Sunday, June 26, 2005

Brandon sweeps fair races

Brandon sweeps fair races

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Geoff Brandon might want to take a trip to Las Vegas pretty soon because if he is as good at gambling as he is at racing, he’ll win big. That is just what he did both Friday and Saturday nights at Redwood Acres Raceway winning both main events in the sportsman division. Jason Belt won the real stock main event Friday night but his three race winning streak was stopped Saturday thanks to Shane Toole. Jaison Chand won Friday but also had his own two race win streak (three races for his car) come to a halt when Joe Bonomini won on night two. J.D. Frey continued his dominance in the limited street division winning on the first night but coming up short the next night to Adrian Betournay, driving the car normally piloted by his father.

Due to the low car turnout for the limited street stock cars, a trophy dash was not held both nights. J.D. Frey won Friday’s heat race with Kavin Conn, Duane Mayo and Ken Demello behind. In the ten lap main event, Mayo and Conn brought the six car field to the green. Mayo grabbed the lead on the first lap but on the second, Frey took charge taking the lead. After a spin on lap two by Terry Vallee which brought out the yellow, Frey pulled to a comfortable lead and took the win over Demello, Mayo, Conn and Vallee.

Demello held off a furious charge from Frey in Saturday night’s heat race for the win. In the main event, Mayo and Conn paced the field to the green for the second straight night. Unfortunately for Mayo, coming to the green he spun to the infield. Fortunately nobody suffered any damage and the race was able to restart with all six cars that started. On the restart, Vallee hit the front stretch wall hard bringing out the red flag. Vallee was fine but his car wasn’t. When the green came out again, Conn was leading the field. Meanwhile, Adrian Betournay who didn’t make it out Friday was moving himself into position and on lap four he snatched the lead away from Conn. Betournay never looked back taking the win over Demello, Frey, Conn and Mayo.

Jaison Chand continued his winning ways in the trophy dash for the mini stock division in Friday night’s racing action. In the heat race, Craig Baker did an excellent job fending off Chand and Jerry Peterson taking the win. Scott Baker and Chad Grammer lead the ten car field to the green flag in the main event Baker grabbed the lead early while Grammer had issues with his car and went to the pits. Peterson began to apply pressure to Baker while Chand moved his way to the front. On lap four, Chand saw an opening and took it going to the inside and passing Peterson and Baker. That same lap, Joe Bonomini drove his car to the pits. From there on, it was all Jaison Chand as he took the main event win followed by Peterson, Craig Baker, Brian McIntosh and Scott Baker.

Peterson won Saturday night’s trophy dash while Chand took heat race honors. Grammer and Bonomini took the field to the green in the main event. Bonomini nabbed the lead but he and the rest of the field were slowed on lap two due to a caution for debris. When the green flew again, so did Bonomini pulling out to what would be an insurmountable lead. Chand and Peterson were both able to maneuver their way to second and third but it was Joe Bonomini’s night as he cruised to the win followed by Chand, Peterson, Glen Bernald and Grammer.

The real stock division had their usual fine turnout of cars for both nights of racing. Jim Bailey won Friday night’s trophy dash and followed it up with a win in his heat race. Troy Wood also won in his heat. Bill Middleton and Barry Barnwell brought the field to the green in the main. However Middleton spun on the race’s initial start and was sent to the back for causing the caution. When the race resumed Shane Toole inherited the pole and took the lead. It didn’t take long for Bailey to find his way to the front as he grabbed the lead on lap three. Points leader Jason Belt also made his way quickly through the field getting to second by lap seven before a caution between Middleton and Wood brought out the yellow flag. After a few caution flags, Belt settled in and began to pressure Bailey for the lead. His persistence would pay off on lap seventeen in turn three when Bailey’s car bobbled leaving just enough room for Belt to take the position and go on to the win over Bailey, Trevor Miller, Ryan Walters and Middleton.

Wood won Saturday night’s trophy dash while Belt and Arispe both earned heat race winning honors. George Young and Toole took the field to the green flag in the main event and dueled side by side early in the going. Toole pulled his car out to a large lead after an early caution over Redd and Fred Taylor. The big battle was for second all race as Redd tried to fend off the challenges of Bailey and Middleton. Toole was too strong and took the main event win ahead of Middleton, Bailey, Redd and Young. Toole was driving the car normally driven by Bill Bradbury. Due to shoulder surgery for Bradbury, Toole will be driving the vehicle for the rest of the season.

The sportsman division had a stellar turnout of cars for both nights; eighteen for Friday, fourteen for Saturday. Acres veteran Larry Pries won the trophy dash while Frank Billy and Donnie Brown both took heat race wins. Donnie Brown and Phil Wood head the front row positions and lead the field to the green flag in the main event. Wood took the lead from Brown while Geoff Brandon tried to take second. After an early caution involving Brandon Barnwell, Mike Bourbon and visiting driver Dustin Knight, Wood pulled out to a twenty car length lead. On lap eight, Brandon made his way past Brown and set his sights on Wood. As the green flag racing wore on, Wood was able to maintain his distance over Brandon. It wasn’t until Wood got into slower traffic that Brandon really closed the gap.

By lap 22, Brandon was right in Wood’s tire tracks as the two tried to put a lap on Barnwell. Wood followed Barnwell for several laps before getting into the back of him in turn three, sending up a cloud of smoke and dirt. Unfortunately, Pries running third had nowhere to go and hit Barnwell, demolishing his car and ending his racing for the weekend. To Wood’s displeasure, he was sent to the rear of the field but was eventually pushed to the pits for the night. After the restart, the red flag flew when Ken Hallis, Knight, Billy and Mike Peeples were involved in an incident in turn three. The wreck ended the racing weekend for both Hallis and Knight. When the green flag came back, Brandon pulled away to the victory over Hyman, Rick Fox, Aaron Byers and Fergie Ferguson.

Brandon continued his winning ways Saturday night starting with a win in the trophy dash. Brown and Byers each won in their respective heat races and those two were the ones who brought the sportsman division to the green flag in the main event. Byers took charge with the lead while Ferguson and Brandon both were able to get by Hyman. On lap three, Peeples spun collecting Bourbon. Under the yellow, Wood’s drive line decided to leave his car and he was done for the evening. After the restart, Byers did his best to hold off the faster cars of Ferguson and Brandon. On lap ten, Brandon moved his way to the high side of Ferguson, got past him and then on lap twelve he got past Byers for the lead and the eventual race win. Byers was able to hold onto second followed by Ferguson, Brown and Barnwell.

The racing action resumes at Redwood Acres Raceway July 9th with the regular schedule of cars. The racing is sponsored by Sun Valley Floral Farms and is presented by KFMI Power 96.3.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Brandon wins, stretches point lead

Brandon wins, stretches point lead

By Matthew J. Sullivan

In front of a packed house at Redwood Acres Raceway, Geoff Brandon showed why he is the sportsman division point leader at the 3/8 mile paved oval by working his way through traffic and taking the main event win. Jason Belt backed up his win in the real stock main in the previous race with another win. Jaison Chand won the mini stock main, the second win in a row for his car which was driven last race by former Acres mini stock ace, Doug Pulver. J.D. Frey swept all three races for the second straight weekend in the limited street division.

The limited streets had a seven car turnout, but unfortunately the field would be decimated by the night’s end. Frey won the trophy dash over Duane Mayo, Kavin Conn and Richard Betourney. The heat race took two cars out of the night’s action, first Mike Adams on the first lap and later Betourney who made heavy contact with the rear of his car to the front stretch wall. Thankfully, Betourney was able to drive his car to the pits, assuring the fans of his well-being. Frey took the heat race win over Mayo, points leader Ken Demello and Conn. The ten-lap main event turned ugly from the get-go. Demello and Mayo were to pace the field to the green but coming to take the start, Mayo got loose and got into Demello which sent him hard into the front straightaway wall, ending his night. On the restart, Conn and Frey brought the field to the green. Conn tried his best to hold off the clearly faster Frey but it wasn’t enough as Frey took the main event win followed by Conn, Mayo and Mark Burris.

A good field of cars showed up for the mini stock division. Joe Bonomini won the trophy dash over Jerry Peterson, points leader Jaison Chand. David Henderson wrecked in the dash ending his racing for the evening. Bonomini held off Chand in the heat race followed by Peterson and mini stock rookie Craig Huffman. The twenty-five lap heat race was brought to the green flag by Huffman and Brian McIntosh, however McIntosh lost power and the race was restarted with Scott Baker taking McIntosh’s place as outside pole-sitter. On the restart, Baker took the lead over Huffman. On lap two, Peterson showed some muscle and took the lead from Baker and tried to stretch his lead from the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Bonomini and Chand were fighting their way through the field getting to second and third by lap three. A lap later, Chand took over second and tried to run down Peterson.

Chand was slowly reeling in Peterson when the caution flag flew on lap thirteen when McIntosh lost power again and stalled on the front straightaway. On the restart, Chand took advantage of his cooler tires as well as his track position and made a bold move to the inside of Peterson. The best racing for the rest of the main event was between Huffman and Craig Baker who swapped the fourth position several times in the race’s closing laps. Chand won over Peterson, Bonomini, Huffman and Baker.

The real stock division had another solid turnout of cars. Points leader Jason Belt took home trophy dash honors followed by Jim Bailey, Ryan Walters and Lissa Uselton. Bailey won the first heat race ahead of Belt, Trevor Miller and Ray Demello while Troy Wood took the second over Uselton, Cecil Arispe and Walters. The twenty-five lap main event was brought to the green flag by Bill Middleton and Barry Barnwell. Middleton spun between turns one and two and the race was completely restarted, this time with Bill Bradbury taking the pole from Middleton who started at the rear of the field. On the start, Bradbury grabbed the lead. Meanwhile, Bailey was on a charge to the front. He made a daring three-wide move on the outside on lap two and used that momentum to nab the lead from Bradbury by lap three. Belt was also making his way through the field getting by Bradbury on lap four for second.

The race’s first caution came out on lap four when Barnwell spun collecting Uselton. Barnwell was able to bring his car out for a few laps after the incident but Uselton was done for the night. Bailey lead the restart with Belt, Bradbury, Miller and Walters following behind. Walters got an excellent restart and moved into second ahead of Belt. Belt retook the position on lap seven. A lap later, Middleton and Wood spun bringing out the caution flag. After a restart, the yellow came again on lap ten when rookie Brian Belt spun. Flagman Tim McKeown gave Belt the black flag sending him to the pits for the rest of the night. After the restart another caution flew on lap thirteen when Jim Redd and Arispe made contact sending Arispe into a spin. Meanwhile, Bailey still held the lead over Belt, Walters, Miller and Bradbury. On lap seventeen, Bailey bobbled between turns three and four. Belt made a move to the inside and made the pass and went on to win over Bailey, Miller, Walters and Middleton who fought hard from the back to come back to the front of the field.

A strong sixteen sportsman cars arrived at the Acres to put on a show. Donnie Hyman took home the trophy in the dash over Phil Wood, Larry Pries and Geoff Brandon. After some late race contact between Pat Walsh and Donnie Brown, Al Acuna took the first heat race win followed by Hyman, Mike Bourbon and Brown. Rick Fox won the second heat over Angelo Marcelli, Mark Williams and Brandon Barnwell. The thirty lap sportsman main event was lead to the green flag by Williams and Fergy Ferguson who had his car fixed after an incident in his heat race. Williams nabbed the lead from Ferguson and looked to put some space between himself and second spot. On lap five, Barnwell spun in turns three and four causing a huge melee involving Marcelli, Mike Peeples, Brown, Acuna and Walsh. Of those involved, Marcelli suffered the worst damage and was forced to pit for several laps. Pries was sent to the rear of the field for his involvement in the incident.

Williams brought the field to the green followed by class rookie Frank Billy, Hyman, Ferguson and Brandon. On lap eleven, Ferguson got a run on Hyman coming off turn two and passed him towing Brandon and Wood with him. The next lap, Ferguson used the same maneuver to get by Billy with Brandon and Wood continuing to follow in his wake. Lap fifteen, Ferguson made a move to the inside of Williams to get the lead. Brandon continued to follow Ferguson taking the second spot. Brandon began to apply pressure on Ferguson staying in his bumper and rearview mirror as much as possible. On lap seventeen, Pat Walsh pulled his car into the pits and a lap later, Bourbon drove his vehicle to the pits as well. Meanwhile, Brandon continued to pressure Ferguson and on lap twenty-one he made his move for the lead. Wood followed Brandon into second. From there on, it all Brandon as he took the main event win over Wood, Ferguson, Williams and Hyman.

The next races at Redwood Acres Raceway are the fair races Friday June 24 and Saturday the 25. Along with the regular schedule of cars, the North State Challenge Series will be racing both nights as well.