Henderson returns to victory circle
By Matthew J. Sullivan
It was an unseasonably cool and cloudy day this past Saturday at Redwood Acres Raceway, however halfway through qualifying the sun poked out to warm things up and make for a nicer, but still cooler summer evening. It was Back-To-School Night at the Acres and during the down time between heat races and the main events, names of several youngsters were drawn to win backpacks. With only three races left after this night (two in a few of the divisions,) finishing well and earning points became even more crucial.
One unfortunate aspect for the night was that the car count in four of the six divisions was very low. The limited street stocks did not race again on the night because there were not enough cars. Prior to qualifying, Jim Redd’s car blew up and he was unable to race his real stock for the night. Nick Green beat Casey Mitchell, Ryan Walters and Pat Conway to win the trophy dash. There was some trouble getting the heat race going but once things got settled, Walters was able to win ahead of Mitchell, Green, Russell Robinson and Conway. Walters took the lead early in the main event and was able to take the win easily over Mitchell, Dustin Walters, Green and Conway.
With the mini stock points tied between brothers Craig and Scott Baker, it was a duel to see which brother would out-perform the other on this night. Craig Baker fired the first shot with the dash win ahead of Brian Murrell, Jr., Scott Baker and Jessie Chown. Craig Baker followed up with the heat race win over Scott Baker, Chown, Brian McIntosh and Steve Smith. Prior to the start of the main event, Murrell, Jr. suffered a leak and his car was relegated to the pits for the duration of the main event Scott Baker was able to take the lead away from McIntosh after a side-by-side duel in the early going. On lap 5 while racing for second, McIntosh pushed up in turn four into Craig Baker’s car sending the two drivers spinning. While neither had any damage, Craig Baker was forced into the pits causing him to miss the restart and costing him a lap. Scott Baker was able to withstand a surprising charge by the inexperienced Chown to take the win. McIntosh placed third while Craig Baker was fourth and Steve Smith was fifth.
It seems as though with every race the roadrunner class adds another one or two cars to the division and it was no different on the night. Wyatt Roach claimed the trophy dash victory over Dustin DelBiaggio, Jimmy Murray and Charlie Anderson. Nick Hansen was making his first start in the division and won his first race, taking the heat win ahead of DelBiaggio, Murray, Roach and Dylan Cook. Unfortunately for Hansen, his luck would turn in the main event. Aaron Sandifer took the lead in the early stages of the main event but on lap five Cook moved under and by for the top spot. Later that same lap, things got bunched up and Hansen’s car hit the turn four wall severely damaging his right front and ending his race.
After the restart, Cook and DelBiaggio battled for the lead briefly before the two came together off the second turn giving Sandifer the lead back. He wouldn’t hold it long though as Roach was able to take the lead a lap later. Roach was able to pull away and cruise to the victory over Anderson and Murray. Sandifer finished fourth while Cook was able to beat Raleigh Willoughby to the line to place fifth.
It was a bad night for the sportsman division. In qualifying, Brandon Barnwell hit the wall coming off turn four and was unable to make repairs to his car. Larry Pries won the trophy dash over Dennis DelBiaggio, Jerry Peterson and Angelo Marcelli. The heat race featured an unfortunate incident between Marcelli, Ken Hallis and Peterson. Coming off turn two, Marcelli made it three wide under Hallis and Peterson. Marcelli and Hallis came together in turn three with Hallis and Peterson spinning into the wall. Both drivers were finished for the evening. DelBiaggio took the heat victory over Pries, Marcelli and Kenny Demello. The main event was uneventful but featured a close duel for the lead between Pries and DelBiaggio. Pries went wire-to-wire and held off DelBiaggio to win while Marcelli and Demello rounded out the finishers.
David Henderson took the trophy dash win for the thunder roadster cars over Randy Olson, Robert Miller and Brandon Barnwell who was once again wheeling Donn Cole’s car. Dan Browne won the first heat race over Dave McMurray, Rob Nelson, Mike Ward and Jim Rich. Olson took the second heat ahead of Henderson, Barnwell, Tommy Payne and Miller. Browne took the lead from his pole position starting spot in the first laps of the main event. Barnwell had an unfortunate start though, somehow getting lose and driving through the infield safely back on the track but in the back of the pack. On lap four, McMurray showed his strength moving under Browne to take the lead and opening the door for Payne, Olson and Henderson to follow through. On lap 6, Payne made slight contact with McMurray between turns one and two sending McMurray spinning into the infield grass and bringing out the caution flag. Payne was sent to the rear of the field by track officials and the race resumed with Olson leading Henderson.
On lap 8, Henderson was able to power under Olson coming off the second turn to take the lead. Olson briefly closed in on Henderson and tried to fight back. With ten laps remaining, third place Miller got sideways off turn four. Miller held on while driving through the infield dirt, but it allowed Barnwell to move into third. As the laps wound down, Henderson was able to pull out to a comfortable gap between himself and Olson. At the finish it was Henderson winning over Olson, Barnwell, Miller while Payne was able to recover and finish fifth.
Prior to the evening, it was confirmed that there will be a 100-lap late model event for the final race of the season, the Fall Spectacular. Racing for the event will take place Friday September 25th and Saturday September 26th. There are still two races left before the season finale though. Fan Appreciation Night is this Saturday August 29th while the Judy Fox Memorial Race will be held September 12th. Tickets for this weekend’s races are free pending that you pick them up at any of the various businesses that have them. Questions regarding where you can pick up tickets for Fan Appreciation Night along with information regarding the Fall Spectacular should be directed to Redwood Acres Raceway by calling 707-442-3232.