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Pittsburgh Pa. Motor Speedway

Baker edges Johnson, captures Pittsburgher 100

September 21, 2008, 7:57 am
From series reports
Baker celebrates at PPMS. (Ken Cunningham)
Baker celebrates at PPMS. (Ken Cunningham)

IMPERIAL, Pa. (Sept. 20) — Surviving 14 cautions, a fuel scare and a late challenge, Steve Baker of Fairmont, W.Va., held on at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway to lead every lap of the Pittsburgher 100 and earn $12,000, the richest victory of his career. The former PPMS track champion started outside the front row and tamed the half-mile oval for a victory sanctioned by the Unified Force Race Championship tour as he edged Davey Johnson of Latrobe, Pa., at the checkered flag.

"The fuel pressure light blinked on during the final caution," Baker said in victory lane. "I was just trying to get to the end of the race and stay on the high side."

Baker stayed in control all the way, but things got interesting when Johnson took the second spot from Doug Dodd with 35 laps remaining and began turning the heat up on Baker in the race's late stages. Baker got some breathing room amid lapped traffic with about 20 laps remaining, but a lap-94 caution — the 14th yellow flag of the long-distance event — appeared when Baker made contact with the slower car of Jon Hodgkiss in turn one, causing Hodgkiss to spin.

Johnson stayed with Baker on the final restart and with less than two laps to go, Johnson nosed ahead of Baker in turn two. Baker's outside momentum kept him out front down the backstretch while Johnson continued working the low groove as they headed for the white flag. The frontrunners raced side-by-side the final lap with Baker nosing out Johnson at the stripe.

Johnson, who started eighth in a Bill Stile-owned car, settled for second while Dodd, of Cambridge, Ohio, was third after advancing from his 18th starting spot. UFO points leader Alex Ferree of Saxonburg, Pa., who went to the tail after a lap-35 tangle with Alan Sagi, rallied to finish fourth and Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., went to the tail twice because of flat tires but got back up to fifth. Polesitter Brandon Burgoon of McDonald, Pa., ended up 11th in the 32-car field.

Notes: Baker's Rocket Chassis is sponsored by Richard Construction and Bland's Towing. ... Baker notched his third victory on the first-year UFO tour, all of them at Pittsburgh. ... Consolation race winner Al Atallah rallied to finish ninth. ... Gregg Satterlee of Rochester Mills, Pa., started third and ran among the leaders through the first half of the race, but a broken driveshaft on the 60th lap ended his race. ... Keith Barbara and John Mollick were eliminated in a first-lap tangle that included several cars. ... Track rules put all cars one lap down back on the lead lap at each caution period. For instance, at a lap-33 caution, 13 cars actually remained on the lead lap, but all 29 cars running were restored to the lead lap upon the restart. ... Josh Richards, who started 10th, ran as high as second and was fourth when a flat tire forced him pitside on lap 38. He was working on a top-five spot again when he had another flat tire on lap 56. ... The top 15 positions were set as the top three finishers in each of five heats redrew for starting spots. ... Matt Lux was the hard charger after starting 24th and finishing seventh. ... Among drivers who failed to make the feature: Jim Lepro, Shawn McGarvey, Scott LeBarron and Dave Wade. ... Alex Ferree's fourth-place finish broke a tie with Jared Miley in the UFO points chase. Ferree leads Miley, who finished 12th, by eight points heading into the final series events Oct. 9-11 at Challenger Raceway near Indiana, Pa.

UFO @ PPMS: (1) Steve Baker, (2) Davey Johnson, (3) Doug Dodd, (4) Alex Ferree, (5) Josh Richards, (6) Jeremy Miller, (7) Matt Lux, (8) Lynn Geisler, (9) Al Atallah, (10) Dave Hess Jr., (11) Brandon Burgoon, (12) Jared Miley, (13) Mike Johnson, (14) Kyle Lukon, (15) Ben Miley, (16) Mark Banal, (17) Alan Sagi, (18) Ed Ferree, (19) Lou Bradich, (20) Lance Elson, (21) Rodney Sweitzer, (22) D.J. Miller, (23) Mel Minnick Jr., (24) Jon Hodgkiss, (25) Rich Apolito, (26) John Flinner, (27) Mark Moats Sr., (28) Gregg Satterlee, (29) Gary Stuhler, (30) Keith Rodriguez, (31) Keith Barbara, (32) John Mollick. Heat race winners (among 48 cars): Geisler, Baker, Bradich, Ferree, Richards. Consolation winners: Atallah, Lukon.

 
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