Spartan Crowns Season Champions
by Michelle Sprague
Season championships at Spartan Speedway were decided on September 1st, with competition being fierce, as first and second place, in four out of five regular divisions, came down to the final night. The Super Late Model, Modified, Street Stock, and Pony Stock division leaders were separated a small margin, and everyone was out to win all the marbles.
First on the docket were the WMMQ Classic Rock 94.9 MI Modifieds, with Tom Williams, Matt Schindewolf, and Nyle Weiler each scoring heat wins. As the 24 competitors lined up for their 35-lap championship feature, it was Chris Ozanich and Perry Davenport on the front row. The duo swapped the lead three times in the first seven laps, as Jason Parish made his way around Ozanich to take away the second position on lap eight. Davenport opened up a bit of a lead over Parish, as Wallace went to work on Ozanich. Ozanich was able to hold him off until lap 17, as Bud Perry lurked, just behind the top five. Wallace grabbed the third spot as Ozanich had his hands full with Weiler. Caution on lap 18 closed up the field behind Davenport, and Parish and Wallace made a charge on the restart, but Davenport was able to stay up front. The trio ran nose to tail until lap 30, when Weiler dropped into line behind Wallace. Perry worked his way into the top five, with Leroy Ellis hot on his trail. Caution waved on lap 31, and on the restart, it was a six-car drag race to the finish, but caution would fly one more time, setting up a three lap dash for the win on lap 32. Parish dropped to the low side, sticking a nose under Davenport on the restart, but Davenport was able to out run him, as Ellis made his way around Perry. At the checker, it was Davenport, Parish, Wallace, Weiler, and Ellis. Wallace, by virtue of his finish, grabbed his second championship of 2006. Trei Deubel walked away with Rookie of the Year honors.
The Andrews Chevrolet Super Late Models had a score to settle, with their championship coming down to the wire as well. Jimmy Gallagher and Doug Finley tallied wins in their heats, leaving everything riding on the 40-lap feature finish. Chris Place and John Ledwidge led the field to the green, with Place jumping out to the early lead on the start. Finley began his move to the front on lap three, as Place continued to lead through lap 12. Stan Perry made his way around Ledwidge, brought Jack Landis with him, and closed up on Finley's bumper by lap seven. Finley went to work on Place for the lead, making the low groove work for him. Finley, the new leader, began to drive away from the field as Gallagher broke into the top five behind Perry and Landis. A battle for position ensued between McNett and Gallagher. They jockeyed for position for twenty laps, as Landis and Perry went to work on Place. Finley opened up a comfortable 3 1/2 second lead over the field as Landis made his way around Place into second. Caution for Gallagher, on lap 33, erased Finley's lead, giving fast qualifier, Landis, one more shot at Finley. Landis took a look under Finley after the restart, but couldn't make the pass. Landis was able to stick with Finley, but ran out of laps. At the line, it was Finley, Landis, Perry, Place, and Hackworth. Finley was named the 2006 Spartan Speedway Super Late Model champion. It was his eighth championship, one at Owosso and seven at Spartan.
The Performance Automotive NW Street Stock division saw a 35 point spread between first and second place going into the 25-lap feature. As Steve Utley and Al Williams brought the field down for the start, Rob Patrick was already on the move, and avoided a huge crash involving most of the top point leaders. After a complete restart, Utley grabbed the top spot with Rob Patrick right on his bumper. R. Patrick took away the first position on lap three, as Jack Koone Jr., Ron Heeney, Bubber Patrick, and Scott Sigman moved their way into the top five. Damon Place, second in points, got around B. Patrick for the fifth position, bringing Dane Long, sitting first in the point battle, along with him, while up front, Heeney was dominating. Place and Long filed in behind Koone, on lap 11, who was trying to find a way around R. Patrick for second. Long moved into third behind Koone on lap 15, clinching his bid for another championship, in spite of Heeney's end of season win streak. As Long and Koone ran side by side for position, Place and Patrick were able to close the distance between fourth and fifth. Koone ducked around R. Patrick, into second, with four laps to go. Long got around R. Patrick as well, but couldn't catch Koone before time ran out. At the stripe, it was Heeney, Koone, Long, R. Patrick, Place. B. Patrick and Koone were heat winners, while Long captured his second championship (2005, 2006) in the Street Stock division.
The wild and wooly Holiday Powersports division had a point battle raging between John Ward and 12-time feature winner, Jimmy Scavarda. Ponies are scored under a unique scoring system, where the driver with the most wins does not necessarily win the division. Heat wins went to Tim Sorrow, Keith Holden, and Mark Garland, as twenty pony cars prepared to do battle in their 20-lap championship feature. Joe Bates and Rich Roberts brought the field down for their first lap, with Bates taking over the lead on lap one and holding on for three laps, as Scott Quall drove up on the outside to take the spot away. Tina Anderson made her way into the top five, just ahead of Jacob Newman and Jimmy Scavarda. Scavarda had been picking off at least one car per lap on his way to the front, but had to work for second as Anderson tried to hold him at bay. Scavarda got around Anderson at the halfway mark, and drove around Quall on lap 11. Scavarda put some daylight between Quall and himself, as Mark Garland began threading his way up through the pack. Garland took the second spot away from Quall on lap 17, as caution flew, wiping out Scavarda's lead on the field. On the restart, it was Garland, Quall, Anderson, and Wayne Beckner Jr. all trying to run down Scavarda. A last lap bid for the lead wasn't quite enough for Garland, as Scavarda took the win. Garland came home in second, followed by Quall, Beckner Jr., and Anderson. Scavarda celebrated yet another feature win, while John Ward was named 2006 Pony Stock champion. Ward was also the 2006 Pony Stock Figure-8 champion.
The fledgling Pure Stock division grew in leaps in bounds, just in time for championship night! Rookie, Justin Lewis, and Kevin Adkins brought the field down to the green, with Adkins scored as the lap one leader. Duane Damon and Cody Houghtaling made a charge for the front to sit one and two by lap five. Joyce Derminer sat patiently in third, waiting for the break she needed, and on lap nine, Damon and Houghtaling got together, with both going to the rear. Derminer was able to hold off Russ Potter III for the remaining laps and came home the winner. Damon won the heat race and Wayne &qout;Daniel" Parkhurst captured the first ever championship in the Pure Stock division.