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Misty smashes record in thriller! 
Larson wins, takes GSC point lead. Fan Appreciation Nite Saturday
By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - July 25, 2010 --- Another wickedly hot afternoon with temperatures hovering around 100 degrees turned into one of the most thrilling evenings of racing yet presented by Paul and Kathy Hawes at Marysville Raceway Park. The 42nd season at the facility has produced an amazing record run toward an all-time win record in the MRP Mighty Mini Stock class and, on Saturday, the return of the Golden State King of California 410 Sprint Car Series. Misty Castleberry dug down deep and drove her way into the record books in a mesmerizing duel with one of the finest dirt track stock car drivers that this area has ever produced. Young Kyle Larson won the companion Golden State Challenge Series feature and may well become the first ever teenage champion in the storied history of the series.

A large, hardy crowd jammed into MRP to see history and the 1st appearance of California’s premiere winged sprint car series in 12 years. The MRP Mini Stock heats went into the books non-stop with Howard Law and Jeff Olschowka picking up the victories. With Castleberry finishing 2nd in heat race #2, Howard Law’s pill pull for the inversion put the red, white and blue 95 on the pole. But, and this is a big but…Jeff Olschowka was parked on Castleberry’s bumper as the field took the green for the feature.

Castleberry initially took about a 5 car length lead with Olschowka, Law and outside pole sitter, Mike Merritt making up the top 4. 15th starting Jason Clayton was cutting through the field with ease in the early laps after having a dismal heat race. Clayton was the fastest car in the race and he was coming fast. Olschowka took advantage of lapped traffic and inched in on Castleberry during the 1st 8 laps. Castleberry stayed on the bottom, smooth as glass. Olschowka was throwing his #96 high and low trying to get to Castleberry. Finally, as the pair, (now nose to tail) on lap 9, got to turn 2 a lapped car driven by rookie Derek Dallier lost it in front of them. Castleberry’s luck seemed to have run out. Castleberry tagged Dallier with the nose of her car, twirling the lapped car into the infield. Olschowka with nowhere to go got into Castleberry and started to tank slap through turn 2. He hammered the gas in an attempt to save it but went into a long lazy slide into oncoming traffic on the back chute. It could have been ugly, but everybody missed Olschowka. He recovered and came across the line to the yellow flag in 6th.

But this yellow flag is exactly what Clayton needed as he had secured 3rd place in his spectacular run to the front during the first 9 laps of the 20 lapper. He slipped in beside Law for the lap 10 restart as the Castleberry got the bump up front. At the new green Clayton camped on Castleberry’s bumper, then drew along side. The pair raced side by side for two laps with Castleberry just ever so slightly holding on to the top spot. It was stock car racing at it’s finest. As Clayton had a nose on Castleberry in lap 12 up the back chute his mechanical gremlins came back to haunt him and the yellow 53 began to pop and sputter. A hard charging Olschowka, from 6th on the restart flew by Clayton and once again parked on Castleberry’s rear bumper.

It was a sweet dice between the two that got everyone excited (including the visiting announcers from the traveling sprint car show). The crowd rose in unison as Olschowka tagged Castleberry’s tail with 2 to go. Olschowka was right there, but Castleberry wouldn’t flinch. The pair traded paint as the white banner flew. It seemed like the longest lap in MRP Mini Stock history…could she really hold off one of the best dirt track stock car drivers in California for another 1500 feet?

The record would have to wait for another 17 seconds as Castleberry had her hands full with the quick 96. They were side by side off of turn 2. Castleberry got a little bit of an advantage up the back chute. It appeared that everyone in the house was screaming as the duo came off of turn 4. Olschowka attempted a banzai move on the bottom of turn 4 coming to the stripe, but he couldn’t get it done. Olschowka could have turned her around 5 times in the last laps, but didn’t. Castleberry flew under the checkers with Olschowka in tow. It was one for the record books…literally. Law gathered in 3rd place as Clayton nursed his car home 4th. Some nice late race moves put Jimmy Ford into 5th ahead of Mike Merritt at the finish.

The score sheet shows Castleberry led all 20 laps. But the score sheet simply does not tell the real story of this hard fought feature event. Castleberry, with this victory set a track record of 10 consecutive feature event wins. It’s never been done before at MRP. Never. Castleberry received the trophy for this amazing victory from former record holder Jerry Bartlett in victory lane. The controversial showman Bartlett praised Castleberry’s achievement by saying, “My record lasted 14 years. Yours will not be beaten.” Castleberry was happy, but she had driven the race of her life against brilliant competition. It showed. 

“I’m so glad this is over.” She breathlessly announced. MRP’s own “Blonde Bombshell” has done what no other racer has ever done here. Well, actually it’s not over. Next Saturday night she has a shot at 11 in a row. Promoter Paul Hawes will roll over the $100 per week bounty on Castleberry for yet another week. If Castleberry is beaten and she finishes the event Hawes will pay $300 to the winner in addition to the $400 first prize already offered in the class. It could be that the pressure is even more pronounced as Castleberry has a once in a lifetime opportunity to really put this record win streak out of reach.

The King of California 410 Sprint Car heats did not go into the books quite so smoothly as two drivers took wild rides in preliminary competition. Danielle Simpson took a nasty flip over the right rear of GSC star Brent Kaeding. She flipped her car several times into the turn 3 wall. It was the 1st of 2 wild rides for Simpson on this night. The other heat race flip victim was Andy Gregg. Greg got over Colby Wiesz’s right rear at the start of heat 3. Gregg rolled the length of the front chute shedding parts all the way into turn 1. Gregg popped out OK, but it was an attention getting ride for the 4-time feature event winner at MRP. 

Larson, Bobby McMahon and Brett Rollag snared the heat race victories. Mark Tabor Jr. won the B main as Gregg and Simpson recovered from their flips to make the main event. Jason Statler beat Larson to the line in the Dash to establish the front row of the feature.

The 30-lap closer was a rip-snorter all the way with action all around the MRP clay. It became obvious that Larson was the class of the field early on. This youngster is a master at handling a car. As fast as he was when on clear track, he was calculated and shrewd in traffic. Try as he might, Statler could not really threaten Larson except when Larson was picking his way through traffic. Back in the pack perennial GSC favorite Bobby McMahon was the show. McMahon systematically plucked his way forward in a dramatic display of veteran savvy. Evan Suggs and McMahon had the best race of the event in a knock down drag out fight for 3rd. When McMahon got to 4th he slipped by Suggs in the late laps. Suggs returned the favor a couple of laps later and roared home 3rd.

Larson rocketed away from the field in the final 2-lap shootout and easily took starter Robin Davies checkered flag. With the victory, he secured the point lead from 13-time champion Brent Kaeding. Kaeding cruised home 5th allowing teammate Larson to take a 9 point lead into the final 2 races on the GSC schedule. The event provided a 12-point turn around in the race for the top spot. 

The feature was stopped for a vicious flip by 4-time MRP champion Korey Lovell. He too, was OK after the hard ride. Danielle Simpson got upside down again with just 2 laps to go in the event. Her 2nd wing crusher happened in a 4-car melee in turn 2 that also sidelined former MRP champ Mike Monahan. All 4 of the MRP champions that entered the event (Wiesz and Brent Dothage inclusive) were DNF’s in the 30-lap feature.

Next Saturday it’s Fan Appreciation Nite and there’s no facility in the west that appreciates their fans like the drivers and staff at MRP. Amazingly enough Misty Castleberry will try for racing history trying to secure her 11th consecutive feature event victory in the MRP Mini Stocks. The MRP bounty of $300 will be in place for this event. The mighty roar of the California Modifieds and MRP’s own Super Stocks will fill the air at MRP Saturday. The Pro 4 Sprint Cars and the return of the EXTREME BOMBERS and Nor Cal Dwarf Cars will round out the spectacular 6 division show.