From Bob Burbridge
Marysville, CA – They simply slugged it out. It was spectacular…it was non-stop…not one yellow flag all night. It was eye candy for sprint car fans as 5 time champion Korey Lovell of Yuba City and 2 time champion Billy Wallace of Grass Valley locked into a mighty battle royal Saturday night at Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park. Wallace grabbed the checkers in the end as Marysville’s Cort Dozier, Shaun Merritt and Eddie Hammet also won in their respective divisions.
In the MRP Winged Sprint Car class there were a series of question marks after the Legal Shield Quick Time Shootout as several of the serious players in this division had difficulty against the clocks. Wallace earned quick time honors while many of his closest rivals in the point hunt had issues. The preliminary heat races went into the books rocket-fast and without a slowdown. Sparks Nevada’s Mike Monahan and Cort Dozier bagged the victories.
The feature was amazing as Lovell gunned his way into the lead from the front row while 6th starting Wallace ripped through the field into 2nd by lap 3. Wallace camped on Lovell’s tail and lap after lap dove inside “5 time” to try to squeeze into the top spot. Lovell’s heroic high side runs through turns 1 and 3 thwarted the challenges of Wallace each and every time. For 15 laps the pair battled to the delight of the crowd that stood up for most of the high-speed slugfest.
With 2 to go Lovell got into turn 1 and it appeared the car started to bounce. The veteran of 37 feature event victories here recovered quickly, but not quickly enough to prevent Wallace from seizing the moment and capturing the lead and the win. Gary Paulson and Brandon Dozier both put in their finest efforts of the year to post solid 3rd and 4th place finishes.
Meanwhile, from the back row, point leader Jeremy Burt was doing some heroics of his own. Burt charged to a fine 7th place finish that allowed him to maintain his point lead in the title chase. Monahan, who was 2nd in the standings coming into Saturday’s contest, pounded the front stretch wall coming out of turn 4 early on and nursed his wounded car the entire distance. All results are official on Tuesday, but as it sits right now, Burt will retain his lead with 359 points while Wallace gets into 2nd with 356 and Monahan is 3rd with 348. It’s getting really good at the top.
In addition to the Legal Shield C-note that he won for fast time, Wallace also got the Contingency Connection bonus along with his $1000 in cash.
In the MRP Super Stock class it was a Cort Dozier benefit as the veteran continued his string of victories. The championship point leader, Dozier, was unchallenged in the feature event and beat Sean Hulsey and Brad Magenheimer to the checkers by a wide margin. Hulsey and Ray Trimble got the heat race wins.
The MRP Mini Stock closer had a little controversy mixed in as Shaun Merritt battled hard for his 3rd feature event win of the current campaign. Kyle Cheney and Kyle Davey were 2nd and 3rd respectively after a great battle with race winner Merritt and a hard charging James Foster. Foster faded to 5th at the checkers and Scott Kames got a well deserved 4th place finish.
In the early laps of this one Misty Castleberry and Jason Clayton, after starting side by side in the 2nd row, were racing hard for position when Clayton and Castleberry got together. Castleberry chugged to a stop sideways at the west end of the raceway as Clayton motored on. Race officials black flagged Clayton from the event for his actions. Castleberry would restart but retire shortly thereafter with what was reported to be a clutch problem. Ironically, Castleberry and Clayton won the heats.
The battle up front was sensational for a while as the top 5 traded positions with regularity. All, that is, but Merritt. Merritt remained just ahead of the war going on behind him. Merritt’s trip to victory lane was particularly rewarding as Merritt has been driving with a badly injured left leg that prevented him from getting out of his car. Merritt’s courageous ride in the victory padded his point lead in the season long series.
In the MRP Hobby stock closer it was all Eddie Hammett once again. After a brief struggle with point leader Jeremy Hammons, Hammett cruised to the checkered flag unchallenged. Hammett also won the heat for a sweep of the program.
Next week, the MRP Sprint Cars return with their 100mph sideways slides. The winged and wingless cars will be featured on the spectacular MRP surface. The Pro 4 Sprint Cars and the MRP Hobby Stocks will also be on the schedule. We’ll see you there!
Pit Gates open at 3. Grandstands open at 5. Legal Shield Quick Time Shootout is at 6PM with races starting at 6:30.