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Bumpers bang but no fists fly as Crisp wins


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000

Between Turns 3 and 4 on the last lap of the feature, No. 1 Bob Hall of Dunedin gave the No. 2 of Pinellas Park's Robert Crisp a hard bang on the rear bumper. Crisp managed to hold on and take the checkered flag for the win with Hall second. On the lap following the race, Hall continued to keep his front end near the exhaust of the No. 2.

After Henry's warning, officials kept watch to make sure neither did anything really stupid, which could result in one or both being suspended and fined. The drivers maintained their cool and went for their after-race tech inspections.

Once through the mandatory weigh-in, Crisp pulled his car to the rear of the tech area, slipped out the window, and immediately stuck his head in the window of Hall's car to not-so-calmly discuss the events on the track.

Much of what they said could not be heard outside the car, but unlike the days of old, no blows were struck and no blood flowed, which is a credit to the strict no-fighting-allowed policy at Sunshine.

A few minutes later when Crisp withdrew his head from Hall's car, Hall was asked what that was all about: "Robert passes with his bumper. He couldn't get past me so he went through me."

Said Crisp: "I watched him for four laps and he was in the second groove. Then, when I went to go by him, he drives down in the corner and jams his brake. I bumped him one time. Like he didn't drive through people to get to the lead. I just don't understand him."

So, as far as the two drivers were concerned, it was a matter of who was more wrong and who did the most bad banging. For the officials, the most important thing was to prevent trouble. From the fans' point of view, we didn't care -- it was great racing.

In the Street Stock class, an undented fender or door is called a target, and for good reason -- they race hard and rough. Saturday was no exception.

During a lot of the early laps, the cars were racing three and four wide on the narrow asphalt oval. Unlike other professional classes, they hold their positions until someone slips or backs out instead of hitting the wall.

Passing with their bumpers? Yep, virtually every one of them does it. As long as it's not so jarring it sends the other car into a spin, it's considered acceptable -- except to the driver getting bumped.

For Crisp, winning was good, but it could have been a little better. He was leading the No. 56 of John Makula of New Port Richey by two points at the beginning of the night. He gained one more on Makula in heat races, and finished three spots ahead of the No. 56 in the feature.

However, No. 76 Jim Altobelli of Clearwater, who was third across the finish line, was disqualified for being too light, so Makula moved up to third. That means Makula trails Crisp by seven points, but there's a lot of bumping and banging left in the season.

NOTES: Pinellas Park's Wayne Jefferson, who is running second in both overall and rookie points in the traveling Late Model Florida Sunbelt Series, showed up at Sunshine Saturday night to drive the No. 1 in Open Wheel Modifieds. Jefferson started eighth and took the lead on the eighth lap. After that he continually opened up the gap, which was closed only by frequent restarts due to crashes. He won easily, with No. 71 Barry Bartlett of St. Petersburg next and No. 56 Allyn Summers third.

However, the one who scored the most in Modifieds Saturday was No. 5 Ron Campbell of St. Petersburg. He started the race third in points behind No. 73 Darren Jackson of Lakeland and No. 99 Roger Stull of St. Petersburg. Jackson didn't race, Campbell was fifth and Stull was 14th, which gave Campbell a slight points lead over Stull, with Jackson dropping to fourth behind Summers.

Chris Robbins of Indian Rocks Beach, an airline pilot whose No. 88 Modified went airborne and made a crash landing on its roof two weeks ago, came back April 22 and won. That's a combination of guts, hard work and a little luck.

After crashing and going to the pits on Lap 8 of the Mini Stock feature, No. 40 Dennis Valdez of Tampa finished a disappointing 23rd. However, that was still enough for him to share the points lead with No. 69 Jay Zolciak of Pinellas Park, who finished third in the feature and first in his heat.

Largo's Tom Zimmerman, No. 55, started on the pole and held off a hard charge by No. 16 Glen Kelley of New Port Richey for the win.

Shane Grigsby's third-place finish behind St. Petersburg drivers Cliff Rousseau (No. 84) and Art Calkins (No. 11) in Figure 8s was enough to give him sole possession of first in season points. Grigsby, No. 28 of Pinellas Park, had shared the lead with No. 31 Donnie Thomas of Pinellas Park, but Thomas finished 14th, which moved No. 89 Ron Davis of Pinellas Park into second in points.

In the 50-lap Buddy Team Enduro, the team of No. 49 Mason Love and Robby McAuliff won, followed by No. 27 Harold Ashley and Rob Partelo, No. 61 Dave Ochenwald and Ken Urban, No. 17 Helene Cartier and Duane Drews, and No. 98 Jeff Haven and Mark Thomas.

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