Marcelli, Walters win, Minnick gets her first
By Matthew J. Sullivan
An abundance of green flag racing and a lack of caution flags made for a smooth, quick show Saturday night at the Acres. It took only two and a half hours for the races to conclude, but by no means did that make the night any less thrilling. Ryan Walters got by Jason Belt with just three laps left in the real stock main event to win. Contact between Byron McIntosh and Scott Baker helped insure a first-time main event win for Stacy Minnick while Angelo Marcelli held off Brandon Barnwell and Marty Walsh to notch another win in his career in the sportsman division.
The limited street division made a heat race appearance, but unfortunately only five cars were able to make it out. Nonetheless, the drivers put on an excellent show. Ken Demello grabbed the early lead before Andrien Betournay took it from him on the second lap of the ten lap heat. On lap five, down the back straightaway it appeared that Betournay began suffering power problems. His car briefly slowed bunching up the field behind him and allowing Trevor Miller to make his way though the field to take the lead. From there to the checkered flag it was Miller, Orion Mosher, Duane Mayo, Betournay and Demello.
Chad Grammer held off Scott Baker, Brian Murrell and Stacy Minnick to win the trophy dash in the mini stock division. Murrell then took the win in the heat race followed by Minnick, Glen Bernald, Byron McIntosh and Denzel Barrett. Byron McIntosh and Murrell lead the eight car field to the green flag in the 20 lap main event. McIntosh got the jump off the start while Murrell fell into the second position. On lap five, Grammer got loose allowing Baker to make his way by for third. Soon after, Minnick began challenging Grammer, but Grammer was able to hold her off. Minnick continued to try to get by Grammer but couldn’t muster enough strength. Meanwhile, Baker challenged Murrell for the second spot allowing McIntosh to pull a bit of a gap.
On lap 15, Grammer got into trouble in the third turn and spun. The next lap, Baker moved by Murrell to take second. Baker then closed on McIntosh for the lead. With two laps to go, going into turn one McIntosh and Baker made contact sending McIntosh spinning. Baker maintained the lead while Minnick made her way into second over Murrell. However coming to take the white flag, Baker was black flagged, and though he crossed the line first to take the checkered flag, he was not the winner. Stacy Minnick took the win over Murrell, Bernald, Bryan McIntosh and Grammar, however, it should be noted that Minnick drove a good race and was not handed the win by any means.
The real stock division had another large car count and it was great to have driver Chuck Essex back at the track after suffering serious burns. Dan Browne won the dash over Ryan Walters, Bob Lima and Bill Bradbury. Jim Redd won the first heat race followed by Walters, Steve Kimberling, Lima and Barry Barnwell. Browne won the second heat with Jason Belt, Bradbury, Troy Wood and Ryan Robinson rounding out the top five. Redd and Belt lead the 17 car field to the green in the 25 lap main event. Redd grabbed the early lead over Belt, while Doug Way and Ray Rapp fought for the third position. On lap three, Robinson spun in the second turn but was able to get his car running again. On lap four, Way made his way into third before the caution flag flew for a Kimberling spin.
The green flag waved again with Way looking to the outside of Belt for second. Belt was able to hold way off however. On lap six, Bradbury got by Cecil Arispe for the fifth position. On lap eight, Redd got loose and moved high, giving Belt the low line and allowing him to take the lead. Way, Bradbury and Lima were able to follow though to move into second, third and fourth. On lap 13, Redd moved back by Lima. The next lap Walters began to make his presence known as he moved by Lima and Redd. Lima then was able to pass Redd again on lap 15.
On lap 17, Bradbury and Way connected sending Way into the infield. The scuffle allowed Walters to move into second and he began to close on Belt for the lead. On lap 20, Walters moved to the high line on Belt but Belt held him off. With three laps to go, Walters went high on Belt again and this time he made it stick, taking the lead. Walters was able to pull away to score the win over Belt, Bradbury, Lima and Redd. In post race tech inspection, Browne’s car failed, thus his wins in the dash and heat races were negated.
Brandon Barnwell won the sportsman division trophy dash over Rick Fox, Marty Walsh and Larry Pries. Fox was able to win the first heat race over Pries, Donnie Brown, Frank Billy and Joe Bonomini, while Walsh won the second heat over Barnwell, Lissa Uselton, Angelo Marcelli and Al Acuna. The front row of the 35 lap was comprised of Acuna and Billy. Acuna was able to take the lead on the start while Billy lost several positions on the high side. Marcelli moved into second and Fox into third. On the second lap, Marcelli moved inside and past Acuna to take the lead. A scary incident occurred off the fourth turn when Brown and Pries spun. Pries car slid in the grass and into the tractor tire which protects track cleanup officials. While the incident looked scary, nobody was injured and Pries was able to get back in the race along with Brown.
On the restart, Barnwell made his way by Billy for fifth. On lap four, Fox moved into the second position, bringing Walsh and Barnwell with him. Walsh then began to harass Fox for second, allowing Marcelli to pull away. On lap 11, Billy spun off the second turn but continued. The same lap, Walsh moved inside and past Fox to take second. The next lap, Fox spun off turn two and the yellow flag flew. Uselton also spun coming to take the yellow. Officials found that Brown’s car was leaking fluid and sent him to the pits while a lengthy cleanup period ensued.
After a twenty minute waiting period, green flag racing resumed. The front three cars pulled away, while Acuna and Bonomini fought for the fourth position. Barnwell looked outside of Walsh on lap 22 but couldn’t get his car to stick. Meanwhile, Bonomini and Fox got by Acuna for fourth and fifth. On lap 24, Walsh moved to the outside to try to get by Marcelli for the lead, however Barnwell moved inside of Walsh to fill the gap. Walsh drove his car hard on the outside line, moving to Marcelli’s right rear wheel. Marcelli held Walsh off and the front three fell back in single file order.
On lap 26, Barnwell moved back inside of Walsh for the second position. The two dueled for second side by side before the caution flag flew on lap 29 for spins by Bonomini and Acuna in the first and second turns. The final restart proved to be Marcelli’s toughest test. On lap 31, Walsh gave Marcelli a bump in the third and fourth turns. The next lap, Walsh did the same thing, however it allowed Barnwell to move to the high line by Walsh to challenge Marcelli for the lead. The front three were under a blanket for the final three laps with Marcelli holding the low line and Barnwell trying to use the high line and Walsh trying to find a way by both. On the last lap, Marcelli found just a bit more in the tank and was able to move his car ahead of Barnwell to win. Walsh finished third, Fox fourth and Uselton fifth.
Racing at the Acres takes a two week break before returning July 29. Along with the real stocks, limited street stocks, real stock and sportsman cars, the North State Challenge Series will make their final appearance of the season.