Marysville, CA – Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park hosted Bully Dog Night at the Races Saturday. Brent Dothage beat a fast closing Travis Rilat to win the MRP Winged Sprint Car feature. Jason Clayton brought home the trophy after an emotional win in the MRP Mini Stock finale. Ryan McDaniel continued his winning ways by scoring another feature win in the MRP Super Stock feature. Eddie Hammett won the MRP Hobby Stock closer.
The MRP Winged Sprint Car events were filled with thrills and a couple of scary spills on the bad-fast, hooked up MRP clay. Pole sitter Brent Dothage won a wire to wire victory, but again that kind of headline does not tell the tale of the race. At the green Dothage won the drag race to turn1 by inches over fellow front row starter Mike Monahan. For the 1st half of the race Monahan shadowed Dothage. He was running as fast as Dothage, but couldn’t find a way by. 14th starting Texan, Travis Rilat started immediately in his charge to the front as he dug deep into the cushion creating his own high-side groove. Rilat got to 10th almost instantly and started to pick off cars one by one in what turned out to be a clinic on how to run the outside at MRP.
The fast moving pace of the race was another whirlwind of action. Behind Dothage and Monahan, the first class war between quick time qualifier Pete Paulson, Jeremy Burt, Cort Dozier and Korey Lovell got everybody’s attention for a while. Who was where depended on the lap as they battled for position.
Rilat arrived quickly behind this quartet and started to pick them off and gain positions. Cort Dozier had a frightening moment in turn 3 when he clipped the inside of the turn sending his front end high in the air. His white 97 headed for the wall. Dozier saved the car but in his struggle to regain control came down the track in turn 4. Dozier and Paulson collided. The impact folded Paulson’s front end ending a great night for the vastly improved Paulson.
The last 7 laps were among the best of the year as Burt, Lovell, Dozier and now Rilat tried to hunt down Dothage and Monahan. It’s the kind of storybook battle that sprint car fans dream of. Rilat went back to the top and in succession took position after position until he was 2nd as the white flag flew. Rilat drew up behind Dothage quickly after he had dispensed with the others. Dothage seemed to sense somebody was coming fast. As Rilat crept up to Dothage’s tail on the back chute, Dothage went a little higher into the last set of turns. The move seemed to break Rilat’s momentum just enough to secure the victory for Dothage. Rilat had to settle for an incredible 2nd from deep in the pack.
The next 3 positions were decided in an awesome wheel to wheel race to the checkers. Monahan, Burt and Dozier finished 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively and rounded out the top 5.
Dothage, a 3 time champion at MRP was very happy in victory lane as he secured his 2nd triumph of the season in his familiar, now red, #7B. Dothage thanked everybody involved in his operation, but took a heart-felt moment to thank the fans in the stands for their support.
“You are the reason we get to do this,” Dothage remarked sincerely as he waved and pointed to the crowd.
In preliminary action visiting driver Colton Eckerstrom was leading heat race #1 when he biked his black #31 in turn 1. The car dug in and Eckerstrom flipped wildly toward the catch fencing in turn 2. The catch-fence did its job and tossed the car back onto the track, where safety and fire officials were immediately on the scene. Eckerstrom was unhurt in the wild ride. The restart of heat race #1 saw a fierce battle between youngster William Fielding and Rilat. Fielding lost the car out of turn 2 and flipped taking Rilat with him. None of the drivers were injured. Monahan and Dozier took the hotly contested heat races.
All results become official at the close of business Tuesday, but as of now there is a 3-way TIE for the top spot in the standings. Cort Dozier, Jeremy Burt and defending champion Billy Wallace each have 284 points in the title chase. But, close behind are 5 time champ Korey Lovell with 274 and this week’s feature event winner Dothage with 273. This is turning into a rip-snorter of a point battle in MRP’s 2012 Super Season.
Earlier in the evening this observer saw that Jason Clayton brought his MRP Mini Stock back to MRP after a long absence. He said, “If I win anything tonight it’ll be for mom.” How could he ever have thought that he would roar into victory lane a little later in the evening? Clayton’s mother passed away a few short months ago and he has not appeared to race at MRP since.
Clayton started the evening by winning his heat race. When fellow heat race winner James Foster pulled a complete inversion pill that meant that he and Clayton would start last in the feature event.
The entire feature event was a slugfest that saw some pretty big hits taken by some pretty good drivers. There was some really exciting racing sprinkled into the carnage. Not the least of which was Clayton and Foster picking their way to the front of the pack.
Point leader Misty Castleberry survived a big hit in turn 2 mid way in the event, but continued on to a superb 3rd place finish after a late race charge. Derik Gallier wasn’t as lucky as his blue hot rod suffered extensive damage in a backstretch confrontation with championship contender Damian Merritt. After a series of yellow flag periods, Clayton and Foster had raced to the front. The showdown between Foster and Clayton was on with the new green. The last few laps of the feature were epic as both drivers were not only trying for the win, but whoever won was also going to take home the bounty offered to anyone who could beat Castleberry to the line.
Foster and Clayton were trading paint as the event flew into its final lap. Coming through turns 3 and 4 for the last time Foster drew up along side leader Clayton and the drag race to the checkers was on. Clayton tipped the scoring loop first; by a nose!! Foster had to settle for 2nd after a gallant effort with Castleberry a distant 3rd.
The victory lane celebration was extraordinary as Clayton saluted his Mother’s memory with a solemn ode describing how he rode to victory lane with her aboard. It was an emotionally charged scene.
The MRP Super Stock closer was not only a really good dirt track stock car battle. But, its outcome had a big impact on the point standings. Point leader and 2012’s favorite to secure the title, Brent Hall experienced a devastating mechanical failure in the midst of a monumental battle for the top spot. Hall, Ryan McDaniel and point contenders Phillip Shelby and Ray Trimble were having a crowd pleasing dice when it appeared that McDaniel was going to take control. McDaniel’s sleek 32 was harassed by each of the aforementioned drivers. Then…the bubble burst for Hall. Rear end problems sidelined Hall. From that point on McDaniel remained in control as Shelby and Trimble fought for 2nd. Both drivers were close at times, but McDaniel streaked across the finish line 1st with Shelby in tow. Trimble got 3rd.
The MRP Super Stocks have had memorable runs this season and now it looks like the MRP Super Stocks are going to have a knock-down, drag-out point race to boot. All races become official at the close of business Tuesday and points will be awarded. But at this point it looks like Shelby will be the point leader heading into the next event.
The MRP Hobby Stock closer turned out to be an Eddie Hammett benefit. In only his 2nd ever appearance at MRP Hammett had a close duel with Brian Compton in the early laps. Once Hammett secured the top spot he was never headed, stretched his lead and claimed the checkers. In a nice late race charge, point leader Jeremy Hammons secured 2nd position and maintained his vice like grip on the top spot in the standings. Compton got 3rd.
Next Saturday night is Dairy Queen of Yuba City’s 1st Dilly Bar Nite of the season. Everyone in attendance will get a free Dilly bar. The MRP Winged Sprint Cars will, once again, headline the open wheel program and the MRP Super Stocks will return to headline the fendered portion of the 4 division show. The Pro 4 Sprinters and the MRP Hobby Stocks will be back on the card as well.
Life’s short. Live it. Race hard.
Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect. The text is based on information we have at the time of its release. Complete finishes, stats, assessed penalties and points become official and available at the close of business on Tuesday and will be posted to the web site.