Champion finale Saturday night | NevadaAppeal.com

Champion finale Saturday night

Dave Price

No matter what the name of the track – Tahoe-Carson Speedway, Silver State Raceway or Champion Speedway – the Silver State Classic has closed the curtain for every season of racing for the last 41 years.

And there should be plenty of excitement and close races, not to mention some emotion, when the Classic returns Saturday night with a lineup that includes a 100-lap feature race in the finale of the Nevada State Sprintcar Championship series as well as 50-lap Western Modified and Legends races. Qualifying is scheduled to get under way at 6 p.m.

As for emotion, a “40 years of Excellence” salute to the racing career of two-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) champion and California Asphalt Sprintcar Association (CASA) founder Mike McCreary. McCreary has been diagnosed with cancer and won’t be racing, but he is expected to be in attendance, according to Champion General Manager Les Kynett.

“This will be a tribute to Mike’s racing career and it should be pretty special because his fans, family and friends will be in attendance,” Kynett said.

The Placerville, Calif., driver will be saluted at a barbecue that will be held in the pit area from 11 to 2 p.m. before the races start.

McCreary began his illustrious driving career at the Carson City track in 1964 and, most recently, drove to victory in the trophy dash during the state sprintcar championship series opener at Champion on May 29 (he finished sixth in the main event that night).

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He is known as more than a championship driver, according to Kynett.

“I’ve known Mike since 1970 and he is probably the most unselfish and helpful person to his fellow races you’d ever want to meet,” Kynett said. “Mike always brings an abundance of extra parts with him to the track, so if another needs something, Mike has always been there to help out.”

McCreary was always known to bring two to three cars with him to every race, cars that were made available to other drivers. His crew is worked to prepare both of his Oval Chassis Research Specials – the No. 7 and 71 cars – for Saturday night’s races. Bryan Bullard will drive McCreary’s No. 71 in the 100-lap feature race.

“He likes to give young drivers a chance to get into a good car and race,” Kynett said.

Nick Rescino Jr. from San Francisco will be targeted as the man to beat, having already won each of the three previous three state championship series races. Rescino saw his streak of 10 consecutive victories in CASA feature races snapped last Saturday night when he finished second behind “Cowboy” Craig Smith at Altamont Sports Park in Tracy, Calif.

Rescino will be in Carson City to face a field that is expected to include Bullard, Matt DeMartini, Brian McClish and Minden’s Amy Barnes. Bullard and Barnes finished second and third respectively in the series main event at Champion on Aug. 28. McClish broke the track record with his run of 12.71 seconds in qualifying on May 29.

Sammy Solari from Salida, Calif., will be back looking for his seventh victory of the season in the 50-lap, double points open wheel Modified race. Gary Swim won the Aug. 8 main event to spoil Solari’s perfect record, and the season finale shapes up as a good one.

“We should have a huge number of Modifieds, a lot of drivers from Stockton and Sacramento, and we’re giving $700 to the winner, so Sammy should have a big challenge,” Kynett said.

The 50-lap, double points Legends finale also promises to be a good race. Richard Malugani of Dayton comes in holding a narrow 575-568 lead over Wayne Estes of Patterson, Calif., in the season points. Estes pulled off a hat trick with main event, trophy dash and heat race victories last Saturday.

“That’s very close,” Kynett said. “It’s going to be a good race between the young lion, Malugani, and a guy I call the crusty old veteran, Estes,” Kynett said.

The Bandoleros division also features a close race coming into the season finale, as Jonathan Phillips of Colusa, Calif., holds a narrow 296-294 lead in the points ahead of Reno’s Derek Holman.

Contact Dave Price at dprice@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.

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