Thursday, May 2, 2019

1981 – Gundaker edges Roper, Wins Capital USAC Go

Kevin Gundaker

Jefferson City, Mo. (May 2, 1981) – Missouri drivers stole the show in the 50-lap USAC stock car season-opening feature at Capital Speedway on Saturday night. Kevin Gundaker of St. Louis nipped Dean Roper of Fair Grove by less than a foot to score the victory.

Another home state chauffeur, Ken Schrader of Fenton, Mo., crossed the finish line in third, ahead of Rick O’Brien of East Peoria, Ill., former five-time USAC titlist Butch Hartman of South Zanesville, Ohio and Bob Brevak of Ashland, Wis.

Gundaker, who had never won an USAC event, arrived late at the track late but still earned a starting spot by piloting the former Rusty Wallace Firebird to a fourth-place finish in his heat race.

Schrader, who had started on the outside of the first row after winning the first heat, took the early lead when polesitter Roper nearly spun at the opening green and slipped into fourth in the process.

However, Roper, who had claimed top honors in the second 15-lap preliminary contest, rebounded quickly, passing O’Brien for third and Joe Wallace for second before picking off Schrader to annex the top spot on lap 10.

The event’s lone caution period, required to move debris from the track, slowed laps 21 through 24.

Hartman who had started 14th, claimed first place on the 30th trip around the half-mile dirt oval and remained in front until tire problems slowed his Camaro in the closing rounds, allowing Gundaker to take charge on lap 49.

Gundaker would then hold off Roper for the win.

Results –

1. Kevin Gundaker
2. Dean Roper
3. Ken Schrader
4. Rick O’Brien
5. Butch Hartman
6. Bob Brevak
7. Terry Deatherage
8. Ken Rowley
9. Sal Tovella
10. Ramo Stott
11. Don White
12. Bay Darnell
13. Tom Meinberg
14. Bill Schwister
15. Joe Wallace
16. Terry Pearson
17. Gordon Blankenship
18. Russ Peterson

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