EARL PAULES BEATS TOUR REGULARS IN RoC by April Barker
Thompson Track, Hirschman & Hossfeld Can't Stop Him
It was hardly surprising that Earl Paules ran up front all day in the Race of Champions Modified Tour 75-lap event at Thompson International Speedway on Sunday. Paules dominated the RoC portion of the Modified Mania event from the moment he took to the track, putting down the fastest lap in time trials on Saturday and then leading every lap in the feature event on Sunday.
Pete Britian might not be old, but this "old school" jacket worn by his father tells a litle different story.
Paules was one of only three drivers to put down a qualifying lap in the 18-second range, the others being Whelen Modified Tour regulars Matt Hirschman and Ted Christopher. In fact, the only cars that seemed to have any hope of challenging Paules all weekend were the Whelen Tour drivers.
This is most likely due to experience. The Whelen Modified Tour visits Thompson Speedway several times each year, giving competitors such as Beers, Hirschman and Christopher an advantage over regular RoC drivers with little or no experience there. Paules had the foresight to know that experience would be an important factor and did what he could to gain a competitive edge.
“I came up (to Thompson) a couple times, probably about five or six times this year, with the SK Modified car just to get used to this race track; just to come up here when the RoC came up here,” explained Paules.
He raced his SK Modified this weekend as well and was the only RoC driver, excepting those competing in the Whelen Modified Tour race, to compete in more than one Modified Mania event. He was strong in that race too, finishing fifth.
“This is a tough place,” he said. “It’s fast and you’ve got to be familiar with it.”
Paules’ efforts to familiarize himself with the track obviously paid off, but he never took his dominant lead or his fast racecar for granted. A few late-race cautions gave Chuck Hossfeld and Hirschman a chance to challenge him for the lead, but Paules didn’t mind putting on an exciting finish for the fans.
“The cautions started flying and we had Hossfeld up there with us,” said Paules. “You had Eric Beers out there, and obviously Matt Hirschman was out there, so that was a little tough. If it went green to the end, I would have felt a lot more comfortable. I would have had a big lead, but it was a race for the fans and that’s what we’re here for.”
Hossfeld worked his way up to second with about 20 laps to go, even after suffering a mechanical problem earlier in the race, but wasn’t able to catch up to Paules on long green-flag runs.
Chuck Hossfeld had the best shot of beating Paules, but it wasn't meant to be. (51 Photo)
“What we needed was a caution to be able to put some pressure on Earl, because all by himself, he was running the same times as us. So it’s hard to track down that much ground,” said Hossfeld.
Before someone else could bring out the caution Hossfeld was looking for, he brought it out himself. With less than 10 laps to go, he suffered his second mechanical failure of the race and found himself stopped on the track.
“We broke right at the end; a radius rod broke on the left front,” said Hossfeld. “First, the right rear shock mount broke and my guys did a hell of a job fixing it. I thought we were done for the day, but we got it back and fixed
up. I think we were the class of the field because we came from the back three times, so I’m happy. I’m proud of that; we just don’t have the result to show it.”
With nine laps to go, Hirschman found himself in second with an opportunity to challenge for the lead after Hossfeld’s caution tightened up the field. Hirschman looked like he might have something for Paules, and almost got to the inside of him with two laps to go, but ultimately had to settle for second.
“I knew what strategy I had to play to have a shot at the end and it all worked out; we were right there,” said Hirschman. “He had the advantage of starting further ahead of us. He got the lead and had a clean track while I had to deal with traffic. I just kind of waited and waited until it got to the end, so I would have something left to give him a run for it. And, like I said, we came close. We were right there. A couple more laps, the better my chances were going to be. But that’s where it ended, at (lap) 75.”
It was a good day for Hirschman, but a better day for
Earl Paules. He had a great car and the good fortune to go along with it.
“The car worked good all day long,” said Paules. “We were just fortunate enough for everything to go our way, and we won the race.”
Earl Paules didn't let the threat from the Mod Tour regulars stop him at Thompson. (Jim DuPont photo)