Peeples, Walsh opening night winners at the Acres
By Matthew J. Sullivan
After the initial season opening race was cancelled the previous Saturday thanks to Mother Nature, racing returned to Redwood Acres Raceway this weekend. As fans have come to expect at the Acres, there was some great racing action provided by the drivers in the limited street stock, mini stock, real stock, thunder roadster and sportsman divisions.
Before the night’s events, former Acres regular and North State Challenge Series competitor Hank Hilton was honored. Fans and crew members applauded as “Hammerin’” Hank’s number 98 car made one final ceremonial lap around the 3/8 mile oval with Acres racer Frank Billy behind the wheel. The flag was flown at half staff in honor of Hilton as well as Humboldt County Second District Supervisor Roger Rodoni who was tragically killed in a car accident Thursday evening.
Scott Lyons paced qualifying for the limited street stock cars with a 17.663 lap. Dwayne Mayo won the trophy dash over Romeo Venza, Kenny Demello and Lyons. With only five cars showing up for the evening, the heat race turned out to be the final race of the night for the class. Venza took the win, his first of any kind at the Acres over Rick Armstrong after attrition knocked out Demello, Mayo and Lyons.
Qualifying for quick time in the mini stock division was very, very close. Max Capps claimed the honor with a 19.205 time, just five-thousandths quicker than Craig Baker. In the dash, Baker took the win ahead of Denzel Barrett, Scott Baker and Capps. The heat race was won by Brian McIntosh with Baker, Barrett, Capps and Brian Murrell rounding out the top five. Although only six cars started the 15 lap main, the racing was close. McIntosh took the early lead over the Baker brothers. On lap five, Scott and Craig made contact while racing for second sending Scott spinning. On lap 11, Craig Baker dropped off the pace and went into the pits. Barrett tried his best to find a way around McIntosh in the remaining laps, but couldn’t muster enough strength as McIntosh won. Capps finished third, Murrell fourth and Craig Baker took fifth.
Shawn Craig set the qualifying mark for the real stocks with a 19.067 time in. Craig won the dash over Jim Redd, Ryan Peeples and Bob Lima. Pat Conway won the first heat ahead of Nick Green, Dustin Walters, Casey Mitchell and Dana DeVane. Lima won heat two over Donnie Hyman, Redd, Ryan Robinson and Craig.
14 cars made the start of the 25 lap main event. Walters and Ray Middleton paced the field to the green flag. Walters took the initial lead, but by the end of the completion of the first lap it was Green in the lead. Robinson spun off the second turn on lap two but was able to keep going. On lap five, Redd moved by Hyman for third. The next lap Redd moved by Lima for second, but a lap later Lima regained the position. On lap seven, Hyman, Walters and Craig tangled up in the fourth turn bringing out a yellow flag. During the caution period, Green pulled into the pits from third place and did not return. The green returned for five more laps before an incident in the first and second turns involving Walters and Conway.
On the restart, the front trio of Lima, Redd and Peeples pulled away from the rest of the field. On lap 15, Redd moved by Lima for the lead. Two laps later, Lima spun off the second turn moving Peeples into second and Craig into third. On lap 18, an incident between Robinson and Walters brought out the final caution flag. Redd got a good start when the green flew again, but Peeples and Craig kept in close touch. With two laps remaining, Craig moved by Peeples for second, but by that point it was too late for him to mount a serious charge for the lead. At the checkered flag it was Redd winning with Craig, Peeples, Hyman and Lima rounding out the top five.
Qualifying in the sportsman division was close. Dennis DelBiaggio set the quick mark with a 16.342 barely beating Brandon Barnwell’s 16.347. Marty Walsh driving Rick Fox’s car won the dash over DelBiaggio, Barnwell and Larry Pries. Al Acuna returned to the division after being absent for a year and won the heat over Walsh, Jerry Peterson, DelBiaggio and Barnwell.
Walsh and Pries led the field to the green flag in the main event. It was short lived however as an incident involving Acuna, Lissa Uselton and Romeo Venza brought the yellow out. Acuna was finished for the night but Uselton and Venza were able to continue in the race. On the restart, Walsh led while Barnwell moved inside Pries for second. That opened the bottom line for Peterson to move into third and Angelo Marcelli for fourth. Uselton spun in turn three on lap five bringing out the yellow flag.
When racing resumed, Walsh put a gap over Barnwell and Peterson who were dueling for the second position. After a lap 14 caution for debris, the green flew again and once again Walsh pulled away. On lap 22, the yellow dropped when Pries got loose in turn four and was helped around by DelBiaggio who had nowhere to go. Walsh hit his gears and his marks on the final restart and crossed the line first at the checkered flag ahead of Barnwell, Peterson, Marcelli and DelBiaggio.
Paul Peeples, Jr. was the fastest of the thunder roadster drivers with a 16.892, the only driver under 17 seconds. Peeples took the dash win over Chris Banfill, Leroy Marsh, Jr. and Chris Sarvinski. Mike Ward won the first heat race over Donn Cole, Jay Bahner, class rookie Robert Miller and Dave McMurray. Peeples won heat two over Thomas Payne, Marsh, Sarvinski and Gerhy Foster.
McMurray and Bahner comprised the front row for the 15 car, 25 lap main event. McMurray took the early lead, but by lap three Foster moved into the top spot bringing Payne and Bahner with him. On lap six, Peeples began to maneuver his way to the front getting by Bahner. Three laps later, Peeples took second from Payne. By lap 11, Peeples took the lead from Foster and began to pull away. On lap 14, Payne moved inside Foster for second. The two dueled side by side for a lap before Payne took firm hold of the position. The caution flag dropped on lap 17 when McMurray hit the turn three wall.
After the restart, Sarvinski spun coming off turn four after running in the top five. He was able to get going again without a yellow flag. Payne was able to stay close on Peeples bumper and tried his best to find a way by the veteran driver, however he was unable to find a line by as Peeples took the win. Foster held on for third over Banfill and Marsh.
Racing returns to Redwood Acres Raceway May 10th with all five classes of cars looking to put on another fantastic show.