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Wallace wins & Castleberry doubles up!
Jones grabs Nor Cal thriller. Mel Hall race Saturday!

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - May 20, 2012 --- It was 94 degrees and the wind was not a factor as Paul and Kathy Hawes presented a 4 division program in rapid-fire style. Defending MRP Champ Billy Wallace took the checkers in the MRP Winged Sprint Car main event Saturday night at Marysville Raceway Park. Misty Castleberry continued on her spectacular roll through the 2012 season as she won the Pro 4 Sprint Car and MRP Mini Stock features. Shawn Jones charged from mid-pack to grab the Nor Cal Dwarf Car closer.

First things first: Next week, the granddaddy of all MRP races, the $2500 to win Mel Hall Memorial Race will be offered. For the 1st time ever it will be a California Sprint Car Civil War Series event. All the stars in the winged 360 sprint car galaxy will be on hand. Point leader Brett Rollag will head a strong contingent of drivers that will include last year’s Mel Hall winner Kyle Hirst, Herman Klein, Stephan Allard and Sean Becker. Add to that, Civil War champions Andy Forsberg and Greg Decaires. Then sprinkle in 6 time Mel Hall Memorial Race champion Colby Wiesz who has 50 feature event victories at MRP…and is a 3 time champion. Jeremy Burt and arch rival (and former Civil War feature winner) Billy Wallace will be on hand to grab the $2500 1st place dough.

If 7 day forecasts are to be believed it should be a partly cloudy 77 degree day; perfect for elbows up sprint car racing. Plus the triumphant return of a tough former MRP champion and Civil War race winner. This will be a monumental event! Plus a barbeque sponsored by sprintcarfan.com and the “pile o’ meat” provider Paul Hawes. There’s also $200 extra bucks on the line from sprintcarfan.com for quick time. More on all of this later.

Saturday, the MRP Winged Sprint Car feature was a wicked fast race, just dripping with drama. Jeremy Burt took a big lead in the early laps from his front row starting slot. Reyna Krueger and Brent Dothage got to 2nd and 3rd respectively, but could not hunt down the flying #2b. It was a whirlwind of color and speed for a while. Wallace, in 4th watched as the leaders got to lapped traffic at about ½ way.

Burt became mired in lapped traffic and Dothage slipped by Krueger for 2nd as Wallace charged into 3rd, then Wallace got a great run through 4 to get Dothage for 2nd. Wallace closed rapidly after eclipsing Dothage and parked on Burt’s tail. The pair had a great dice for the lead among lapped cars. Burt and Wallace were deadlocked at the top in points and whoever got the top spot would come out of the event with the point lead. It was intense.

With 5 to go Wallace inched inside Burt as the pair headed for turn 3. There was contact and Burt bounced sideways and stopped. Wallace started to lose his car, but throttled up and jumped over Burt’s left rear, nearly flipping himself. But, he pushed his way clear. Burt was visibly upset and restarted at the back of the pack.

The new green waved with 4 to go and new leader Wallace rocketed away from the field, but John Michael Bunch flipped hard in turn 1 bringing out the red flag. Bunch was OK. It was the only stop all night long. The final 4 laps were fast, but uneventful and Wallace cruised into victory lane amongst a loud and vocal mixed bag of cheers and boos from the emotional crowd.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do it”, Wallace said quietly in victory lane. “I just saw an opening and went for it.” The fast-paced race was a thriller between Wallace and Burt. Wallace out timed the field earlier in the evening with Peter Paulson and Cort Dozier winning the heats.

Misty Castleberry continues on her determined quest to visit victory lane as often as possible. This time she smoked the Pro 4 Sprint Car field after charging into the top spot by ½ way. Early race leader Johnny Burns showed some of the intense talent behind the wheel of the black 56. But, Castleberry challenged Burns for the top spot and got by with a slick move in turn 2. Nobody had anything for Castleberry once she got to the front. Shawn Ternora powered his hot rod into 2nd ahead of 3 time champ Tim Maclaughlin as the white banner flew.

The race was long on green flag segments and went into the books rapidly. Ternora won the heat race.

Castleberry came back in the subsequent MRP Mini Stock feature event and ran away with another feature event victory. She has won every feature event in the class this season. Rookie contender and early leader Travis Carter rubbed fenders with Castleberry for a while and traded a little paint. But by ½ way it became obvious that the rest of the race would be a run to see who could finish 2nd.

Carter held off an aggressive charge from both Damian Merritt and Kyle Davey as once again there was a knot of cars racing hard, but again it was for 2nd as Castleberry ran away.

It was Castleberry’s 2nd double as she pulled it off at the Mel Hall Memorial Race in 2010 when that event featured a 4 division MRP points program including the Pro 4s. Carter, Merritt and Davey finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

Carter is the surprise of the Mini Stock season thus far. The rookie is smooth and with 1 exception, mistake free. The “Bounty” put on Castleberry last week by promoter Hawes takes a $100 bump and if someone can beat Castleberry “fair and square” the next time the Minis run at MRP it will pay $600 to win! Castleberry and Merritt won the heat races.

Nor Cal Dwarf Car phenomenon Shawn Jones moved some clay on the high side and picked his way from 8th into the top spot and after that, ran away with a great victory in the feature event. Jones, who flipped wildly while trying a pass for the lead last time out, was the star of this show. Spirited dices with “Hollywood” Kevin Bender, Jeremy Blackshere and Ryan “The Ice Chip” Winter kept everyone locked in on this one.

Brian Quilty, in his familiar #16 started last in this event, but got to 8th by the time the field hit the checkers. Bender, Blackshere and Winter wound up 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Winter and Jones won the heat races.

All of the preliminary events went into the books without incident or yellow flag slowdowns.

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.