Champions crowned as 20th season of pavement racing at the Acres closes
By Matthew J. Sullivan
The 2008 season at Redwood Acres Raceway came to a close this past Saturday night, the 20th season of pavement racing at the 3/8 mile facility. Champions in all five of the local divisions were officially crowned. While some of the points races had already been decided prior to the final main events, the championships in the real stock and sportsman divisions literally came down to the final lap.
For yet another race weekend, the limited street stock cars were unable to race due to a lack of cars showing up. Veteran Acres racer Fergy Ferguson clinched the title for the division thanks in part to showing up for every race.
The points title in the mini stock division was between the Baker brothers, Craig and Scott. Going into the final race, Craig held a 26 point advantage over Scott. The trophy dash victory was won by Scott Baker over Craig Baker, Brian McIntosh and Craig Huffman who was driving Brian Murrell’s mini stock truck on the night. Craig Baker took the heat race victory ahead of Huffman, Denzil Barrett, McIntosh and Scott Baker.
Scott Baker took the lead early in the 20 lap main event. On lap one, Craig Baker and McIntosh spun in the fourth turn. Both cars got going and the yellow flag was not thrown. Scott Baker began pulling away from the field at the front while Craig Baker had to move quickly to regain the ground he had lost. On lap seven, Baker swiftly moved by Nick Karanopoulos and Huffman. The next lap, he moved by Barrett for second. As the laps wound down, Craig began to catch Scott. With two laps left, Craig got loose between the first and second turns, spinning out and essentially handing the win to Scott. Barrett finished second ahead of Huffman, Craig Baker and Brian Murrell, Jr. Craig Baker’s fourth place finish was enough to allow him to clinch the 2008 mini stock championship.
Jim Redd came into the final night leading Trevor Miller by only 24 points in the real stock division. Pat Conway won the trophy dash over Miller, Shawn Craig and Bob Lima. Miller took the heat race victory over Bill Middleton, Craig, Lima and Redd. Ray Middleton and Marvin Savage comprised the front row in the 25 lap main event. Savage took the early lead before Lima moved by on lap two bringing Craig, Redd, Bill Middleton, Conway and Miller with him. Miller moved by Conway on lap four, then moved by Bill Middleton two laps later. On the eighth circuit, the two points contenders raced for the fourth position with Miller taking the spot.
The rest of the race featured a duel between the top three cars of Lima, Craig and Miller. After dueling with Craig for several laps, Miller moved by to take the second position going into the first corner on lap 16. Later that same lap, Miller powered his way past Lima to take the lead. Craig and Lima dueled for the second spot until lap 24 when Craig finally took the position away. At the checkered flag it was Miller winning over Craig, Lima, Redd and Bill Middleton. Although Miller won the main event, it wasn’t enough for him to claim the championship as Jim Redd had just enough of a cushion to take the 2008 real stock title.
The 2008 thunder roadster championship had already been decided going into the final event as Paul Peeples, Jr. held an insurmountable lead. Randy Olson returned to racing at the Acres for the first time in a year winning the trophy dash over Peeples, Chris Banfill and Troy Combs. Olson followed up with a win in the heat race ahead of Peeples, Rick Crawley, Jr., Robert Miller and Bruce Ziemer. Combs won the second heat followed by Chris Sarvinski, Mike Ward, Banfill and Leroy Marsh, Jr.
Crawley and Sarvinski brought the field to the green in the 40 lap main event. Crawley got the early lead before an early caution flag which saw Marsh spin and Donn Cole run into Marsh’s spun car. Cole suffered irreparable left front wheel damage ending his night. Racing resumed with Crawley leading Sarvinski, Ziemer, Chris Lawrence and Miller. On lap five, Combs began to make his move forward moving past Lawrence then past Ziemer a lap later. Olson also began to move to the front, passing Ward on lap nine for fourth, then getting by Crawley for third on lap 10 bringing Peeples with him. At the same time, Combs moved by Sarvinski for the lead. On lap 14, Peeples moved by Olson for the third position. On lap 15, Miller spun bringing out the yellow flag
The race restarted with Combs leading Sarvinski, Peeples, Olson and Banfill. Peeples quickly moved by Sarvinski on the restart, while Olson was also able to maneuver past Sarvinski on the next lap. The best racing for the rest of the event was for the third spot between Olson and Banfill as Combs was able to hold a comfortable lead over Peeples, even pulling away slightly. Olson was not going to allow Banfill by easily, and the two dueled hard for the position before lap 39 when Banfill was finally able to get by Olson for the position. At the checkered flag it was Combs winning his second main event in a row over Peeples, Banfill, Olson and Ward.
Going into the final event of the season for the sportsman division, Brandon Barnwell held a tight 13 point edge over second place Dennis Delbiaggio. The trophy dash victory went to Rick Fox over Larry Pries, Delbiaggio and Barnwell. The first heat race was won by Barnwell over Angelo Marcelli, Lissa Uselton, Pries and Craig Huffman. Jerry Peterson won the second heat ahead of Fox, Delbiaggio, Romeo Venza and David Henderson.
Frank Billy and Peterson lead the field to the green flag for the 40 lap feature event. Peterson gained the lead as the field settled behind with Delbiaggio second, Billy third, Uselton fourth and Pries fifth. On lap three, Fox moved outside and by Pries for fifth. On the fourth lap, Delbiaggio moved outside of Peterson for the lead. The two drivers fought doorhandle-to-doorhandle the next several laps, neither giving an inch. Fox continued his move to the front on lap five, getting by Usleton for fourth. On the sixth lap, Delbiaggio secured the lead from Peterson. Fox moved past Billy for third on lap nine bringing Barnwell with him. The field spread out and it looked as if things would remain status quo until lap 27 when Billy and Uselton made contact in turns three and four. Billy was able to continue but Uselton was done for the rest of the race.
Delbiaggio led Peterson, Fox, Barnwell and Pries to the restart. Fox made his way to the second position on lap 30. Though he had enough time to try a maneuver on Delbiaggio for the lead Fox was unable to muster a challenge as Delbiaggio took the win over Fox, Peterson, Barnwell and Pries. Barnwell was able to claim his second sportsman title in a row by only nine points over Delbiaggio.
The close of the 2008 season only brings anticipation and excitement of what will happen in 2009. There are likely more cars that will be racing at the Acres in several of the divisions, and next season will feature the debut of the roadrunner division, a unique economy division. Congratulations to the 2008 Redwood Acres Raceway champions and good luck to everyone in the 2009 season!