Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wright masters the modifieds at the Acres, Middleton clinches real stock title

Wright masters the modifieds at the Acres, Middleton clinches real stock title

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The 2007 racing season came to a close this past Saturday night at the Redwood Acres Raceway with the annual Fall Spectacular. The I.M.C.A./Grand American modifieds joined the local runners in the thunder roadsters and the real stocks to make for an exciting finish to what has been a thrilling year of racing. Lakeport Speedway racer Thomas Wright led from start to finish in the 40-lap modified main event to earn the victory. David Henderson held off the challenges of 2007 RAR thunder roadster champion Paul Peeples, Jr. to win the 35 lap feature. The real stock division concluded it’s 2007 season in dramatic fashion with Shawn Craig winning the main event and Bill Middleton taking the season long title by a mere point.

Qualifying for the real stock division was paced by Shawn Craig with a 19.359. Ryan Peeples won the trophy dash over Bill Middleton, Craig and Ryan Robinson. Troy Wood won the first heat ahead of Nick Green, Bob Lima, Robinson and Mark Mullan. Charles Essex won the second heat followed by Middleton, Kimberling, Craig and Nick Mitchell. 16 cars started the 25 lap main event. The field was brought to the initial green by Mitchell and Wood, but Mitchell spun in turn two along with Robinson and the race was completely restarted.

With Mitchell being relegated to the tail end of the field, Jim Redd inherited the pole position and took full advantage of it off the start by taking the lead. Almost immediately after the drop of the green flag, Essex pulled his car into the pits ending his night. The field spread out with Redd leading Wood, Kimberling and Middleton. The front four ran this way all race. Craig was the driver on a mission. On lap seven he moved by Lima for fifth. The next lap he moved by Middleton for fourth, then outside of Kimberling for third, completing the past two laps later.

On lap 11, Craig made the pass for second getting by Wood. Lima spun in the fourth turn on lap 14, but got his car going again. Craig finally caught up to Redd on lap 17 and quickly made his way by to take the lead. In the final few laps, Craig was slowed by traffic at the tail end of the lead lap which allowed Redd to close back in. At the checkered flag though it wasn’t enough to prevent Craig from winning over Redd, Wood, Kimberling and Middleton. Thanks in part to his run in the trophy dash on this evening, Middleton was able to claim the 2007 real stock championship over Wood by one point. The title was particularly emotional for Middleton and his family as earlier this year, his nephew, Raymond, Jr. died in a car accident. Raymond was planning to race in the real stock division this year.

David Henderson set fast time for the thunder roadster cars with a 17.096. Randy Olson won the trophy dash over Henderson, Paul Peeples, Jr. and Donn Cole. While warming up for the first heat, Dave McMurray spun in the second turn collecting Jay Bahner. Fortunately both drivers were able to make it out for the main. Chris Sarvinski won the heat over Chris Banfill, Leroy Marsh, Jr. Mark Arroyo and Bill Bradbury. Mike Ward won the second heat over Thomas Payne, Gehry Foster, Olson and Peeples.

Chris Lawrence and Ward led the 18 car field to the green flag in the 35 lap feature. Payne spun in the fourth turn on the first lap. Cole stopped to avoid hitting Payne, but unfortunately Marsh couldn’t avoid hitting Cole with his right front tire, knocking it out of kilter and sending him behind the wall for the night. On the restart Ward got the jump to take the lead while the Bill O’Neill, Henderson, Payne and Olson shuffled by Lawrence. Henderson moved by O’Neill quickly to take second on lap two. On lap four, Henderson took the lead from Ward while Olson moved by O’Neill into third.

Meanwhile, Peeples was charging his way to the front. On lap six, he moved by Foster for fifth, then on lap nine he got by O’Neill for fourth. While Henderson slowly pulled away, Ward and Olson battled for the second position. On lap 14, Olson finally found the fast line and moved under and by Ward. Peeples used the same tactic on lap 16 to take third. On lap 19, Peeples moved inside of Olson for second. The two dueled side-by-side while Henderson continued to pull out his lead. Finally on lap 22 after great wheel-to-wheel action, Peeples moved by for second. On lap 24, Banfill moved by Foster for the fifth position. Payne spun on lap 27 bringing out the yellow and tightening the field.

After the restart, the yellow flew once again for a spin by Foster in the fourth turn. On the last restart, Henderson, Peeples and Olson pulled away from the dueling cars of Ward and Banfill. Peeples tried to find the faster route, but couldn’t manage to get by Henderson. The closest he would get would be a friendly tap in the rear coming off the fourth turn on the last lap. At the checkered flag it was Henderson, Peeples, Olson, Ward and Banfill the top five finishers.

All-American Speedway driver Jay Linstroth took quick time honors for the modifieds for the second year in a row. Linstroth’s lap was a 16.293. Eddie Laws won the dash over Linstroth, Charlie Kramm and Kelly Peacock. The first heat saw misfortune for Cody Barba who blew an engine. Defending race champion Willie Thompson took the heat win over Thomas Wright, Scott Field, Terry McIntire and Brent Barney. Ken Scales won the second heat over Richie Potts, Peacock, Linstroth and Jason Philpot.

Wright and Field led the 15 car modified field in the 40 lap feature event. The initial start was called off due to a sloppy lineup. In the confusion to slow the cars down, Scales cut a tire and had to pit. On the restart, Wright took the lead over Field. On lap four, Potts used the outside to get by Laws and Dan Knight to move into third. On lap six, Potts moved by Fields into second. Laws maneuvered his way by Knight for the fourth spot on lap seven. Philpot got by Knight for fifth on the eighth lap. The yellow flew on lap 11 when Field had problems in the first turn.

The front three of Wright, Potts and Laws pulled away on the restart. On lap 18, Linstroth began to make himself known as he moved inside Philpot for fourth, bring Kramm with him. With the field spread out, racing for positions became very difficult. On lap 27, Linstroth took third away from Laws. Two laps later, Kramm moved by Laws for fourth bringing Guy Young with him. On lap 32, Linstroth moved into second and it looked like he would be able to give Wright a serious charge for the lead. However, when Linstroth moved into second, it appeared that Wright began to pick up the pace as he put a six car gap on Linstroth and maintained it all the way to the checkered flag. At the line it was Wright, Linstroth and Potts while Redding racers Kramm and Young finished fourth and fifth.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

2007 season concludes with the Fall Spectacular

2007 season concludes with the Fall Spectacular

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The 21st season of pavement racing on the 3/8 mile oval at Eureka, California’s Redwood Acres Raceway comes to a close this Saturday night, September 29th with the Fall Spectacular. The night’s events will feature the crowning of the 2007 Redwood Acres Raceway real stock champion, the largest field of thunder roadsters in the United States, a strong field of I.M.C.A./Grand American modified racers from all over the west coast, and the next to last race for the North State Challenge Series late models.

Going into the final night of racing, real stock driver Bill Middleton holds a slim four point advantage over second place Troy Wood. The third place driver, Steve Kimberling is 35 points behind the leader and has an outside shot of winning the title. The real stock division has provided some of the most exciting and most clean racing at the Acres this past season, and Saturday night’s race should be a thrill to watch.

The thunder roadster champion at Redwood Acres Raceway, Paul Peeples, Jr., earned his title at the track’s previous race. With no points on the line, the racing should be even more intense. Redwood Acres Raceway holds the distinction of featuring the largest field of roadsters in the United States, and there will likely be at least 20 cars ready to race. Among the favorites will be Peeples, David Henderson, Troy Combs, Leroy Marsh, Jr., Chris Banfill and defending race champion Randy Olson.

The 2006 I.M.C.A./Grand American modified race was won by Willie Thompson. The Oregon racer led the race from the drop of the green flag to the drop of the checkered. Thompson had to hold off the likes of Jerry Dubach, Scott Winters, Ed Laws and Gary Lowblad to score the victory. The 2005 race winner, Jay Lindstroth set the fast time last year with a quick 16.206 qualifying lap. With many tracks not running this Saturday or not running their modified division, there promises to be another strong field of modified drivers and cars.

2007 NASCAR Grand National West rookie, Ryan Foster came from the tail end of the field to win the Northwood Chevrolet 100 last season. 2007 ASA Late Model Challenge Series rookie Derek Thorn led most of the race and finished second while Mike Doss took third, Howard Ford fourth and multi-time Northwood 100 winner, Mike Sackett fifth. Foster set quick time last year with an amazing 15.184 lap time, almost a full half second over second place qualifier, Ford. The field for this year’s race looks to be very good with more than 20 drivers either entered or expected to show up.

The race weekend begins Friday the 28th with open practice for all cars. The pit gates open at 11:00AM with practice being held from 2:00-6:00PM. Directly after practice, the annual barbeque will be held in the pits for all drivers, teams and officials. Saturday the pit gates open at 10:00 in the morning with practice beginning at 12:00 noon. The front gates open at 4:00PM the same time qualifications will start and all of the night’s racing will begin at 6:00PM.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Season ends with champions crowned, race cars destroyed

Season ends with champions crowned, race cars destroyed

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The 2007 points season came to a close for four of the five divisions at Redwood Acres Raceway this past weekend, thankfully for many drivers and teams. As has been displayed over the duration of the 2007 schedule, there was some great, tight racing as well as some spectacular crashes which severely damaged several cars. Orion Mosher capped off a spectacular season, winning another limited street stock main event, however rookie Scott Lyons claimed the division championship. Second year driver, Byron McIntosh took another main event victory in the mini stock division, which only added to his joy of being the division’s champion. While the real stock class didn’t finish their points season, the racing was just as close as Barry Barnwell took the trophy in the main. Paul Peeples, Jr. finished off a dominating season in the thunder roadster division with the main event win and the championship. Finally, in the sportsman division, Rick Fox took his first main event win of 2007 but Brandon Barnwell took the championship, unfortunately with a demolished race car at night’s end.

Scott Lyons took fast time honors for the limited street stock cars with a 17.505 lap. The dash victory went to Orion Mosher ahead of Stan Young, Robert Miller and Lyons. The heat was claimed by Mosher ahead of Duane Mayo, Miller, Lyons and Fergy Ferguson who made his lone appearance of the 2007 season. Mayo and Young led the field to the green flag in the 20 lap main event. Young led from the start while Mayo held of Miller and Mosher. On lap four, Miller moved inside of Mayo and took the position the next lap while Mosher followed into third. Mosher moved inside of Miller on lap six and the two raced side-by-side until lap nine when Mosher cleared Miller for the position. On lap 10, Mosher swept past Young for the lead.

While Mosher pulled away from the rest of the field, Young, Miller and Mayo fought for the second spot. On lap 14, the yellow came out for debris on the race track. Just after the restart, Miller pulled his car into the pits. As Mosher continued to pull away, Young and Mayo continued to duel for second. On the last lap the two tangled. Mosher won while Lyons moved into second. Mayo took third, Young fourth and Romeo Venza finished fifth. Lyons second place helped him finish off a spectacular season with the 2007 championship in the division.

Fast time for the mini stock division was set by Max Capps with a 19.095 time. Craig Baker won the dash over Capps, Denzil Barrett and Nick Karanopoulos. The heat was won by Bill Wood. Brian McIntosh took second, Glenn Bernald third, Barrett fourth and Capps fifth. Nine cars started the 20 lap main with Wood and Stacy Minnick taking the field to the green flag. Off the start, By. McIntosh took the front row three wide to take the lead. The next lap Karanopoulos tried the same maneuver but unfortunately contact was made with Wood causing a huge melee.

After the mess was cleaned up, Baker and Barrett were the two who weren’t able to make the restart. McIntosh led Wood, Minnick, Br. McIntosh and Capps. Byron pulled away from the field while Brian maneuvered his way through the field. He moved by Minnick for third off the restart and then by Wood on lap six. For the rest of the race, the excitement was whether or not Brian could catch brother Byron. By the time the race ended, Brian had closed on Byron’s bumper but that was it. It was Byron winning the race and clinching the title over Brian McIntosh, Wood, Capps and Karanopoulos.

Ryan Peeples laid down a blistering 19.238 lap time in the real stock division to claim fast time. Peeples won the dash ahead of Dan Brown, Troy Wood and Ray Robinson. Wood won the first heat over Chuck Essex, Barry Barnwell, Marvin Savage and Brown. Doug Way won the second followed by Peeples, Bill Middleton, Robinson and Steve Kimberling. Pat Conway and Way brought the field to the green in the 25 lap main event. Conway took the lead early before a lap two yellow flag. After the restart, Middleton moved inside of Nick Green for the fourth position on lap four bringing Barnwell with him. Peeples moved outside of Barnwell on lap six for fifth, while ahead of them Middleton moved outside of Savage for third. The four raced in a tight formation for several laps before Barnwell moved under and past Middleton on lap 10.

On lap 11, Barnwell moved outside of Savage but couldn’t pull off the pass. At the same time, Peeples moved by Middleton for fourth. The two leaders Conway and Way pulled away while Savage and Barnwell continued their duel. On lap 14, Barnwell moved into second. Peeples really began to show his strength, as he moved by Savage at the same time and moved by Barnwell for second a lap later, just as Way pulled his car into the pits and out of the race. Peeples rapidly began to close in on Conway. On lap 19, Brown moved by Barnwell but pushed up the track allowing Barnwell to move back inside.

On lap 20, Peeples and Conway made contact in the first turn sending Conway into a spin and bringing out the yellow flag. Officials determined Peeples to be at fault for the incident and he was sent to the rear of the field. Brown would have inherited the lead but pulled his car into the pits under the caution period handing the top spot over to Barnwell over Savage and Middleton. Barnwell got a good restart and stretched out a comfortable lead over Savage. Barnwell maintained a comfortable margin and took the win over Savage and Middleton. Kimberling was running in fourth on the last lap but got severely loose off the final corner allowing Wood and Peeples to take fourth and fifth at the end.

Paul Peeples, Jr. once again set the fastest time in qualifying for the thunder roadster cars with a very fast 16.898 time in. Peeples won the dash over David Henderson, Mike Ward. Unfortunately fourth place finisher Leroy Marsh, Jr. wrecked in the dash. Mark Baldwin won heat one over Ron Rosenthal, Chris Banfill, Mark Arroyo and Bruce Ziemer. Bill O’Neill won the second heat ahead of Troy Combs, Henderson, Thomas Payne and Peeples.

A strong 19 car field was brought to the green flag of the 30 lap main event by Arroyo and Payne. Arroyo grabbed the lead early. By lap three, Peeples had quickly maneuvered his way into the top five, getting by O’Neill. Donn Cole moved by Payne for second on lap five. Gehry Foster took the fifth position, moving by O’Neill on lap six. On the same lap, Cole spun in turn four causing cars to scatter left and right of his car. Fortunately everyone missed Cole’s car. Unfortunately for Combs, he was caught up in the aftermath of the melee and hit the wall, ending his evening.

At this time Arroyo held the lead over Peeples, Payne, Henderson and Foster. Henderson used the restart to his advantage moving by Payne. On lap seven, Peeples made his bid for the lead, taking it away from Arroyo. On lap 8, Ward and Banfill spun with Banfill having right front damage putting an end to his night. On the restart, Baldwin moved by O’Neill for fifth. Lap nine, Henderson moved inside of Arroyo for second. The duo dueled side-by-side until lap 11 when Henderson gained the upper hand down the back stretch. The field spread out and try as he might, Henderson just could not close the gap on Peeples. The race concluded with Peeples winning by several car lengths over Henderson, Arroyo, Baldwin and Foster. The win capped off what was a season of pure domination by Peeples, resulting in the division championship.

Dennis Delbiaggio returned to the Acres in the sportsman division and laid down fast time with a 16.493. Angelo Marcelli won the dash over Brandon Barnwell, Rick Fox and Delbiaggio. The dash saw two unfortunate incidents, one of which involved Lissa Uselton and Marcelli making contact off the fourth turn, another which saw Frank Billy, Jr. hit the turn four wall ending racing action for him. Barnwell won the heat over Delbiaggio, Uselton, Fox and Larry Pries.

Delbiaggio and Fox took the field to the green flag for the 25 lap main event. Delbiaggio took the early lead while the field settled into single file formation. On lap two, Barnwell moved by Usleton into fourth. On lap seven, Barnwell moved outside of Pries for third, but Pried found room under Fox to take the second spot, allowing Barnwell to follow him into third. Pries and Barnwell closed in on Delbiaggio quickly and the three raced nose-to-tail until lap 24 when Pries finally found room under Delbiaggio down the back stretch. Unfortunately the two tangled in the third turn collecting Barnwell. Fox slowed down and drove under the wreck while Uselton had to spin her car out to avoid a more serious situation. Fortunately, all cars involved received little to no damage.

With the field regrouped, it was Fox leading Delbiaggio, Barnwell, Marcelli and Pries to the green and white flag restart. Coming off the fourth turn, Barnwell moved outside of Delbiaggio for second but the two tangled causing a major incident involving Marcelli, Pries and Uselton behind them. At the line, Fox was the lone car without damage. Barnwell took second, Delbiaggio third, Marcelli fourth and Uselton fifth. Barnwell was crowned the sportsman division champion for 2007 after an impressive season.

Racing returns to the Acres September 28 and 29 for the annual Fall Spectacular. The championship for the real stock division will be determined. Joining them will be the thunder roadsters, the I.M.C.A./Grand American Modifieds and the North State Challenge Series late models. It promises to be an exciting close to what has been an exciting 2007 season.