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Burt plows through cushion for spectacular win! 
Title on the line next week!

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - August 26, 2012 --- The MRP Winged Sprint Car feature events are becoming eye-candy to any fan of the mighty open wheelers. In the 3rd event since promoter Paul Hawes filled this fabulous speed bowl with new clay the class has put on 100 mph displays of ferocious racing. The entire grandstand was up and shouting over the roar of the engines as Grass Valley’s Jeremy Burt in his GEICO Special made outside passes on the two leaders with about 3000 feet to go and won the 25 lap main event. Yuba City’s Phillip Shelby got into the winners circle again after a slam-bang MRP Super Stock Main event. Napa’s Greg Bragg won the non-stop BCRA Midget main and local lady star Misty Castleberry switched classes with the same result and grabbed the hardware in the Pro 4 feature. It was Yuba City Scrap and Steel’s 13th Ice Cream Night at the races.

It looked like it might be Yuba City Scrap & Steel’s night to shine as Kevin Lovell in the #81 Yuba City Scrap and Steel hot rod clocked in with fast time. Then 5-time champ Korey Lovell made the feature event and was on the front row for the start. The non stop heat races were won by Petaluma’s Brett Rollag and Chico’s Jason Sanders. It was Sander’s first appearance at MRP this season, and he was very quick in his brand new sprinter.

The feature race had two stories to tell and both became part of the whole right away. Burt and defending champ Billy Wallace (also from Grass Valley) are locked in a monumental tussle for the MRP Winged Sprint Car championship. Wallace has won five features while Burt has been searching for a way to victory lane. But, with a 50 point swing available at each event, Burt has stayed a close second to Wallace throughout the year. There were 18 points separating the two headed into this race. Only one more point paying event is available on the 2012 schedule and that’s next week.

The feature got off to a roaring start as every MRP Winged Sprint Car champion since 1998 was represented in the fabulous field of stars. But, it was pole sitter Woodland’s Pete Paulson in his Brosche #9 that out-gunned Korey Lovell and took the lead in turn 1. The pace was torrid as Paulson pulled a frightening double wheelie as he hooked up and nearly flew the length of the back stretch. Paulson was as fast as he’s ever been and kept about a 5 car length lead on Korey Lovell through much of the first half of the event. Point leader Wallace found 3rd and Burt arrived in 4th. The Wallace/Burt championship point situation was placed firmly at the front of this event.

Incidental yellow flags kept the field close, but lapped cars started to get into the mix. A final yellow flag with 11 to go would prove costly to Korey Lovell’s effort. At the new green Lovell was slowed by a lapped car and the Wallace and Burt conflict was now 2nd and 3rd. With 10 to go Wallace started to close on Paulson, but Paulson rejected the challenges repeatedly. Wallace was looking for a way under Paulson and both of the leaders were starting to get clear of 3rd running Burt. 

With 8 to go however, Burt went to the top and started to dig a ridge into the cushion through turns 3 and 4. Lap after lap he started to hit the line just perfectly and started to close rapidly on the leaders. Paulson had his hands full with Wallace trying to get by. But the leaders couldn’t know what was coming.

Burt, by his own admission, in a “must win” situation to keep his championship hopes alive was teetering on the edge of disaster as he gassed his car harder through the turn 3-4 cushion. With 2 to go off of 4 he was beside a surprised Billy Wallace and flew by into 2nd. Next time around the leaders were headed into the white flag lap. Burt pitched his car high into 3 and inched by Paulson as well as the pair raced side by side under the waving white flag. Burt was by. Paulson gave it a valiant effort to try to get back by in the final 2 turns, but Burt took the checkers 1st. It was a breath-taking final effort by Burt. 

The outrageous battle for the lead overshadowed a terrific war that was being waged in mid-pack. Korey Lovell stayed a disappointing 4th after his issues with a lapped car as Colby Wiesz, Brent Dothage, Mike Monahan and an amazingly quick David Derr Jr. slugged it out behind the lead trio. They finished that way.

If it wasn’t the best race ever staged in winged sprint car competition at MRP…it was sure close. This observer saw nearly the entire population of the grandstand rise in unison as Burt approached the leaders. The winged sprint car show went into the books without any flips or major crashes. It was gratifying to see the appreciative crowd on their feet for the thrilling race to the checkers. This new clay surface has provided rocket-fast speeds with passing efforts that keeps one on the edge of one’s seat…if not out of it. Significantly fewer major flips and crashes and long green flag racing segments have resulted with the application of the new clay. This 1566 feet of black clay is turning MRP into one of the finest short track surfaces in the country.

Burt climbed to the top of his wing, fists in the air, after his victory. Surprisingly enough it was his parent’s anniversary and father Jack (a former sprint car racer himself) gave his boy a big bear hug.

Burt said in victory lane, “I hope that was as much fun to watch as it was to drive in. I knew that if I was going to be able to do it I had to do it on the outside. I was a lot faster off of turn 4 up high.” I guess so.

Burt was also eligible for the Contingency Connection bonus which was worth up to $1500 in additional contingency awards over and above the 1st place cash award from the event purse.

Once again former MRP Super Stock champ Phillip Shelby charged to the lead in another impressive performance in the MRP Super Stock feature. It was infrequent visitor Fred Ryland of Antioch who had the field covered until lapped traffic thwarted his excellent effort.

Early in the event, a violent impact in turn 2 involving Mike Walko, Willie Horn, outstanding new comer, Lance Delozier and Rookie of the year shoe-in John Ohmacht brought out the red flag. The sound of the impact turned every head in that direction. Horn’s car nearly flipped after the impact with Walko. All 4 drivers would not finish due to damage received in the crash. But only Walko and Delozier were KO’d in the crash. Ohmacht and Horn stopped a couple of laps later after the restart.

Shelby in the family hot rod, got by Yuba City’s Brent Hall after Ryland’s problem and maintained an easy lead. Point leader Hall seemed content to ride into an easy 2nd virtually nailing down the MRP Super Stock title in his Dairy Queen of Yuba City #22.

Hall’s only real championship threat this season has been James Castleberry who fought mechanical gremlins all night long in his Eagle Iron #04. Unofficially with 1 race to go Hall has a 49 point lead on Castleberry. With a maximum of 50 points available in each event Hall has still not clinched and it will go down to the final event to officially crown a champion. Castleberry was 6th. Ryland and Hall grabbed heat race honors.

In addition to the 1st place cash purse Shelby also received the $100 Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package. The Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package will be available to each winner for the final race in the MRP Super Stock class. 

The Pro 4 feature was a good one. MRP Mini Stock champ Misty Castleberry won after an entertaining dice with Evan Scroggins and Pro 4 Champ Tim Maclaughlin. Winded, but happy, Castleberry grabbed yet another feature event win. Castleberry remains at the top of her game.

Heat race winner Johnny Burns took a hard ride when his beautiful #56 flipped on the back chute. Burns popped out of the battered wreck unhurt.

The traveling BCRA Midgets main event featured a non-stop victory for Greg Bragg. For more on that go to www.bcraracing.com 

Next week the MRP Winged Sprint Cars will headline Championship Night at the Races. The MRP Mini Stocks, Hobby Stocks and the Pro 4 Sprints will also be offered. This will be the last race for the MRP Winged Sprinters prior to post season special events and the title is on the line. 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.