Monday, May 2, 2016

Ambrosini survives, wins first feature event



By Matthew J. Sullivan

The 2016 season at Redwood Acres Raceway began with a bang this past Saturday night. A fantastic crowd graced the 3/8-mile paved oval for the first race of the year and the on-track action did not disappoint. It was a thrilling night of racing that ended with a first-time winner and some raw feelings.

Prior to the racing, the track hosted its annual Best Appearing Car contest. Fans cast their vote on a ballot for cars in all six divisions. Winners of the contest were Bethany Rapp in the roadrunners, Ryan Ahrens in the bombers, Brian Murrell, Jr. in the mini stocks, Ronnie O’Neill in the Thunder Roadsters, M’Kinzy Uselton in the Legends and Ryun Leazer in the late models.

The California State & Federal Employee Credit Union roadrunner trophy dash was won by Bethany Rapp. Steve Paiment took heat race honors. Jennifer Murrell jumped to the lead at the start of the 20-lap feature but was overtaken by rookie driver, Richard Standcliff. Murrell regained the lead a lap later until Paiment was able to maneuver to the front.

A caution briefly slowed the field and allowed Standcliff and Rapp to close in on Paiment. The three fought tooth-and-nail for the lead with Tyler Peach eventually joining in during the final handful of laps but brought out the caution flag for hitting the passing cone in turn three. Rapp got shook out of the race for the win and the battle was between Standcliff and Paiment. The two traded paint coming off turn four to the finish line with Standcliff holding off Paiment for his first win in his first night of racing. Rapp took third followed by Peach and Murrell.

James Moore was victorious in the Fortuna Wheel & Brake bomber division while Tyler Avelar took top honors in the heat race. The 25-lap feature was dominated by Moore. At one point, Moore had nearly a full straightaway lead over second place, Avelar. Like a light switch, Moore’s car suddenly seemed to fall off and Avelar quickly closed the gap and took the lead. Moore did all he could to get back into the fight but just did not have the strength to recover the lead. At the finish it was Avelar taking the win over Moore, Ryan Ahrens, Matt Simon and Kim Sorrels.

The Humboldt Hydroponics mini stock division trophy dash went to Gary Klinetobe. Brian Murrell, Sr. took the first heat race victory while Jarrett Mayo took the second heat. Murrell, Sr. led the early stages of the 25-lap main while the field behind him sorted things out. The man to beat on the night was Mayo and it didn’t take long for him to maneuver from the rear of the field to the race lead. Mayo would never relinquish the top spot.

The race was slowed several times including once when Jordon Paiment’s car leaked fluid on the track which resulted in a red flag. Each time Mayo was able to pull away from the field on the restart. The best action was for second place as Brett Murrell, Klinetobe and Eugene Palmer fought hard for the position. At the finish it was Mayo taking the win in dominant fashion. Klinetobe took second while Murrell edged Palmer for third in a dead heat. Division rookie, Daniel Buell rounded out the top five.

The Thunder Roadster trophy dash was won by Donnie Brown. Tommy Payne took the win in the heat race. The 30-lap feature was a caution-free affair that saw Aaron Byers utilize a three-wide pass for the lead on lap one. Payne moved into second and the front two staged a nip-and-tuck battle for the race lead throughout the event.

The front three of Byers, Payne and Chris Sarvinski separated themselves from the rest of the pack and it was clear one of the three would likely be victorious until Sarvinski spun out of turn four with two laps remaining. Just moments after, coming off the second turn, Payne found the run he needed to get inside and past Byers for the lead. Byers tried to fight back on the last lap but couldn’t muster the strength necessary. At the finish it was Payne winning over Byers, Brown Ronnie O’Neill and Sarvinski.

The Legends cars made their debut at the Acres on the night. While only four cars showed, the division promises to grow as the season progresses. Brent Mack took the win in both the trophy dash and the heat race.

The Mid City Motor World late models had an excellent turnout of 16 cars but unfortunately issues prevented Robbie Nelson and Ken Hallis from racing on the night. Mic Moulton won the trophy dash while the two heat races were claimed by Marty Walsh and Moulton. The 50-lap feature saw two additional cars have issues with Ron Duke, Jr. unable to make the start and rookie driver, Dustin Walters pulling his car into the pits before the green flag.

Richard Knight took the lead after a brief battle with Luke Hall. Knight’s car appeared to have issues and it allowed Hall to get back into the lead over Ryun Leazer, Walsh and Jimmy Walker. Two laps later, Leazer moved past Hall into the lead but lost it quickly to Walsh who found the low line under both drivers. Moments later, Hall and Leazer got together in turn one with Leazer spinning and collecting Knight. Hall was sent to the rear and the race resumed for a brief period until it was slowed again, this time due to a wreck in turn four between Hall and Leazer forcing both drivers out of the race.

The race resumed with Walsh and Walker battling for the lead. Two more cautions slowed the field including an incident between Jedd Ambrosini and Mic Moulton which both drivers were able to continue from. Walker was in Walsh’s hip pocket all race long and applied more and more pressure as the race came to a close. With a handful of laps left, Walker got into the rear of Walsh in turns three and four sending Walsh spinning.

Walker was forced to the rear for his involvement which gave Ambrosini the race lead. Moulton did all he could to force Ambrosini to make a mistake but it wasn’t to be as Ambrosini held on to take his first-ever late model feature win. Moulton held on for second over Walsh, Walker and Al Acuna.

Racing returns to Redwood Acres Raceway in two weeks for Pepsi Night on Saturday May 14th. All six local divisions will be in action once again and it promises to be another exciting night of action that fans won’t want to miss out on. Grandstands open at 5:00PM with racing beginning at 6:30PM. For more information, visit Redwood Acres Raceway’s official website, www.racingtheacres.com.

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