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.

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