Sunday, August 27, 2006

Pries beats Walsh, Peeples wins again

Pries beats Walsh, Peeples wins again

By Matthew J. Sullivan

It was an unusually chilly, foggy and damp August night at the Redwood Acres Raceway Saturday evening, and with the threatening weather, the show was hurried along in order to complete all of the racing. A fairly clean night with no major incidents or oil-downs helped move the show along and provided great racing action. Jason Belt brought his real stock out to the track and held off Bob Lima to take the win in a thrilling main event. Trevor Miller was able to pull away in the limited street stock class to handily win. After losing the lead due to contact, Craig Baker muscled his way back to the top spot to claim victory in the mini stock class. In the thunder roadsters, Paul Peeples, Jr. fought hard to get by Luke Hall, then held him off to win the main. After a victory lane drought, Larry Pries quenched his thirst in the sportsman division fighting off the challenges of Marty Walsh.

The second of two Powder Puff races sponsored by Lima’s Pharmacy was held during the evening with the female drivers driving real stock cars. Toni Browne looked more like a real stock regular than an inexperienced driver as she easily won the $200 first prize driving Dan Browne’s car. Courtney Mitchell took the $100 second place money driving Steve Kimberling’s car, while Marcia Bradbury behind the wheel of Bill Bradbury’s car won $50 for third.

The real stock division had a great 18 car turnout. Jim Bailey won the dash followed by Ryan Walters, Bob Lima and Bill Bradbury. Lima was able to win the first heat over Bailey, Barry Barnwell, Ray DeMello and Nick Green, while Walters took the second over Bradbury, Bill Middleton, Steve Kimberling and Jason Belt. The 25-lap main event was lead to the green flag by Belt and Ray Robinson. Unfortunately trouble occured in the first turn when Jim Redd, Wood and Kelly McBride.

For an unknown reason, Robinson moved to the back of the field, giving up his outside front row starting position to Barry Barnwell as the field took the restart. Belt and Barnwell raced side by side for the first lap and a half until Belt gained a bit of an advantage. Barnwell moved his car to Belt’s outside again while Lima closed in to make it a three way scramble. On lap five, Lima moved to Barnwell’s inside while Barnwell tried to find grip outside to get by Belt. The battling allowed Walters in fourth to close up. On lap seven, Lima finally moved by Barnwell and tried his hand on the outside of Belt but to no avail. The field jumbled up getting past Dana DeVane as Belt and Lima pulled away from the pack while Walters took third followed by Doug Way in fourth and Barnwell fifth. Barnwell made contact with DeVane’s car, but the race continued under green.

Lima moved outside of Belt on lap 11 but decided to bide his time, while Walters was quickly making up the deficit between he and the two leaders. By lap 13, Walters was on Lima’s bumper and looking for a way by. On lap 14, Walters moved inside and by Lima going into the third turn. Lima then pulled back outside by Walters to challenge Belt for the lead. The great battle up front was put to an end sadly when Walters right rear tire went flat in the fourth turn on lap 16 causing him to spin. Middleton also spun into the infield. Both drivers were done for the rest of the race.

Under the yellow, Way went to the pits after being in the top five. The restart came and Belt and Lima resumed their battle for the victory. Lima tried once again on Belt’s outside lap 18 but couldn’t pull it off. On lap 20 going into turn three, Bailey moved by Kimberling for the fourth slot. Lima’s last good challenge for the lead would come on lap 21 as he moved outside of Belt, but once again he couldn’t muster enough strength in the high line. On the last lap, Lima drive his car hard off the second turn and got extremely loose but was able to maintain the second position. Crossing the finish line first was Belt over Lima and Barnwell while Kimberling finished fourth over Bailey who got loose off the fourth turn and lost the position.

Eight cars took time in the limited street stock division. Nine cars were at the track initially but Fergy Ferguson only took hot laps. Trevor Miller set the quick pace, cutting a lap of 17.281. Adrien Betournay won the dash over Orion Mosher, Miller and Kenny Demello. Miller won the heat race which had an unfortunate accident between newcomer Romeo Venza and returning driver Kavin Conn. Venza made contact with Conn’s car coming off the second corner, then Venza ran over the right front of Conn. Venza was able to start the main while Conn was finished for the evening. Mosher took second in the heat followed by Demello, Betournay and Stan Young.

Demello and Betournay comprised the front row in the 10-lap main event. After the initial start was waved off, the green flag flew with Demello taking the early lead. Miller dove inside Betournay for second. On lap two, Venza spun off the fourth turn but was able to continue. Miller moved inside of Demello to take the lead on the third lap as the field shuffled going by Venza’s slower car. Miller pulled away while Demello tried to hold off Betournay and Mosher. It was to no avail as both were able to get by, but by then it was too late. Miller easily won the main followed by Betournay, Mosher, Demello and Young.

Craig Baker returned to the mini stock class after a several race hiatus, setting the pace with a 18.963 lap. Baker won the dash over Chad Grammer, Brian Murrell and Byron McIntosh. Grammer took the honors in the heat race followed by Byron McIntosh, Denzel Barrett, Stacy Minnick and Brian McIntosh. Barrett and Max Cap lead the 10-car field to the green flag in the 20-lap main event. Barrett was able to take the lead over Glen Bernald and Murrell. Baker moved to the outside of Murrell for third on lap two bringing Grammer with him. The duo of Baker and Grammer would never be far apart on the night, as the two moved by Bernald on the third lap. Just as they got by Bernald, Baker was able to take the lead away from Barrett, once again bringing Grammer with him.

Bernald spun in turn four on lap five but the yellow flag didn’t come out to his aide. The front duo of Baker and Grammer pulled away with Grammer working Baker’s bumper. Minnick moved herself into the fifth position getting by Brian McIntosh on lap seven. On lap nine, Murrell got by Barrett to take third. On the eleventh lap, Grammer made contact with Baker sending Baker into the infield and bringing out the yellow flag. Grammer was sent to the rear of the field giving the lead to Murrell over Barrett and Minnick.

The green came out with Baker looking to quickly regain his lost lead. He got by Brian McIntosh on the restart, then picked off Byron going into turn three, with Grammer following his moves. On lap 13, Baker moved by Minnick. The next lap he got by Barrett for second, while Grammer moved by Minnick. On lap 16, Baker regained the lead, taking the high line by Murrell. Barrett spun out in turn three on lap 17 but the racing continued. On lap 19, Murrell spun in the fourth turn costing himself several spots. When the checkered flag fell, it was Baker taking the victory over Grammar, Minnick, Byron McIntosh and Brian McIntosh. After the race, officials questioned whether Baker had illegally gained positions before the green flag dropped after the race’s only caution, however it was ruled he did not and the win stood.

The thunder roadsters had another great field of cars with 19 taking qualifying laps. Missing was Fred Hanks who suffered problems in hot laps. Randy Olson took fast time for the third race in a row with a 16.971 lap. LeRoy Marsh, Jr. won the thrilling dash over Olson, Paul Peeples, Jr. and Jay Bahner. Bahner unfortunately hit the wall off the fourth turn on the last lap damaging his right front, but he was able to make it back out. Bill O’Neill won the first heat over Donn Cole, Ray Elliott, Mike Ward and Bruce Ziemer. Troy Combs took the exhilarating second heat followed by Peeples, Luke Hall driving the rent-a-racer, Olson and David Henderson.

The 30 lap main event was brought to the green flag by Ward and Mark Arroyo. Unfortunately a huge jam up in the first turn caused Dave McMurray to spin while O’Neill and Olson both took hard shots, Olson’s in the wall. The restart came with Ward taking the lead while the field jostled for position behind him. Hall took the lead away from Ward on the first lap while Henderson moved to third. Combs muscled his way by Henderson on lap three bringing Peeples with him. On lap five, Combs moved inside and by Ward allowing Peeples and Henderson to follow in his wake. Elliott spun off turn two on lap seven but was able to get his car going again.

The front three of Hall, Combs and Peeples pulled away from Henderson who appeared to be struggling with his usually fast car. On lap 11, Combs spun on his own in turn three bringing out the yellow flag. The race resumed with Hall and Peeples battling for the lead while Henderson stayed in the fight in third. On lap 15, Chris Sarvinski moved into fifth by Arroyo. Just as Peeples moved into the inside of Hall to challenge for the lead again, the yellow flag flew when Arroyo and Marsh spun in the third turn on lap 18.

The caution allowed Peeples to cool his tires and on the restart he took advantage, moving to the inside of Hall. The two raced side by side until lap 20 when Peeples took the lead. Peeples began to stretch his lead, but as the laps wound down Hall began to close the gap. But at race’s end it wasn’t enough as Paul Peeples, Jr. took the win over Hall, Henderson, Combs and Ward.

Marty Walsh continued his dominance in the sportsman division setting quick lap with a 16.383. Brandon Barnwell driving Glen Shewry’s car won the dash over Walsh, Fox and Aaron Byers who was returning after a long stay away from the Acres. Larry Pries won the heat race followed by Donnie Brown, Walsh, Al Acuna and Barnwell. With severe fog rolling in, the usual 30-lap main was cut to 25 laps. Pries and Fox lead the 10-car field to the green flag. Pries was able to take the lead while Fox got loose off turn two allowing several cars to get by him. Pries pulled away from second place Byers who had his hands full with Walsh. On lap five, Walsh moved by Byers and set his sights on Pries.

The field stretched out as Walsh closed on Pries’ bumper. For the duration of the race, Walsh would ride in Pries’ mirror, hoping to force Pries into a mistake. On lap 15, Barnwell made his way by Brown for fifth. Three laps later Barnwell got by Fox for fourth. The only major drama occurred when Keith Diaz spun in the third and fourth turns while trying to stay out of the way of the leaders. Diaz’s spin did not bring a yellow flag out however. Walsh and Pries raced cleanly without any contact. Pries didn’t make any mistakes and was able to hold off Walsh followed by Byers, Barnwell and Fox.

The next race at the Acres will be September 16th with all five classes of cars returning to race. It will be the final points paying event for the sportsman division, but it appears that Marty Walsh has the title well in hand.

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