Zach Kavert didn't exactly begin his day at Champion Speedway on the right foot on Saturday.
Even after crashing into the wall during hot laps, the 15-year-old driver from Redding, Calif., came back and finished up quite nicely when he sped to victory in the Legends main event in just his second appearance at the Carson City track.
Meanwhile, three familiar local drivers - Chet Danburg, Kim Robbins and Craig Swim - took the checker flag in their respective Late Model Sportsman, Hornet and Western Modified divisions to highlight a busy local program.
Kavert outlasted Micah Parmer to win the 35-lap Legends main event in a duel between rivals from Shasta Raceway Park in Northern California. Parmer is the current Legends season points leader and was coming off a main event victory one week before at Shasta, but this time, it was Kavert who took the checker flag.
But only after a lot of extensive work in the pits after the Enterprise High School sophomore hit the wall coming out of Turn 4 during his afternoon hot laps session.
"I just want to thank my crew," Kavert said, mentioning Brian McFarlane, Jason Trimble, Jack Porter, Eric Thibodeau (who also finished 10th in the race), and his father, Scott Kavert. "They put in a lot of work ... the front end was hanging on the brake cable."
He didn't get back out for qualifying, but did manage to place second behind Parmer in their heat race. Kavert also started in the back row of the 14-car main event with yet another handicap.
"We didn't have the right muffler on, so that put us down in the horsepower," he said. "And to still come all the way through the field, I was happy."
Jack Randall surged into the lead on the second lap and stayed out front through the next 21 laps - and two yellow flags. Denny Hadler, in his first race since a July 9 accident that resulted in a Care Flight trip to Washoe Medical Center, came through the field and worked his way into second-place before he was forced to retire to the pits after the yellow flag dropped on the 14th lap due to electrical problems.
"We haven't figured out what went wrong, it was a bad ground or something," Hadler said. "It was disappointing because we had run well all night - second in the trophy dash, second in the heat race and we were second in the main event when we went out."
A second yellow flag came out on the 23rd lap, then on the restart, Kavert made an inside move to take the lead. Parmer moved into second two laps later, but was unable to catch Kavert in the final 10 laps.
Randall finished third, while Todd Thompson and Terry Madjeski rounded out the top five. Hadler had to settle for 14 laps and 12th-place in the final results, but the 2003 Galena High graduate was happy to be back on the track again.
"It felt really good, especially when I saw all the support the fans gave me," Hadler said. "That was enough to motivate me, so I'll be back out there again."
Danburg, a four-time track champion, took the lead from Kris Keller midway through the 35-lap Sportsman main event and then beat Al Goss to the finish. Goss wound up second, ahead of Vince Malone in third and Joel Worley in fourth - significant because Goss held a nine-point lead over Worley in the points standings coming into the night.
"It was a pretty good race, I thought," Danburg said. "The car wasn't that good early, but then in the main, I just got in my rhythm. When there are no cautions, a driver can get into his rhythm, and the last 15 laps or so, I was hitting everything just right.
"It was just fun. I like driving in this class and I like racing with these guys," he said, adding a word of thanks to his sponsors Darrel and Patti Page as well as the Horseshoe Club.
Also of interest in the Sportsman race, Robert Kline raced for the first time at Champion since 1988 and finished sixth in the main event. He also took fourth in the trophy dash and his 14.40 qualifying time was second-fastest in the division.
Kline got his chance to drive the new No. 21 car owned by Dean Heller, who was called out of town on business. Tom Price, another long-time veteran driver at Champion who hadn't raced at the track in eight years, also drove Heller's Western Modified car.
"The car ran pretty well for the first time out," Kline said.
"I'm glad Dean had an emergency because it felt good to be back," he added, flashing a smile. "Tom and I were both talking about how nice it was to be out here. We'd both done well in the past and here we were again. Not bad for a couple of old guys."
Price also finished sixth in the Modified main event.
Swim, of Elverta, Calif., set fast time in qualifying (13.56), then held off Matt Collier and Mike Regelman at the finish to win the main event.
In the 25-lap Hornet main event, Robbins ran away from the field to post her ninth main event victory of the season. Jason Flores finished second and Sandy Clark third.
Earlier, Flores used a late charge to win the trophy dash at the wire ahead of Bill Holbert, who was celebrating his 17th anniversary at the track with his wife, Christine.
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Late Model Sportsman
Main event: (35 laps) 1, Chet Danburg; 2, Al Goss; 3, Vince Malone; 4, Joel Worley; 5, Kris Keller; 6, Robert Kline; 7, Ed Goss; 8, Matt Collier; 9, Chris Betz (34 laps); 10, Steve Goss (34 laps); 11, Bill Gould (33 laps); 12, Bill Thompson (31 laps). Yellow: 0.
Trophy dash: 1, Collier; 2, Danburg; 3, Worley; 4, Kline; 5, A. Goss; 6, Keller.
First heat race: 1, E. Goss; 2, Keller; 3, Gould; 4, Tim Carr; 6, Thompson.
Second heat race: 1, Collier; 2, Danburg; 3, Malone; 4, A. Goss; 5, Betz; 6, S. Goss.
Fast time: A. Goss 14.33.
Main event: (35 laps) 1, Zach Kavert; 2, Micah Parmer; 3, Jack Randall; 4, Todd Thompson; 5, Terry Madjeski; 6, Fred Handley; 7, Chris Handley; 8, Bob Cose; 9, Lester Mitchell; 10, Eric Thibodeau; 11, Robert Humphreys (23 laps); 12, Denny Hadler (14 laps); 13, Jason Schuppert (14 laps); 14, Bobby Hodges (14 laps). Yellow: 2.
Trophy dash: 1, Schuppert; 2, Hadler; 3, Madjeski; 4, C. Handley; 5, Parmer; 6, Hodges.
First heat race: 1, Thompson; 2, Hadler; 3, Randall; 4, Hodges; 5, Schuppert; 6, Cose.
Second heat race: 1, Parmer; 2, Kavert; 3, Humphreys; 4, C. Handley; 5, Schuppert; 6, F. Handley; 7, Madjeski; 8, Michelle Argetsinger.
Fast time: Parmer 14.77.
Main event: (30 laps) 1, Craig Swim; 2, Matt Collier; 3, Mike Regelman; 4, Jeff Stephens; 5, Troy Nogosek; 6, Tom Price; 7, Steve Lucas; 8, Russ Cazier (29 laps). Yellow: 2.
Trophy dash: 1, Regelman; 2, Swim; 3, Price; 4, Stephens; 5, Collier; 6, Nogosek.
First heat race: 1, Stephens; 2, Cazier; 3, Lucas; 4, Price.
Second heat race: 1, Regelman; 2, Swim; 3, Collier; 4, Nogosek.
Fast time: Swim 13.56.
Main event: (20 laps) 1, Kim Robbins; 2, Jason Flores; 3, Sandy Clark; 4, Stephanie Crawford; 5, Andy McCool; 6, Shawn Chaufty; 7, Bill Holbert; 8, Tiffany Mans; 9, Gregg Salaices; 10, Matt Collier; 11, Bill Bernard; 12, Amanda Cole.
Trophy dash: 1, Flores; 2, Holbert; 3, Chaufty; 4, McCool; 5, Clark; 6, Salaices.
First heat: 1, Robbins; 2, Clark; 3, Chaufty; 4, Collier; 5, Salaices; 6, Mans; 7, Mark Turner.
Second heat: 1, Flores; 2, McCool; 3, Crawford; 4, Holbert; 5, Bernard; 6, Cole.
Fast time: Robbins 17.16.