Thursday Sep 11 2008
Harraka wins track championship in final week
By: Chase Montgomery Special to The Press-Tribune
John Moore led for much of the season
After 18 championship weeks of racing, it all came down to two races. The Toyota Twin Fifties for the Late Models presented by Coors Light. The story played out like something from a Hollywood novel. It had been a season not without its controversy. There had been very clear lines drawn in the sand for fans of both drivers. The veteran John Moore No. 27 sat atop the points chase with a lead of 16 knowing that he would have to finish ahead of Harraka in both races. For Paulie Harraka (16) to have any chance of overcoming Moore’s lead, he would have to win both halves of the Twin 50’s in order to achieve a tie. And so the saying goes… “Easier said than done.” In the first race, with the invert, Gary Glenn (50) started from the pole with Kristin Bumbera (00) on his outside. Row two saw Moore, and 17-year-old sensation and fast qualifier (13.749/ 87.278MPH) Jonathon Mawhinney (17). Harraka started seventh. The field was 17 cars deep. Patience in the first race is often the key when two are on the schedule for the night. Glenn, brake rotors aglow, was smooth as per usual in leading the first 22, while the rest of the field mixed it up behind him. Moore was right behind though with his sights set on the lead. Harraka and teammate Bobby Grewohl (16x) were together charging to the front. Moore got by Glenn for the lead just beyond the mid-way point, vying for his first track championship, but Harraka passed Glenn for second on lap 26 and the battle was on. The two scuffled two Saturdays ago, but on this night, they battled it out cleanly for four laps until Harraka got around Moore for the lead. As it turned out, that was the pass of the race and gave Harraka the win. Harraka won his 10th race of the season. Team McAnally Racing finished one-two with Grewohl second. Race fans might remember that Bobby won three races for BMR last year. GSR’s Moore crossed the stripe in a respectable third, setting up the drama to be continued into the second race. Gary Glenn finish fourth, GSR’s Kristin Bumbera, with two wins under her belt this season came home in fifth. Laura Hayes, Mawhinney, Shannon Mansch, Jared Beddow and Juan Pitta rounded out the Top-10. Time of race was 19:23.039; margin of victory 0.676 No sooner did Harraka get out of the car, he spun the wheel of inversion on his hood and it stopped at six, meaning he would start sixth for the second race. Race Number Two saw Bumbera start from the pole. She was flanked by Gary Glenn on the outside. Row two saw John Moore and Bobby Grewohl with row three filled with Hayes and Harraka. At the start Bumbera held the lead over Glenn early. Moore was solid and Harraka was charging. He got by Moore for third on lap seven. He was second by lap 10. Moore hung tough in third right behind him. Harraka was patient behind Bumbera, but was waiting to strike. It came on lap 24 when Harraka got under her on the bottom off the corner and made the pass. With laps winding down, Moore got around Bumbera on lap 31 for second. Then, on a restart after a caution on Lap 40, Moore took the lead getting around Harraka on the outside. The crowd erupted believing this the year Moore might finally take home a track championship. But Harraka battled back. He looked high for an opening on Lap 41but there was nothing there. There was a drag race down the backstretch. Harraka got just a fender under Moore as the two dove into Turn Three. Door to door in front of the Grandstand going into Turn One, Harraka made the pass to retake the lead. With seven laps remaining, Moore drove his heart out knowing that the only thing standing between he and the championship was car No. 16. Harraka went on to win his 11th race of the season. The victory for Harraka tied him in points with John Moore for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Toyota Late Model Division. However, in the case of a tie, the winner is determined by the driver with the most wins on the season. Since Harraka won 11 races and Moore just one, Harraka was crowned the champ. Glenn wound up in third, Bumbera crossed the stripe fourth, Shannon Mansch, in yet another consistent run, rounded out the top five.