|Joined: ||Saturday Oct 10th, 2009|
|Location: ||Washington USA|
|Hallmark Scores First WMRA Win
By C.J. Whistledech
It wasn’t a surprise to anyone who’d been paying attention. The wily midget pilot from McMinnville, OR was third at the Opener (6/2) and a solid second on June 16th. In the club’s third appearance of the season at Cottage Grove Speedway (7/7), the third one was a charm for the veteran Hallmark.
13.78 was the time to beat in qualifying, posted by defending series champion Tony Seidelman. That eclipsed two time winner Evan Margeson’s clocking of 14.06, rookie Scott Charter’s time of 14.25 and Mitch Hoffses’s 14.56. Hoffses, home from college was making his first appearance of 2012 in a stunning new Esslinger powered machine.
Charters (starting his second dash in two attempts) took his Chevy II over the banking on the initial start, caused a yellow and was forced to restart from the rear. That advanced Seidelman to the front row which he capitalized on, leading the event from the flag. Margeson followed the Ed Pink Ford deep into turn one but couldn’t make it stick. Soon Hoffses was challenging for the lead, eventually powering past at the stripe. The top three finished under a blanket- #5, #98 #50 then #37.
In heat race action Steve Veltman in the ex-Dave Pugsley Pontiac led the field into turn one. Hallmark starting directly behind Veltman, took his #8 Drake in deeper and snatched the point. There was contact between Charters and Seidelman as the champ pushed past, Margeson too advanced quickly. The order was Hallmark, Margeson, Seidelman, Veltman, Hoffses, Charters, Glenn Bittrolf in the VW and Ken Lile in his Chevy II. Then Seidelman slipped over the berm bringing out a yellow. On the restart Margeson zapped Hallmark and Hoffses easily subdued Veltman. All entries continued on to the finish with the exception of Lile who spun on the last go-round.
The track received an extensive revamp just before the feature and that left everyone guessing on setup. Apparently, Hallmark guessed correctly. The lineup was the same but the outcome was different. This time Hallmark blasted around Veltman and didn’t even wave. There was an anxious moment in turn two which everyone survived. With a handful of laps completed, the order was Hallmark, Hoffses, Seidelman, Margeson, Bittrolf, Veltman, Charters and Lile.
Then Seidelman got too sideways in turn three, losing positions and Charters went completely around to bring out a yellow. By now Hallmark had the circuit wired and pulled away on the restart. Bittrolf too was finding the surface to his liking and momentarily snatched third from Margeson. As the track began to dry out, Margeson was able to refocus. He was back by Bittrolf, then Hoffses and soon challenging for the lead. The #50 actually took the point briefly but Hallmark wrestled it back in traffic. Then Margeson nearly lost it on the top and Hoffses shot past. Soon the two Esslingers were embroiled in the slugfest of the evening allowing Hallmark to strengthen his lead. The points leader Margeson had his Beast on the ragged edge, he fought by Hoffses and with three laps to go again started to reel in the leader. The order was: Hallmark, Margeson, Hoffses, Bittrolf, Seidelman, Charters and Veltman (Lile was the only retiree). Then on the white flag lap Charters made his second trip off the banking yet still managed to be scored sixth!
The jubilant winner had to be thinking of his faithful pitman (and brother-in-law) “Rhino” who unfortunately was absent this night due to injuries incurred in a collision with a deer- Get well soon, Rhino!
Hopefully all will be back for our next event July 21- We hope to see you there!