Sunday, August 7, 2016

Thorn survives rough and tumble SRL race

Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series Renner Petroleum/Bear River Hotel and Casino 125
winner, #43 Derek Thorn (Photo Courtesy Matthew J. Sullivan Racing Photography)

By Matthew J. Sullivan

Redwood Acres Raceway was at full capacity this past Saturday night for Bear River Hotel and Casino/Renner Petroleum Night at the Races. In addition to four local classes of roadrunners, bombers, mini stocks and Legends, fans were treated to the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series’ third visit to the 3/8-mile paved oval. The SRL’s Renner Petroleum/Bear River Hotel and Casino 125 proved to be a memorable race for a variety of reasons.

Bethany Rapp was fast time for the California State and Federal Employees Credit Union with a 21.064. Dominic Vogelsang was the trophy dash winner while the heat races were won by Bob Ratzloff and Vogelsang. The main event was scheduled for 20-laps but was marred by several caution flags. The scariest incident involved Tim Ratzloff who got sideways in turns one and two and slid into the pit entrance in turn two. Thankfully nobody was harmed and Ratzloff somehow avoided getting damage.

At lap 10, the field was turned around and ran the track backwards. The battle up front between Rapp and Vogelsang proved to be contentious and controversial. Vogelsang appeared to have the superior car and was able to take the lead from Rapp but was moved back to second due to driving through the dirt to make the pass. With three laps remaining, Vogelsang got into Rapp sending her sliding out of the lead much to the dismay of the fans. Officials black flagged Vogelsang which gave Bob Ratzloff the top spot. The race was called at that point with Ratzloff winning over Tyler Peach, Jake Keeling and Rapp.

Ukiah racer, R.J. Randall was quick time for the Fortuna Wheel and Brake bomber division with a 18.133. Randall took the trophy dash victory while the heat race featured an incident that knocked Ryan Ahrens out for the race. James Moore was the heat race winner. Dave Jones led the opening four laps of the 25-lap feature until Moore took over. The race looked to be Moore’s until a restart in the final handful of laps did him in. Jones was able to take the lead with three laps remaining and held off Moore to claim the win. The top three drivers were awarded a special monetary bonus thanks to Lally Motorsports and Four Star Realty with Moore and Tyler Avelar being the other two drivers receiving the extra money. John Lally placed fourth while Jimmy Sorrels rounded out the top five.

Dylan Hagmann continues to impress in his rookie campaign in the Humboldt Hydroponics mini stock division. Hagmann set quick time with a 18.949. Gary Klinetobe took trophy dash honors while heat race winners were Brian Murrell, Sr. and Eugene Palmer. A strong field of 15 cars started the 25-lap feature. Troy Lee and Jordon Paiment traded the lead the first two laps before Brett Murrell took over. Hagmann had already maneuvered through by lap seven and on lap eight, he took over the lead and would never look back. The best battle for the rest of the race was for second with Daniel Buell and Rick Estes battling tooth and nail. At the finish it was Hagmann winning his first mini stock feature. Estes managed to take second followed by Buell, Klinetobe and Sam Brown.

Brad Curtice was fast time in the Legends division with a 18.114 and went on to win the trophy dash and heat races. The main event featured a two-man battle for the lead between Robert Miller and Curtice. With just three laps remaining, Miller and Curtice got together off turn two. Anissa Curtice inherited the lead and was able to hang on to take her first Legends main event win. Brad Curtice placed second while Miller and M’Kinzy Uselton were credited with third and fourth.

16 Spears SRL Southwest Tour drivers qualified for the Renner Petroleum/Bear River Casino 125. Blaine Rocha set quick time and a new SRL Redwood Acres Raceway track record with a 15.410. Rocha drew an invert of four which put local driver, Brandon White on the pole, much to the delight of the partisan crowd. White took the lead from the drop of the green flag in what proved to be a clean start. The first caution dropped 10 laps in due to a spin off turn four by Oregon racer, Alan Cress.

A lap 19 restart proved to be to the benefit of Derek Thorn as he was able to get by Jacob Gomes for second. White and Thorn had a fantastic battle for the lead with Thorn briefly taking the top position on lap 24. However, White was able to regain the lead. On lap 38, Thorn found the line he needed to maneuver past White for the lead. A lap later, Andre Prescott hit the wall in turn three from that point on, the race was caution-filled.

On lap 36, a massive pile-up took place in turn three involving Carlos Vieira, Alan Cress and Dennis Furden. All four drivers were knocked out of the race. Also involved were Craig Raudman and Luke Hall but drivers were able to continue. The race slowed again a few laps later when Raudman and and Hall got together going into turn three. Another caution quickly followed when White spun going into the third turn and hit the wall ending his night.

Thorn led the field on the restart and the race was clean the rest of the way. Rocha was right on Thorn’s bumper for the early stages of the long run but as the race progressed, Thorn’s car appeared to be more stable and Rocha’s appeared to lose grip. Thorn began to pull bigger gap lap after lap. Rocha eventually lost the second spot to Gomes just before the final caution flew for oil on the track. Unfortunately due to curfew, the race was cut to 102 laps with Thorn taking the win over Gomes, Rocha, Ryan Cansdale and Keith Spangler.

Racing at the Acres takes a two week break before returning on August 20th for Driver Appreciation Night presented by Fastenal. Fans can get complimentary tickets from their favorite driver. In addition to the five local classes, the second annual Murrell 500 will be held. Track officials also announced the return of the Fall Spectacular on October 8th and 9th. More details will be provided on the season-ending event soon. Also, the final outlaw kart race of 2016 will take place August 27th. It’s certain to be an exciting event as youngsters will take to the .110-dirt oval for the final time this season. For more information on everything going on at Redwood Acres Raceway including video of the Spears SRL Southwest Tour race from this weekend, please visit the track’s official website