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.

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