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Gearhart 12th in Barona Speedway season opener

Advances from B main

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

His second flat tire of the night relegated Fallbrook driver Jeff Gearhart to 12th in Barona Speedway’s first Pure Stocks main event of the season, April 15, and his first flat tire forced him to advance from the B main race. “I’m happy with how the car ran,” said Gearhart.

The 42-year-old Gearhart made his racing debut last year. Although he missed two of the twelve Pure Stocks races in 2022 he still finished eighth in the season points standings.

Gearhart attended Cajon Speedway races during his childhood, but didn’t begin competition as a driver until after he discovered a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria for sale. The Crown Victoria had previously been raced, and the 2022 season was the third year for the motor.

“I’ve got a brand new motor built by Mike Pridgeon,” said Gearhart. Initially Gearhart planned to rebuild the motor. When Ramona driver Mike Pridgeon offered a new 351 cubic inch Windsor motor then Mike Pridgeon Race Engines became a sponsor.

Gearhart is also sponsored by Dependable Alarm Systems, Griffin Design, Ingrained Woodworking and Sam’s Alignment. Polo Zetina is currently Gearhart’s only crew member as well as Gearhart’s crew chief.

For the first time this decade, a stock car class at Barona Speedway had a B main to determine which drivers, who didn’t finish high enough in their heat race, would advance to the main event. The Pure Stocks class attracted 25 drivers, April 15.

“We’re not guaranteed to get to the main event tonight. We’ve got to race our way in,” said Gearhart.

The drivers were divided into four eight-lap heat races. The top three finishers in each heat race advanced to the main event while the other drivers competed in the B main with the top eight finishers in that race returning for the feature.

Gearhart was one of six drivers in the second heat race. He began on the pole with Lucas Bond of Imperial Beach starting on the outside of the front row. Ramona driver Brian Fitzgibbons, who started in the second row, took the lead during the first lap and remained in front.

The battle for positions resulted in the Crown Victoria having a flat left rear tire, so Gearhart left the track and was formally given sixth place in the heat race. Bond finished second with Poway’s Michael Rumbaugh finishing in the final transfer spot.

When the 13 drivers in the B main competed for the eight positions to transfer to the main event Gearhart began the 12-lap race on the outside of the fifth row. He was ninth after one lap. He inherited the eighth position during the third lap when Lakeside driver David Hunt had motor problems.

During the restart Gearhart moved into seventh place. He opted to settle for the guaranteed transfer position rather than challenge San Diego driver Robby Norris for sixth.

The drivers from the B main started in the back for the 20-lap main event. Gearhart took the original green flag on the inside of the ninth row. He moved up to ninth place before the flat tire forced him off the track. “We only brought one spare,” he said. He completed enough laps to be given 12th place.


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