Wallace wins torrid sprint duel

From Bob Burbach

Marysville, CA – A rapid fire 5 division program went into the books by 9.30 Saturday night at Paul and Kathy Hawes Marysville Raceway Park on another sticky, hooked up track. Ryan McDaniel fought off constant challenges to win the MRP Late Model feature. Billy Wallace shed his wing and won a torrid duel in the clay to win the Wingless Warrior Sprint Car Feature. Misty Castleberry ran away from the field in the MRP opener for the MRP Mini Stocks as Jeremy Hammons won the slam-bang Hobby Stock main. Mike Grenert won the Nor Cal Dwarf Car feature.

McDaniel’s win will be registered as a wire to wire victory, but it was a far better race that that box score would indicate. He fought back relentless challenges from a monster quick Jay Norton and perennial favorite Jerry Bartlett stuck his nose in there in the end to keep this one interesting.

In only his 3rd appearance at MRP Norton has figured this place out. McDaniel and Norton slugged it out up front while Bartlett slowly picked his way to the front. With 5 to go you could throw a blanket over all 3. It was great to see the mighty late models at war again on the MRP clay. They finished that way as McDaniel maneuvered lapped traffic better than the other two drivers in the final 3 circuits. “I couldn’t figure out how to get off 4”, McDaniel quipped in victory lane; “It was tough tonight.” McDaniel won the heat race earlier.

The Wingless Warrior Sprint Car feature was an absolute thriller. 3rd starter Billy Wallace burst out of the pack at the opening green right behind pole sitter Josh Vieira and it was on from there. The pair distanced themselves from the field and had a fantastic non-stop battle to the end. Vieira was flawless through the 1st 9 circuits, then a little push opened the door for Wallace who flashed on by. But Vieira was relentless and when lapped traffic hindered Wallace in turn 2. Vieira got the top spot back. But 2 turns later Wallace buried his yellow #6 into the turn 3 cushion and diamoned turn 4 to take a lead he would never relinquish. It was classic elbows up racing on a wicked fast ribbon of clay.

The struggle for 3rd was nearly as tight as Rowdy McClennon, Brian Southers and Jeremy Hawes banged wheels and swapped positions for 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

Wallace was winded and tired after this one simply saying, “That was fun”, as he accepted the trophy. When asked whether he and Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Car owner Mark Moore would try to defend their current Winged Sprint Car title he said, “That’s the plan.” Wallace is the only driver to ever win the Mel Hall Memorial Race in both sprint car divisions.

Pete Paulsen and Brett Youngman grabbed heat race honors.

This initial Late Model and Wingless Sprint Car show was a Contingency Connection event. It was the 1st Contingency Connection offering for the 2012 season and Wingless Warrior Sprint Cars as well as Late Models were the participating classes. Feature event bonus awards were awarded to the winners. Contingency Connection winners received some $1500 in contingencies. Contingency Connection decals that must be carried by the winning car are available at Marysville Raceway Park at each event.

Misty Castleberry sat on the pole and simply rocketed away from a stellar field of MRP Mini Stocks to win her 1st race of the season. It took 3 starts to get this one underway, but once it got going it was pretty much over up front. But the race was not without its moments. A rejuvenated James Foster, Eric Jones and Greg Prather had a monstrous battle up front that also featured brothers Damian and Shaun Merritt.

While Castleberry enjoyed a ½ lap lead at the front, the fabulous “5” behind her put on a spectacular show. Damian Merritt had problems on a mid race restart, but the others stayed close the entire distance. Jones got the runner up spot with Prather making an outside pass at the end to take 3rd from Foster. Shaun Merritt came through into 5th. Rookie of the year contender Travis Carter got 6th.

Castleberry thanked all of her sponsors and the said, “This was a great track, my car loves this kind of track”. Well, it would seem so as she was preparing to lap 6th place when the checkers were thrown.

Castleberry and Jones won the heats.

Jeremy Hammons picked up his 1st MRP Hobby Stock feature win after a slam-bang tussle with opening night’s feature winner Garret Agnew. The pair traded paint for a number of laps before Agnew hammered the wall at mid-race allowing Hammons an unchallenged ride into victory lane. With fenders flapping, tires popping, radiators blowing and engine fires belching smoke, this one was an entertaining thrill ride for the fans. Hammons also won the heat race.

The Nor Cal Dwarf Cars put on the most competitive show that this observer has seen in quite some time. An early race duel between Ryan Winter and a fast closing Shawn Jones got everybody’s attention.

Jones tried an inside move after a great run through turn 1 and made it 3 wide in lapped traffic in turn 3. Well, that didn’t work out and Jones’ #80 popped into the air into a series of barrel rolls and end for end flips. Jones was OK and 3rd running Mike “Spanky” Grenert inherited a lead he would not relinquish. Jeremy Blackshere and Jones got heat race wins. For more information on Nor Cal Dwarf Cars go to www.dwarfworld.com .

Next week the mighty Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Cars will return. The high speed fendered action of the MRP Super Stocks will also return for their 2nd point race of the campaign as will the MRP Mini Stocks. The MRP Hobby Stocks will be here in round 3 of their 2012 season.