Saturday, September 24, 2022

1978 – Izzo Cops National Clay Track Crown

Tony Izzo receives congratulations from Keith Knaack, publisher of Hawkeye Racing News, after winning the National Clay Track 200 at Santa Fe. Knaack was acting as substitute flagman for the event. - Vince and Dorothy Mayer Photo 

Willow Springs, Ill. (September 24, 1978) – Tony Izzo set a track qualifying record and then romped to a convincing victory in Sunday afternoon’s National Clay Track Championship 200-lap feature for late models at Santa Fe Speedway.

The win was the second major triumph in eight days for Izzo, who had won the Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 at Illiana (Schererville, Ind) Motor Speedway’s paved oval last Sunday.

After clinching the pole starting position for Sunday’s main event by winning the second 25-lap Silver Twins feature on Saturday night, Izzo displayed his winning form for the first time on Sunday by breaking his own year-old track qualifying standard of 19.16 seconds with a 19.10 clocking on the speedway’s longer oval in time trials.

With his 1978 Camaro performing flawlessly, Izzo then turned the 200-lap main event into a rout, lapping each of his 32 opponents en route to a wire-to-wire victory. It was the 17th feature win of the season for the Bridgeview, Ill., driver at Santa Fe and his fourth on the facilities’ longer circuit.

Art “Fireball” Fehrman of Worth, Ill., came in second, his best finish ever at the track. Jerry Smith of Appleton, Wis., completed the last spot on the podium with a third-place finish.

Jim O’Conner, driving in relief of Ken Pohlman, crossed the finish line in fourth just inches ahead of Ramo Stott, the 1975 USAC stock car champion.

A victory in the first Silver Twins headliner on Saturday night enabled O’Conner to start alongside Izzo on the front row. However, O’Conner proved to be no match for Izzo and then his victory hopes were jolted on lap 20 when he spun in turn one.

O’Conner retired his mount shortly afterward but returned to the contest by taking over Pohlman’s car during the mandatory 10-minute mid-race pit stop for the field. Pohlman’s vehicle was the same car O’Conner had driven to the 1976 Santa Fe championship.

Results –

1. Tony Izzo
2. Art Fehrman
3. Jerry Smith
4. Ken Pohlman (relieved by Jim O’Conner)
5. Ramo Stott
6. Denny Falkos
7. John Connolly
8. Gary Webb
9. Al Justice
10.Bobby Shell
11.Bill Davis
12.Leroy Schneiderman
13.Dennis Marcelle
14.Ray Nelson
15.Ken Widdes
16.Frank Shickel
17.Brian Leslie
18.Larry Jackson
19.Bob Pohlman
20.Whitey Harris
21.Arnie Gardner
22.Rick Smithberg
23.Terry Huizel
24.Gary Fedewa
25.Red Dralle
26.Billy Kuhn
27.Larry Robb
28.John Provenzano
29.Dick Potts
30.Jim O’Conner
31.Don Marmor
32.Ralph Baker

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