Pries, Peeples among opening night winners
By Matthew J. Sullivan
The 21st season of racing on the pavement began this past Saturday night at Redwood Acres Raceway. Though it was a relatively cool evening, a number of fans turned out to witness the five established classes of sportsman, Thunder Roadsters, real stocks, mini stocks and limited street stocks as well as the debut of roadrunner division.
Three cars took to the track for the roadrunners on this opening evening of racing. Dustin Delbiaggio took the honors of being the first driver to win a roadrunner event by winning the trophy dash. Nick Bundy displayed his strength in the main event winning ahead of Delbiaggio and Jimmy Murray. The car count in this class is expected to expand tremendously as the 2009 season progresses. Three cars also showed up for the limited street stock class. Defending class champion, Fergy Ferguson won the dash while George Young held on for the main event win ahead of Ferguson and Kenny Demello.
The mini stock trophy dash victory went to Scott Baker over Brian Murrell, Brian McIntosh and Brian Murrell, Jr. Baker was able to claim victory again in the heat race, passing Murrell on the final lap to win. McIntosh, Murrell, Jr. and Craig Baker rounded out the top 5 finishers. Driving an unfamiliar vehicle, Craig Baker held the lead in the early stages before giving way to McIntosh. Scott Baker maneuvered his way to the front quickly and battled McIntosh for the lead for several laps before taking the outside line by for the lead around halfway. While moving through slower traffic, Craig Baker and Murrell were able to move by McIntosh for second and third. At the checkered flag it was Scott winning over brother Craig followed by Murrell, McIntosh and Murrell, Jr.
Sporting a new paintjob in the real stock class was Casey Mitchell as he took the dash win over Ryan Walters, Jim Redd and Pat Conway. Redd made a last-lap pass on Mitchell in the heat race to win ahead of Conway, Bob Lima and Roger Linn. In the main event, Mitchell held on to the lead early before Walters was able to take the top spot away about halfway through. Redd moved by Mitchell a few laps later and managed to track down Walters. However, Redd was unsuccessful at being able to mount a serious charge on Walters, getting only as close as a half of a car length. In the end it was Walters victorious over Redd, Mitchell, Linn and Lima.
Defending Thunder Roadster track champion, Paul Peeples, Jr. fought off David Henderson for the dash win with Chris Sarvinski and Tommy Payne close behind. Mark Arroyo won the first heat race followed by Robert Miller, Jay Bahner, Rob Nelson and Belinda Ward. Sarvinski won the second head while Henderson beat Chris Banfill to the line for second. Peeples and Payne finished fourth and fifth. Arroyo lead in the early going of the main event, but by lap 10 both Peeples and Henderson had diced their way through the field and into first and second. The remainder of the main event featured what has not become a regular duel for the race win between Peeples and Henderson. Try as he might, Henderson just could not find what he needed to get by Peeples and in the end it was Peeples taking the win with Henderson close behind in second, Mike Ward in third, Payne fourth and Arroyo fifth.
Trophy dash honors for the sportsman division went to Dennis Delbiaggio over Angelo Marcelli, Larry Pries and Kavin Conn. The heat race saw an unfortunate incident on the last lap when Lissa Uselton got loose off the fourth corner and spun. Aaron Byers, who was making his first start at the Acres in almost two years was unable to slow down and ran into the back of Frank Billy’s car. Neither Uselton or Byers were able to race in the main event while Billy’s car was relatively undamaged. Jerry Peterson ended up the winner in the last lap melee.
Peterson started from the pole and led the rest of the field quite handily in the main event before a lap nine incident between Al Acuna and Conn. On the restart, Billy was able to get a good jump and maneuvered his way past Peterson for the lead. The field began to tighten close together as the laps wound down. With two laps remaining, Peterson moved inside of Billy down the backstretch. The two touched in the third turn sending Billy spinning. Delbiaggio and Marcelli also spun to avoid the incident, and thankfully none of the cars suffered any damage. Peterson was sent to the rear of the pack allowing Larry Pries to inherit the race lead. Pries was able to lead the last two laps without incident to take the victory ahead of Marcelli, Delbiaggio, Conn and Peterson.
Everyone has less than a week to wait for the next event as racing returns this Saturday night April 25th.