Four divisions compete at Fernley
Appeal Motorsports Columnist
FERNLEY – Perfect weather and great racing were on tap for the fans at Reno-Fernley Raceway on Saturday night as four racing divisions took to the track.
First out was the entry-level Pure Stock division for four-cylinder compact cars. Attrition began at the green flag as Polesitter Walter Ball of Silver Springs faltered at the start and drove straight to the pits, while Matt Sherman of Fernley grabbed the lead. Darrick Rauscher of Lemmon Valley and Aaron McIlvain of Silver Springs started on the last row but quickly worked their way up to mid-pack while Sherman held off Reno’s Charissa Hast, Doug Davis of Fernley, and Reno driver Brandon Martin.
Then Martin slid off course at turn one, bringing out the caution flag. On the restart Hast and Rauscher tangled with D.J. Singley of Fernley, bringing out another caution and sending Hast to the pits with a flat tire. McIlvain grabbed second on the restart, but Sherman held him off and built a 10-length lead while Davis held third and Rauscher scrapped with Martin over fourth. Another yellow, another restart, and this time McIlvain got the jump on Sherman and never looked back.
At the checker it was McIlvain, Davis, Sherman, Rauscher, and Tori Edgington of Fallon rounding out the top five. McIlvain and Martin won the heat races.
The thundering Pro Stock division was next, with an amazingly large field of 23 cars taking the green flag. And taking it again, and then again, as first-lap crashes aborted the first two starting attempts.
When things finally got underway, Joe Specchio Jr. of Fernley grabbed the lead with Jim Smith of Loyalton, Calif. and Carson City’s Matt Ramthun hot on his heels. After a yellow while David Ellsworth of Loyalton was pushed to the pits, Specchio continued to lead with Ramthun in second, followed by Shawn Natenstedt of Fernley and Smith as the front four rocketed away from the field.
The caution flag flew again as David Pearce of Stagecoach nailed the turn two wall while trying to stay out of the way of the leaders. Natenstedt, who had suffered front-end damage in one of the earlier crashes, was having visibility problems as his hood peeled back and dropped back through the field on the restart, while Smith grabbed the lead from Specchio.
Smith held on to the lead after another restart and the finishing order was Smith, Specchio, Ramthun, Roy Peterson of Yerington, and Sparks’ Randy Reid, who had started dead last.
The large field necessitated three heat races, which were won by Natenstedt, Reid, and Jake Holland of Calpine, Calif.
The Modified Mini division saw a new winner, as Brian Coclich of Carson City took his very first main event victory. Dan Andreason of Sparks took the lead at the green and a seven-car pack battled nose to tail and door handle to door handle for position at the front. Coclich, Danyale Urban of Sparks, Fernley’s Dennis Crook and Matt Borges of Tracy, Calif. were prominent in the fight until Crook spun in turn two and brought out the caution. During the yellow, Borges abandoned his car after being black-flagged and it was pushed to the infield for the remainder of the race. Coclich grabbed the lead on the restart and just drove away, opening a huge lead at the checker. His car had a new engine after destroying the old powerplant two weeks ago, and the new unit is apparently a good one.
Andreason finished a distant second, followed by Melissa Natenstedt of Fernley, who came from dead last to third, Crook in fourth, and Fernley’s Robert Pearson in fifth. Crook and Natenstedt were the heat race winners.
The final race of the night was for the IMCA Modified division, with 23 cars taking the green flag. This was apparently a few cars too many, with a first-lap multi-car pileup in turn one blocking the track and bringing out the red flag. The second attempt at a start was much more successful and Bill Smith III of Sparks took the lead with Lovelock’s Galen Reese, Rich Hill of Sparks, and Chico, Calif. driver Dustin Jenks in tow.
A yellow flag sent Reese and James Thibodeau of Tonopah to the pits, and Jenks appropriated the lead on the restart.
Robert Miller of Gardnerville put on one of his patented charges through the pack and was soon in second, reeling Jenks in to challenge for the lead. Miller got by after trying for several laps, but lapped traffic got in the way and Jenks re-took the lead. Miller’s car did not appear to be working as well as usual in the high groove, and Jenks left no room to pass on the inside, and at the checker it was Jenks with a slim margin over Miller. Smith III tangled with Reno’s Conrad Wilson within sight of the checkered flag, costing Wilson a certain fifth-place spot. Joe Frock of Reno finished third with Darren Manning of Sparks in fourth. Pahrump’s Scotty Slatter drove by the last-lap tangle for fifth. Miller, Smith III, and Larry Blake of Trona, Calif. took the heat race wins.
Some comic relief was provided at the end of the evening with the Extreme Mini Bomber Red Rover race. Six cars participated in this modified demolition derby, with Doug Hast’s “Tempo of Doom” emerging the winner.
This Saturday, Reno-Fernley Raceway will feature the BCRA Midgets, Midget Lights and Vintage Midgets, the 318 Modifieds and Dwarf cars. Racing begins at 6 p.m.
n Contact Roger Diez at Racytalker@aol.com