FERNLEY - Saturday night was Michael Hohl Truck Center Make-a-Wish Night at Reno-Fernley Raceway, with a portion of the gate as well as purse donations from several drivers going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Northern Nevada.
One driver, Roy Peterson of Yerington, pledged a dollar for each lap he completed in the Pro Stock Main, and challenged the fans to match his donation.
Five racing divisions provided lots of exciting racing action, and all for a good cause.
The Pure Stock division kicked off the action, with a surprise leader in the early going. Reno's Charissa Hast got the jump at the start and opened a big lead, looking like a sure bet to win her first main event. Behind her Matt Sherman of Fernley, Walter Ball of Silver Springs, and Fernley's Doug Davis battled for second, with Reno driver Brandon Martin coming through the field.
The usually quick Aaron McIlvain of Silver Springs had car problems and languished at the rear of the pack. Martin worked his way into the front group and was beginning to reel in Hast gradually when the yellow flag flew for Davis, who apparently lost an engine and oiled down the track. Ball pitted with a flat tire during the caution but rejoined before the cleanup was complete, remaining on the lead lap. Martin seized the lead on the restart and drove away, while Hast and Sherman battled for second. Martin cruised to the win, and Hast just nosed out Sherman to take second at the checker. Lemmon Valley's Darrick Rauscher came home fourth and Ball worked his way back to fifth at the finish. McIlvain and Martin each won a heat race.
With 27 Hobby Stock entries, the division had to run a B main to fill the field for the feature. The race began with a massive pileup in turns one and two, just the first of many caution periods.
When the race again got underway David Ausano of Fernley quickly surged to the front. Behind him there was lots of spirited racing all the way through the field, while Fernley's Joe Specchio III hunted down Ausano and finally got by for the lead.
Almost immediately trouble ensued as the leaders encountered a spinning lapped car. While taking evasive action Specchio got out of shape and his car landed on its roof in the infield, bringing out a red flag. Specchio was unhurt, but the car was unable to continue.
There were two laps to go when the race restarted, and Ausano was able to hold off a charging Steve Rauscher of Sun Valley for the win. Polesitter William Richey of Reno was third, followed by Carson City's Shane Ramthun and Gary Serpa of Stagecoach rounding out the top five. Rauscher, Specchio, and Fernley's Joe Pierson won the heat races, with William Anderson of Round Mountain victorious in the B Main.
Controversy was the story of the Modified Mini race. Lady racer Danyale Urban of Sparks was the early leader, opening up a comfortable gap early on. But Fernley's Dennis Crook reeled her in and took the lead on lap eight. Urban had a spirited dice with her brother, Brian Coclich of Carson City, before Coclich took second and moved up to challenge Crook for the lead. As the leaders came up to lapped traffic there was contact between Urban and Stephen Crook of Sparks, sending Urban to the infield and then to the pits behind a tow truck. Crook also went to the pits in response to a black flag as a result of the incident. Coclich subsequently pitted with mechanical woes and Dennis Crook went on to take the win, followed home by Melissa Natenstedt of Fernley who took over second on the last lap from Matt Borges of Tracy, Calif. Dan Andreason of Sparks and Skip Wise of Bishop, Calif. rounded out the top five. Dennis Crook and Brian Coclich were the heat race winners.
Big, fast, and loud are the prime characteristics of the Pro Stock cars, and 18 of them shook the ground as the green flag flew for their main.
Fernley's Joe Specchio, Jr. took the early lead with Jay Sears of Round Mountain and Shawn Natenstedt of Fernley locked together on his rear bumper.
Four laps in, Specchio took a trip through the infield at turn two and Natenstedt took over the lead. David Ellsworth of Loyalton, Calif. moved to second but couldn't get by Natenstedt. Behind the battling leaders were Sears and Specchio battling nose to tail and Jake Holland of Calpine, Calif. in fifth.
A yellow flag for a spin by John Durney bunched the field, and Natenstedt was unable to hold off the relentless Ellsworth, who took over the lead with five laps to go.
At the checker it was Ellsworth, Natenstedt, Sears, Holland, and Randy Reid in fifth. Reid overcame a terrible night, seriously damaging his car in the heat race and pitting during the main, returning at the tail end of the field. Ellsworth also won his heat race, with the second heat race win going to Travis Peterson of Spanish Springs.
The last event on the program was the main for the super-quick IMCA Modifieds.
Galen Reese of Winnemucca snatched the lead at the green flag and stayed in control for the first part of the race. Behind him Allen Boles of Carson City, Tonopah's James Thibodeaux, and Steve McGee of Carson City battled for position while Minden's Robert Miller slipped past car after car, finally taking the lead from Reese on lap 10 with a classic outside pass.
Thibodeaux moved to second, dropping Reese back to third until he was drop-kicked in turn four, bringing out a caution for the field and a black flag for Fernley driver Shawn Natenstedt. On the restart, Miller drove away to the checker, with Thibodeaux second, McGee third with flapping rear bodywork, Boles fourth, and Reno's Conrad Wilson rounding out the top five. Reese took one heat race and Douglas Adams of Truckee captured the other.
Reno-Fernley Raceway is dark on July 30, with racing scheduled to resume Aug. 6. Call (775) 575-7217 or http://www.reno-fernleyraceway.com/ on the web for more information.
n Contact Roger Diez at Racytalker@aol.com