From Bill Sullivan
CHICO, CA (5-13-11) – The fire breathing sprint cars of the Hoosier Racing Tires Civil War Sprint Car Series made their first appearance of 2011 Friday night at the famed Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California. The event marked round three of the 14 race series that visits six California tracks and when the final checkered flag flew of the night The Shark, Sean Becker of Antelope had claimed his first victory of the season.
“This series has gotten so tough this past year, it’s hard to win one of these races,” said Becker, a former Silver Dollar Speedway Champion and a two time Civil War Series Champion. “Everyone has stepped it up and is competitive so it’s not a deal where anyone can come out here and dominate this deal anymore. Scott Miller and the crew gave me a great track tonight and I can’t thank them enough.”
At drop of the green flag Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli jumped off the pole position and charged into the lead as Becker shuffled to the low line and tucked in behind the leader. In the first three laps of the race Becker drove inches behind Trulli and on the fourth lap got a close look at the lead and the two raced side by side for the lead just as a yellow flag came out to delay the race.
On the ensuing restart, Becker continue to chase Trulli for the lead and on the eighth lap he made another move to the low side of turn four and slid beneath Trulli. The two raced side by side down the front stretch and Becker overtook the lead entering the first turn.
“After my first try down low I wasn’t sure I would get another one, honestly I thought I might have lost the race right there when that yellow came out because he knew what I was going to do,” said Becker. “When I got underneath him again it was a good clean race and I was able to make it work down the front stretch but Jimmy gave it everything he had.”
While Becker and Trulli raced their way into lapped traffic, John Michael Bunch of Paradise was working hard to maintain his third place position over Johnny Herrera of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Herrera was making a rare Civil War appearance as he prepares for several West Coast ASCS appearances later this season. On lap 21 his pressure on Bunch concluded when the two collided in turn two and Herrera spun to draw the yellow while Bunch was able to continue.
Once the race went back under the green flag, Becker distanced himself from Trulli by placing several lapped cars between Trulli and himself While Auburn’s Andy Forsberg worked his way into the mix. Forsberg started sixth in the field and was in the right place at the right time. On the final lap Trulli became caught up in lapped traffic on the backstretch when he was forced into the infield tire barriers to fall out of contention for the lead.
As Trulli fell out of the top running, Bunch advanced into the second position while Forsberg powered into third at the checkered flag. Sacramento’s Herman Klein finished in the fourth position followed by Alissa Geving of Penngrove who started ninth and rounded out the top five.
“This was a really dry slick track tonight and that’s not something I’m use to up here but the care was set up perfectly,” said Becker. “I really want to congratulate John Michael Bunch, don’t what happened with Trulli on that last lap but those guys got up to second place and that’s great for them. This win really helps us build some momentum to come back here with in two weeks.”
In preliminary action on Friday night, Andy Forsberg was the fast qualifier of the night, posting 12:076 second lap. Herman Klein of Sacramento was second quick with a 12:095. Mike Henry of Citrus Heights timed in the third position with a 12:253 followed by Johnny Herrera of New Mexico in fourth with a 12:254 and Nicole Miller of Elk Grove who rounded out the top five with a 12:317.
In the first heat race of the night, Steven Tiner of Visalia powered off the inside of the second to take a lead that would ultimately lead to victory in the 10-lap qualifier. Tiner was followed across the line by R.C. Smith of Biggs, Forsberg, Jeremy Burt of Grass Valley and Colby Wiesz of Colfax.
The second heat race of the night, Becker made an exciting charge to the finish line to take the win. Becker started fourth in the race and moved in behind early leader Cody Lamar of Rio Linda. On the final lap of the race Becker made a charge to the high side and powered around Lamar to steal the win at the line. Lamar finished in second followed by Brett Rollag of Rohnert Park, Klein and Shawn Wright of Fresno.
Heat race three was claimed by Calistoga’s Mike Benson who started on the pole and led all ten laps. At the finish line Benson was followed by Tyler Wolf of Redding who made a last turn charge for the lead. John Michael Bunch of Paradise finished third followed by Placerville’s Jimmy Trulli and Mike Henry of Citrus Heights.
The final heat race of the night was dominated by former Silver Dollar Speedway Rookie of the Year Kyle Hirst of Elk Grove. Hirst was followed across the line by Billy Wallace of Grass Valley, Herrera, Chase Johnson of Penngrove and Dan Menne of Fort Jones.
The 12 lap B feature had drivers driving very tenderly to navigate their way around the dry slick track that fell victim to the afternoon winds. Mike Henry of Citrus Heights drove his way to the victory and transferred into the A feature with second place runner Alissa Geving of Penngrove. Wiesz was third followed by Miller and Menne.
Following Friday’s race, the Civil War Sprint Car Series will return to Silver Dollar Speedway for battle number four over the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend. The event will take place on Sunday night, May 29. This event will take place in conjunction with the annual Silver Dollar Fair and offers a bargain that is second to none on admission. Watch www.civilwarsprints.com or www.silverdollarspeedway.com for upcoming information.
From Troy Hennig
Chico, CA — (May 13th, 2011) — Alex Schutte won the 2010 USAC Western States Midget Championship but tonight he was the star of non-wing sprint car racing. Schutte won the 25-lap Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Shootout Series main event Friday night at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico. Schutte is originally from Redding but currently attends Sonoma State University. The 21-year-old is a well rounder driver for his age having success in midget and non-wing sprint car racing. In 2007, Schutte signed on with Cory Kruseman as a developmental driver. The relationship last through 2009. In 2010 Shutte raced for Jerome Rodela in the Toyota Racing Development sponsored midget and went on to win the championship. Tonight he drove the Dave Johnson #32 to the win. Chasing him to the checkered flag was veteran driver Jimmy Sills. The “professor” caught Schutte on the final lap but was not able to pass him coming to the checkered flag.
There might be a star in the making after tonight. Stephanie Tuttle made her first start in a non-wing sprint car at Chico a success. Tuttle, originally from Indiana, now lives in Marysville and dominated the first half of the main event. She started on the front row and led the first 13 laps until Shutte passed her. Tuttle then fell to the third spot on lap 16 when Sills got by her. She was able to hang in there amongst the boys and finished in the third spot. She did an amazing job considering her lack of laps at the speedway. On top of her third place finish she won heat race number one. The crowd really seemed to appreciate her racing and I feel she needs a full-time sprint car ride.
Brian Southers battled all race long with his best friend Taylor Simas. Brain was able to bring his car home for fourth. He has had a wonderful start to the year at Chico. He won the main event a few weeks ago and comes out of here tonight with a top five. Simas rounded out the top five in the main event. One of these nights the famed #7t will end up at victory lane. Johnny Reeves is also fast and smooth at Chico. Tonight he ran in the sixth spot. Seventh place went to Scott Hall. It was a Hercules like effort for him and his crew tonight. In group qualifying Hall crashed into a stopped race car in turn four. His front end was damaged and he was not able to continue. He fought hard to get the car back together and went on to win the third heat race. He started deep in the main event and charged his way into a seventh place finish.
Terry Schank Jr. won the second heat race tonight. He struggled a bit in the main event and eventually finished in the eighth spot. We are so used to seeing Terry up front and contending for the win. BJ Martin finished in the ninth spot. Martin and his team should be commended for their effort also. Martin rode up and over a wheel in the first heat race. He flipped in turn one and the crew had to repair the damaged car before the main event. Cody Myers rounded out the top team. It was a tough night for his brother Mason. Mason came into the night as the point leader. Mason was unable to finish his heat race and then went on to flip in the main event. Mason tried to continue on in the main and was ultimately black flag for a safety reason. He was officially scored in the 14th position.
In all, 18 drivers competed in the Joe Hunt Series at Chico.
Heat 1: Stephanie Tuttle, Brian Southers, Nathan Johnson, Klint Simpson, BJ Martin
Heat 2: Terry Schank Jr., Jimmy Sills, Cody Myers, Ron LaPlant, Angelique Bell
Heat 3: Scott Hall, Alex Schutte, Johnny Reeves, Taylor Simas, Janna Spear
A Main: Schutte, Sills, Tuttle, Southers, Simas, Reeves, Hall, Schank Jr., Martin, C. Myers, Johnson, Spear, Bell, Mason Myers, LaPlant