With the Legends West Coast Regional Qualifier race being coming up at Champion Motor Speedway, more than a dozen drivers took advantage of racing Saturday night to prepare themselves and their cars for the opportunity to race in North Carolina in the nationals.
Showing why he has already qualified for the nationals race, John Burritt showed up -- with minutes to spare -- before having to be on the grid for qualifying. Without the benefit of hot lapping, Burritt qualified fifth fastest out of a field of 13. No worries, the main event was his proving ground as well as for young guns Nick Parmelee, Johnny Morrissey and Denny Hadler Jr.
Within two laps, Burritt took the lead from Morrissey, who was already running at a quick pace. Just a few laps later, Parmelee and Hadler found their way into second and third respectively, with Morrissey in fourth.
Burritt made a strong run of the 30-lap main event taking the win. Hadler passed Parmelee for the second spot relegating Parmelee to third, Morrissey finished strong in fourth and Jim Klopp rounded out the top 5.
Finishing out the field were Jack Randall, Wayne Estes, Bill Brown, Richard Wirtz, Bob Cose, Gary Hale, Katie Chrome and Charley Baron.
Saturday is the INEX-sanctioned Legends Regional Qualifier, a 125-lap main event. Dozens of cars are expected to attempt to qualify.
"The track felt pretty fast," Burritt said. "We wanted to get the car ready for the nationals qualifier. I know the track was recently resurfaced. It's different and I have to get used to it so I can run high and low."
Terry Madjeski won the first Legends dash. Burritt, amazingly, won the second after going wide on the back stretch on lap two and recovering to pass Wirtz by just a few feet for the win. Estes won the third trophy dash.
Morrissey won the first heat race over Cose in second and Hale third. Burritt pulled the hat trick in the Legends division by winning the second heat race, with Estes finishing second and Parmelee third.
The Hustlin' Hornets made good use of track time, showing the crowd not only how they can drive on the oval, but the figure-8 as well.
Robert Coleman battled with his brother, Dennis Coleman, through most of the main event. Side by side action was common with both Colemans along with Jerry Stark, whose points were later pulled after an illegal driver change, according to officials.
Robert Coleman held on for the win, while Dennis finished second and Tim Maloney third. Rounding out the field were Cory Hauck, Rebecca Parmelee and Ben Griffith.
"It was a blast," Robert Coleman said after the race. "I raced my brother for a while and then got inside the No. 3 car for the lead. It was fun."
Stark finished first in the trophy dash. Robert Coleman finished first in the heat race over Stark in second and Hauck third.
Chet Danburg let the crowd know immediately in the main event he was out to win. Starting at the rear of the field, Danburg, aka "The Jet," made his way to the front in just four laps, moving in and out of traffic as though the cars were nearly standing still. Danburg held on for the rest of the race to win with Stuart Moon running just as hard and clean, nearly reeling Danburg in to finish second and Joel Worley third.
Rounding out the field were Al Goss, John Durney, Randy Reid, Bud Tackett, Don Spence, Virgil Miller and Paul Guinn.
On lap 21, Miller, who was driving a fast race also, appeared to get a loose coming out of turn 4, and with Goss right on his tail, drove over the front of Miller's car, causing damage too severe to return to action.
"I was just being very careful," Danburg said of his win. "I wanted to make a race out of it, but I didn't want to lose it either. It was a lot of fun," he added, sharing a handshake and story with second-place finisher Stuart Moon.
Also having some accidental action were the Western Modifieds. At the start of the race in turns 3-4, three-wide didn't pan out for Mark Tompkins, who was bumped and ended up turned around high on the track, and saw the car of Dan Jinkerson drive right over the top of him.
Tompkins was knocked in the helmet by the nerf bar on Jinkerson's car, but with only a bruise, he headed to the pits after being checked by emergency personnel.
The primary battle was set between Shane Kline and Johnny Vega, who share the points lead in the modified division. Vega followed Kline for more than 10 laps trying to find a way around him. On lap 20, Kline drifted to the high side of the track allowing just enough room for Vega to slip underneath for the pass and the lead. Ryan Baumgartner followed suit and moved into the second position. At the checkered flag, it was Vega with his third win in a row, Baumgartner finishing second and Kline third.
Rounding out the field were Pat Pearson, Duane Kramer, Jinkerson and Tompkins.
"That was a fun race," Vega said with his signature smile. "I had a good race with Shane. I tried him on the outside and it didn't work. Then he slipped up the track just enough, I got inside."
Jinkerson picked up the win in the trophy dash; Vega won the heat race with Kline finishing second and Pearson third.
The Hornets ran a 10-lap figure-8 race with Hauck taking the win on a last-lap pass on Jerry Stark, who finished second and Robert Coleman finishing third. Rounding out the field were: Maloney, Griffith and Dennis Coleman.
Several Les Schwab Street Stocks came out to race, though not for points. Chris Betz ran side by side with Mark Pace for several laps. Betz ran the high side and outlasted Pace for the win. John White finished second and Pace third. Glenn Davidson finished fourth and Rick Garmann fifth.
"The track was good; the outside line worked very good for me," Betz said. "But I miss racing with the Po' Boys. They need to get back out here.
"I do wish we had more cars, but I want to thank my crew chief, Bob Shaw, Joe Bob's Roadhouse, Sierra Racing Products, Napa, Michael Hohl, American Industries and Bragg Crane and Rigging."
Also on the schedule this coming Saturday are the Charter Super Late Models, Les Schwab Street Stocks, Bandoleros and the Ponderosa Stamp and Engraving bicycle races for kids ages 5-12. Pits open at 3 p.m., main gate at 5 with racing to begin at 7.
For information, call 267-0505 or visit championmotorspeedway.com.