Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2006 Real Stock season: A look back

2006 Real Stock season: A look back

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Bill Bradbury’s wide point margin and championship victory may have been a bit deceiving to those who were not able to view all of the real stock races at Redwood Acres Raceway in 2006. While Bradbury did notch three victories and maintained the consistency it takes to win a championship on any level, his 2006 championship run was anything but easy. On any given night at the Acres, at least ten different drivers could wind up as the winner of the main event. No, it was not easy at all.

Bradbury’s closest points competitor proved to be Barry Barnwell. Early in the season, Barnwell’s strength was somewhat of a surprise, but as the season went on his strength proved to last. Although Barnwell was not able to win a main event in 2006 he was consistently a factor, at or near the front of the pack in every race. The third place points finishers, co-drivers Ray and Ryan Robinson also proved to be surprising. Going into the season, it did not appear as if the duo would be among the fast cars, but on most nights they were. Although they were shut out from victory circle, they opened the eyes of their competition and should be one of the cars to beat in the coming year.

Real Stock veteran, Steve Kimberling maintained a top five consistency throughout the season, keeping his car clean. Kimberling was finally able to break through and win the final main event of the year in the Fall Spectacular. One of Bill Bradbury’s toughest competitors all season proved to be Dan Browne. The two staged one of the most memorable races ever at the Acres in the fourth race of the season, trading the lead back and forth on several occasions. When the checkered flag dropped, Browne and Bradbury were side-by-side. At the line, Browne was able to beat Bradbury by inches.

Jim Redd placed sixth in the points standings. More often than not, Redd was in the thick of the battle for the top five. Ryan Walters won the most main events in the division scoring four victories and seventh in the points. Unfortunately, Walters took what may have been the hardest hit of the season on the final weekend when his right front tire bounced off his car in practice sending him straight into the water barrels in turn two. Walters was not hurt, but the car proved not to be.

Eighth in the points was Troy Wood. On many nights Wood was among the early leaders in the main event, but he just could not muster enough to claim victory. Doug Way was the ninth place points finisher scoring his two main event wins early in the season. Way seemed to be one of the more unlucky drivers, getting involved in accidents not of his own doing forcing him out of races. Jim Bailey finished tenth in points. Bailey was one of the strongest contenders every race, but circumstance kept him from taking home main event wins. Two drivers scored main event wins, but did not participate the full season, Jason Belt and Cecil Arispe.

The 2007 season should prove to be a close points battle. Bill Bradbury is the rightful favorite going into the year but winning the championship won’t get any easier. With Barnwell and Walters combining their efforts into one, they should be stiff competition. Anyone in the top ten could easily win the championship. Those outside of the top ten like Bob Lima, Ray Demello and Cecil Arispe could be major championship factors too. Improving drivers such as Dana DeVane, Marvin Savage and Nick Green look to finish better in the standings. The real stock division will definitely be something worth watching in 2007.