McCormack makes late pass to win 100 lapper
By Matthew J. Sullivan
Beautiful weather graced Eureka, California’s Redwood Acres Raceway this past Friday and Saturday for the season finale Fall Spectacular event. Friday evening featured local divisions of real stocks, mini stocks, roadrunners and thunder roadsters along with late models while real stocks, roadrunners, thunder roadsters and late models returned on Saturday as well as the Northern California Pro-4 Modifieds. The track championships in the real stock, mini stock and roadrunner divisions were still up for grabs going into the weekend, making it very important to survive and race both nights.
It appeared as though the battle for the track championship was going to take a major turn in the mini stock trophy dash when points leader Craig Baker’s car broke. Scott Baker won the dash over Brian Murrell, Jr. and Jesse Chown. Fortunately for Craig Baker, fellow driver Steve Smith turned his car over to him allowing Baker to continue to race for the night. Brian Murrell won the heat race ahead of Craig Baker, Chown, Scott Baker and Murrell, Jr. Scott Baker held off Chown to win the main event while Craig Baker took third and the mini stock track championship. McIntosh was fourth and Murrell fifth.
Shawn Craig took the Friday night real stock trophy dash victory driving Dustin Walters’ car. Casey Mitchell, Pat Conway and Ryan Walters rounded out the finishers. Conway took the heat race win over Craig, Mitchell, Walters and Ray Middleton. Walters took the Friday night main event win ahead of Mitchell, Russell Robinson, Craig and Middleton. There was a big scare in the Saturday night dash when Mitchell and Redd made contact sending Redd headlong into the pit entrance. Fortunately Redd was okay, but his car was destroyed and he was finished for the night. Walters took the dash over Mitchell and Craig. Mitchell won the heat ahead of Craig, Walters, Ray Middleton and Bill Middleton. Walters then went on to win the main event and wrap up the track championship for the real stocks. Mitchell was second while Conway, Ray Middleton and Bill Middleton finished out the top five.
Things got a bit heated between Wyatt Roach and Dax Kinsey in the Friday night trophy dash resulting in Kinsey receiving a black flag. Dustin DelBiaggio took the win over Jimmy Murray. Kinsey won the heat over Roach, Kent Campbell, Eric Rice and DelBiaggio. Roach took the main event victory ahead of Murray, DelBiaggio, Kinsey and Rice but the big story happened when Raleigh Willoughby was coming to the finish line. Coming off the fourth corner, Willoughby got sideways and tried to correct his car. Willoughby’s tires dug into the pavement and sent his car flipping approximately four times before landing on its wheels. Willoughby climbed out of his car and let the fans know he was all right by climbing to his car’s roof and standing with his arms in the air. Roach continued his winning ways Saturday with the dash victory over DelBiaggio, Murray and Bill Snow. Roach followed up with the heat race victory over DelBiaggio, Aaron Sandifer, Snow and Campbell. Roach made it a clean sweep on the night with the main event victory ahead of DelBiaggio, Rice, Campbell and Charlie Anderson who took the roadrunner track championship.
The Northern California Pro-4 Modifieds visited the Acres for a non-points event on Saturday evening. Ken Gifford took the trophy dash over Curt Lewis, Kevin Barba and Codi Barba. Lewis took the heat race victory over Gifford, Codi Barba, Kevin Barba and Stan Buschman. Codi Barba won the main event ahead of Kevin Barba, Gifford, Buschman and Steve Smith.
The thunder roadsters took to the track for a non-points event for the weekend. Brandon Barnwell won the trophy dash on Friday night ahead of Paul Peeples, Jr., 2009 thunder roadster track champion, David Henderson and Mike Ward. The finishes of the heat races determined the start of the Saturday evening main event. Peeples, Jr. won the first head ahead of Barnwell, Ray Elliott, Rob Nelson and Belinda Ward. Henderson won the second heat over Robert Miller, Tommy Payne, Bruce Ziemer and Mike Ward. With the first six positions getting the invert, this gave the pole position to Payne with Elliott on his outside. Payne grabbed the lead from the start of the 50-lap feature before the field was slowed when caution flew for Chris Sarvinski. The rest of the race ran clean and green from that point on. Henderson was clearly the class of the field on this night as he took the lead from his fifth starting position on lap four and never looked back. The best battle of the race was for third, fourth and fifth between Miller, Peeples and Barnwell. At the checkered flag it was Henderson winning by nearly a straightaway over second place Payne. Miller, Peeples and Barnwell finished third through fifth.
Randy Houston set quick time for the late model cars but his car broke while warming up prior to the trophy dash ending his weekend prematurely. Mike Lovell took the dash over Jeremy Hopkins and Junior Roddy. Like the thunder roadster cars, the finish of the late model heats determined the starting lineup of the main event. Northern California racing legend and local favorite, Jim Walker excited the fans in the first heat taking the victory over Joe McDonald, Noel McCormack, Roddy and Rod McCombs. Unfortunately, Berndt Akerstrom broke during the first heat and was finished for the event. Local sportsman driver, Jerry Peterson surprised folks by taking the victory in the second heat ahead of Keith Nelson, Robert Miller, Corey James and Kevin Ostern.
The first six were inverted giving pole position to Miller with McCormack starting outside the front row. It was a clean start for the 100-lap feature before caution fell on lap two when Ostern spun in the first turn infield. After the restart, the caution flew quickly when Walker and Roddy made contact going into turn three. Walker suffered minor damage and returned to the track briefly before retiring shortly thereafter. The racing went green for another 10 circuits until the caution dropped on lap 12 for Nelson’s car in the turn four wall. The best racing of the night took place for what would be the longest period of green flag action. McCormack rode constantly in Miller’s mirror while McDonald in third looked to take advantage of any mistake made by either driver. Things got interesting when the field caught up to lap McCombs. Though McCombs tried his best to give the leaders room to race, the pack bunched up behind him. Miller was able to clear McCombs while McDonald was able to sneak into second as McCormack tried his best to fend off Peterson for third. McCormack was able to hold off Peterson while on the high line, and then get back by McDonald for second before the caution flew on lap 49 when Mike Doss went for a ride through the front stretch infield.
The action slowed several times between the halfway and three-quarter lap marks. On lap 58, the yellow came for Scott Lenz who had spun in turn four. The caution flew on lap 59 to clean up debris from contact between Roddy and Peterson. After a brief period of racing, the caution flew again on lap 68 when Lovell spun out from fourth position. Corey James also spun to avoid Lovell and both were able to continue racing. Racing resumed and things remained status quo up front between Miller, McCormack and McDonald until lap 76 when McCormack found the low line under Miller going into the first turn to take the lead. McDonald was able to follow behind to take the second position. Miller now had to fight off Doss for third. The two raced door-handle-to-door-handle for several laps before Doss took the position on lap 82. On lap 83, Hopkins and Roddy made contact while racing for the fifth position in turns three and four bringing out the caution flag for the final time. On the restart, Doss’ car slowed and he drove his car to the pits. While McCormack and McDonald drove away from the field, Ostern began to give Miller trouble for third. On lap 90, Ostern moved high and past Miller for third. At the front, McDonald was unable to mount a challenge on McCormack for the lead and at the finish it was McCormack winning over McDonald, Ostern, Miller and Lovell. Allen Gibney, James, Roddy, Hopkins and Lenz finished out the top 10.
Congratulations to Redwood Acres Raceway’s 2009 track champions, sportsman driver, Dennis DelBiaggio; thunder roadster driver, David Henderson; roadrunner driver, Charlie Anderson; mini stock driver, Craig Baker and real stock driver, Ryan Walters.