Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Barnwell holds off Pries, Peeples wins in thrilling fashion

Barnwell holds off Pries, Peeples wins in thrilling fashion

By Matthew J. Sullivan

It was the 13th, there was a full moon, mercifully it wasn’t Friday, but that didn’t prevent some craziness from happening Saturday night at Redwood Acres Raceway. With the thunder roadsters back in town, there was a full plate of action for fans, drivers and crew members alike. Brandon Barnwell held off two Acres veterans to claim the Sportsman main event win, while former sportsman runner, Paul Peeples, Jr. won the thrilling roadster main event on the last lap. Bill Bradbury held off all challenges to claim the victory in the real stock main event, and Bryan McIntosh took home the trophy in the crash-marred mini stock main.

The limited street division was out to run, but the car count continued to struggle as only five cars timed in with Orion Mosher setting the fast lap at a 17.253. Adrien Betournay took the dash win over Mosher, Kenny Demello and Trevor Miller who was making his first start in the division. The heat race ended up being the division’s main event as Terry Vallee wasn’t able to make it out. During the race, Miller got sideways off the fourth turn and slammed nose first into the concrete wall. Miller was able to get out of his car, but his car was too heavily damaged to continue. With a two laps left in the 10-lap run, Betournay’s hood came up into his windshield forcing him into the infield. When it was over, Kenny Demello held off Mosher to win.

Craig Baker continued to set the standard in the mini stock division as he clocked in a 19.066 lap. Baker won the dash over Chad Grammer, Stacy Minnick and Scott Baker. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a full night of racing for Craig Baker as he suffered engine problems in the heat. Byron McIntosh took the win in that race over Scott Baker, Bryan McIntosh, Nick Karanopoulos and Minnick. Nine cars started the 25 lap main event with Karanopoulos and Byron McIntosh leading the field to the green flag. Karanopoulos took the lead on the first lap but his time up front would be short-lived. On lap two, Brian Murrell moved his way past Karanopoulos to take the lead. Karanopoulos slotted into the second spot but by the fifth lap he had moved back to the sixth spot as Bryan McIntosh, Scott Baker, Glen Bernald and Grammer all were able to get by him. On lap seven, Byron McIntosh spun off the fourth turn into the infield resulting in a yellow flag.

On the restart, Baker tried to forge his way to the front using the outside line. Unfortunately on the eighth lap in between the first and second turns, Baker got loose and hit the wall slightly bringing out the caution. Baker made his way to the back of the field which at this time was lead by Murrell, Bryan McIntosh, Grammer, Bernald and Karanopoulos. When the green came out again, Murrell stretched his lead while Grammer tried to get by McIntosh. The two raced doorhandle to doorhandle for several laps and were able to close the gap on Murrell. On lap 16, Grammar took the second spot and pulled outside of Murrell to battle for the race lead. On lap 18, Denzel Barrett blew his engine going into the third turn resulting in a small fire under his car. Just as the red flag came out, Murrell spun in the third turn. However, the red flag rules were his savior as he was allowed to keep his race leading position.

The green flag came out again but didn’t last long when Karanopoulos lost his left front wheel in the middle of turns three and four on lap 19 hitting the wall hard. Fortunately he was okay. The green came out once more with Murrell and Grammer continuing their fight for the front position. With two laps to go, Grammer made contact with Murrell in turn two spinning him out. The yellow flag came again with Grammer going to the back of the pack handing the lead over to Bryan McIntosh. It was a green flag, white flag restart with McIntosh leading Bernald and Scott Baker. In turn three on the last lap, Baker and Murrell made contact hitting the third turn wall. It was all in McIntosh’s mirror as he took the win over Bernald, Grammer, Murrell and Baker.

Dan Browne set a very quick 19.070 lap in the real stock division. Ryan Walters won the dash followed by Jim Bailey, Browne and Mike Peeples. Walters followed that up with a win in the first heat over Bill Bradbury, Barry Barnwell, Ray Rapp driving Ray DeMello’s car and Dan Bradbury driving Jim Redd’s car. Unfortunately in the heat, Browne smacked the wall in between the third and fourth turns which hurt his left front, ending his night. Doug Way nabbed the second heat win followed by Peeples, Bailey, Ray Robinson and Troy Wood. 13 cars started the 25 lap main with the front row comprised of Bill Bradbury and Rapp. Rapp got the jump off the start, but Bradbury was able to use the inside line to get by Rapp by the end of the first lap bringing Walters with him. On lap four, Peeples made his way past Walters to take the second spot, however Bradbury had built up a substantial lead over the field. By lap five, the top five was Bradbury, Peeples, Walters, Bailey and Barnwell.

On the eighth lap, Bailey made contact with Walters causing Walters to get loose and lose the position. On lap 11, Way moved his way by Barnwell for the fifth position and set his sights on Walters. On lap 14, Walters got on Bailey’s bumper and repaid the favor from earlier, but Bailey was able to maintain the third position. Four laps later, Walters got by Bailey to take the position. A lap later, Wood made contact with newcomer Nick Green sending Green spinning in the first turn. As he tried to get going, Green’s cooling system failed spilling water on the track and bringing out the yellow flag, much to Bill Bradbury’s dismay as he had built up an insurmountable lead over Peeples. The green came out and Peeples tried to find a way past Bradbury. On the last lap, Peeples tried to use the high line to get by but wasn’t able to get his car to stick as he lost the second spot to Walters. Bradbury crossed the line first to take the win over Walters, Peeples, Bailey and Way. Regrettably, the cars of Walters, Peeples and Way were deemed illegal in post race technical inspection which cancelled out all of their finishes for the night and realigning the top five in the main event, Bradbury, Bailey, Barry Barnwell, Ray Robinson and Dan Bradbury

The thunder roadsters made their second start of the year and had another solid turnout of cars, with a count of 21. Veteran Paul Peeples, Jr. had the fast lap of 17.113. Debut winner David Henderson took the dash win over Peeples, Troy Combs and Mark Arroyo. Peeples grabbed the win in the first heat followed by Rusty Olson, Combs, Ron Rosenthal and Mike Ward while Henderson took the second over Chris Sarvinski, Ray Elliott, Arroyo and Bill O’Neill. Ward and O’Neill shared the front row for the 25 lap main event. When the green flag dropped, Ward took the top spot with Ray Elliott filling the gap in second. On lap three, Elliott spun off the fourth turn sending up a cloud of dust which caught out Dave McMurray who hit the wall bringing out the caution flag.

The green flew for the restart with Ward leading O’Neill, Rosenthal, Combs and Mike Felhouser. Combs moved his way past Rosenthal for third, then by O’Neill for second, then the lead by O’Neill on lap five. On lap eight, Nyle Henderson spun bringing out the yellow. The top five was now Combs, O’Neill, Ward, Rosenthal and Olson. The green flew again with Combs pulling out to a huge lead over the field. On lap 10, Peeples moved into the fifth position. Peeples moved by Ward, then on lap 12 he took the second spot. O’Neill was freight-trained as Olson took third, David Henderson took fourth and Rosenthal took fifth. The front five settled themselves out and it looked as if Combs was going to go unchallenged as he hit slower traffic. Several times, Combs had problems maneuvering past slower cars and with each lap Peeples was able to gain ground. With two laps to go, Peeples was within enough distance to challenge Combs for the lead. On the last lap, the duo was nose to tail, still fighting traffic. Going into the third turn on the final lap, Combs move high to get around a slower car. Unfortunately for him, the slower car moved up allowing Peeples to take the inside line and cross the finish line first. Combs brought his car home second with Olson holding off Henderson for third and Rosenthal taking the fifth finishing spot.

12 cars took clock in the sportsman division, Rick Fox being the fastest with a lap of 16.673. Marty Walsh took the dash win over Fox, Aaron Byers and Brandon Barnwell. Walsh won the first heat over Al Acuna and Jerry Peterson while Angelo Marcelli took the controversial second race which saw contact between Fox and Lissa Uselton. Fox maintained the second position over Byers, Larry Pries and Ken Hallis who arrived after qualifications. Pries and Brown lead the field to the green in the initial start of the 30 lap main event. However, before the lap ended Frank Billy and Fox made contact sending Fox spinning in the third turn. Coming off the fourth corner, Brown spun into the infield hitting one of the Humboldt Towing trucks. Fortunately the damage was minor to Brown’s car and the two truck didn’t appear to have any damage whatsoever.

With Brown going to the rear, Barnwell inherited the outside front row starting position, and when the green came out he took advantage of his opportunity. Going into the first turn, Barnwell took the lead over with Pries slotting behind in second. The field settled out and on lap five it was Barnwell leading Pries, Marcelli, Walsh and Byers. On lap six, Walsh moved to the high line and moved his way past Marcelli the next lap. Meanwhile, Barnwell and Pries were running nose to tail maintaining a comfortable gap over Walsh. Each lap, Walsh gained ground on the front two and by lap 13 he was on Pries’ bumper. On lap 15, Peterson moved by Byers for the fifth position. The battle for second heated up between Pries and Walsh allowing Barnwell to pull out a bigger gap. Walsh had a run inside of Pries on lap 19 but backed off.

On lap 21, Peterson got into the back of Marcelli coming off the fourth corner. Frank Billy spun to avoid Marcelli and the yellow flag came out. Peterson was sent to the rear and the top five was now Barnwell, Pries, Walsh, Acuna and Byers. On the restart, the front trio pulled away from Acuna who had his hands full with Byers. Barnwell’s savior ended up being Walsh who continued to fight Pries for second, allowing Barnwell to race somewhat comfortably. When the checkered flag fell it was Barnwell, Pries, Walsh, Acuna and Byers the top five.

The next race at the Acres is May 20 as the BCRA midgets make their one and only stop to the north coast.

- Notes -

- It was very nice at the track, thankfully there wasn’t a huge wind blowing. It sure got cold though.

- What a shame for Trevor Miller. He finally is able to get out and race and he hits the wall. Hopefully Trevor will be back out soon.

- You have to feel for Troy Combs who lost the roadster main on the last lap. He drove a good race and tried to be as clean as he could with slower cars.

- Hopefully the cars caught up in incidents in the mini stock main will get back out this coming weekend. I hate to see so many cars have problems.

- Brandon Barnwell did a fine job holding off two veteran drivers in Larry Pries and Marty Walsh. It was a nice, clean run between all three.

- Thanks to all who bought tickets in the Chuck Essex raffle. It’s great to hear that Chuck is home. We hope to see you back out soon!

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Brandon makes a big return to the Acres

Brandon makes a big return to the Acres

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The race didn’t see its full distance, and the racing action ran right up to the 11:00 sound curfew but none of that mattered to Geoff Brandon, who returned to regular racing action with the first win in the sportsman division of the new season at Redwood Acres Raceway. Brandon had previously ran his number 26 in the same division several years ago but decided to take a break from local racing until now. Defending real stock champion Cecil Arispe served notice to his competition that he would be a force to be reckoned with this season as he ran away from the field for the win. Due to impending bad weather and the time crunch with the visiting North State Challenge Series, the mini stock and limited street stock divisions were not able to hold their respective main events.

The limited street stock class has a seven car turnout with J.D. Fry setting the pace with an 18.142 lap around the 3/8 paved track. Richard Betournay won the trophy dash over Ken DeMello, Fry and Kavin Conn. The heat race saw great action between DeMello and Fry as the two battled each other for the win. Unfortunately as this was going on, on the last lap Duane Mayo blew his engine going into turn one. DeMello made his way though but Fry hit the oil and spun. DeMello took the win over Betournay. Fry was able to recover and finish third, Terry Vallee fourth and Mike Adams fifth.

There was a seven car turnout for qualifying for the mini stock class with Jaison Chand and Glen Bernald missing getting times in. Defending mini stock champion Jerry Peterson set a quick time of 18.911, the only driver to get into the eighteen second bracket. In the trophy dash, Joe Bonomini won a close on over Peterson, class rookie Craig Huffman and Craig Baker. Peterson ran away and hid from the field in the heat race scoring the win over Huffman, Baker, Bonomini and Chand.

The real stock division had a fine turnout of cars with twenty-two showing up for the night. Lissa Usselton set the pace with a solid 20.052 lap for fast time honors. Trevor Miller took the trophy dash with Cecil Arispe, Usselton and Bill Middleton nipping at his heels. Arispe won the first heat over Bill Bradbury and Ryan Walters while in heat two, Ray DeMello won over Miller and Gary Adams.

Rookie Brian Belt received pole honors for the twenty-five lap main event and led the first three laps before the caution flag flew. Under the yellow, Adams was black flagged. Walters took advantage on Belt’s lack of experience on the restart and nabbed the lead away from him. Meanwhile, Arispe had quickly diced his way through traffic and began challenging Walters for the lead on lap four. On lap five, Rick Stone spun on the front stretch and blocked the track. At the same time Arispe made his move for the lead on Walters and got it. The yellow flag came out as Doug Way spun off turn two. Under the yellow the running order was Arispe, Walters, Brian Belt, Middleton and Bradbury.

After the restart, on lap 7 Adams suffered a flat right rear tire and brought his car back into the pits. Meanwhile, Middleton and Jason Belt were moving their way to the front of the field. By lap twelve Middleton was second with Jason Belt following in third, both trying to chase down Arispe. Three laps later, Jason Belt made his move past Middleton and set sail to challenge Arispe for the lead. Lap 19, Adams had problems again and the caution flag flew. On the restart, Jason Belt began to apply pressure on Arispe for the lead and continued to til the end. Unfortunately for Belt it wasn’t enough as Arispe won with Miller third, Middleton fourth and Walters.

The sportsman division had its highest car count in recent memory with fifteen cars taking time and seventeen making the main event. Longtime Acres veteran, Glen Shewry turned in a 16.347 lap for fast time and took the trophy dash win over Larry Pries, Aaron Byers and Al Acuna. Acuna won the first sportsman heat race over Pries and Angelo Marcelli while Fergy Ferguson won the second over Byers and Shewry.

Marty Walsh brought the field to the green flag in the thirty lap main event. The first seven laps turned out some great side-by-side racing for the lead between the front row starters Walsh and Donnie Hyman. For the first seven laps, it was nip and tuck between the two racing cleanly for the lead. The caution flag came out on lap seven when Byers spun. On the restart going into turn one, Walsh and Hyman made contact and spun in front of the field. Pat Walsh, Mike Peeples and Brandon Barnwell all spun to avoid the incident while division rookie Frank Billy climbed the wall in the mix up. Billy was done for the night.

Geoff Brandon inherited the lead and brought the field to the restart over Acuna, Pries, Shewry and Rick Fox. After a lap twelve caution, Pries and Shewry battled for third position while Acuna tried to find a way around Brandon. The red flag came out on lap seventeen when Pat Walsh spun in turn four collecting his son Marty Walsh, along with Byers who rear ended Marty Walsh’s car. After the lengthy cleanup, the field went back to green flag racing. The yellow came out once again on lap twenty three when Barnwell and Hyman made contact with Hyman spinning. When the green came out, Acuna again applied pressure to Brandon but time ran out when Barnwell spun off turn four on lap twenty-nine and lost the entire rear part of his body. Due to the 11:00 curfew, the checkered flag flew under the yellow with Brandon winning, Acuna second, Pries third, Shewry fourth and Fox fifth.

The second race of the season is Saturday May 14. Along with the regular schedule of cars, the BCRA and WMRA midgets will be visiting the Acres.