenship (Grand Am) each won a trophy dash.

Terry Custer of Mission Hills and Riverside's Kevin Riniker each won a 25-lap Sportsman semi-main event.

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