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Lanfear learning how to succeed

Second-year driver quickly figuring out ropes of racing

WHITE CITY ­ The scene in the pro stock main event was a familiarone Friday night at the Southern Oregon Speedway: Cal Lanfear leading andJim Walker Jr. just a few feet behind.

Lanfear had been in this position several times this summer only to watchthe clever, savvy and more experienced Walker charge past him before thecheckered flag came out.

But this time Lanfear would not be denied. The 28-year-old Medford residentheld off Walker, albeit by less than a car length, to grab the first stockcar win of his career.

Words can't express how good this feels, Lanfear said. Iwas beginning to wonder if I was ever going to beat Jim Walker.

Prior to Friday, Lanfear had registered five seconds and a fourth in11 trips to the starting line this season, and had finished runner-up toWalker four times.

I did everything I could to get around him and I just couldn't,said Walker, who has 114 main event wins during his illustrious 14-yearracing career. Cal had shown some vulnerability racing in trafficand I was counting on passing him when he got behind a slower car. But he'slearning how to get around the slower cars a lot better. He's learning theropes.

Lanfear brought his 1981 Pontiac Grand Prix to the track for the finalfour races last season. He operated in obscurity, never finishing higherthan 11th in the highly competitive pro stock division.

Over the winter Lanfear lightened his car, which he bought in a wreckingyard for $200, by removing the floor boards and replacing them with sheetmetal. He also worked on the front end of the car and fine-tuned his 377cubic inch engine.

Lanfear also watched stock car races on television, picking up varioustips.

When Lanfear arrived at the track this spring for a preseason playday, he wasn't the same driver.

The car was so much stronger and I felt a lot more comfortabledriving it, he said.

But with just 19 races under his belt in a career that has yet to measuretwo years, Lanfear admits he has a lot to learn.

To win at this track you've got to drive hard, be smooth and knowhow to work your way through traffic, he said.

Walker's absence from victory lane didn't last long, however. He wonSaturday night's pro stock main event.

Walker passed early leader Tony Walker, his brother, on the fifth lapof the 25-lap event and won going away.

Kurt Slamma of Grants Pass, who won two straight races prior to Lanfear'svictory, finished a solid second Saturday. Slamma moved into the runner-upspot on the 12th lap but could never draw closer than about 100 feet toWalker, who skillfully worked his way through traffic the last half of therace.

As for Lanfear, the front suspension on his car was damaged during aheat race Saturday and he was unable to participate in the pro stock main.

Meanwhile, Central Point's Scott Lenz won an action-packed 50-lap modifiedmain, holding off numerous challenges from Tom Glover, Bud Wahlberg, RichardPappenhausen and Dave Duste to take the checkered falg.

Lenz took the lead on the sixth lap and held it to the finish, pocketing$700 for the victory.

Rob Gavin, who raced in the shadow of several other drivers, remainedon the lead lap throughout and finished second when Duste momentarily slippedsideways on the final lap.

Duste wound up third and Mike Caplinger claimed fourth.

Glover, Pappenhausen and Walberg all finished out of the money afterincurring mishaps during the final half of the race. Glover spun out onlap 21, Walberg suffered a flat tire on lap 37 while Pappenhausen and Walbergwere involved in a three-car pileup on lap 44.

Fans were treated to a spectacular crash in the pro stock B main whenRick Norman's car sailed on top of the crash wall along the back straightawayand caught on fire.

The fire was quickly extinguished and Norman was uninjured. The racewas delayed for 10 minutes while a tow truck removed Norman's car from thewall.

After several narrow misses, Cal Lanfear got his first win Friday night but couldn't come up with another win in Saturday's race. - Photo by Andy Atkinson</P