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Wallace, Castleberry, Trimble and Hammett win at Shepherd Memorial.
Winged sprinters back for Best Collateral Nite Saturday!

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - August 12, 2012 --- Point leader Billy Wallace ran away with another MRP Winged Sprint Car feature event Saturday night during the 2nd Merle Shepherd Memorial Race. Misty Castleberry kept her hold on victory lane in the MRP Mini Stock closer. Ray Trimble charged to his first win of the year in the MRP Super Stock main event as Eddie Hammett won a close one in the MRP Hobby Stock feature. 

It was 107 degrees as the evening began and promoter Paul Hawes’ 77 loads of new clay was going to be put to the test. During the two week summer break Hawes and the MRP staff went to work to improve the surface at MRP. It was anybody’s guess how that would affect the competitors, especially on a wicked hot day. It appears that whatever concerns the railbirds had were discounted early on in the evening’s festivities. Practice times were consistent and the track remained hooked-up. A little water on the front chute brought things around nicely after practice and another rapid-fire program was presented. Every lap was run and the fans were on their way home a little after 9PM.

The curious thing about all of this is that regardless of the temperature or the surface the racing action was once again furious in the MRP Sprint Car main. Terrific, high speed battles with several position changes were the norm in this tense battle at the front. 

Only a couple of brief yellows slowed sprint car main and the last 15 circuits of the scheduled 25 were a blur of high speed action. Promoter Hawes’ roll of the dice had paid off. The moist clay in 100+ degree conditions could pull your shoes off at the start/finish line after the main event. The multi-groove surface again provided drivers with room to make their moves at very high speed and for the 4th consecutive event no major crashes slowed the sprint car program.

Gentleman Jim Richardson burst from his pole position and into the lead over fellow front row starter, Wallace. Wallace got Richardson after a brief battle and checked out. Richardson had a couple of tough laps and fell to 6th.

As the race progressed, Wallace cleanly picked his way through traffic, distancing himself from the rest, Jeremy Burt in his Geico hot rod, Cort Dozier in his Performance Auto Supply Special, Brent Dothage in his Piercy Toyota 7b and Mike Monahan in his Superior Hydraulics 49 traded spots continuously throughout the event. Dozier had some mechanical issues mid way in the event that cropped up after a couple of hair-raising wheelies. It appeared that his top wing was affected and he fell off the pace.

A late race dice between 2007 champ Jeremy Burt and 3-time titlist Brent Dothage for the runner up spot was a thriller and decided with Burt getting 2nd and Dothage 3rd. Monahan had to settle for 4th.

Wallace and car owner Mark Moore were all smiles as the Bully Dog sprint car rested in victory lane once again. Wallace was candid when he mentioned that he thought the place would dry out or get rough. A second look showed that neither was the case and they set up the #1m accordingly. Wallace was particularly good at slicing through traffic and that ultimately proved to be the difference in this one.

Monahan chalked up another heat race win as he continues his amazing comeback. Dothage won the other heat race with some outstanding maneuvers in the early laps.

Misty Castleberry continued her roll toward the title with another convincing win in the MRP Mini Stock feature. A complete inversion of the field did not impede her progress at all as she cut her way to the top spot early. Jason Clayton got to 2nd with impressive 2nd year racer Kyle Davey in tow. Clayton and Davey’s last row starting positions did not trouble the hard charging duo. They came to the front fast and hard. James Foster and Shaun Merritt were in the mix for a while, but the Davey/Clayton tussle was the best race on the track.

Behind Castleberry, Clayton grabbed 2nd in front of Davey with Foster and Merritt close behind. Clayton and Davey won their heats.

MRP Super Stock star Ray Trimble was a force to be reckoned with during this 2nd Merle Shepherd Memorial and after early leader Willie Horn bounced off the front stretch concrete Trimble went on to win the event.

A memorable early race duel with former champ Phillip Shelby secured 2nd for Trimble and then when Horn retired it was a long green flag run to the checkers for Trimble. It was the first triumph of the season for Trimble in his winged #37; a season dominated by point leader Brent Hall who picked up an easy 3rd. 2011 champ Corey Hall was 4th and Ray Benkowski scored a season-best 5th. Horn and Shelby garnered heat race wins.

After a stirring final 3 laps, the MRP Hobby Stock main event was closest feature event finish of the night. Eddie Hammett beat point leader Jeremy Hammons to the line to grab another 1st place trophy. The race was pretty much a ho-hummer until the 18th lap when 2nd running Hammons finally reached Hammett. The two raced it cleanly and at the checkers Hammett was just in front. Hammett swept the show by grabbing heat race honors earlier in the evening.

Earlier in the evening the MRP family celebrated the life of Merle Shepherd with a traditional checkered flag lap. Jerry Witzke brought out his excellent vintage super stocker to take the lap.

Next week the four MRP primary divisions will return to the 1566 feet of Marysville Raceway Park clay for Best Collateral’s Night at the Races. Best Collateral is a new sponsor at the raceway this season and representatives of the company will be at the Raceway early for 100 t-shirt giveaways to the 1st 100 fans through the gates. It will be a great racing evening at Yuba-Sutter’s only professional sports venue.

Stay tuned.

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.