Sunday, May 1, 2011

Racing returns to the Acres

Racing returns to the Acres

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The 2011 season opening event at Redwood Acres Raceway occurred this past Saturday night, April 30th. While rain plagued and eventually cancelled the original season opening date on April 16th, sun and blue skies fell over the 3/8-mile paved oval. There were a lot of old faces returning to the track as well as a lot of new ones. All in all, there was some great racing action had on the evening.

Defending real stock track champion, Casey Mitchell looked to be in top form winning the trophy dash over Donnie Hyman, Nick Green and Steve Kimberling. Hyman held off Ryan Robinson in the heat race to take the race win followed by Green, Mitchell and Kimberling. Wyatt Roach took the lead for the first two circuits of the 20-lap feature event before giving way to Doug Way. While battling for third alongside Hyman, Kimberling got loose between turns three and four forcing him to slow and lose several spots. Roach did his best to hold off faster cars for second but had to give way on lap five allowing Robinson to get under and by as well as Mitchell, Green and Hyman. Way appeared to have his hands full with Robinson and Mitchell filling his mirrors until the caution flew when Hyman spun on his own in turn one on lap seven.

Immediately after the restart, Robinson tried to go high and around Way for the lead. Mitchell chose the low line and was able to get by both for the lead when Way opened the door coming off turn four on lap 10. Robinson and Green continued to fight way or second while Hyman made his way back to the lead cars. Hyman was on a mission, moving past Green, then Robinson and setting his sights on Way. On lap 19 going into the first turn, Hyman’s right rear wheel flew off his car, sending him spinning. As Hyman came back down the track, he collected Robinson’s car. Fortunately, neither car was heavily damaged but both were finished for the race. Mitchell took the green/white restart and held on to the checkered flag over Way, Kimberling, Green and rookie driver Chris Naughton.

There were several new drivers in the roadrunner division. Among them were Jennifer Barrett, Heath Roach, Jared Mayo, Greg Mattox and Josh Hansen. Kolby Jackson won the trophy dash over Nick Hansen, Robbie Nelson and Dylan Cook. Jackson followed up with the heat race win over Roach, N. Hansen, Michael Lawrence and J. Hansen. Roach grabbed the lead early in the 20-lap main as the rest of the pack tried to sort themselves out. Mattox was the first to give Roach some trouble until Lawrence moved his way to third. Lawrence appeared to have second taken away before Roach slowed abruptly in front of him forcing Lawrence to jump on the brakes. Roach’s car came to a stop on the front straight necessitating a yellow flag on lap three.

Jackson used his experience to take the lead on the restart and appeared to be the car to beat. However, Lawrence, N. Hansen, Nelson and Brett Murrell were nipping at his heels. On lap 13, Jackson pushed high off turn four allowing Lawrence to maneuver past to the lead. A lap later, N. Hansen moved under to take second with Nelson following to third. The caution flew on lap 16 and bunched up the field for a shootout to the finish. N. Hansen used the restart to his advantage, finding the low lane under Lawrence for the lead. Nelson followed by into second. Nelson did all he could to mount a challenge on N. Hansen but didn’t have enough to take the lead away. At the checkered flag it was N. Hansen winning over Nelson, Lawrence, Mattox and Murrell.

Paul Peeples, Jr. held off Randy Olson, Fergy Ferguson and defending champion, Thomas Payne to win the thunder roadster trophy dash. The first heat was won by Robert Miller who was making his first start in the division in a year, former mini stock champion, Bernard Burns, Dan Browne, Bruce Ziemer and Jim Rich. The second heat saw misfortune strike both Randy and Allen Olson. Randy pulled his car into the pits with engine problems at the start of the heat while Allen Olson looked poised to win his first race ever but had to pull in due to an oil leak. Peeples was able to take the win over Payne, Chris Sarvinski and Ferguson.

Miller took the lead at the start of the 30-lap main event while a mad scramble played itself behind him. On lap three, Peeples made contact with Browne in turn one sending Browne spinning, bringing out a yellow flag and sending Peeples to the rear of the field. Miller took the restart ahead of Burns and Rich and looked to not have any rust after a year away from the Acres. Likewise, Burns looked to be very competitive in his first race back in many years. However, experience in the division began to show through in the form of Ziemer and Payne. On lap nine, Ziemer and Payne made a move to the inside of Burns at the same time. Ziemer and Payne touched briefly forcing Payne to get briefly get loose before he save his car. A lap later, Burns pulled his car to the pits. On lap 12, Ziemer moved under Miller and past to the lead with Payne following into second. The front two dueled nose-to-tail for the lead while Peeples began to make his presence known by passing Miller for third.

The closing laps featured a fantastic fight for the lead between Ziemer, Payne and Peeples. Payne tried the high line around Ziemer with three laps remaining opening the door for Peeples. With two to go, Ziemer pushed high allowing Peeples to get the room underneath to take the lead. At the checkered flag it was Peeples winning over Ziemer, Payne, Ferguson and Sarvinski.

Larry Pries won the sportsman trophy dash ahead of Dennis DelBiaggio, Brandon Barnwell and Angelo Marcelli. Barnwell took the heat win over Marcelli, Pries, DelBiaggio and Al Acuna. The 30-lap feature got off to a sloppy start when DelBiaggio and Ken Hallis made contact at the start forcing a caution flag. Acuna led Pries and Barnwell to the restart and fought hard to hold off the two faster cars. Barnwell was better able to use the high line to his advantage, working his way past Pries and then Acuna for the lead. Pries was able to move by on the outside several laps later. As the race went on, Pries appeared to be catching Barnwell for the lead until DelBiaggio spun on lap 21 bringing out the caution flag.

The restart appeared to be just what Pries needed to get by Barnwell. With two laps to go, Pries took a look inside of Barnwell going into turn one but got into the corner too hard costing him his momentum and the race win. At the checkered flag it was Barnwell winning ahead of Pries, Acuna, Hallis and DelBiaggio.

It’s a quick turnaround for everyone as the 2011 racing season resumes at Redwood Acres Raceway this Saturday May 7th for the Mother’s Day Race.

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