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The “Shark” bites! Full house sees rapid fire event.
By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - March 3, 2013 --- Sean “The Shark” Becker of Antelope flew under the checkers after a torrid duel with quick time qualifier Andy Gregg of Placerville and grabbed a beautiful trophy and a $2500 payday at Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park. It was the 4th Sherman Toller Memorial Race and as expected, the west’s finest chauffeurs were there. The track was is spectacular shape; incredibly hooked up and butter smooth. Becker’s lengthy victory lane testimonial on the quality of the racing surface, the facility and staff was an unexpected bonus. Becker’s impressive credentials include championships in what is now the King of the West Series, championships in the California Sprint Car Civil War Series and a visit to victory lane in World of Outlaws competition. No figures were immediately available on attendance, but it was clearly one of the biggest crowds for a sporting event in Yuba Sutter history. The race celebrated the life of MRP icon Sherman Toller. Pre race activities included the traditional checkered flag lap. The flag was once again carried by 2007 MRP Sprint Car Champion and 2-time winner of the event, Grass Valley's, Jeremy Burt.

Becker shared the front row with Gregg as the green flag dropped over the 20 car starting field. Gregg got the jump as Becker tucked in behind. The furious pace had most of the competitors turning better lap times than they were able to muster during qualifying attempts earlier in the evening.

As Gregg and Becker wrestled for the lead, 5-time MRP champion, Yuba City’s Korey Lovell and former California Sprint Car Civil War champion Greg Decaires of Elk Grove started moving through the field. 50-time MRP feature event winner Colby Wiesz, “The Colfax Comet”, also was up on the wheel and going forward. Wiesz, who was mired in the 14th starting position pulled off some daring 3-wide passes in his drive to the front. Lovell, from 8th was as smooth as glass in his return to the sprint car wars after his frightening crash last season and went forward all night. But, it was Decaires who stayed on the rim of the smoking fast oval that was the biggest show.

A couple of incidental yellow flags early saved the lead duo from encountering lapped traffic. But, Gregg and Becker were almost frightening as they negotiated lapped traffic at extraordinary high speed in the ensuing green flag segment. On a couple of occasions the grandstand rose in unison as Gregg and Becker flashed through traffic. Decaires got to 4th during this time and hooked up in a great duel for the show spot with west coast star, Easton’s Tommy Tarlton. The Decaires-Tarlton duel was among the best of the night.

On lap 8 Gregg’s effort to win essentially ended. The quick #53 pulled to a stop off of turn 4 and he was pushed to the pits. Gregg restarted but was positioned 18th at the restart. He had a long way to go.

At the new green Becker took off with Tarlton and Decaires in tow. Becker stormed through traffic better than Tarlton and pulled to a couple of car lengths lead. This long green flag segment found Lovell moving into 4th and the hard-charging Wiesz into 6th behind 2-time MRP champion Billy Wallace who was up from 9th starting position. There was an extraordinary number of high speed passes considering the cars were hooked up and circulating so quickly.

With 28 of the 30 laps scored, a resurgent Gregg who had battled his way back into 9th position, spun to a stop in turn 3. The yellow flag waved and the ominous green/white/checkered was called for.

With 2 to go and a clear racetrack ahead, Becker stretched his lead at the new green as Decaires slugged it out with Tarlton for the runner up spot once again. Becker flashed under the checkers 1st as Tarlton held off the advances of Decaires. Lovell got a well-deserved 4th as Wallace grabbed 5th.

Heat race victories went to Shawn Wright, Cort Dozier and Wiesz. The B main event was won by Hawaiian Champion Dean Freitas.

Gregg got the sprintcarfan.com “C-note” bonus with an outstanding 12.849 to out-time the stellar field. Sprintcarfan.com will be on board at MRP all year with the fast time bonus money.

In the companion wingless sprint car feature, Lincoln’s Scott Hall forged his way to victory in the 20 lapper. The feature event was highlighted by a daring, lap 6 pass by Hall on early leader Gary Paulson. Hall, up from 3rd made a “bonsai” move to the inside of Paulson in turn 3. The pair came together and after both regained control, Hall came out in the lead and was never headed. Billy Wallace, who pulled double duty in this event, finished 2nd. Josh Vieira was 3rd and Paulson recovered for 4th.

We would like to take this opportunity to say hello to scorer Barbara Eversult and wish her well in her recovery from successful open heart surgery. We would also like to thank Lisa Becker for her assistance during the event. A tip of the straw hat to both.

Next up; MRP will host a playday and open practice on March 9th in advance of March 16th’s California Sprint Car Civil War Series event. All of the stars from this event and more are expected for the Civil War’s inaugural 2013 event.

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.