After knocking on the door to win a main event for the past month Vince Malone was able to break the door down and win the Late Model Sportsman feature race on Saturday night at Champion Speedway. Meanwhile, two South Lake Tahoe drivers took the checkered flag in their respective races, as Jim Klopp edged Mackena Bell in a photo finish in the Legends main event and Jason Flores drove a car he borrowed from "Bad Girls Racing" to his first-ever main event victory in the Hornet class main event.
For Malone, the win was his first of the season, though he's been close before, including runner-up finishes in his main event, heat and trophy dash races on June 13. That just made this celebration all the sweeter.
"Did you like that race? ... Not as much as I did," Malone said with a wide smile after holding off Al Goss and Chet Danburg to win the 20-lapper.
"We finally got our new gears in and we're turning the right RPMs now," he added. "Before, we were hitting 6,000 RPMS. With these new gears, we were hitting 7,000, right where we should be."
A couple of breaks certainly didn't hurt, and in the end, Malone pointed out that he raced without brakes.
"This car doesn't like brakes," Malone said. "It just kept locking up, so we took them out. I knew I could afford no mistakes and I knew Al was right on me. Fortunately, I had just enough for the W."
Malone had an anxious moment or two when he began a skid in Turn 2 with two laps to go. However, he quickly regained control of the car and maintained the lead.
"I swore I was spinning out," Malone said. "I don't know how I straightened myself out. We just had luck on our side tonight."
Malone was quick to add a word of thanks for his two crew chiefs, Mike Roes and Bob Berry.
"They make this car go. I just steer it," he said, "so I have to thank my wife and my crew. Tonight the car was right, and we proved it. The car is where it needs to be now, so there should be no excuses from here on out. So you got to stay for the next races now."
Klopp took the lead midway through the 30-lap, 17-car Legends main event then held off the 15-year-old Bell at the wire to secure his second main event victory of the season. Bell made an outside move off the final turn only to come up short by a matter of inches at the checker flag.
"Mackena was closer than I would have liked," Klopp said, smiling. "I saw her coming ... my wheels started spinning and all of a sudden she was a car length closer. But give Mackena credit, she did a heckuva job."
Klopp missed three weeks of racing in June after he was involved in a collision with Bell then came back last week and finished second behind Denny Hadler in the main event. Bell now has six top-five finishes in eight appearances and leads in the division's point standings.
Dave Sciarrone, who had set fast time earlier in the evening, finished third, Todd Thompson was fourth and Terry Madjeski of Incline Village fifth.
The day didn't begin so well for Flores when his car experienced mechanical problems during hot laps, but it ended when he drove the No. 42 Honda of Kim Robbins and "Bad Girls Racing" to his first victory in two seasons of racing at Champion.
"I demolished my front end in hot laps - my wheel bearings just decided to fall apart - and she (Robbins) asked if I wanted to drive their car," said Flores, who was the division's 2004 Rookie of the Year.
The combo worked from the start as Flores turned the fast time of 17.04 seconds - just ahead of Robbins' 17.05.
Robbins, who added an extra 350 pounds in weight to reach the division's new 2,200-pound minimum weight limit, placed first and third respectively in the heat race. To complete a sweep of sorts, Shawn Chaufty in the new U.S. Marines car - donated by Dean Heller and Blackjack Motor Sports, and set up by the "Bad Girls Racing" crew - led seven of the eight laps and finished second in the heat race.
In the 20-lap main event, Flores took the lead from Chaufty at the start of Lap 4 and never looked back. Sandy Clark moved into second-place on Lap 6 and held the position to the finish, ahead of Greg Schmidt in third and Robbins in fourth.
"It was great to be able to go out and show everyone what I could do," Flores said. "I'll be back in my regular (07) car next week, but the result won't be the same. Those cars are just built very nice, they're built to handle the track and Mike (Robbins) is a very good mechanic."