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.

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