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Klein and Schank rule.
Spring Sprint Open kicks off new decade at MRP

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - March 7, 2010 --- Paul and Kathy Hawes hosted the 2010 Spring Sprint Car Open at Marysville Raceway Park Saturday. Herman Klein of Sacramento took the checkers in the Outlaw Winged 360 Class and Terry Schank of Antioch charged to victory in the spectacular Wingless Spec Sprint Car finale.

Having the race at all was a function of a little help from the weather gods and a tenacious staff that worked through torrential downpours in the days prior to the event. It even sprinkled lightly during a break in the action. The infield was a lake and the evening was a little chilly, but the fans came and the 2010 sprint car season in northern California began with a bang.

The winged car race should have been…and was, for a while, a runaway for pole sitter Andy Forsberg in his new livery sporting an unusual #47. Forsberg accumulated the most points in the dual heat race format and drew the magic #1 when the top 6 drivers pulled for starting positions. At the green Forsberg was gone. 2nd starter Klein dropped into 2nd and was clearly quicker than anyone in the house other than Forsberg. Forsberg’s magnificent run ended with a pair of flat tires in quick succession that drew him a couple of yellows and an unfortunate early exit.

With Forsberg gone at ½ way, Klein was about to right his ship in racing at MRP. Klein has been fast, but let a Mel Hall Memorial trophy slip away by mere thousandths of a second and last year at the open he was scary fast again in Dale Wondergem’s meticulously prepared 91. Klein was dancing on the cushion that night and flipped wildly, ending that effort. This time…no mistakes. After Forsberg left, the race was clearly for 2nd place.

Two drivers took tough rides during this event. 2004 MRP champion Mike Monahan came off of turn 4 and twisted sideways-left. He hammered the front stretch wall nose first and flipped to a stop at the flag stand. Monahan was visibly upset and stormed off to the pits declining to comment on the spectacular ride. Later in the event Richard Brace Jr, (the 1996 IMCA Modified champ at MRP) caught a wheel in turn 1 and flipped end over end coming to a stop against the crash wall in turn 1. Brace was unhurt in the wild crash.

Behind Klein, a real tussle between Mike Henry, Kyle Hirst and Andy Gregg was going on for the place money. It ended just that way as a couple of well placed yellow flag slowdowns saved Henry’s bacon. Once when the car coughed on a restart and he dropped like a rock through the field. Then, again when Henry lost it and dropped a couple of positions while trying to hold off Hirst. On both occasions he got 2nd place back.

One of the best drives of the night came from 4-time track champion Korey Lovell. Lovell started the 30 lapper mired deep in the pack after having little success in his 2 heat races. Lovell scraped and clawed his way high and low into 5th at the finish. A late race yellow put Lovell in the mix at the end, but he stayed 5th at the checkers.

Klein was really relieved in victory lane… “I’ve let a couple get away from me here (at MRP). This really takes the pressure off.” Klein has had significant success at MRP in his career. His passing job at an event at MRP still is the modern day record. Klein started 17th in the field on that night and won. Klein is no stranger to the winner’s circle at MRP as this victory was his 9th.

Without question the most competitive race of the evening was the closer. The wingless spec sprint headliner was a “barnburner”. Lined straight up based on points, “Wild Bill” Aton grabbed the pole and slipped out to an early lead. Unlike the winged car race that was plagued with spins and crashes, the wingless feature provided breathtaking moves, side-by-side racing and an “edge of your seat” atmosphere throughout.

Slicing and dicing in the 1st half of this one put 5th starting Schank in Roger Gleeson’s spic and span #1 on Aton’s tail closely followed by hard charger Cody Myers. Billy Wallace and Scott Hall kept the lead trio honest. But the winner was going to come from the lead three, or so it seemed.

Schank hounded Aton relentlessly as the race entered it’s final 10 circuits. Then with a monster run off of 2, Schank showed high and Aton went a little higher in 3 than he had previously. Schank diamoned off of 4 and got a wheel inside Aton. The pair raced side by side past the crowd…a crowd that was now on their collective feet. Schank got the line in 1 and slowly inched his way into the lead as the pair roared onto the backstretch. It was the winning move, though Aton never gave up.

The slugfest going on behind the leaders got wild in the last 3 laps as Wallace forged into 3rd bringing Hall with him. A late race miscue cost Myers as he tried to stay with the lead duo. He faded to 5th. Still, a gallant effort for Myers. The entire race was filled with great racing action.

On one occasion rookie contender Clayton Snow rocketed off the front stretch into the lake that was the infield. In front of the grandstand, Snow stayed in the gas and the car shot a ferocious rooster tail of mud and water some 50 feet into the night air. The giant rear tires were churning madly trying to get traction. Snow slowly edged back onto the track with his motor screaming to the wild cheers of the fans. Another racer a few laps later performed the same stunt and, he too, rejoined the fray.

Schank grabbed the first place prize and was notably talkative for a tough racer and a man of few words… “We know that when we come to Marysville it will be a combination of some traction and of some slick stuff. It was fun. Paul did a great job tonight giving us any kind of track (to run on).” Referring to the raceway’s effort to get the track ready in the face of improbable odds on the weather.

For a complete rundown on finishing positions please go to “Race Results” at marysvilleracewaypark.com. All results are official at the close of business on the Tuesday following the event.

There was a lengthy break between the heat races and the mains as the point accumulation program on the computer had a problem. This according to the head scorer. This observer was told that the points accumulated in the heat races had to be re-assessed by hand to formulate the correct starting line-ups for the features. MRP wishes to thank the fans for their patience in this matter. It will be dealt with immediately.

Next Saturday MRP will host an open playday for all classes of cars. The track will be open from 11 AM until 4 PM. Pit passes are $20. The grandstands are free.

On Saturday March 20 the 2010 Great Taxi Cab Open will be presented. The 2nd incarnation of this prestigious stock car race will offer winged and paneled Pro Stocks, Pure Stocks and Mini Stocks in a dual heat race, open competition format. The pit gate opens at 3PM. The spectator gates will open at 5 PM with practice at 6 PM. The first progressive heat race is to start after hot laps at about 6:30 PM.

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 and points become official and available at the close of business on Tuesday and will be posted to the web site.