By Bob Burbach
Marysville, CA – High winds and bright sunshine greeted hearty fans and an aggressive field of cars and stars at Paul and Kathy Hawes Marysville Raceway Park Saturday night. 2011 MRP Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint car champ Billy Wallace got another victory with an eye-popping late race performance on a challenging track. Brent Hall grabbed victory in an outstanding MRP Super Stock finale. Misty Castleberry got win #2 of the new season and Jeremy Hammons got his 2nd victory in the MRP Hobby Stock feature.
The relentless wind and gusts were as much a story as the races themselves. Promoter Hawes and his staff worked hard, but a prevailing 25 mph north wind with 40 mph gusts made for unusual, rapidly changing track conditions.
When the green flag flew on the MRP Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Car feature, 2007 champ Jeremy Burt rushed to a big early lead from outside row 1. Herman Klein kept him honest in the early stages and got close enough to show Burt his nose. That was a wake-up call for Burt and Burt got quicker opening up a 10 car length lead at times. Wallace got to 4th during the 1st half of the event. During a series of fine moves after ½ way Wallace flashed into 2nd place getting by Korey Lovell and surprising Klein for 2nd. Those passes were negated when Reno, Nevada’s Brandon Ternora took a wild ride in turn 4. Ternora’s car jumped over the right rear of pole sitter Jimmy Steward’s yellow 16 while the pair battled for 5th and sailed into the catch fencing. Ternora injured a foot in the spectacular crash and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation.
6 laps remained as the relentless winds and challenging track conditions created elbows up racing for the final run to the checkers. Burt, again jumped into a sizable lead, but Wallace quickly got Lovell and Klein in a single circuit and went after Burt.
Wallace reeled in Burt and flashed by with a great turn 4 move with the end in sight. Wallace distanced himself from Burt in the remaining 2 laps and took the checkers ahead of Burt, Klein and Lovell.
Given the weather-beaten surface, Wallace surprised everyone when he jumped out of Mark Moore’s black BullyDog #1m and said, “That was fun. It was a little rough, but Paul gave us another great track.” A little rough might have been an understatement, but Wallace showed once again that MRP is a place you can pass as his late race heroics had the fans on their feet.
Steward, Lovell, Klein and Wallace were heat race winners. During action in the 1st heat San Diego’s Joe Mafara collected the front stretch wall and flipped wildly landing near the flag stand. Brent Dothage also tagged the wall behind Mafara and with no brakes slid into Mafara’s car. Both drivers walked away from their battered racers at the scene.
A wild and very entertaining MRP Super Stock feature went into the books with late race heroics of its own. Brent Hall had a knock down, drag out battle with defending champion and brother Cory on his way to another feature event win at MRP. Pole sitter Cory Hall jumped to a big early lead until brother Brent got by front row starter Phillip Shelby for the runner-up spot. Ray Trimble and James Castleberry were on the move and Trimble got to 3rd.
Castleberry was challenging Shelby for 4th when the two came together on the front stretch and Castleberry cut down a tire, creating a yellow, and was relegated to restart in last.
The new green presented a relentless duel between the brothers as Cory Hall maintained a narrow lead as Ray Trimble looked for a way by while running 3rd. With just a handful of laps remaining Cory Hall straightened up in turn 2 with a push while in lapped traffic. Brent Hall flew by with a great run off of 2. It was over for the lead at that point as Cory Hall came under relentless pressure from Trimble.
As Trimble and Hall, now battling for 2nd, started the last circuit Cory Hall lost it on the front chute and spun into the infield. He kept it going but dropped to 6th in the final tally. Trimble was 2nd at the checkers with Shelby 3rd. James Castleberry came from last into 4th at the end in a stirring drive of his own after his flat tire problem.
Brent Hall, when asked about the duel with his brother, said, “It doesn’t get any better that that!” Brent Hall and Trimble won the heat races.
The winged sprint car and super stock show were Contingency Connection events. Wallace and Brent Hall received some $1500 Contingency Connection bonuses in addition to their cash purse awards depending on the C.C decals the cars carried.
Misty Castleberry made a last lap stab at the lead and with sparks flying forged her way into victory lane once again. The race was a strange one. Early race action featured 3 wide racing early as Erik Davey jumped to an early lead. On lap 5 Shaun Merritt had a run on Derik Gallier for 4th, who in turn had a run on newcomer and pole sitter Ross Viji for 3rd. As the trio approached turn 3 they were 3-wide. Merritt, on the very inside nearly made it work, but Gallier moving down to miss Viji who was on the high side, tagged Merritt on the right ¼ panel turning Merritt’s car sideways and across the track hammering the turn 3 wall. Merritt complained of a sore neck as MRP’s talented rescue workers surrounded the car to help.
The race resumed and Shaun Merritt’s brother Damian inherited the lead. Castleberry charged through the field and secured the top spot only to be black flagged for a flat right front tire. Damian Merritt once again assumed the lead and Castleberry rejoined the field.
With 4 laps to go Castleberry got up on the wheel, got quickly to 2nd and started to pressure Damian Merritt once again. They were nearly glued together as the white banner waved. Merritt stayed high in 3 as the pair got to 3 & 4 for the final time. Castleberry threw her car underneath in a last ditch effort for the win. Both cars came together with sparks flying as Castleberry ground on by and secured her 2nd consecutive win.
It was a breath taking finish and the crowd went wild as Castleberry came under the checkers. In victory lane Castleberry simply said, “It was tough out there, but I did what I had to do.”
Damian Merritt stayed 2nd with early leader Erik Davey in 3rd. Rookie of the Year contender Travis Carter did a great job up front early on. He challenged the leaders before pounding the light standard on the back chute while in lapped traffic.
Castleberry and Shaun Merritt won the heat races.
Jeremy Hammons, after a short duel with Garrett Agnew, cruised to an easy win in the concluding Hobby Stock main event. Point leader Hammons picked up his 2nd consecutive feature event win in the slam bag finale.
Next week the mighty Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Cars will return with the Pro 4 Sprinters completing the open wheeled part of the show. 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 Mini Stocks and Hobby Stocks will be here as well bringing their fendered fury to the MRP clay.