Epping, NH – Randy Cabral answered his own question Saturday night, celebrating the Northeastern Midget Association’s return to Star Speedway. The defending champion scored an impressive 30-lap victory in NEMA return after an absence of five years.
“I kept asking [car owner Tim Bertrand] ‘do I have it anymore?’” said Cabral who ended a nine-race victory draught going back to August of last year. Taking the lead on lap 10, he left no doubt with a convincing victory over ageless Jeff Horn (Horn A1).
A gutsy move on the second of five restarts set up the winning pass. Sitting fourth, Cabral went around Horn in turn one to claim second. “The car was working so good I just thought it would stick,” said Cabral who then followed Seth Carlson (Feigel 71), the only other leader, until grabbing control with an inside move out of four three laps later.
Cabral, running laps in the high 11s, had no problem with three restart challenges from Horn, pulling away each time. Over the final 10 circuits, the Stoehr brothers waged a battle for third, Russ (Dumo’s Desire 45) the eventual winner over Greg (Stoehr 26b). Anthony Nocella (Seymour 4) rallied for fifth.
Running a “Hail Mary set up, something we hadn’t tried before,”Cabral left little doubt en route to his 32nd career win. He has now won in 13 consecutive seasons.
Senior citizen Horn, calling himself “an old bronc rider trying to stay in the rodeo,” ran second much of the race. Dropping back to third on Cabral’s daring move, he regained it when Carlson stalled in the backstretch four laps later. He again dropped to third when son Mike Horn blasted by on the fourth restart but was back in second a lap later when Mike spun after hitting the backstretch retainer.
A decision to “hang back” early enabled Cabral to miss a first-lap incident that involved almost half the field. On the restart Carlson beat pole sitter Doug Cleveland out of two. Two laps later, Horn grabbed second.
Adam Cantor, the winner at Lee on April 13, missed the race due to the death of his stepfather Joe DeMonte. Cabral dedicated the victory to DeMonte and the Cabral team.
NEMA heads back to Waterford Saturday night for the Shane Hammond Memorial.
NEMA NUGGETS – “Maybe something good came out of the crash at Stafford,” said Bertrand, pointing out it forced him to purchase new shocks. “The old ones were seven years old,” he said. “I wanted replacements and found out they don’t make them anymore.” The result was “throwing out the old setups and starting over.”
Jeff Horn was excited about son Mike’s daring move. “I don’t like to be passed but in that case it was OK,” said Horn…The top-five run of point leader John Zych Jr. ended. Involved in the first lap crash, he came home seventh…Novella’s run to fifth was impressive. He came back from an early spin after contact with Jeff Horn on lap seven.
RESULTS: 1. Randy Cabral, 2. Jeff Horn, 3. Russ Stoehr, 4. Greg Stoehr, 5. Anthony Nocella, 6. Chris Leonard, 7. John Zych Jr., 8. Erica Santos, 9. Jim Miller, 10. Matt O’Brien, 11. Doug Cleveland, 12. James SantaMaria, 13. Mike Horn, 14. Anthony Marvuglio, 15. Seth Carlson, 16. Paul Scally, 17. Barry Kittredge, 18. Todd Bertrand. DNS – Brian Cleveland.
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR