By Troy Hennig
(Chico, CA May 29, 2010…Auburn’s Andy Forsberg thrilled a capacity crowd at Silver Dollar Speedway by winning the 25-lap sprint car main event Saturday night. “This week we lost a real true Outlaw racer in Jesse Hockett and all of our thoughts are with his family,” said Forsberg in victory lane. Forsberg took the lead on lap eight and was the dominant driver for the rest of the race. “Andy’s usually not good on that type of a track but I made some adjustments and we found something that made him good,” said Brian Cannon, crew chief on the #47. Three divisions with over 60 cars lined the pit area. It’s always a beautiful sight at night with the cars on the track and lights of the fair in the background. Racing resumes Sunday night with the California Sprint Car Civil War Series.
The track was a real racers track tonight that provided lots of passing and excitement for the fans. “Tonights track was a gemstone,” said former track champion Johnny Rodriguez who was visiting the track for the first time in two years. “I’ve been all over the Country and I forgot how awesome this place.” Rodriguez also gave praise to Alan Handy. “It’s not often that within five minutes of the checkered flag the promoter is out there on the grader getting the track ready for tomorrow night.”
It was an emotional victory lane for Paradise driver Justin Funkhouser. The wingless driver had not visited victory lane since 2006. “I have to thank my family for sticking behind me even when I have done some dumb things in a race car,” Funkhouser said with a smirk. Funkhouser was still visibly shaking during his interview and showed how much this win meant to him. The last two laps of the main event were amazing. Johnny Reeves and Funkhouser swapped the lead three times and banged wheels for almost the whole final lap. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to win or flip,” said Funkhouser.
Two-time track champion Phil Marino lead all 20-laps to win the street stock main event. Marino’s win wasn’t as easy at it looked. “I kept waiting for the #99 to creep to the inside of me,” said Marino. “Tonight was a challenging but fun track. Thanks for everyone coming out.”
With the Silver Dollar Fair on the fairgrounds there was not an empty seat in the house. Fans had a trilling time watching the races and enjoying their Memorial Day Weekend. Tonight should provide the same thrills and spills
The 20 car starting sprint car field was led to the green flag by Mike Henry. The Sacramento driver led the first fews laps without a challenge. However, on lap five, Forsberg moved around Mason Moore for second and began to mount a charge on Henry. On lap seven the two went into the first turn and Henry slid up the track. Forsberg dove to the bottom and moved ahead of Henry as the two raced down the back straight. Going into the third turn Henry choose the high line and missed the cushion by an inch. This sent his car off the track and he rolled over. The red was needed. Henry stayed in his car and was ultimately pushed back to the work area where the team made repairs and Henry continued on.
Forsberg restarted as the leader and began to check out. The real race was between Mason Moore, Ryan Gomes, Stephen Allard and Colby Wiesz. These four drivers put on a driving clinic exchanging positions on the track. On lap 15 Wiesz went from fourth to second with an amazing top side pass around Moore and Gomes. With four laps to go Allard began his charge. He moved around Moore and then a lap later he passed Gomes. Allard finished in the third spot and brought home another good finish for the Steve Smith #14. Wiesz finished in the second spot driving for the Main family. This weekend the Main family ran the #77 in honor of their friend Jesse Hockett. On Sunday night the track will do a memorial lap in his honor. Forsberg crossed the finish line with a sizable lead and got the popular win.
Phil Marino is one of the best drivers to ever strap into a street stock at Chico. Marino showed his championship form on Saturday night as he led all 20 laps to win the street stock main. The race was marred by numerous cautions. Yet, with all the slow downs the race was still a very entertaining event. Heather Bartlett tried to give Marino a run for his money. The popular defending champion was also in her own battle for second. Scott Rogers shadowed Bartlett all 20 laps in hopes of moving into the second spot. The final few laps had the crowd focused on the second place battle. At the finish line Rogers made a daring move to the inside but was unable to get by Bartlett. It was a great way to finish the street stock main event. Marino was the winner. Bartlett finished in second and Rogers was third. Joe Longmire once again had a top five finish. Longmire always is a consistent racer and brought his family car home in fourth. Fritz Zanker was the only other car on the lead lap. Zanker finished in the fifth spot. The street stocks will return on June 18.
The wingless main event provided the best finish of the night. The race started with Kody Smith taking charge of the race. Smith was on a rail the first part of the race and was running the high side to perfection. Unfortunately, lap 14 was the trouble spot for Smith. Smith went into turn three and drifted off the track. He slid back onto the track but the damage had been done. A few laps later he exited the track and was done for the night. Justin Funkhouser was the new leader with five laps to go. Nick Green was another driver moving through the field. On lap 17 Green moved into the second spot. He started to move in on Funkhouser. On the final lap Green made a run to the inside of Funkhouser. Going into turn three Green went to the bottom while Funkhouser went to the top. Both were trying to avoid a slower car. The slower car went low and boxed in Green. This made Green stall his car and he stopped. The yellow came out and it would set up a two lap dash to the finish. Johnny Reeves was the mover and shaker of the event. On the first lap he spun out and had to restart at the rear of the field. The next 18 laps saw him charge through the field. After Green had his problem, Reeves moved into the second spot. On the final restart Reeves banged wheels with Funkhouser for the lead. At one point Reeves slid ahead of Funkhouser. On the white flag lap the two banged wheels again going through turns one and two. The final turn was breath taking as Funkhouser was somehow able to pass Reeves and hold on for the exciting win. Jimmy Pettit finished in the third spot and Brett Youngman was fourth.
Full results are available at www.silverdollarspeedway.com