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2002 Costa Mesa Speedway Race Results

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Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds
Costa Mesa, CA

2002 Olympique Championship
Costa Mesa Speedway
June 22, 2002
By: Ryan Evans

SpeedwayFormer National Champion "Flyin" Mike Faria captured the 2002 Olympique Championship at Costa Mesa Speedway on Saturday.

The first attempt didn't get any further than turn one. Current season points leader Josh Larsen trapped the field from gate five and held the lead coming off turn two, but when going down the back straight the red flags were waving. Behind him in turn one, Eddie Castro had taken down Shawn McConnell and forced a restart. The referee banished Castro to the penalty line.

On the restart, Faria was off the line first with Larsen trying to make a run on the outside. Faria was hooked up on the inside groove and held the lead entering turn three. Larsen got close, but Faria was unfazed by the pressure. Faria then opened up some breathing room and went on to the victory. Larsen ended up second, McConnell was third, Dukie Ermolenko finished fourth, and Castro was fifth.

The Olympique format was very similar to that used at the annual Olympique held in Wolverhampton, England. The 20 rider field competed in preliminary heats that consisted of three rounds of five-man races. The first round was scratch racing, but in the second and third rounds the riders would be handicapped based on their finish in the previous round. The winner scored three points and was handicapped 30 yards in the next round, second place scored two points and was handicapped 20 yards, third place earned one point and was handicapped 10 yards, and fourth and fifth place earned zero points and each rider got to start at the tapes in the next round. The top 10 riders qualified for the semis, which reverted back to the scratch format. The top two from each semi qualified for the main event, while third and fourth qualified for the Last Chance, in which the only the winner transferred to the main.

Larsen kicked off the evening with a convincing win over Scott Brant. Faria was the winner in the second race. National Champion Chris Manchester opened his evening with a victory in the third race. Ermolenko finished the first round with a win over Andy Northrup.
Larsen began round two with an impressive victory from the 30 yard line to keep his score perfect. It would prove to be the only victory from the 30 all evening. Randy DiFrancesco held off Brant to win the next race. Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz was victorious over Manchester in the next race and McConnell closed out round two with a win.

Larsen faced the daunting task of starting 20 yards behind Faria and 10 yards behind Manchester to open the third round. Faria capitalized on his starting position to get the win, Mark Adams was second, Larsen managed to get past Manchester for third, but his perfect score was gone. Hicks earned his first victory in the second race of the round. Ermolenko found was victorious again in the next race. Castro made a spectacular outside pass on Brant to get the win in the last preliminary race.

Castro jumped into the lead in the first semi with Ermolenko in tow. The surprise was Manchester and Larsen toiling at the back and battling for fourth, which was the bubble position for the Last Chance. Castro and Ermolenko booked their places in the main event, Northrup finished third and transferred to the Last Chance, and Manchester ended up hitting the wall in turn four and handing Larsen fourth and the transfer into the Last Chance. Faria got the best start and ran away with the victory in the second semi, while McConnell followed him into the main event, and Brant and DiFrancesco went into the Last Chance. Larsen cruised to an easy win in the Last Chance to earn the final berth in the main.

It was Larsen, McConnell, Brant, DiFrancesco, and Castro in the Denim Doctor Challenge. Castro eliminated himself by falling in turn one on the first one-lap race. Brant was also eliminated as he experienced a mechanical problem. DiFrancesco lifted badly on the next start and it cost him as he finished last and was eliminated. That left Larsen and McConnell to battle it out. Larsen got the start and McConnell was within inches of him coming out of turn two. Larsen opened up a little breathing room at the end of the first lap and McConnnell made a mistake entering turn one which allowed Larsen to pull away for the victory.

Jeff Blaydes parlayed a great start and four fast laps into a Support Main Event victory. Doug Benjamin was second, Rod Lenz finished third, Scott Tidwell was fourth, and Dave Delbridge finished fifth.

Support B used a scratch format for the evening and Craig Collier was certainly the happiest about it because he cruised to the win in the Support B Main Event. Carl Gazafy finished second, Mike Hernandez was third, while his son, Michael Hernandez was fourth, and Kevin Templeton was credited with fifth.

Next week is the annual 25 Lap Classic at Costa Mesa Speedway. Josh Larsen is the defending champion, but the already stiff competition will be enhanced as four-time 25 Lap Champion "Rad" Brad Oxley will be making his 2002 debut at the event in an attempt to win it a fifth time.


Support B Main Event
133 - Craig Collier
176 - Carl Gazafy
108 - Mike Hernandez
105 - Michael Hernandez
155 - Kevin Templeton           (fell)

Support Consolation
161 - Hector Quevedo
147 - Winston Williams
181 - Michael Novratil
182 - Rudy Laurer           (retired)

Support Consolation
296 - Tom Rossano
165 - Randy Kreps
178 - Eloy Medellin
103 - Brent Smith

Support Last Chance
196 - Rod Lenz
240 - Hideaki Ota
293 - Rick Valdez
117 - Billy Braden           (fell, remounted)

Support Main Event
173 - Jeff Blaydes
128 - Doug Benjamin
196 - Rod Lenz
118 - Scott Tidwell
338 - Dave Delbridge

Denim Doctor Challenge
  2 - Josh Larsen
  6 - Shawn McConnell
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco
 10 - Scott Brant             (non starter)
 14 - Eddie Castro            (fell)

Qualifying Scores               1          2          3          T
  1 - Chris Manchester          3          2          0          5
  2 - Josh Larsen               3          3          1          7
  3 - Gary Hicks                2          1          3          6
  6 - Shawn McConnell           1          3          1          5
  9 - Mike Faria                3          1          3          7
 10 - Scott Brant               2          2          2          6
 11 - Bobby Schwartz            0          3          0          3
 12 - Randy DiFrancesco         0          3          1          4
 13 - Kitt Nay                  1          2          Fx         3
 14 - Eddie Castro              2          2          3          7
 15 - Dukie Ermolenko           3          0          3          6
 17 - Robbie Sauer              0          0          2          2
 21 - Brad Sauer                0          0          0          0
 23 - Mark Adams                1          0          2          3
 57 - Bryan Thompson            0          0          0          0
 89 - Danny Perkins             0          1          0          0
131 - David Lynch               0          1          R          1
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk           0          0          0          0
166 - Andy Northrup             2          0          2          4
316 - John DeFries              1          0          1          2

Semi #1: Castro, Ermolenko, Northrup, Larsen, Manchester (fell)
Semi #2: Faria, McConnell, Brant, DiFrancesco, Hicks
Last Chance: Larsen, Brant, DiFrancesco, Northrup

Dick Kreps Olympique Main Event     (restarted)
  9 - Mike Faria
  2 - Josh Larsen
  6 - Shawn McConnell
 15 - Dukie Ermolenko
 14 - Eddie Castro          (penalty line)
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