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Colby Wiesz Back in Victory Lane at Chico
By Troy Hennig
Photo by Steven Cox [sprintcarphotos.com]
CHICO, CA (6-29-12) - Colfax driver Colby Wiesz teamed up with the Gras Valley based #35a Main Motorsports and together it was a winning combination. After starting the 25-lap main event in the fifth spot, Wiesz methodically picked his way to the front. During a yellow flag, then leader Kyle Hirst stopped in turn one and succumbed the lead to Wiesz. For the final 12-laps, Wiesz held off a high flying and hard charging Roger Crockett to get the win. For Wiesz it marked his fifth career sprint car win at Chico.
Tonight marked the highest Friday night car count in the two year tenure of promoter Dennis Gage with 78 cars in the packed pit area. Needless to say, it was an action filled night that included over 100 main event laps for the six divisions on hand. Kudos to the drivers and officials for their hard work and good driving that allowed all main events to run complete laps. Other winners during point race #8 included Marysville standout Ryan McDaniel, Orland's Jake Vantol, Sacramento's Brian Compton, Modesto's Charles Mart and Redding' Rowdy McClenon.
The winged sprint car main event started with Brokenhill, Australia's Josh Ruhs getting the quick lead before contact with him and another driver sent the #99au up and over on his side. The red was needed but Ruhs was physically fine. Unfortunately he would not return to the main event. The race resumed with John Michael Bunch grabbing the early lead. It was impressive to see the Paradise driver lead some main events on this night. Things do not always go his way but Bunch and his team always seems to persevere. Unfortunately, the bad luck bug bit Bunch again and he clipped a white tire on the infield and broke something in the car. He came to a stop on lap five.
This gave the lead to Kyle Hirst. It was nice to see Hirst support tonight's 360 winged show in Chico and at one point it seemed he was going to win the race. However, the bad luck also grabbed Hirst. During a yellow, Hirst stopped in turn one and surrendered the lead to Wiesz. Hirst and his team made repairs and he restarted in the back of the pack. Yet, on lap 16, Hirst got caught up in a wreck involving Cole Wood and Jim Richardson. Only Richardson continued on.
Wiesz assumed the lead but all eyes were focused in Roger Crockett. The Oregon driver was relentless on trying to make the top of the track work in three and four. It was so nice to see a driver with his skill and car control brave enough to pound the cushion lap after lap. Even though Crockett was faster in three and four the race was won in turns one and two. Wiesz hit his marks and was clearly better getting out of turn two. This allowed him to build a cushion over Crockett going down the back stretch and into turn three. Crockett was never able to get close enough to make the pass happen in turns three and four. Eighth place starting Herman Klein finished in the third spot. Klein started the night off by turning the fastest lap of the night at an 11.993. Jeremy Phillips ran in the top five all night and finished in the fourth spot. Mason Moore had an up and down night. An early crash with Andy Forsberg put Moore behind the eight ball. He stayed composed and passed multiple cars on his way to a fifth place finish. Bunch and Phillips each won their heat races.
The Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Sprint Shootout Series produced a high car count, 26, and some impressive racing. It also ended the night with some controversy. Terry Schank Jr. rolled out onto the speedway for the start of the main event. Schank Jr. was set to start on the pole position; however, he needed assistance from a push vehicle to fire off his car. That penalty would move him to the rear of the field. His loss was Kyle Hirst's gain. Hirst moved to the pole position and went on to grab the lead of the 25-lap main event. The race provided some great on track racing but for most people it was hard to keep your eyes off of Schank. After starting last, Schank picked off other cars with ease. Schank was so fun to watch that at times I lost sight of Hirst. With a few laps to go Hirst had to deal with some slower traffic. This allowed Rowdy McClenon, Geoff Ensign and Joe Stornetta to close in. Tony Richards should also be commended for a strong drive tonight. Stornetta suffered heartbreak when his front end collapsed on the final lap. Up front it was Hirst who was the first to receive the checkered flag. But controversy quickly ensued. After the race the Hunt officials decided to try and tech the #3f that Hirst was driving. The owner decided to not allow them to tech the motor and hence, Hirst was disqualified. The win was given to McClenon. Ensign, Richards and Alex Schute rounded out the top four. Schank recorded the drive of the night to finish fifth.
Cody Smith won the 10-lap B main event. Smith started in the third position but was scored as the opening lap leader. Billy Wallace was scored as the leader on lap two but Smith took the lead back on the third circuit. Smith went on to lead the final seven laps.
Schank turned the fastest lap during group qualifying at 13.882. Schank went on to win the first heat race. Hirst grabbed the win in heat two while McClenon picked up the victory in heat three.
Ryan McDaniel is starting to dominate the dirt modified division at Chico. The former champion is one of the greatest dirt modified drivers that have ever suited up at Silver Dollar Speedway. McDaniel led the entire 20-lap race to win his fourth main event in five starts at Chico. Even the top three never swapped spots, they still produced some great racing. Randy McDaniel held down the second spot while Jeff Olschowka was third. The top three would go on to finish that exact way. It was a great effort for the McDaniel family again. They continue to show their championship ability at Chico. Ryan clean swept the night by winning the first heat race. Raymond Benekowski won the second heat race.
The street stock main event was probably the most entertaining feature of the night. Eventual winner Jake Vantol and two-time champion Phil Marino swapped the lead on the final four consecutive laps. Coming down for the checkered flag it was still undecided who was going to win. As Vantol surged ahead towards the finish line, he and Marino made contact that began to turn Vantol sideways. Even with the contact Vantol was able to cross the finish line with the win. He did so while he was half way spinning across the line. Marino never lifted and almost won the race. The crowd was pumped and gave Vantol a big ovation on his victory lap. Terry Lawrence ran a solid race and finished third. Richard Workman came home fourth. Gary Newman rounded out the top five. Bill Patterson won the first heat race while Vantol picked up the second heat race victory.
Six hobby stocks showed up for the nights racing action. Brian Compton went on to record the clean sweep. Compton dominated the lone heat race and then went on to win the 10-lap main event by a staggering 19 seconds.
The NorCal Vintage Hardtops made their first appearance of the year at Chico. The group brought four vintage cars and was able to still put on a good show. It was a nice trip down memory lane with some side by side racing. Charles Mart won the 12-lap main event. Mike Friesen finished second. Conrad Cavallero won the lone heat race.For full results please visit www.silverdollarspeedway.com or www.mylaps.com