Tuesday, July 5, 2016
White Dominates, Wins Second Straight Firecracker 100
By Matthew J. Sullivan
One of the most highly anticipated events of 2016 took place at Redwood Acres Raceway this past Saturday nights the 3/8-mile paved oval played host to the Don Graham Memorial Firecracker 100 presented by Bi-Coastal Media. The race was named in honor of former Acres racer, Don Graham who passed away several weeks ago. In addition to the racing on track, a spectacular fireworks show capped off a fantastic evening for a packed grandstand of fans.
Due to the schedule for the night, heat races were scrapped in favor of ‘A’ and ‘B’ trophy dashes for each division. Bethany Rapp set fast time in the California State & Federal Employees Credit Union roadrunner division with a 20.939. Dominic Vogelsang and Steve Paiment were the winners of the two trophy dashes. In a unique twist, the first 10 laps of the 20 lap feature were run in the normal counter-clockwise manner while the final 10 laps were ran clockwise. Vogelsang led the opening six laps before Rapp took over the lead. The caution came out at halfway to turn the field around and running backward proved to be advantageous for Rapp who went virtually unchallenged in remaining laps. At the finish it was Rapp winning her first ever feature over rookie James Nickles. Paiment took third while Tyler Peach and Jake Keeling rounded out the top five.
It proved to be a fantastic night for James Moore in the Fortuna Wheel & Brake bomber class. Moore set quick time with a 18.325 and took the trophy dash victory. Moore had stiffer competition in the 25-lap feature event. John Lally led the opening eight laps until Matt Simon took the lead. Moore finally maneuvered his way to second on lap 12 and after brief battle, was able to snatch the lead away from Simon on lap 15. Simon did all he could to hang on to Moore but wasn’t able to. At the finish it was Moore winning by three seconds over Simon followed by Ryan Ahrens, Lally and Kimberly Sorrels.
Dylan Hagmann was surprisingly quick in his first-ever start in the Humboldt Hydroponics mini stock division as he set fast time with a 18.928. Brian Murrell, Jr. and Jarrett Mayo were the two victorious drivers in the trophy dash races. Murrell, Jr. held the lead in the first two of the 25-lap main before giving way to Rick Estes. Unfortunately, Estes’ time in the lead was short as he lost power which handed the lead to Mayo. The best battle on the track was for second as Eugene Palmer and Gary Klinetobe fought which allowed Mayo to pull away to a comfortable lead. At the finish it was Mayo winning by three seconds. Palmer held off Klinetobe for second while Hagmann and Brett Murrell completed the top five finishers.
17.322 was quick time for the Thunder Roadsters set by Chris Sarvinski. In the trophy dash, Sarvinski had trouble as he and Ronnie O’Neil made contact in turn three which resulted in irreparable damage to Sarvinski’s car. Donnie Brown was the trophy dash victor. The 25-lap main featured one of the best races of the season as O’Neil and Tommy Payne had a spectacular duel for the race lead. Brown led the opening stages of the race before losing the lead to Aaron Byers. On lap 10, O’Neil took the lead and it was at that point that he and Payne staged their epic duel. Payne got by O’Neil on lap 17 but O’Neil was able to retake the lead on lap 21. O’Neil was able to hang on from there as he narrowly took the win over Payne, Byers, LeRoy Marsh, Jr. and Brown.
Cody Winchel was fastest in qualifying for the Legends division with a 18.061. Larry Cantrall and Robert Miller were victorious in the two trophy dashes. Brent Mack led lap one of the 25-lap main but couldn’t hold off Miller who took the lead on lap two. Miller has been dominant in the division in 2016 but had a serious challenge in Winchel. On lap 11, Winchel used the inside line to take the race lead. Winchel was able to pull away at the end thanks to Miller having his hands full with Brad Curtice. At the finish it was Winchel taking the win over Miller, Curtice, Colby Furia and Mack.
The Mid City Motor World late model field featured several scratches before racing took place. Both David Henderson and Luke Hall had issues in Friday’s open practice and were unable to race. On Saturday, engine troubles sidelined Marty Walsh for the night during qualifying. Roseburg, Oregon driver Brandon Ash set fast time for the Don Graham Memorial Firecracker 100 with a 15.848. Richard Knight won the slower dash while Ash won the quicker. During trophy presentations, Ash pulled the number eight pill for the invert for the 100-lap feature which fittingly put Eric Graham, Don’s son on the pole.
Graham led the opening five laps of the main but it was Brandon White who appeared to have the best car in the field. White took the lead from Graham who got stuck on the outside line and lost several positions. The story of the race was attrition as several cars fell out during the event including Ryun Leazer, Mic Moulton and Mike Sackett. At the front it was White holding around five car lengths over Ash in second.
Things got interesting on a restart with 15 laps to go as Ash made contact with White in turn one to take the lead. White fell to fourth but quickly regained his composure and moved by Knight for third. A subsequent caution allowed White to make a great restart and move by Ash for the lead. Ash fell back to fifth as White pulled away over Graham who methodically made his way back to second. At the finish it was White winning his second straight Firecracker 100 over Graham. Ash recovered to take third while rookie Eddie Klein had his best run of the season in fourth. Another rookie, Tim Crenshaw had a solid run and rounded out the top five in fifth.
Racing on the 3/8-mile at Redwood Acres Raceway is off for several weeks before returning on July 23rd. The North State Modifieds will be the featured attraction at the Acres for the second and final time in 2016. One of the most anticipated events of the year follows on August 2nd when the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series returns to the 3/8-mile paved oval for the third time.
Outlaw kart racing at the Acres returns Saturday July 16th. After that event, there will only be two more chances to see the karts in action. Saturday July 30th is the second to last event for the karts while Saturday August 27th is the final event of the year. For more information on everything going on at Redwood Acres Raceway, please visit the track’s official website www.racingtheacres.com