Sunday, September 24, 2006

Thompson wins wire-to-wire, Henderson, Bradbury lock up titles

Thompson wins wire-to-wire, Henderson, Bradbury lock up titles

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The end of a thrilling 2006 racing season at the Redwood Acres Raceway came Friday and Saturday night at the 3/8 mile paved oval. Joining the real stocks and thunder roadsters for the final weekend of action were the I.M.C.A. modified cars. Oregonian Willie Thompson took full advantage of his pole position and lead wire-to-wire in a clean and green modified main event. Troy Combs took the win in the thunder roadster main event, however David Henderson held a big enough advantage over Combs in points to take the championship. The real stocks held two main events, one for each night. Jim Bailey won on the first night while Steve Kimberling won on night two. Bill Bradbury comfortably won the 2006 real stock points title.

In what has seemed to be the norm for the real stock division this season, Ryan Walters had the quickest lap in qualifying turning a 19.414 lap. Bill Middleton won the dash over Dan Browne, Jim Bailey and Walters. Troy Wood won the first heat race followed by Steve Kimberling, Browne, Middleton and Jason Belt. Ryan Robinson won the second heat with Bailey, Barry Barnwell, Bill Bradbury and Jim Redd completing the top five.

18 cars started the 25-lap main event with the field brought to the green flag by Belt and Redd. Going into the first turn, Redd held the advantage over Belt. Doug Way spun in turn two on the first lap but didn’t bring out a yellow. Coming off of turn four on the first lap, Belt was able to move by Redd to take the lead. On lap three, Middleton took his car to the pits putting him out of contention. Lap four saw Barnwell move inside of Redd for second. That same lap, Robinson spun off turn four blocking most of the front straightaway. Kelly McBride, with nowhere to go hit Robinson in the right rear bringing out the red flag. Amazingly Robinson was able to continue, while McBride’s front end necessitated repairs that would keep him out for the rest of the night.

With the red flag being displayed, the field reverted to the previous lap of running which set Belt in the lead followed by Redd, Barnwell, Kimberling and Bob Lima. On the restart, Barnwell spun off the second turn, losing his third position. On lap 8, Bradbury moved into the fifth position. On lap 10, Redd began to drag bodywork. The yellow came out for debris the next lap. Redd went to the pits changing the top five order to Belt, Kimberling, Lima, Bailey and Bradbury.

The restart came and Bailey took advantage of cooler tires and the bunched up field. On lap 13 he moved outside and by Lima. The next lap, Bailey used the same move to get by Kimberling for second. On lap 16, Bailey moved to the outside of Belt but couldn’t get the grip he needed to get by. At the same time, Lima moved inside and by Kimberling for third. Bailey moved back to Belt’s outside on lap 18 and the two raced side-by-side for the lead. On lap 21 Bailey held the advantage but Belt fought back and was able to use lap traffic to retake the lead. Lima was able to move into second, but Bailey retook the position on lap 22 going into the third turn. Bailey tried his best to close the gap on Belt the final two laps but couldn’t muster enough strength as Belt crossed the line first over Belt, Lima, Bradbury and Browne. However in post race inspection, Belt’s car did not pass awarding the win to Bailey.

Saturday night’s action started off with an unfortunate incident for Ryan Walters during practice. Walter’s right front wheel came loose sending him hard into the turn two water barrels entering pit road. Fortunately Walters okay but his car was beyond repair. Dan Browne won the trophy dash over Jim Bailey, Bill Middleton and Bill Bradbury. The first of the two heat races started off with a scary incident involving Dana DeVane and Doug Way. Track workers had to use the jaws of life to extract DeVane out of her car. Thankfully, DeVane was awake and alert and track and medical officials were being cautious in taking her out of the car. Browne won the heat over Middleton, Bob Lima, Chuck Essex and Steve Kimberling. Bradbury took the second over Bailey, Ryan Robinson, Jim Redd and Barry Barnwell.

The 25-lap main with a depleted 12 car field was lead to the green fittingly by Nick Green and Barnwell. Green’s car started off the pace giving the lead to Barnwell over Robinson, Wood, Redd and Browne. On lap two, Browne made contact with Redd off turn two sending Redd into the infield. Browne moved to the back of the pack and the field went to back to green. Robinson spun off the second turn on his own, but the yellow didn’t come out. On lap four, Lima moved by Bradbury for fifth going into the first turn. Bradbury retook the position going into the third turn on the same lap. On lap five, Wood moved outside of Barnwell for the lead. Bradbury spun off the second collecting Redd and bringing out the yellow flag.

Lima was moved to the back of the pack changing the top five to Barnwell, Wood, Kimberling, Bailey and Essex. The green flag flew once again with Browne taking advantage and moving by Essex for fifth. On lap 9, Wood and Barnwell made contact bringing out the yellow. However, officials deemed Bailey responsible for the incident sending him to the rear of the field. Through all the confusion, Kimberling was now the leader over Wood, Browne, Essex and Robinson. The green flew for the final time with Kimberling looking to hold on and take his first main event win.

On lap 10, Browne moved outside of Wood for second but couldn’t get by. Three laps later, Browne moved to Wood’s inside to take the second position. On lap 14, Robinson moved outside of Essex for fourth, taking the position the next lap. Meanwhile Bailey was on a tear through the field, following Robinson past Essex. In the meantime, Kimberling held a comfortable 10-car length gap over second place Browne.

On lap 17, Bailey moved outside Robinson for fourth, taking the spot going into the third turn on lap 18. On lap 21, Bailey moved inside and past Wood for third. Meanwhile Browne was quickly closing the gap on Kimberling. With one lap to go, Browne closed to within five car lengths. Coming off the fourth turn the gap was closed to within one car length, but the margin was more than enough for Steve Kimberling as he was able to score his first ever main event victory. Browne, Bailey, Wood and Robinson rounded out the top five finishers.

The thunder roadster division had three visiting drivers making long tows to race. Included were Ed Hohman from Las Vegas along with Tryan Stutes and Luis Garcia from Texas. Rusty Olson set quick time with a 17.074 lap. The action in the trophy dash got a bit too wild between Troy Combs and Randy Olson with Olson suffering irreparable damage. Paul Peeples, Jr. was awarded the win. The heat races were 25-lap affairs with Chris Banfill winning the first over Hohman, Ron Rosenthal, Ray Elliott and Mike Ward. David Henderson won the second over Peeples, Jr. Randy Olson who was driving a Bill O’Neill car, Combs and LeRoy Marsh, Jr.

Marsh and Ward comprised the front tow for the 24 car 50-lap feature. Marsh was able to grab the early lead with Combs following in second, Randy Olson third and Peeples fourth. On lap two, Henderson looked inside of Peeples for fourth but didn’t have the line. With Henderson’s momentum broke, Rusty Olson moved outside and past Henderson on lap three. The front trio of Marsh, Combs and Randy Olson pulled away as the field settled and stretched out. Combs looked outside of Marsh on lap 10 but couldn’t find the room. On lap 14, Combs looked inside of Marsh but again Marsh held him off.

When the leaders hit slower traffic on lap 15, the racing really got intense. Combs moved to Marsh’s outside while Olson filled the gap behind Marsh. Olson moved inside of Combs on lap 18, but Combs was able to get back to Marsh’s outside on lap 20. Marsh got loose off turn four on lap 21 allowing Combs to take the lead. While the Marsh and Randy Olson continued to maneuver through traffic, Peeples and Rusty Olson began to close in. Combs began to fight heavier traffic giving Marsh and Randy Olson a chance to close while Peeples and Rusty Olson fought slower cars.

The yellow flag came out on lap 30 when Chris Lawrence and Jay Bahner had a meeting in turn four. The field bunched up and the green came out once again. On lap 32, Marsh got loose off the fourth turn, but he was able to hold on. Peeples looked to Randy Olson’s inside on lap 35 but couldn’t make the move. Three laps later, Randy Olson was finally able to get inside Marsh completing the pass off the second turn. Peeples was able to follow through. Combs had a 8-car length gap but the gap shrank when he got into slower traffic. With three laps to go, Olson was able to get on Combs’ bumper. That same lap, Henderson moved by Rusty Olson to take fifth. Randy Olson tried to mount a challenge but time ran out as Troy Combs was able to hold him off for the win with Randy Olson second, Paul Peeples, Jr. third, LeRoy Marsh, Jr. fourth and David Henderson fifth. However, Combs car did not pass post-race tech giving the win over to Olson.

The I.M.C.A. modifieds had their usual race in the Acres season finale. Stockton ace and defending race champion Jay Lindstroth took fast time honors with a 16.206 lap. The trophy dash was won by Scott Winters followed by Lindstroth, Ken Scales and Jerry DuBach. Tom Berry won the first heat followed by Eddie Laws, Guy Young, Willie Thompson and Gary Lowblad. Scott Winters won the second heat over Noel McCormack, Jerry Dubach, Dustin DeRosier and Terry Pittman.

17 cars started the 50-lap main event. Among the drivers who didn’t start were Young, Pittman and Richie Potts who wasn’t even able to get on the track. Thompson and DeRosier brought the field to the green flag. Thompson was able to take the lead while DeRosier was freight trained on the inside. Thompson lead Laws, Dubach, McCormack and Winters. By lap 9, Thompson had a three car length lead over Laws as he fought off Dubach for the second position. Winters moved inside and by McCormack on lap 14. Defending race champion Lindstroth fell off the pace and pulled his car to the pits on lap 15.

On lap 16, Dubach moved to Laws’ outside allowing Thompson to pull out his lead to eight car lengths. The two raced side-by-side for a lap before Dubach fell behind Laws. Thompson began to get into slower traffic on lap 27 but was able to make his way through on lap 29. The cars of Law, Dubach, Winters were just getting into the traffic on lap 29 and didn’t get through until lap 32. By this point, Thompson had a 15-car length gap

Dubach looked inside of Laws on lap 36 but couldn’t get by. Finally, on lap 41 Dubach got the grip and moved by Laws going into turn one bringing Winters with him. The gap looked to be insurmountable, but with the laps dwindling Dubach was able to narrow the gap to about four car lengths. But that was as close as it would come as Willie Thompson won the beautifully run race over Dubach, Winters, Laws and Lowblad.

With that, the 2006 racing season at the Acres concluded. 2007 should be another exciting season as the real stocks, limited street stocks, mini stocks, thunder roadsters and sportsman cars will be back at it again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Walsh, Grammer, Betournay 2006 champions

Walsh, Grammer, Betournay 2006 champions

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The thirteenth event of the season, the Judy Fox Memorial race at Redwood Acres Raceway Saturday night saw the 2006 points races in the sportsman, mini stock and limited street stock divisions come to an end with champions crowned in each division. Marty Walsh held off the toughest challenges of Glen Shewry to win once again in the sportsman division capping off a superb championship run. Craig Baker took home the trophy in the mini stock division but Chad Grammer was probably the happiest mini stock driver as his fourth place finish was good enough to claim the title. Class rookie Trevor Miller claimed victory in the limited street stock class while first year driver Adrien Betournay won the division champion. While the real stock and thunder roadsters still have another weekend of racing left, both divisions had great racing with Dan Browne winning the real stock main, and Troy Combs taking top honors in the roadster race.

Before the night’s racing action, drivers from all divisions brought their cars out to the track to do a few memorial laps in honor of Judy Fox as well as other loved ones who were either lost to cancer or have passed on from other circumstances. The field of cars was lead by Rick Fox, Judy’s son and Lissa Uselton who is a close friend of the Fox family. Ryan Walters set the quickest lap in time trials in the real stock division with a 19.338 lap. Jim Bailey won the dash over Walters Dan Browne and Bill Bradbury. Brian Belt won the first heat race followed by Ryan Robinson, Troy Wood, Steve Kimberling and Bailey. Browne won the second heat race with Bill Middleton, Walters, Doug Way and Barry Barnwell in his tire tracks.

Eighteen cars started the 25-lap real stock main event. Troy Wood and Chuck Essex took the field to the green flag and the start of the race. Off the start, Doug Way suffered problems and slowed on the track. Coming off the fourth turn, Middleton spun bringing out the yellow flag. Amidst the early race chaos, it was Essex taking the early lead over Barnwell and Wood. The green flag flew again with Barnwell moving to Essex’s outside, taking the top position on lap three. On lap four, Walters moved himself into the fifth position getting by Kimberling. Bradbury moved by Wood and began to harass Essex for second allowing Barnwell to pull out to a sizeable margin. On lap seven, Walters made his way by Wood bringing Browne with him. The next lap, Walters moved inside Bradbury for second but Bradbury was able to hold him off. The caution came out on lap 10 when Mark Mullin spun and hit the turn four wall.

Unfortunately for Barnwell, his large lead was erased, and on the restart he now had Essex, Bradbury, Walters and Browne within striking distance of him. On the restart, Walters moved to the outside of Bradbury for third, finishing the pass on lap 11. Walters then was able to maneuver his way by Essex going into the third turn on lap 12 taking the second spot. At the same time, Browne was able to get by Bradbury for fourth. Browne moved outside of Essex on lap 13, taking the third position on lap 14 in turn one. As the leaders hit slower cars on lap 16, Browne was able to get by Walters for second in turn one. The lapped traffic jumbled the running order with Belt and Bradbury able to get by Essex.

On lap 18, Browne was able to snatch the lead away from Barnwell going into the first turn. At the same time, Belt and Walters made contact, allowing Belt to get by. Walters regained the position going into the third turn on lap 19. On lap 20, Walters spun in the second turn into the infield. The caution flag did not fly however costing Walters any chance at a good finish. Meanwhile, Browne had stretched out to a comfortable lead over Barnwell, while Barnwell had a comfortable lead over Bradbury in third. With one lap to go, Belt moved to the outside of Bradbury but got loose allowing Bailey to take the fourth position. At the front, it was Dan Browne crossing the checkered flag leading a top five consisting of drivers with the last name started by ‘B’; Barnwell, Bradbury, Bailey and Belt.

In practice for the limited street stock division, Romeo Venza hit the fourth turn wall and was not able to make it out for the rest of the evening. Trevor Miller set the fast time with a 17.143 lap. The trophy dash belonged to Kenny Demello who was looking to gain points on division leader Adrien Betournay for the championship. Miller finished second with Mosher third and Betouray fourth. Mosher took the win in the heat race followed by Demello, Betournay, Duane Mayo and Scott Lyons.

The two title contenders Demello and Betournay lead the six car field to the green flag in the 10 lap main event. Demello was able to take the early lead while the drivers tried to sort themselves out. Miller moved by Mayo in the first turn on lap two while Betournay tried to move outside and by Demello for the lead. Mosher made his way past Mayo going into the third turn on lap three. On lap five, Miller found a line inside Betournay to take second bringing along Mosher. A few moments later, Miller got to the inside of Demello to take the lead coming off the second turn. On lap seven, Mosher was able to get by Demello for second. Betournay did the same move on lap eight. Unfortunately coming off turn two, Demello hit the wall ending his race and losing his chances at the championship. The restart proved to be a formality for Miller as he was able to hold off Mosher to take the win. Betournay took third winning the class title, Mayo finished fourth and Lyons fifth.

With only a few points separating mini stock points leader Chad Grammer and second place Brian Murrell, every position in every race was extremely important. Craig Baker set fast time with a 18.731 lap. The trophy dash was won by Baker followed by Stacy Minnick, Grammar and Glen Bernald. Baker then took the win in the heat race over Grammar, Murrell, Denzel Barrett and Bernald. Nine cars started the 20-lap mini stock main event with Murrell and Bernald pacing the field. Before the start of the race, the lighting system in the second turn failed and the drivers had to race that corner in darker conditions.

Murrell was able to get the lead off the start while Minnick moved to second, followed by Baker, Grammer and Bernald. On lap three, Baker moved to the outside of Minnick to take second while Murrell pulled out to a large gap. On lap five the caution came out when Barrett spun in the fourth turn. On the restart, Baker moved outside of Murrell taking the lead on lap seven. From that point on, the field stretched out and the only drama that was left was to see if the champion would either be Murrell or Grammer. Craig Baker made it three-for-three on the night to handily take the main event win over Murrell, Minnick, Grammer and Bernald. Grammer’s fourth place finish was just enough to beat Murrell in the final points talley making him the 2006 mini stock champion.

Randy Olson set the quick time for yet another race night for the thunder roadsters with a 16.965 lap. David Henderson held off Olson, Paul Peeples, Jr. and Chris Banfill to take the win in the dash. Bill O’Neill won the first heat followed by Gary Payne, Fred Hanks, Chris Lawrence and Waylon Henze. Troy Combs won the second heat race over LeRoy Marsh, Jr., Mike Ward, Chris Sarvinski and Peeples. 20 cars started the 30-lap main event with Bruce Ziemar and Dave McMurray leading the field to the green flag. Ziemar grabbed the early lead before the second lap when Marsh took the lead taking Combs and Ward with him. Ziemar got loose of the second turn costing himself several positions. Going into turn three on lap four, Combs moved inside and by Marsh for the lead. As the front duo pulled away from the rest of the pack, the faster qualifiers of Olson and Henderson fought their way through the traffic. Olson moved outside of Sarvinski on lap five completing the pass on lap six. Henderson was able to move inside Sarvinski on the same lap to take fifth.

On lap 9, the Olson/Henderson duo closed in on Ward for third while Combs and Marsh had a sizeable 10-15 car length gap over the three. Olson and Henderson moved inside Ward going into the third turn on lap 10. Two laps later, Sarvinski was able to get by Ward to take the fourth spot. Rob Nelson spun in turn four on lap 13 but no yellow flag was thrown. At the same time, Peeples, who had made his way by Ward, got past Sarvinski for fifth. With the field spread out and Combs and Marsh with a seemingly insurmountable gap over Olson and Henderson, the race looked to be a two car battle. On lap 21, Combs hit slower traffic slowing his car. This allowed Marsh to close within striking distance along with allowing Olson and Henderson to close the large gap a little bit.

For several laps, Henderson tried to find a way by Olson. On lap 25 as the two closed in on Marsh who was fighting slower cars, Henderson made a bold move inside to get by and take third. Two laps later going into turn three, Olson regained the third position on the high side. The battle amongst Marsh, Olson and Henderson was enough for Troy Combs to sail to the win. Marsh held off Olson for second while Henderson finished fourth and Peeples fifth.

Barring any unusual circumstances, Marty Walsh basically had to show up to clinch the championship in the sportsman division. Glen Shewry clocked the fastest lap in qualifying with a 16.424 lap. Angelo Marcelli won the dash over Shewry, Walsh and Aaron Byers. Al Acuna won the first heat holding of Ken Hallis, Rick Fox, Walsh and Byers to win. The second sportsman heat race was highlighted by a superb side-by-side race for the win between Donnie Brown and Brandon Barnwell. The two raced doorhandle-to-doorhandle for the three laps before Barnwell was able to take the lead and win over Brown, Shewry, Lissa Uselton and Marcelli.

The 12 car 30-lap main event was brought to the green flag by Uselton and Brown. Off the start Brown took the lead. Going into the third turn Uselton tried to mount a challenge but Brown shut the door. On lap two, Shewry got loose off the fourth turn and slid into the infield going into turn one. He was able to save his race car while going back on the track in the middle of turns one and two, however the field was jumbled up. On lap four, Walsh moved by Uselton coming off turn four. The yellow flag flew on lap seven when Keith Dias spun in turn four. Under yellow, Barnwell and Fox made contact sending Fox spinning. However since the incident occurred under the yellow flag, Fox was able to retain his position in the race.

When the green flag came out it was Brown leading Walsh, Uselton, Byers and Marcelli. Shewry moved outside of Marcelli on lap nine, finishing the pass on lap 10. On lap 11, the field jammed up in front of Larry Pries causing Hallis to spin him out and bringing out the yellow. Hallis was sent to the rear for his involvement in the incident. The green flag came out again giving Shewry the chance to get outside and by Byers. Going into the third turn on lap 12, Walsh moved inside of Brown for the lead. Off turn two, Walsh got the bite in his rear tires, taking the lead, while Shewry moved by Uselton for third.

On lap 15, Browne dug deep and moved inside of Walsh to regain the lead. Marcelli moved inside of Byers for fifth on lap 16, taking the position going into turn three on lap 17. That same lap the yellow flag came out when Pries spun in turn four collecting Hallis, who took his car to the pits under the caution period.

The yellow period allowed Walsh to cool his tires and on the restart he was able to challenge Brown for the lead again. On lap 20, Walsh moved inside of Brown. The two raced side-by-side for a lap before Walsh was able to take the lead once more, this time bringing Shewry with him. Shewry appeared to have a faster car and he tried to fill Walsh’s mirror as much as possible. On lap 25, Shewry tried to use the high line to get by Walsh but it didn’t work. A lap later, Shewry tried the same tactic but got too loose off turn two and lost several car lengths. On lap 29, the yellow flag flew for debris from Pries’s car. This set up a green/white/checker finish. The restart wasn’t enough for Shewry to mount a challenge to Walsh as Marty Walsh was able to cap off his championship night win the main event win. Shewry held on to second followed by Brown, Uselton and Marcelli.

The final two points races for the real stock and the thunder roadsters will be held in conjunction with the Fall Spectacular Friday and Saturday night September 22nd and 23rd. Along with the two local classes will be the IMCA modifieds and the open competition super late model races. Cars from all over the west coast, from as far away as Las Vegas and Texas will be racing at the Acres. On Thursday the 21st, there will be an open practice between 2-6 PM followed by a steak barbeque provided by Rich and Linda Olson as well as Jim Offenbach and the Golden Gate Meat Company. It promises to be a very exciting conclusion to what has been perhaps the best season of racing at the Acres ever.