Sunday, May 20, 2007

Three is a magic number for Barnwell and Peeples

Three is a magic number for Barnwell and Peeples

By Matthew J. Sullivan

After racing the previous Saturday night at the Acres, drivers and teams had to make a quick turnaround to prepare for this past Saturday night’s action. The racing was clean, and there were very few incidents in all five local divisions. However, in the sportsman and thunder roadster divisions, it seemed as if it was the same story that had already been told twice before in the two previous races this season. Both Brandon Barnwell and Paul Peeples, Jr. once again won their respective main events bringing their streak to three wins. Another Barnwell claimed victory as well as Barry Barnwell took the main event victory in the real stock division. Orion Mosher scored his second main in a row sealing the win in the limited street stock class, while Brian Murrell held off his challengers in the mini stock main.

Fast time for the limited street stock division was set by Orion Mosher with a time of 17.510. Mosher took the dash victory over Trevor Miller, who was making his first start of the season, Duane Mayo and Scott Lyons. Former pure stock and sportsman champion Otis Stabler held off Mosher and Miller to win the hotly contested heat race, while Stan Young and Lyons rounded out the top five. Seven cars started the 15 lap main event. Duane Mayo was able to use his pole position to his advantage as he took the early lead. However, Orion Mosher wanted to get to the front as soon as possible, and get to the front he did. On lap two, Mosher moved to the outside of Mayo and powered past to take the lead. Miller made the pass on Mayo for second on lap three, but by then Mosher had already built a substantial lead. With Mosher walking away from the field, the rest of the excitement was left between Mayo, Stabler, Lyons and Young. Unfortunately for Mayo, between laps eight and ten he was passed for third fourth and fifth. At race’s end, Mosher had made it looked easy as he took home the victory followed by Miller, Mayo, Stabler, Lyons and Young.

Eight cars took time in the mini stock division. Jason Shaha set the fast mark at a 18.793. Brian Murrell won the dash followed by Byron McIntosh, Shaha and Max Capps. Shaha would go on to win the heat race followed by Scott Baker, Murrell, Glenn Bernald and Capps. Minnick and Baker lead the field to the green in the 15 lap feature. Baker got the jump off the start and immediately started to build his lead while Minnick slotted into the second position. As the field got into single file, Murrell and Shaha began to pick their way to the front. On lap three, Murrell moved inside and by Bernald while Shaha followed in his tire tracks. While Baker continued to build his lead, Murrell moved under Minnick on lap four and completed the pass, once again bringing Shaha with him.

For a moment, the cars of Murrell and Shaha looked to be at Daytona or Talladega, as they ran nose to tail and began to close on the leader Baker. On lap 9, the duo had caught Baker and Murrell decided to make his move quickly. He got under Baker on lap 10, but momentarily went into the grass and fell back allowing Shaha to make a move on the high side of Baker. The two raced side by side for the lead until lap 12 when Shaha seemed to have the edge. However, going into the first turn, the two made contact giving Murrell the inside line allowing him to take the lead. For the last two laps, Shaha tried to pressure Murrell, but he couldn’t find the running room. When the checkered flag fell, Murrell was the winner followed by Shaha, Baker, Bernald and Minnick.

Barry Barnwell set the pace for the real stock class in qualifications with a 19.585 lap time. Barnwell took the win in the dash over Ryan Peeples, Marvin Savage and Bill Middleton. Middleton won the first heat holding off Barnwell, Ray Robinson, Peeples and Troy Wood who was driving Chuck Essex’s car. Steve Kimberling took the second heat followed by Jim Redd, Marvin Savage and Ray DeMello.

Mark Mullan and DeMello lead the 13 car field to the green for the 25 lap main event. Mullan grabbed the early lead over Chad Grammar. On lap two Middleton moved inside to get by Redd for fourth. Grammar made his way by Mullan for the lead on lap five, while Redd went for a spin off the fourth turn at the same time. No yellow was thrown as Redd was able to continue. On lap six, DeMello got under Mullan for second and brought a train of cars with him including Middleton and Barnwell. At this time, Grammar held about a 10 car length gap over second place DeMello.

Barnwell began to really show his strength on lap eight moving outside of Middleton and completing the pass a lap later. Later that lap, Barnwell made his way by DeMello to take second. Now he set his sights on the leader Grammar. On lap 11, Middleton moved his way to third getting by DeMello. On lap 13, Savage began to move to the front passing Peeples and DeMello. On lap 16, Middleton got sideways in turn two allowing Savage to get by for third. The next lap, Kimberling took advantage of Middleton’s handling issues and moved by him for fourth. By lap 20, Barnwell had finally caught up to Grammer’s rear bumper. On lap 21, Barnwell took a look to the high side of Grammer on the front stretch. Coming off of turn two, Barnwell drove his car to Grammer’s inside to take the lead. With two laps left, Savage was able to get under and by Grammer for second, but it was too late as Barnwell had built a comfortable lead and took the checkered flag first followed by Savage, Grammar, Kimberling and Middleton.

Paul Peeples, Jr. set quick time for the third straight race for the thunder roadsters with a 17.021 lap. He followed his fast lap up with a win in the trophy dash over Randy Olson, driving the car normally wheeled by his brother Rusty, David Henderson and Ron Borges. Leroy Marsh, Jr. won the first heat over Olson, Peeples, Henderson and Mic Moulton who was subbing for Chris Banfill. Bill O’Neill won the second heat over Dave McMurray, Mike Ward, Donn Cole and Gehry Foster.

Ward and Cole brought the 17 car field to the green for the 30 lap main event. Ward was able to grab the early lead while behind him the field jockeyed for position. On lap 7, Bill Bradbury and Borges made contact in the first turn bringing out the yellow flag and tightening up the field. At this time Ward lead over Cole, Bruce Ziemer, Foster and Marsh. On the restart, the trio of Henderson, Peeples and Olson hooked up together. All three got by Marsh, Foster and Ziemer by lap 9 and closed in on the two leaders.

On lap 11, Henderson moved outside of Cole bringing Peeples and Olson with him. The next lap, Peeples found the inside groove under Henderson, completing the pass for second on lap 13. The battle for the lead was a short one as Peeples moved by Ward on lap 14 with Henderson following. On lap 16, Olson moved to third getting by Ward. On lap 17, Marsh and Cole made contact sending Cole spinning and bringing out the yellow.

On the restart the front three pulled away while Ward and Marsh battled for fourth. With the lap winding down, Peeples held a comfortable gap over Henderson, while Olson fell behind the two leaders but maintained a gap over Ward and Marsh. While the front five were spread out, the best racing was from sixth on back as drivers raced side by side battling for position. Unfortunately, the good racing was overshadowed by the dominance of Peeples as he took his third straight main event win followed by Henderson, Olson, Ward and Marsh.

Brandon Barnwell was the fastest of the sportsman cars in qualifying with a 16.751 lap. Barnwell won the dash over North State Challenge Series racer Luke Hall, Donnie Brown and Aaron Byers. In the heat race, Hall took the victory with Angelo Marcelli, Larry Pries, Rick Fox and Barnwell completing the top five. Unfortunately during tire warm-ups in the heat, rookie driver McKenna Bell making her first start at the Acres spun and hit the wall on the back stretch ending her evening.

10 cars started the 30 lap sportsman main event with Marcelli and Lissa Uselton leading the field to the green flag. Uselton was driving a backup car previously driven by Fox in prior seasons. Marcelli took the early lead. Barnwell was quickly making his way to the front as he moved by Byers on lap two for third, then moved outside of Uselton for second on lap three. On lap 4, Mike Bourbon and Joe Bonomini spun in turns one and two necessitating a caution flag.

On the restart it was Marcelli leading Barnwell, Byers, Brown and Uselton. On lap six, Brown moved outside of Byers for third. At the same time, Barnwell moved inside of Marcelli to take the lead. On lap seven, Brown slowed and headed into the pits calling it a night. Hall began to show his strength on lap 10 moving by Fox for fifth. On lap 12, Hall passed Uselton for fourth. Five laps later, Hall moved outside of Marcelli and completed the pass on lap 20.

With the field spread out, the best action for the rest of the race was to see if Hall could close the gap on Barnwell who had a substantial 3/4 of a straightaway lead. As the laps wound down, Hall closed the gap to about three car lengths, but by then time had run out. Barnwell took the win over Hall, Marcelli, Byers and Uselton.

Racing at the Acres takes a break before returning June 2nd with all five local classes running once again.

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