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.