Robert Humphreys took the checkered flag to win a Legends main event on Saturday night that literally turned into a racing test of survival that saw Denny Hadler Jr. leave Champion Speedway by Care Flight for the second time in the past year.
Hadler was injured after he crashed into the wall coming out of Turn 4 on the first restart of the 30-lap Legends feature race and eventually transported to a Reno hospital. He was moved out of the intensive care unit on Sunday and the outlook for a complete recovery appeared promising, according to his father, Denny Sr.
"They took another MRI and they're looking at those pictures to see what's going on; he's really uncomfortable, but he seems to be doing fine," the senior Hadler said on Sunday.
Hadler, a former football player and 2003 Nevada state overall Alpine ski champion for Galena High School, also left the track by Care Flight after an accident midway through the 2004 season.
"He took a pretty good lick. He went into the wall sideways pretty hard; he was unconscious for about five minutes, which was a concern at the time. But you know Denny, he's a battler. He's not going to give up for anything," said the senior Hadler, adding that he believed the cause of the crash was a "steering issue."
Earlier, Dave Sciarrone sustained injuries in a crash on the homestretch at the start. And on Lap 14, a collision on the backstretch knocked out four cars - including past track champions Nick Parmelee and Jim Klopp. In all, only nine cars went the distance out of the original 19-car field and the length of the race was reduced from 40 to 30 laps due to the delays caused by accidents that brought out five yellow flags (three reds).
When the checker flag dropped only a few minutes before midnight, Humphreys held off a late charge from division points leader Mackena Bell to win the race. Third-place went to 14-year-old Jonathan Mawhinney of Las Vegas, ahead of Todd Thompson in fourth and Bob Cose in fifth.
"That turned into an old-time Bomber race," Humphreys said with a smile afterward. "Survival was definitely the name of the game tonight.
"You know, I don't think I touched a car, which is something I'm proud of. I try to win and not touch another car, those are always goals of mine. I want to win, but I never want to damage anyone else's car," the 37-year-old the Sun Valley driver added.
Chris Handley surged to a big lead early, but after the yellow flag dropped on Lap 15, Humphreys made his move and then surged into the lead on the backstretch of Lap 17. Handley and Terry Madjeski retired to the pits on Lap 21, which left Humphreys nine laps to hold on for the checker. He managed to do that, although for the second week in a row, 15-year-old Bell charged off the final turn to finish as a close runner-up.
"I took it kind of easy from 10 to 5 (laps to go) because I had cooked my tires for a while trying to get around 13 (Handley) and Jack (Randall)," Humphreys said. "But when I saw her (Bell's) number up on the scoreboard, I knew she was coming. And as soon as I saw the purple chrome in my rearview mirror, I knew it was time to put the hammer down."
The main event victory was the second this season - and second ever at the Carson City track for Humphreys, who took a week off from racing after his June 11 triumph and traveled to Indianapolis to watch the U.S. Grand Prix Formula I race.
It was a quality field that included the evening's third-place finisher and trophy dash winner, Mawhinney, a Cimarron-Memorial High freshman, who has won seven main events and is the current Legends Semi-Pro points leader at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and ranks No. 6 in the INEX Young Lions asphalt national standings.
Parmelee, a dominant force in Champion's Legends racing the past two years but this was his first appearance this season in Carson City. He has been racing a Super Late Model and won his first feature race in late May at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"I've been flying down to Vegas every weekend to race for my team, CRC Motor Sports, but I've got a month break now so I decided to dust the old car off and bring it out here again," said Parmelee, a Galena High graduate. "The car was running fast; I was happy to get through the early laps without any problems, but then I had that mishap (on Lap 14). I just had nowhere to go. But I'm looking forward to coming back out to try it again."
Sandy Clark of Reno drove to her first main event victory this season in the 20-lap Hornets main event.
Shawn Chaufty, who earlier took the heat race for his first victory at Champion in the Marine Corps car (donated by Bill Bernard), surged to an early lead in the main event. Trophy dash winner Tony Polestina moved into the lead on Lap 7 and then waged a back-and-forth duel with Clark that covered the better of two laps. Clark took advantage of her inside position to take the lead for good on the backstretch of Lap 13.
Polestina finished second, ahead of Bill Holbert, Chris Walton and Chaufty.
n Contact Dave Price at dpricenevadaappeal.com or call 881-1220.
Main event: (30 laps) 1, Robert Humphreys; 2, Mackena Bell; 3, Jonathan Mawhinney; 4, Todd Thompson; 5, Bob Cose; 6, Gary Handley; 7, Jack Randall; 8, Lester Mitchell; 9, Rebecca Parmelee; 10, Terry Madjeski (21 laps); 11, Michelle Argetsinger (13 laps); 12, Nick Parmelee (13 laps); 13, Jim Klopp (13 laps); 14, Jason Anderline (13 laps); 15, Gary Hale (13 laps). Yellow: 5.
Trophy dash: (6 laps) 1, Mawhinney; 2, Dave Sciarrone; 3, Madjeski; 4, Klopp.
First heat race: 1, Thompson; 2, Bell; 3, No. 17; 4, R. Parmelee. Second heat: 1, C. Handley; 2, Mawhinney; 3, F. Handley; 4, Humphreys. Third heat: 1, N. Parmelee; 2, Klopp; 3, Randall; 4, Sciarrone.
Fast time: Klopp 14.72.
Main event: (20 laps) 1, Sandy Clark; 2, Tony Polestina; 3, Bill Holbert; 4, Chris Walton; 5, Shawn Chaufty; 6, Tiffany Mans; 7, Bill Bernard; 8, Mark Tompkins. Yellow: 1.
Trophy dash: (6 laps) 1, Polestina; 2, Clark; 3, Holbert; 4, Walton.
Heat: 1, Chaufty; 2, Walton; 3, Polestina; 4, Clark.
Fast time: Clark 16.92.