By Troy Hennig
(Chico, CA 8-13-10)…Chico’s Brad Bumgarner accomplished a life long goal last night at the Silver Dollar Speedway, he won the 25-lap 410 winged sprint car main event. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid and I had always dreamed about winning at my hometown track,” the 28-year-old Bumgarner said in victory lane. “At times I thought this night would never come but I am just so lucky to be able to drive this #88 sprint car and thankful that my family has continued to believe in me.”
The #88 car he is referring to is owned by his grandparents Roy and Marna Bumgarner. Roy and Marna have fielded a race car for drivers since 1971. “For the past 40 years my grandparents have not missed one year of racing,” said Bumgarner. The racing history associated with that family is second to none in Northern California. Yet, it had been 12 years since the family owned #88 had visited victory lane on a dirt track. “In 1998 was the last time they won a winged dirt sprint car race,” said Bumgarner. The driver that year was Bobby McMahan. Ironically enough, McMahan was in the pit area last night helping his son, Sean, race their family sprint car. It was an example of the circle of life when it comes to families and sprint car races, the sport we all love.
Bumgarner brought the 18-car starting field down to the green flag. Lining up to his outside was Chico’s Kenny Allen. The original start was halted when Andy Forsberg pulled a wheelie coming out of turn four. As he tried to bring the front wheels back to the ground he was hit from behind. This shot him into the front grandstand wall. As he hit the wall the car began to flip wildly down the front stretch. Mason Moore had nowhere to go and ended up running into Forsberg. Both cars were damaged and unable to continue but each driver did walk away after a brutal crash.
The second attempt at a start went off without a hitch. Bumgarner took the lead down the back stretch and led the first lap. The first half of the race went caution free. Bumgarner was able to stretch his lead while the real race was for second on back. Fourth place starting Sean Becker was trying to find an opening to get around Jason Statler, third spot, and Allen in second. On lap 14 Becker passed Statler around the top of the track. On the ensuing scored lap, Becker moved around Allen for second. Once Becker cleared Allen the yellow flag came out for a slowing Sean McMahan. This would get Bumgarner out of traffic but also allow Becker to close the gap and restart the race right on the leaders rear bumper.
After the first 15 laps went as smooth as could be, the final ten laps seemed like a marathon. It had to be worse inside the cockpit of the #88. Robbie Whitchurch stopped on lap 16 to bring out the yellow. The red was waived on lap 19 when John Michael Bunch flipped violently off turn two. Bunch emerged from the wreck and walked away under his own power. Jason York spun in turn three on the next restart. The final caution was needed when Cody Lamar and Mike Monahan stopped in turn four. On each restart Bumgarner was solid. However, you could feel the tension in the air not only for Bumgarner inside the car but for his loyal family and friends who religiously sit in the same spot in the main grandstand race after race. Not only was he in pursuit of his own destiny, but to do so, he had to hold off the hottest driver at Silver Dollar Speedway the last month of racing. Becker has won the last three main events he started at Chico. Now Becker was having all these opportunities to size up Bumgarner and look for any weakness that he might of showed.
On the final restart of the night Bumgarner was flawless. He stretched his lead to a few car lengths. Becker was driving the Sperry Motorsports #51 as hard as he could through the top side of the speedway. Bumgarner, as he did for most of the night, hit his marks, continued to drive the same line that worked for him all night. As the white flag waived the crowd seemed to sense the importance of the moment. To his credit Becker never gave up. He charged as hard as he could into turn three on the final lap. He closed quickly on Bumgarner. Coming out of turn four Bumgarner stuck the big right rear Hoosier tire in the middle of the track and roared through the checkered flag for the win. Luckily for him, the race was not 26 laps long. As Bumgarner crossed the line his water line broke loose and splashed water all over the track and his tires. Once this happened Bumgarner’s car darted to the left and as he corrected it, he looked as if he was in a drifting competition. He was able to straighten the car and cruise into victory lane. Becker did cross the line in the second spot. Jason Statler had a solid run in third. Statler was a contender all night and it was nice to see him and crew in Chico on Friday night show.
Brett Miller crossed the line in fourth. Miller was the hard charger of the night. It was a testament to him and the team after the hard crash he sustained in the heat race. Miller’s car drove straight into a big white tire in turn one. This caused a lot of damage but the crew did their job and fixed the car enough to get Miller back for the main event. Miller then did the rest and charged into the fourth finishing position. Kenny Allen continued his string of top five finishes. Allen brought his 7k home in the fifth spot.
Andy Forsberg started the night off by turning the quickest lap at 11.585. Jason Statler and Mike Henry each won their eight lap heat races.
Only two more Feather Falls Casino / Riebes Auto Parts point championship nights are left in the 2010 season. Please visit www.silverdollarspeedway.com for more information and full results.