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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
He's billed as "Mr. Excitement" and John Lowery lived up to that moniker on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
Lowery squeaked past a spinning Cody Barnett with just over a lap to go, then led the final one-lap dash to the checkered flag to win the 30-lap Late Model feature.
Barnett had led from the outset and and Lowery moved into second and started to give chase midway through the race. The two pulled away from third-place runner Brad Pounds with Lowery creeping closer and closer to Barnett, who saw a several-car-length lead vanish over the final 10 laps as he negotiated his way through slower traffic.
"I played the traffic a little bit," Lowery said of being able to close the gap on Barnett. "That's brutal -- the guy in front has no idea where his competitor is and that played to my advantage."
Lowery was all over Barnett as the two entered turn three on the 29th lap and Barnett's car jumped out on him in turn four, getting sideways right in front of Lowery. Lowery made some contact as he eased past as the first yellow flag of the night fell.
That set up a one-lap race to the finish with Lowery easily pulling away from Pounds.
"I had a great car, as usual," Lowery said." I feel bad for the Barnett kid, it was just one of those deals."
Andy Obertello was third, followed by Nick Bartels and Clay Daly.
Chad Johnson broke away from a torrid battle for the lead late in the race to win the 25-lap Hobby Stock feature.
Johnson was the fourth different leader, taking the point position on the 16th lap and staying there the rest of the way. He fought off challenges from Eric Cimental, Clint Reichenbach and Lloyd Wren Jr. to get his second win of the year.
"I had to work my (butt) off for this one," he said after climbing from his car.
Wren finished second with Reichenbach, who led laps 11-15, third. Points leader Jimmy Irwin was fourth with Steven Johnson fifth.
Starting 11th in the 25-lap Sport Mod feature didn't turn out to be much of a handicap for point leader Darrell Hood.
Hood was second by the fourth lap and went from third to first with a pass on the high side of turn three on lap 11. There was no catching Hood after that.
Joe Baker got close, thanks to a pair of cautions that bunched the field, but Hood pulled away over the final four laps to win by several car lengths.
Baker was right on the rear of Hood on the 20th lap and actually gave his a little bump in turn three.
"I think I was babying it too much," Hood said of his slow start following the final caution. "We have a lot of good cars out here. I want to thank Joe (for not taking him out)."
Hood put the pedal down after that, ending the threat from Baker.
David Childress finished second with Loren De Armond fourth.
Scott Black drove held off a challenge from Doug Shepherd for his second Mini Stock feature win of the season.
Black started seventh and powered into the lead on lap 7 of the 20-lap event. Shepherd chased him from that point on and was on his bumper with five laps to go. But Black pulled away over the final few laps to win by several car lengths.
Chuck West powered pass Scott Dobson with three laps remaining and went on to win the 20-lap NMRA Three-Quarter Midget race. Dobson, who led the first 17 laps, finished second.