13th to 1st. Kyle Hirst grabs Hall Memorial $. Vieira flag to flag in wingless run

By Bob Burbach

Marysville- “It was tough, fast and fun. I just had to “cowboy up” and start to pass”. Those were the words of feature event winner Kyle Hirst in victory lane Saturday night after the 12th Mel Hall Memorial Race at Paul and Kathy Hawes Marysville Raceway Park. A packed house watched as Hirst muscled his way to a spectacular come from behind victory as MRP continues to present thrilling, wicked-fast sprint car action. Josh Vieira picked up his 1st victory in the non-stop companion MRP Wingless Warrior Sprint Car feature.

The Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Car Series event went caution free through the blisteringly quick preliminary events. Hirst picked up a victory in his heat race, but his somewhat lack luster, mid pack qualifying attempt buried him in 13th starting position.

The atmosphere at the raceway was electric as pole sitter Herman Klein and Jeremy Burt lead the field into turn 1 at the wave of starter Robin Davies green banner. Burt was on the rim and blasted up the back chute with a 5-car length lead. Burt started to run away as Bret Rollag in his black 27 jumped into 2nd as Klein had his problems in the first few circuits. 3rd starting Colby Wiesz slipped into 4th. Hirst passed 5 cars in the first 4 laps as he parked his white 14s on the deep, sticky MRP cushion. He was on the move and monster fast.

5 time MRP champion Korey Lovell (winner of the 2nd Hall Memorial) had a tough lap 4. Lovell wound up on his lid on the entry road to pit lane bringing out the red flag. Lovell was OK, but was demonstrably unhappy with the situation, apparently offering a unique protest to the driving style of one of his fellow racers. A collective chuckle reverberated through the massive MRP crowd.

The restart showed that Burt was going to be hard to catch. It took Burt only 5 laps to engage lapped traffic. It simply didn’t slow him down. Rollag was quick, but unable to reel in the high-flying #2b. As the race roared toward ½ way it became apparent that Hirst was the class of the field. Hirst was spectacular as he continued to rip huge rooster tails of sticky clay into the air. He had found the sweet spot on the top and no one was quicker. At ½ way he was almost scary fast as he twirled around the rim. He eclipsed Wiesz with ease and was suddenly 3rd. Klein’s race ended when he collided with rookie star William Fielding when Fielding chugged to a stop in 3.

The yellow flag at ½ way was precisely what Hirst needed and he closed up on Rollag and leader Burt. The new green saw Hirst head for the top and make quick work of, first Rollag, and then with a move on the inside that seemed to surprise Burt, Hirst flashed on by.

Burt tried to respond, but Hirst was gone from that point forward as Burt and Rollag hooked up in a titanic inside/outside struggle for 2nd. The 2nd red light of the event flashed on as young charger Garry Burdick barrel rolled his red 22 in turn 1 on lap 19 of the 30 lapper. It was a vicious tumble though Burdick popped right out of the battered machine. Burdick jogged up the front stretch with designs on a conversation with someone. Promoter Paul Hawes convinced the youngster not to pursue it with a persuasive starting line conversation, much to the delight of the packed house.

The race would go to the checkers from there as Hirst hooked up and left Rollag and Burt to decide 2nd between them. Wiesz was not a factor in 4th. In 5th, however was Greg Decaires who started 18th and, like Hirst, had used the top to pick his way forward.

Hirst took the checkers in traffic, but Rollag pulled off a spectacular pass to nip Burt at the line in a side-by-side finish for the runner up spot. Decaires slipped by Wiesz in similar fashion to complete his impressive drive from 18th to 4th. Reyna Krueger was 6th. Heat race winners were Hirst, Fielding and a resurgent Robbie Hight.

Hurst picked up $2500 in cash from the purse plus additional cash from sprintcarfan.com. Sponsors of this award include Powder-Coat-It, Seven Industries, QWK, Swepco, Dirt Solutions and Sellers wings. Bully Dog offered an additional $1000 in contingency awards plus another $1100 in bonuses from the Contingency Connection went into the winners cut. Mel’s Transmission, Riebes Auto Parts, the Zavesons, ART Racing Enterprises, Rose and Bud Boyer, Joe Hunt Magnetos, Nevada City Auto Service, Chris and Ted Shelton, the Toller family and Hoosier Tire West also helped sponsor the event.

While a complete overview of the points will take place by Tuesday, it seems apparent that Billy Wallace has clinched the 2011 Performance Auto Supply Sprint Car championship with a 16th place finish in the event. All points and finishes will become official at the close of business on Tuesday. This is Wallace’s 1st ever title at MRP and brings car owner Mark Moore a victory in what, for Moore, has been a difficult year personally. How about that duo? They stuck to it and grabbed the title; a tip of the straw hat to that extraordinary effort.

In the MRP Wingless Warrior Sprint Car finale, Josh Vieira made a nifty move that got him the lead early on and he just dominated the field with his 1st ever victory. The non-stop, very physical event was not without it’s drama however as Jeremy Hawes and Brett Youngman slugged it out again vying for the coveted title. Hawes wrestled with a frightening handling problem all night and went backward, while Youngman went the wrong way from his pole position start as well.

After a tip of the straw hat to the breathtaking drive by Vieira, David Sprigg charged into 2nd. Sprigg was spectacular on the hooked up surface that took some real elbows up driving to go forward on this night. Sprigg never got the yellow flag he needed once he got to 2nd, but it was by far his most impressive performance.

Taylor Simas was an easy 3rd at the line. The entire wingless program was run without a caution. Hawes will bring a slight 2-point lead into next week’s final point race in the division. Jay Youngman and Rowdy McClennon won the heats.

Next Saturday night both sprint car divisions will present their final point races for the 2011 season. In addition the MRP Super Stocks will return for their final point race of the season as well. It will be championship night! The MRP Hobby Stocks will drop by for a show. “Iron Mike” Dehoogh will try for his 4th straight in the division. The Pro 4 Sprinters will round out the 5-division offering in their final event of the year at MRP.

The Pit Gate opens at 3pm. The front gates open at 5pm with racing at 6.30pm.