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Dominique steers out of skid

Sportsman driver ends a tough streak with his third victory of season.

By LOGAN NEILL
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 2, 2002


INVERNESS -- The two previous weekends were not kind to Sportsman driver Mark Dominique. Crashes and mechanical woes made for meager point gains and took the wind out of what was shaping up to be his best season at Citrus County Speedway.

But by the end of Saturday night's 20-lap double-points feature, the third-year racer again had something to smile about.

"If you're going to win, it might as well be a big one," said Dominique, who posted his third victory of the season by outdueling defending champion Mike Veltman.

Starting from the fourth spot in an 11-car field, Dominique was quick to take advantage of every opportunity that came his way.

Division newcomer J.D. Goff held the early lead but fell back when his car developed a handling problem. Dominique moved to the front on Lap 10, but soon had Veltman riding his rear bumper.

Rain earlier in the day made for loose track conditions that Dominique had prepared for. As it turned out, his No. 7 machine ran better as the race progressed. "I was able to float into the turns and not fight the track like Mike was doing," Dominique said. "A couple of times he came at me pretty strong, but my car was hooked up better than his."

Dominique earned 200 points, pulling within 140 of Bill Oesterreicher, who is second in the standings. The victory was a confidence booster for the struggling Dominique. "Three weeks ago, the car was just about totally destroyed in a crash, so we've had to work hard to catch up," he said. "It's still early in the season, so we're going to keep trying to catch (Veltman)," Dominique said. "If we get some more good nights and he gets some bad nights, who knows what can happen?"

A FIRST: Former Mini Stock champion Jim Smith, a Late Model rookie, outran a 19-car field to capture his first victory of the season. Smith moved to third in the division's points race behind Raymond Lovelady.

BREATHER: The speedway will be taking a holiday break this week. Racing will resume July 13 with events in all regular classes.

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