Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Fair Night Races Exciting At The Acres

Fair Night Races Exciting At The Acres

By Matthew J. Sullivan

With a packed grandstand and the fair atmosphere in the air, a nice field of late model cars arrived for two thrilling nights of racing at Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka, California. Night one saw Myrtle Point, Oregon’s Mike Sackett take the main event honors while night two saw another Oregonian, David Miller take the victory and the overall fair race bonus.

Along with the late models, the real stock, mini stock and sportsman divisions showed up for their regular night of racing action. The first race of night one was a prelude of the racing action to come for the next two nights as Rick Fox took the trophy dash victory over Shawn Craig by a bumper. In heat racing action, Jimmy Thornbury, Dana Porter and Donnie Hyman each took the trophies in their respective heat races.

The high turnout of real stocks forced a “B” main event with the top two cars transferring to the main event. Taking those positions were Mike Peeples and Thornbury in that order. The “A” main event action got started with a bang... literally as Keith Conn and Ryan Thompson made contact going into the first turn on the first lap. Chad Gurney trying to avoid the incident spun and Travis Maytanes, who had nowhere to go rammed into the back of Gurney’s car ending the night for both drivers. Fox took his car to the lead after the restart and fought off several challenges from defending champion, Craig, winning the first night of racing for the real stocks. Third was Porter and fourth was Doug Way.

There was a larger field of mini stocks for both nights. In the first night, Jason Rhodes took the trophy dash victory over Phil Wood and Dan Brown. In the heat race, Rhodes and Wood raced wheel-to-wheel in an exciting race which saw Rhodes win again over Wood, this time by about a foot. These two continued their battle into the main event.

Rhodes took the lead on lap one and tried to stretch his lead over the rest of the field. Wood worked his way through traffic and caught up to Rhodes and began to make an attempt to pass him on the outside. Lap 9, Wood took the lead but didn’t pull out to a big margin over Rhodes and Brown who made his way to third. While working traffic on lap 12, Wood lost the lead to Rhodes. By lap 18, however, Wood regained the lead and never looked back taking the victory over Rhodes, Brown and Jerry Shaha who was making his first appearance of the season.

In the sportsman trophy dash, David Henderson took the win over Roger Sanderson and Shawn Andrews. Points leader going into the night, Scotty Turner won the heat race over Pat Walsh and Al Acuna. The main event action was bumper to bumper and rousing to say the least as Walsh and Henderson brought the field to the green flag. Ed Peters, who had been having problems with his car smoking all afternoon pulled his car into the pits and was done for the night. Sanderson and Jacob Winfrey made contact coming off of four early in the race but both continued on. Lap 9, rookie Joe McDonald spun for a caution. On the restart, Walsh continued to hold his lead over Henderson.

Lap 24, Andrews who had been working on passing Sanderson got too aggressive and spun Sanderson off of turn two. Sanderson let Andrews know how he felt about the incident and because of that, Sanderson was given a one lap penalty while Andrews was sent to the rear of the field. After the restart, Henderson tried his best to make a move on Walsh but all attempts were thwarted as Walsh won over Henderson, Angelo Marcelli, and James Norris.

The late model trophy dash was fast as Crescent City driver, Howard Ford took the victory over David Miller, Larry Bayless and Randy Hvall. Roger LaHorgue took the first late model heat race win over Preston O’Dell. Unfortunately, LaHorgue had car problems and didn’t race the rest of the two nights. An accident in the second heat race between Ford and Dennis DelBiaggio took both cars out of racing action for the rest of the weekend. Shawn Hayes of Redding won over Mike Sackett and Miller.

Local favorite, Larry Pries and Sackett led the field to the green flag in the main event. Sackett took the early lead over Pries as the field sorted itself out. Lap 3, Paul Peeples had a motor problem and was done for the night. On lap 7, Hayes spun in turns three and four. After the restart, Sackett stretched out a tremendous lead over the field. On lap 31, Hayes spun in turn 3 while trying to move out of the leaders way. A few laps later, Bill Ward hit the wall coming off turn two. On the same lap, Mic Moulton spun his car in turn four. The rest of the race was clean as Sackett took the victory over Bayless, Miller and Hvall.

The second night of racing was even more exciting. Doug Way took the trophy dash victory in the real stock class over Rick Fox and Travis Maytanes. Mike Peeples, Jimmy Thornbury and Way took the trophies home in the three heat races. The main event action got off to a rough start as Fox had problems with his car going into turn one on the first lap and spun into the infield. Later that same lap, Gary Adams and Way made contact and spun. Adams, who had a flat tire was slow on the inside coming to the caution flag. Behind him came Thornbury who had nowhere to go and rammed into the back of Adams ending the night for both drivers.

After the restart, a battle for the lead ensued between Mike Peeples, Travis Maytanes and Donnie Hyman. Peeples took the lead on lap 19 and looked to stretch his lead over Hyman, Maytanes and Shawn Craig who had moved his way through the field. While working his way through traffic, Peeples was slowed. Hyman took advantage of Peeples’ unfortunate break and took the lead. Craig also took advantage and made his way to second. Hyman took the victory over Craig, Peeples and Maytanes.

Dan Brown took trophy dash honors over Jason Rhodes, Phil Wood and Brian Murrell. In the first of the two mini stock heat races, Chad Grammer held off a hard charge by Mac Collado and Jason Shaha while in the second heat Brown held off Rhodes, Murrell and Matt Wolfe.

Jaison Chand, who had been having motor problems all weekend and Grammer led the field to the green flag in the main event. Wood made a quick charge to the front as he began to chase down Chand. Shaha began to leak fluid on the track and a yellow flag was thrown to check his car as well as the track for any fluids. After the restart, Wood again made a challenge on Chand and by lap 11 he took the lead. Lap 17, Collado who had been making a strong charge through the field lost his power plant and pulled his car into the infield. Wood took the victory over Rhodes, Brown and Chand.

Scotty Turner won the sportsman trophy dash. Second was Shawn Andrews followed by David Henderson and Pat Walsh. Roger Sanderson took the heat race win over James Norris, Al Acuna and Angelo Marcelli. Joe McDonald and Sanderson led the field in the main event. Early, Acuna and Sanderson made contact in turn three resulting in a caution. After a lap five restart, Andrews took advantage of cool tires and after several attempts at passing leader Norris he took the lead on lap 10. On lap 15, Acuna and Sanderson again made contact. Acuna was black flagged and done for the night. Andrews went unchallenged for the rest of the race as he took the victory over Norris, Henderson and Walsh.

The late model trophy dash was fast. Randy Hvall won it over Bill Ward, Larry Pries and Mike Sackett. The most exciting event happened in the first of the two heat races when Shawn Hayes and Luke Hall made contact in turn 3. Hayes car climbed over the hood of Hall and flipped over Hayes’ car. Hayes clambered out of the car uninjured. To his delight, his car suffered only slight body damage and he was able to make it back out for the main event.

Fan favorite, Jimmy Walker, who had been having problems with his car all weekend, took the victory over Ron Peters, Preston O’Dell and Mic Moulton. Walker did not make a qualifying attempt earlier in the day has he and his crew took the car back to the shop for an engine change. The second heat race had it’s share of the action as well as Larry Bayless and David Miller made contact coming off of turn two. Mike Sackett ran into the back of Randy Hvall trying to avoid the incident and tore up the whole front wrap of his car. On lap 9 of the 10 lap race, Miller made a bold pass on the outside of Eric Graham going into turn one and took the victory over Hvall, Graham and Rick Spencer.

Miller and Spencer brought the field to the green flag in the main event. Miller took the advantage as Spencer fell in behind him. On lap 16, Hall and Pat Walsh, who was running in the late model class as well made contact in the backstretch. Both cars slid onto the track in turn three but nobody was damaged. At the same time, Walker broke a rear-end and made contact with the wall going into turn 3. A few laps later, O’Dell spun in turn one from some fluid that Walker had left on the racetrack as a result of his problem.

After the restart, Spencer again tried to put the pressure to Miller. On lap 31, Graham got into the wall. Once the field got going again, Sackett passed Ward on lap 36 after a long battle with him. A few laps later, Pries moved Ward out of his way for position. On lap 47, Sackett passed Hvall for third. Two laps later, Ward went into the pits. With five laps to go in the sixty-lap feature, Moulton and O’Dell made contact resulting in Moulton hitting the wall in turn 3.

Miller got a good jump on the field on the restart as Spencer tried to hold off Sackett for the second spot. On the last lap coming off of turn two, Sackett got loose trying to get under Spencer. When Sackett lifted off of the throttle to save his car, Hvall got into the back of him and sent him into the infield. Sackett came through the infield and back onto the track on the front straightaway, luckily with nobody hitting him. Miller took the victory over Spencer, Hvall and Pries.

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