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.