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BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Hood has hit his stride.
Hood powered into the lead on the sixth lap and led the rest of the way to win the 25-lap IMCA Modified feature on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
It was the second straight victory at the third-mile clay oval for Hood, who had trouble just finishing races in the five previous events.
"We've had about a month and a half of bad luck, just racing stuff," Hood said. "This is awesome. Just awesome."
Hood started the season with three straight top-eight finishes. Then came five races where he placed 17th or worse.
"It's been a while since I've won two in a row," he said. "I love it. It's what we come here for, to win, but it doesn't always happen."
Hood pulled out to a 10-car length lead before a caution bunched the field on the 10th lap. He jumped out to a big lead on the restart only to have it evaporate with another caution on lap 14. One lap of racing produced another caution and the final yellow flew on lap 16.
Hood got a good jump on Gary Dutton on the final restart and held on over the final nine laps to win by two car lengths.
"Larry caught me asleep there on the last restart," said Dutton.
Jay Marks finished third, just ahead of Joey Yantis and points leader Brad Pounds.
David Childress pulled away over the final few laps to win his first Sports Mod race in just his third outing this season.
Childress took the lead midway through the 25-lap race then held off Randy Schweitzer to get the win.
Eric Cimental finished a close third with Loren De Armond and Robby Witwer right behind.
The American Stock feature was not completed at press time.
Cory Elliott of Bakersfield raced to an easy victory in the 20-lap USAC Ford Focus feature. It was just the third race in the division for the 12-year old, who finished runner-up in his first two outings. Elliott finished about a third of a track in front of Michael Steel.
Anthony Balcazar took the lead with five laps remaining and went on to win the 15-lap senior division Mini Dwarf feature. It was his second straight win and fourth of the year. Troy Morris III started on the front row and led every lap en route to his first victory in a caution-plagued 12-lap junior division race.