Sunday, May 21, 2006

Browne beats Bradbury by inches, completes trifecta

Browne beats Bradbury by inches, completes trifecta

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Another chilly night welcomed everyone in attendance at Redwood Acres Raceway Saturday night, but as usual the excitement on the track was enough to make people forget the cold. Craig Baker returned from engine woes the previous week to claim the main event victory in the mini stock division while Dan Browne held off Bill Bradbury by inches to claim the win in the real stock main event in what might be the race of the season. Track veteran, Angelo Marcelli took the win in the sportsman division main.

The limited street class was in action but once again the car count was very low with only four showing up. Of the four, Orion Mosher was the fastest in time trials with a 17.484 lap. Mosher won the closely contested trophy dash beating Adrien Betournay, Ken Demello and Vern Crowley who was driving the car normally piloted by Terry Vallee. Sadly, the heat race would end up being the classes main event. However, it was a very exciting race as Betournay was able to hold off all challenges from Mosher to take the win with Demello third and Crowley fourth. An attempt at a main event was made but before the green, Betournay had issues with fuel coming out of his car and the race was called off.

Chad Grammer set the fast mark in the mini stock division with a 19.083 time. Brian Murrell won the dash over Grammer, Craig Baker and Stacy Minnick. Baker moved his way through the field in the heat race to take the win followed by Bryan McIntosh, Glen Bernald, Grammer and Murrell. Nine cars started the 20 lap main event with the front row comprised of Bernald and Scott Baker. The green flew as Bernald and Baker battled for the lead. Baker battled hard on the outside for the first two laps before the inside line prevailed with Bernald getting the lead, Murrell getting by Baker for second. On lap five, Grammer and Bryan McIntosh made contact in the fourth turn. The incident forced Grammar into the pits while McIntosh had substantial right front damage. However, there was no yellow flag for the incident. Meanwhile, Murrell and Baker were able to get by Bernald for the first and second positions.

By lap nine, Craig Baker had moved his way by Bernald to the third position. Two laps later, he moved by brother Scott to take second while leader Murrell maintained a seven car gap. At the same time, Bernald and Minnick were fighting hard for the fourth position. As the laps wound down, Baker closed the gap on Murrell. Baker looked for a line by Murrell before making his move inside on lap 16 and taking the lead. Murrell fought back and stayed in Baker’s mirror hoping that he would falter in the final laps. To Murrell’s dismay he didn’t as Craig Baker took the win followed by Brian Murrell, Scott Baker, Glen Bernald and Stacy Minnick.

Jim Bailey blew the real stock field away in qualifying with a quick lap of 19.198. Dan Browne won the trophy dash over Bailey, Bill Bradbury and Barry Barnwell. Browne again took honors in the first heat winning over Barnwell, Troy Wood, Marvin Savage and Jim Redd. Bradbury won the second heat race followed by Bailey, Ukiah regular Danny Helm, Ray Robinson and Steve Kimberling. The two heat race winners would have a bit of a show-down in the main event.

The 12 car field was brought to the green flag by Browne and Barnwell. Browne got the jump off the start while Bradbury moved into the second position and Barnwell back to the third slot. On lap two, Bradbury found a way by Browne on the inside to take the lead. However, Browne was able to fall behind and maintain position in the second spot. In the meantime, Barnwell and Bailey were having a race of their own for the third position. For several laps, the two were doorhandle to doorhandle, Barnwell on the inside, Bailey on the outside. Bailey couldn’t find enough grip to get by, so he settled in behind Barnwell hoping to make a run past him later in the race. On lap seven, Browne moved past Bradbury to reclaim the lead. The duo of Brown and Bradbury had now pulled out to a sizeable gap over the Barnwell, Bailey battle. Bradbury would not be denied however. On lap 12, he used the front bumper to move by Browne to give the race another lead change. The bump allowed Bradbury to open a bit of a gap on Browne.

On lap 14, Bailey was able to find a way by Barnwell on the inside line to take the third spot. Things were heating up again for the lead as Browne had closed the margin on Bradbury and was now on his rear bumper. On sixteenth lap, Browne moved to the inside of Bradbury going three wide while lapping Ray Robinson to retake the lead once again. However, Browne could not pull away from Bradbury. The two leaders began to hit slower traffic coming to the white flag. Going into the third turn, Bradbury made contact with Browne sending Browne slightly into the infield. However, Browne was able to hang on and maintain the lead while Bradbury moved to the inside. It was a drag race coming off the fourth turn between the two with Browne finding just enough bite to claim a thrilling victory over Bradbury, Bailey, Barnwell and Danny Helm. However, in post race inspection, Bailey’s car was found to be illegal thus moving Barnwell to third, Helm to fourth and Jim Redd to fifth. Browne’s main event win made him three for three for the night, completing the dash-heat-main trifecta.

Qualifying for the sportsman division was tight with Marty Walsh prevailing with a 16.568 lap. Angelo Marcelli won the dash over Aaron Byers, Rick Fox and Walsh. The first heat was won by Jerry Peterson over Marcelli, Al Acuna, Fox and Mike Bourbon while the second heat was won on the last lap by Larry Pries followed by Lissa Uselton, Byers, Walsh and Brandon Barnwell. Donnie Brown started the first heat but had problems and didn’t return for the rest of the evening. 10 cars started the 30 lap main event. Originally, the front row was supposed to be shared by Peterson and Pries, however Pries had to pit prior to the green flag allowing Marcelli to take the outside position on the front row. Marcelli grabbed the lead off the drop of the green flag. On lap two, Fox moved by Byers for third. At the same time, Pries was black flagged after starting in the back of the field.

On lap three, Fox moved to the inside of Peterson for second, freight training Peterson all the way back to sixth. All the fighting for the second position allowed Marcelli to pull out to an eight car length gap over the rest of the field. By the fifth lap, the front five was Marcelli, Fox, Byers, Walsh and Acuna. Fox was able to break away from Byers and while Byers had his hands full with Walsh. The two raced bumper-to-bumper for several laps before Walsh was able to get by on the inside on lap 13. Meanwhile, Fox had closed the margin on Marcelli and was now challenging for the lead. Uselton spun off the fourth turn on lap sixteen bringing out the yellow flag and tightening the field.

Marcelli lead the field to the restart with Fox trying to find a way by, while Walsh tried to find a way by Fox. With seven to go, Walsh and Fox made contact allowing Walsh to grab second. On the next lap, going into the first turn, Byers turned Fox sending the two into the wall collecting Acuna and Pries and bringing out the red flag. Fox, Acuna and Pries were able to continue but Byers’ car was done for the night. The field was reset again and the green flew once more. Walsh tried several times to get to the inside of Marcelli but he couldn’t find enough grip. As the checkered flag fell it was Marcelli taking the win followed by Walsh, Barnwell, Peterson and Fox.

Racing at the Acres takes a weekend off before returning to action with all four classes of cars along with the thunder roadsters on June 3.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Walsh wins, two in a row for Way

Walsh wins, two in a row for Way

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Another chilly evening welcomed the competitors and fans of the four classes of cars at the Acres, but it sure didn’t slow any of the competition down on the race track. Adrien Betournay nabbed the main event win in the depleted limited street class while Doug Way won the thrilling real stock main. Craig Baker ran away from the field in the mini stock main completing the dash/heat/main trifecta and Marty Walsh won the closely contested main in the sportsman division.

Orion Mosher returned to the limited street division in his truck and claimed the win in a thrilling trophy dash which saw Kavin Conn and Adrien Betournay tangle in the fourth turn on the final lap while battling for the lead. Unfortunately, Conn suffered nose damage which was enough to end his evening. Kenny Demello won the heat over Betournay and Terry Vallee with Mosher in the pits due to smoke which was coming from his vehicle. The eight lap main event was brought to its green flag by Betournay and Mosher. Betournay got the jump while Mosher slotted behind and tried to find a way around. On the fifth lap, Demello had problems and slowed. Mosher tried several times to make a move on Betournay but it wasn’t enough as Adrien Betournay took the win over Mosher, Vallee and Demello.

It appeared that Craig Baker was looking to make an early season statement in the mini stock class. Baker took the trophy dash win followed by his brother Scott Baker, Stacy Minnick and Chad Grammar. He followed that up with a win in the heat over Glen Bernald, Scott Baker, Grammer and Brian Murrell. Nick Karanopoulos and Bernald brought the ten car field to the green flag in the 20 lap main event. Karanopoulos got the jump and lead the first lap and Craig Baker moved into second as the field began to get into formation. On the second lap, Bernald spun. The same lap, Baker made his way by Karanopoulos for the lead taking the yellow flag. Under the caution, Grammer was sent to the back for his involvement in Bernald’s spin.

When the green flag flew, Craig Baker stretched his lead while Scott Baker made his way to the second position. The Bakers ran away from the field while Grammer tried to get to the front. By lap 13, Grammer had reached the third slot passing Karanopoulos, Brian McIntosh, Denzel Barrett and Murrell, but he was half the track distance behind Craig Baker who was maintaining a comfortable distance over Scott. On the last lap while working through traffic, Scott Baker made contact with Barrett in the middle of the back stretch. Fortunately, no other cars were involved. Craig Baker crossed the start/finish line first to take the win over Grammer, Karanopoulos, McIntosh and Murrell.

If Craig Baker was making a statement then so was Doug Way in the real stock class. Way won the trophy dash over Mike Peeples, Dan Browne and Jim Bailey. Jason Belt won the first heat followed by Browne, Peeples, Ray DeMello and Brian Belt while Bob Lima took the second over Way, Barry Barnwell, Bailey and Bill Bradbury. The 16 car field was brought to the green of the 25 lap main event by DeMello and Ryan Robinson. Browne had issues before the race started and had to pit but returned just as the field took the green. DeMello got the jump and took the early lead over Jim Redd and Bradbury. Way began to make his way to the lead early, getting by Bradbury on lap two and taking the second position from Redd on lap three. On lap five, Ryan Walters spun bringing out the yellow flag.

After the restart, Way began to try to find a way past DeMello. On lap six, Peeples got by Redd while Bailey followed in his tracks to also get past Redd. Way moved to the outside of DeMello on lap seven. A lap later, Barnwell and Brian Belt tangled between the third and fourth turns resulting in a caution flag. Barnwell continued but Belt’s night was over. The green flew again as Way continued to look for a line. Mike Peeples got loose of the second turn on lap nine and lost several positions. On lap 10, Way got to the outside of DeMello and was able to find some grip. Bradbury and Bailey were able to close up on the two to make it a four car race. After several side-by-side laps, Way was able to take the lead away. Bailey and Browne were also able to get past DeMello. The caution flag flew again on lap 15 for Jim Redd’s spin in turn two. The restart came again and it appeared to be a three car race between Way, Bailey and Browne. Bailey tried the outside line on Way several times but couldn’t make it work. By this time, Bradbury had caught the trio and made it a four car race. With two to go, Browne and Bradbury made their way past Bailey. Browne then moved to the outside, trying to pass Way. It wasn’t enough though as Way fought off Browne and Bradbury to take a thrilling victory followed by Bailey and Peeples.

Most of the cars involved in the previous week’s nine car tangle were able to make it back out. Rick Fox took the trophy home winning the dash over Aaron Byers, Marty Walsh and Al Acuna. Walsh took the heat race win followed by Byers, Jerry Peterson, Donnie Brown and Fox. 10 cars started the 25 lap main with Brandon Barnwell and Angelo Marcelli leading the field to the green. Barnwell got the drop on Marcelli on the start brining Walsh with him in second. Byers, the previous week’s main event winner, spun on the second lap bringing out the yellow. The green flag flew as Walsh made his move. On lap three, Walsh got to Barnwell’s inside and took the lead. By lap five it was Walsh, Barnwell, Marcelli, Acuna and Fox. It didn’t appear to be Byers’ night as he spun again in the first turn bringing out another yellow on lap six.

After the restart, Marcelli tried to pressure Barnwell enabling Walsh to pull to a five car length lead over the field. Barnwell held off Marcelli’s advances and began to pull away. On lap 18, Fox got by Acuna off turn four to take the fourth position. Barnwell tried to close the gap between he and Walsh several times but he just couldn’t find the grip allowing Walsh to win followed by Barnwell, Marcelli, Fox and Acuna.

The next race at the Acres is May 13 when the thunder roadsters have their second race of the season.


- It’s ironic that Chad Grammer’s name is spelled with an “e” as opposed to the word grammar. Bad Grammer I guess... (bad joke.)

- It was great to see so many of the cars who had suffered damage the last race able to make it out to this one. It was also nice to not have to see the big sweeper out either as there weren’t any incidents that were severe enough to involve dry sweep.

- Hopefully the speaker problems will be fixed by next race. It was a bummer not being able to hear lap times in the pits.

- J.D. Frey brought his late (late) model car to the sportsman division but didn’t finish the main event.

- The North State series had a BEAUTIFUL field of cars. It was great to see so many of them out there.

- Get well Chuck Essex! We hope you’re back out as soon as possible.