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Struggling Late Model driver Bowman changes direction


© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 26, 2001

Wayne Bowman, who has no chance of winning a season championship, made some major changes in his car last week.

The adjustments paid off Saturday night at Sunshine Speedway.

Bowman put on a convincing demonstration in capturing the 100-lap, Bud Light Late Model Championship. The top two points leaders were not as fortunate, as both stumbled. And making it even more interesting, the two drivers who were tied for third in points produced the best show. In addition to the $2,500 for winning the race is another $5,000 to the winner of the Super Late Model Series Championship. Drivers finishing second and lower receive nothing.

That's called motivation.

Entering the night, No. 15 Dwayne Dempsey of St. Petersburg was leading No. 5 Brian Leverock of Seminole by four points.

Neither of them came close to setting the fast time in qualifying. Dempsey started ninth and Leverock 11th.

Seminole's Dwayne Haynes, No. 21, set his second fast time of the season, 13.858 seconds. After the top eight drivers pulled numbers, Haynes was eighth. Andy Werden, No. 18, of St. Petersburg was on the pole, and Bowman was next to him on the outside.

Bowman took the lead on the third lap and never was seriously challenged the rest of the race. At that point, the lineup behind Bowman was Werden, No. 22 Sammy Coghill of Largo, No. 82 Den Neighbor Jr. of Clearwater and Dempsey, who moved to fifth.

Dempsey worked Neighbor on the outside for the next 26 laps but couldn't pull it off.

Suddenly, Dempsey went from disappointment to disaster, and he began to slow.

Fortunately for him, an accident brought out the yellow flag, which gave Dempsey a chance to head to the pits to correct a problem with his power-steering line. He made it back before the green flag, but he was moved to the rear of the lead lap.

Meanwhile, Leverock took the fifth spot. By Lap 56, Dempsey had moved back to overtake Leverock.

Only five laps later, Leverock slowed to a crawl on the back straight-away -- the victim of a broken distributor. He was out of the competition, and it seemed his chances at the title had vanished.

On Lap 65, Dempsey's power-steering failed again, forcing him to the pits. When he returned, he was a lap or two down.

Dempsey finished ninth and Leverock 13th, which means Leverock trails Dempsey by only 12 points in the series.

Coghill and Neighbor, tied for third at the start of the race, were running second and third, respectively. It ended that way, too. But from their style of racing, it was like their lives -- not a single position -- was on the line. They were the show.

Just one race remains in the series -- the 100-lap Dayton Andrews Dodge/Leo Musgrave Memorial Championship in two weeks, and it counts for double points.

If Dempsey and Leverock falter again, Coghill and Neighbor are in position to take the big prize.

For Bowman, it was the second 100-lap Late Model win at Sunshine in his career. He wants one more.

"My sponsor, Service Experts, bought me new tires for (Saturday)," Bowman said. "Hopefully, they will for the next one.

"The Leo is the one I want," he said. "I can't count how many times I've been second. That's what I'm shooting for."

NOTES: Jimmy Houle, No. 80, of Pinellas Park got a big boost in his points lead over No. 56 Allyn Summers of Odessa with a victory in the Open Wheel Modified feature.

Summers finished last.

Lakeland's Darren Jackson, No. 7, who is fourth in season points, placed second. Jason Graham, No. 4, of Pinellas Park picked up third.

St. Petersburg's Corky Craver, No. 112, grabbed the victory in the Outlaw Late Model feature over No. 69 Tim Henault of Safety Harbor, who's second in the standings, and points leader Robby McAuliffe, No. 56, of Pinellas Park.

In Figure 8s, No. 59 Jack Boswell Jr. of Clearwater was first across the finish line. Pinellas Park drivers J.R. Meyers, No. 21, and Mark Thomas, No. 4, were second and third, respectively. Ron "Hollywood" Davis, No. 89, of Pinellas Park remains atop the standings.

Pinellas Park's Tommy Bower, No. 51, was tops in the Mini Stock feature.

Glenn Kelley, No. 16, of New Port Richey was second, and No. 32 Troy Meredith of Pinellas Park took third.

Pinellas Park's Joey Catarelli, No. 15, is the leader in season points. In the highly competitive Street Stock class, a fourth-place finish by No. 27 Harold "The Duck" Ashley of Gulfport, coupled with a third in his heat race, was enough to move him from fourth in season points to second behind No. 98 Roger Welch of St. Petersburg.

Dan Rieger, No. 1 of St. Petersburg dropped to third in the standings, and No. 22 Mike Hill of St. Petersburg fell to fourth.

Pinellas Park's Rex Hawkins, No. 99, took the checkered flag in the feature.

St. Petersburg's Dave Ochsenwald, No. 61, was second, and No. 2 Jackie Dzidul of Largo was third.

As a result of a rain out Sept. 8, the Enduro drivers ran two features Saturday night.

In the opening event, No. 9 Jody Butler was first, followed by No. 99 Robert Nappi, No. 87 Gordon Ross, No. 78 Carl Guileless and No. 1 Dennis Cantara.

In the second feature, No. 58 Ashley Larson came out on top. Trailing him were No. 98 Randy Spicer, No. 42 Steve Elder, No. 1 Cantara and No. 69 Melanie Henault.

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