STARS Racing Series Report, Results, Standings from Ohio

28 July 1997

Conneaut, OH - Todd Andrews of Eldred, PA notched his first STARS Racing Series sanctioned win of the 1997 season Friday night at Ace High Speedway in Conneaut, OH. Andrews, driving the Bullitt/Malcuit/Andrews Auto Salvage #42 Ford Mustang took the lead on lap three and then held of the challenge of Steve Francis to pocket the $10,000 winners share of the purse in the "Pinnacle 50". The win was the third career victory for Andrews on the STARS circuit. Davey Johnson made a last lap pass of Mike Balzano to capture third and Rick Eckert ended the race in fifth.

Rob Blair started on the pole and took the lead as the 24 cars roared into turn one at the drop of the green. Andrews fell into second with Dutch Davies, Eckert and Francis following. Andrews put continual pressure on Blair for the first two laps before making his move and taking the lead on the third circuit. Once on the point, Andrews was able to pull out to a five car-length lead over the fierce battle raging behind him.

Francis moved into fourth on the fifth lap and Balzano made his first appearance in the top five one lap later. On lap 9, Francis made a daring move in turn four to jump into second as he passed both Davies and Blair, who was beginning to slow with engine problems. Eckert had dropped back and was watching the battle from just outside the top five, while Balzano made another pass on lap ten to take the fourth spot. Following him through was rookie Mike Benedum to take fifth. Davies race came to an end on lap 13 as he stopped with a broken drive shaft, with Blair having retired just one lap earlier with his ailing power plant.

On the restart, Andrews and Francis powered away from the pack and put on a show for the crowd as they proceeded to weave their way through the back markers. Francis tried to find a way around Andrews on numerous occasions, but just could not muster the power to make the pass. Johnson had been making steady progress from his tenth starting spot and on lap 29 he moved into the top five. On lap 39 he made the pass for fourth and set out after Balzano, who was in third. He caught him and then on the last lap made the pass to take a well deserved third.

There were 36 cars on hand for the event, and Andrews set the fast time in qualifying with an 18.236 sec clocking around the 7/16 mile high banked clay oval. Francis, Balzano and Steve Shaver captures heat wins and Blair took the ISKY RACING CAMS Fast Dash. the win in the PRO SHOCKS 'B' Main went to Bob Close.

John Kaiser, The Autochannel

Pinnacle 50 Race Results
pos  st  Car   Driver                           laps    Money  Status
1.   3   42    Todd Andrews                     50      $10000 Running
2.   7   15    Steve Francis                    50        5000    "
3.  10   2JX   Davey Johnson                    50        3000    "
4.   8   E1    Mike Balzano                     50        2000    "
5.   4   24    Rick Eckert                      50        1500    "
6.  24   1*    Chub Frank                       50        1450    "
7.   5   68    Tim Hitt                         50        1300    "
8.  15   28B   Dick Barton                      50        1200    "
9.   6   25    Mike Bendum                      50        1100    "
10. 23   71R   Rod Conley                       49        1050    "
11. 21   25C   Bob Craig                        49         950    "
12. 16   21    Frank Poniatowski                49         800    "
13. 13   5M    Ryan Markham                     49         700    "
14. 18   61    Dan Armbruster                   46         650    "
15. 14   77    Barry Bragdon                    45         600 Oil Leak
16. 12   03S   Chevy Scott                      43         550 Steering
17. 17   71    Delmas Conley                    42         500 Suspensn
18. 11   2J    Mike Johnson                     37         500 Fuel Pres
19.  9   30    Steve Shaver                     34         500 Axle
20. 20   V2    Ron Davies                       22         550 Suspensn
21. 22   13    Jim Mazur                        21         550 Handling
22.  2   40    Dutch Davies                     13         500 Drve shft
23.  1   WON11 Rob Blair                        12         500 Engine
24. 19   04    Bob Close                         8         550 Handling

Time of Race    : 40 mins
Cautions        : 6
Lap Leaders     : Blair, Andrews
Rookie of Race  : Benedum


Orrville, OH - Rick Eckert, of York, PA, finally broke his winless streak with the STARS Racing Series Saturday night as he captured the win in the "Buckeye Classic 50" at Buckeye Raceway, Orrville, OH. Eckert piloted his Rayburn/Russell Baker/Raye Vest Excavating #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo into the lead at the drop of the green and then held off the challenge of Bart Hartman to pocket $6,000 and his first win since September 3, 1994. Tim Hitt, Mike Balzano and Chub Frank rounded out the lead quintet at the finish.

Hitt led the 24 car field to the start from his pole position, but it was Eckert who took the lead on the first lap from his outside front row spot on the grid. Frank was also able to get past Hitt who ended the first lap in third with Brent Rhebergen and Paul Davis right behind him. Davis moved into fourth on lap 4 and Hartman, who had started the race in eighth, had worked his way up to fifth by lap 5 and then on the next circuit he passed Davis for fourth. Also making a charge to the front was series points leader Steve Francis who had begun the race in tenth place. Francis got around Davis for fifth on the tenth lap and began closing on Hartman.

Hartman, however, was not waiting as he passed Hitt for third on lap 13 and then on the 14th lap he went by Frank to take second. Hartman closed in on Eckert as the two began to encounter slower traffic, but was not able to reach his rear bumper until the 30th lap. Hartman searched for a way around Eckert, but was unable to find a weakness in the line being run by Eckert around the 3/8 mile oval. Balzano moved into fifth on the 29th lap, and Hitt was able to get by Frank on lap 33 and take third. One lap later it was Balzano's turn to pass Frank as he moved up to fourth.

Possibly the fastest car on the track was that of Steve Shaver. After starting in 23rd position, Shaver had spent most of the race working his way through the pack and on lap 40 he had closed in on Francis who was now running in sixth. For the last ten laps of the race the two cars battled until Shaver was able to make the pass on the white flag lap. Eckert took the win by a two car-length margin over Hartman.

42 car were on hand for the second race of the weekend, and it was Todd Andrews who set the fast time in qualifying with a time of 17.986 seconds. Balzano, Hartman and Dan Armbruster took the heat wins and the ISKY RACING CAMS Fast Dash went to Hitt.

In a special "Match Race" between winged Sprint driver Dale Blaney and Steve Francis in his Late Model, it was Blaney who took the win by completing 8 laps before Francis could complete the required seven.

John Kaiser, The Autochannel


Buckeye Classic 50 Race Result
pos  st   car   Driver                          laps    Money  Status
1.    2   24    Rick Eckert                     50     $6000   Running
2.    8   75    Bart Hartman                    50      3500      "
3.    1   68    Tim Hitt                        50      2000      "
4.    7   E1    Mike Balzano                    50      1500      "
5.    3   1*    Chub Frank                      50      1200      "
6.   23   30    Steve Shaver                    50      1050      "
7.   10   15    Steve Francis                   50       900      "
8.   13   96F   Keith Berner                    50       850      "
9.   21   40M   Wayne Maffett Jr                50       850      "
10.  20   5M    Ryan Markham                    50       800      "
11.   4   07R   Brent Rhebergen                 50       750      "
12.  14   71    Delmas Conley                   50       650      "
13.  12   71R   Rod Conley                      50       600      "
14.  11   25    Mike Bendum                     49       550      "
15.  16   24H   Rob House                       49       500      "
16.  18   25J   Ted Johnson                     48       450      "
17.   6   42    Todd Andrews                    43       400  Handling
18.   5   16    Paul Davis                      35       350  Handling
19.  15   10    Larry Bond                      33       350  Accident
20.   9   61    Dan Armbruster                  32       350  Accident
21.  17   29    Darrell Lanigan                 19       350  Handling
22.  22   19    Allen Baker                      9       400  Brakes
23.  24   77    Barry Bragdon                    1       350  Piston
24.  19   32    Scott hartley                    0       400  Accident

Time of Race    : 30 mins
Cautions        : 3
Lap Leaders     : Eckert
Rookie of Race  : Markham


Points standings for the Short Track Auto Racing Stars Series

1997 STARS Point Standings thru 7/26/97

1.  #15  Steve Francis           Ashland, KY             6670
2.  #68  Timm Hitt               Weston, WV              5290
3.  #24  Rick Eckert             York, PA                5260
4.  #E1  Mike Balzano            Parkersburg, WV         5250
5.  #30  Steve Shaver            Parkersburg, WV         4410
6.  #71R Rod Conley              Wheelersburg, OH        4340
7.  #75  Bart Hartman            Zanesville, OH          3360
8.  #77  Barry Bragdon           Wheelersburg, OH        3180
9.  #71  Delmas Conley           Wheelersburg, OH        3060
10. #42  Todd Andrews            Eldred, PA              2740
11. #25  Mike Benedum            Bristol, WV             2630
12. #19  Gary Stuhler            Greencastle, PA         2350
13. #1J  Davey Johnson           Greensburg, PA          2090
14. # 1  Charlie Swartz          Grayson, KY             1910
15. #32  Scott Hartley           Ravenswood, WV          1770
16. #2J  Mike Johnson            Imperial, PA            1530
17. #B4  Jack Boggs              Grayson, KY             1520
18. #99  Donnie Moran            Dresden, OH             1460
19. #71C R.J. Conley             Wheelersburg, OH        1330
20. #00  Booper Bare             Rockbridge Baths, VA    1200

1997 STARS Rookie of the Year Points
1. #25   Mike Benedum            Bristol, WV             2630
2. #5M   Ryan Markham            Ashland, OH             1120
3. #11   J.R. Kiefer             Bedford, PA               50

1997 PRO SHOCKS 'B' Main Points
1. #5M   Ryan Markham            Ashland, OH             1380
2. #2J   Mike Johnson            Imperial, PA             930
3. #00H  Chuck Harper            Beverly, WV              760
4. #71   Delmas Conley           Wheelersburg, OH         570
5. #07R  Brent Rhebergen         Clymer, NY               560

1997 STARS Feature Winners
Steve Francis             4
Bart Hartman              3
Gary Stuhler              3
Donnie Moran              2
Steve Shaver              2
Keith Nobisch             1 (np)
Booper Bare               1
Ronnie Johnson            1
Davey Johnson             1
Tim Hitt                  1
Randle Chupp              1
Jack Boggs                1
Mike Balzano              1
Rod Conley                1
Scott Bloomquist          1
Todd Andrews              1
Rick Eckert               1

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