Dennis Moore JR. Wins Tribute to Gary Patterson - By Bobby Gerould, 05/25/03 - Calistoga, CA. - …Dennis Moore JR. can certainly be called a "free spirit". Saturday, the Iowa driver who is known to frequent pedicure salons, showed up at Calistoga Speedway with a new hat and shirt that were both purchased in town at a local rummage sale. The dark brown hat was eerily similar to the hat that was worn for years by the late, Gary Patterson. Sunday night at Calistoga Speedway Moore earned the feature win in the race named after one of the all-time great 'free-spirits' of sprint car racing. The 25-lap Tribute to Gary Patterson triumph on the hard packed half-mile dirt track was the third Golden State Challenge feature win of the season for Moore JR, who is in the midst of his first year of racing full-time in California.
"This is great!", said the winner. "The Tribute to Gary Patterson is a big race out here. It means allot to the guys, also me. Especially the mechanic (Ashley Smith). He told me that this is a race he would really like to win. He gets the trophy. He asked me, man, can you win that trophy for me?"
With a 'ten' pill being drawn, the front five rows of the feature started in inverted fashion. Upstart, Johnny Gray of Chico was on the pole, with Moore Jr. outside. Gray took the early lead at the drop of Jake Vickers' green flag. In just his fourth half-mile start of his career, Gray was impressive in the early going. Gray kept his Jesse Heating & Air #71 locked to the bottom of the track, which had taken rubber. Moore Jr. pressured Gray with Blake Robertson, Kevin Pylant, and BR MotorSports Quick Qualifier Tony Lutar next in line.
By lap nine with Gray approaching traffic, Sparky Howard pulled to stop on the back straightaway, bringing out the caution flag. Gray breathed a sigh of relief as he now had a clear track in front of him. When the battled resumed, Moore hoped for a mistake by Gray.
"I waited for the 71 car", said Moore. "I hung there and hung there patiently, and he actually missed it just a little bit, and got up in the loose stuff so I took advantage of it." The lap-17 pass on the backchute turned out to be Moore's winning move.
The next lap saw Brent Kaeding make his presence felt, as he passed Pylant for fourth in turn one. Brian Coelho did a quick spin on lap 19 bringing out the yellow flag. Moore controlled the final six laps. Robertson continued his march forward and ended up second. Kaeding was a strong third, passing six cars to earn the fictional hard charger award for the night. Pylant and Lutar completed the top five. Gray finished sixth, while Jon Allard, Tommy Tarlton, Steve Kent, and Ronnie Day filled out the top ten.
When quizzed about his new rummage sale attire, Moore said, "I read a little bit in an Open Wheel article about Patterson, but I didn't know much about him to be honest. But I did read an article on him at one time and that's why I went to the yard sales and I bought a hat and a shirt to kinda just say, 'hey' for him. Any fellow racer that goes the way he did, it's a sad story. But obviously he was a helluva racer and a lot of people respected him here from what I've been told, so it's a cool thing that I could win his race."
Kent captured the B&B oval Track Products heat. Jason Statler and Doug Lippincott won heats and two and three. The Golden State Challenge "King of California" series now heads back to Tulare's Thunderbowl Raceway Saturday May 31 for round 12 of the 21-race tour.
May 25, 2003. Calistoga Speedway
Golden State Challenge Round Eleven
BR MotorSports Qualifying: (Driver Hometown Car Time)
B&B Oval Track Products Heat One: 1. Kent, 2. Gray, 3. Forsberg, 4. Pylant, 5. Lutar, 6. T. Kaeding, 7. Skinner, 8. Quigley
Heat Two: 1. Statler, 2. Allard, 3. B. Kaeding, 4. Stidham, 5. Tarlton, 6. Howard, 7. Williams, 8. Richardson
Heat Three: 1. Lippincott, 2. York, 3. Moore Jr., 4. Robertson, 5. Furr, 6. Day, 7. Binstock, 8. Coelho, 9. Matthews.
Last Chance Race (12 laps.) 1. T. Kaeding, 2. Day, 3. Williams, 4. Howard, 5. Coelho, 6. Skinner, 7. Binstock, 8. Quigley, 9. Matthews, 10. Rich
Feature (25 laps) 1. Moore JR., 2. Robertson, 3. B. Kaeding, 4. Pylant, 5. Lutar, 6. Gray, 7. Allard, 8. Tarlton, 9. Kent, 10. Day, 11. Forsberg, 12. T. Kaeding, 13. Lippincott, 14. Williams, 15. Coelho, 16. Howard, 17. Stidham, 18. Quigley, 19. Binstock, 20. York, 21. Statler, 22. Richardson, 23. Skinner, 24. Matthews * Brad Furr did not start the feature.