Martin runs away from Pure Stock field at Fernley
Appeal Motorsports Columnist
FERNLEY – It was the final points race of the season at Reno-Fernley Raceway Saturday night and the Pure Stock division was added to the card as a make-up race for a rainout earlier in the season.
Even though track champions were determined for the 2005 season, the final points standings were not available at press time.
The Pure Stocks kicked off the evening’s action as fans gathered around the fire pits to keep warm. Darrick Rauscher of Lemmon Valley grabbed the lead at the green flag, while lady racers Charissa Hast of Reno and Tori Edgington of Fallon battled for second.
Reno driver Brandon Martin mounted an impressive charge from the back of the field, working his way around the ladies and into second by lap three. A yellow flag erased Rauscher’s substantial lead, bunching the field with Martin right behind him. On the restart this pair motored away from the field, with Rauscher keeping Martin at bay.
A yellow flag for a three-car incident in turn two closed up the field again, and this time Martin got the advantage on the restart, surging into the lead and pulling away to a huge lead while six cars battled for second place behind him.
At the checker it was Martin in a runaway win, with Rauscher hanging on for second. Doug Davis of Fernley nipped Aaron McIlvain of Silver Springs for third, while Fernley’s Jesse Duncan rounded out the top five.
McIlvain and Lynda Crook of Fernley won the heat races.
The 318 Modified division saw a new winner, as Jim Turner of Loyalton, Calif., took over driving duties from Don Hughes and came up with the victory.
At the green flag Turner ran side by side with Keith Walsh of Sparks for the first couple of laps, setting the tone for the race. A yellow flag for a two-car incident allowed Walsh to grab the lead on the restart, but his time at the front was short lived. Turner quickly got by, followed by Rick Looney, who had advanced from the back of the pack into second. And that’s the way they ran to the checker, as Turner took the win with Looney spinning in a final attempt to pass, crossing the line backwards but maintaining second. Walsh finished third ahead of Larry Silas of Wadsworth and Stagecoach’s Rick Thuemler. Looney won the first head, with Turner taking the heat two victory.
A large field of 24 cars took to the track for the Hobby Stock main, and the crowded conditions precipitated lots of close racing. Polesitter Rick Duncan of Fernley led the first lap, but by the end of lap two it was Joe Specchio III, also of Fernley, with a huge lead.
The first caution flag saw Duncan and Carson City’s Janet Lyford limp to the pits for tire changes, and Specchio again opened up a big lead on the restart while Sun Valley’s Steve Rauscher slotted into second. Chris O’Neill of Winnemucca had his charge into the top five come to a halt as he stalled on the front straight, bringing out another caution flag and bunching the field again.
The restart resulted in another immediate yellow, and the next restart saw a red flag as Doval Hopper’s car got into the front straight wall and rolled. Hopper, of Fernley, was unhurt but out of the race. In all the restart action, Dean Clark of Silver Springs had quietly worked his way from dead last to second, and took off in pursuit of Specchio on the final restart. But Clark ran out of race and had to settle for runner-up spot as Specchio took the checker. Rauscher finished a strong third, and Carson City’s Blake Ramthun edged William Rich of Reno to take fourth at the flag.
Earlier heat races were won by Ramthun, Clark, and David Ausano of Fernley.
The Modified Mini race was a wire to wire victory for Fernley driver Richard Scott in his first appearance in the latter half of the season. Scott was the class of a very quick field, and he survived several restarts while showing an impressive turn of speed.
His main challenger early in the race was Stephen Crook of Sparks, who came from the back into second. But Crook slowed on the front straight and limped to the pits while the yellow flag came out. After a couple of quick yellows and restarts, Dan Andreason of Sparks found himself in second looking at Scott’s rear bumper and Melissa Natenstedt of Fernley right on his tail.
While Scott motored away, Andreason and Natenstedt argued over second, while Crook came back out of the pits a lap down, but running with the leaders. Crook eventually unlapped himself by passing Scott, but would finish at the tail end of the lead lap.
Scott let Crook go but kept him in sight, and took the win with ease. Natenstedt got by Andreason to take second, with Matt Borges of Tracy, Calif. in fourth and Carson City’s Brian Coclich rounding out the top five.
Crook and Andreason were the winners of the heat races.
The final race of the evening was for the Pro Stock division, with 22 cars answering the bell for the main. Carson City’s Gary Nevers led lap one from the pole, with Dean Cichowicz of Mound House and Fernley’s Sean Natenstedt charging into second and third behind him. After a brief yellow for debris, Natenstedt timed the restart perfectly and shot by Nevers to take the lead. While Nevers, Cichowicz, and Jake Holland of Calpine, Calif. battled for second, Natenstedt built a huge lead, only to be erased when David Ellsworth of Loyalton spun, bringing out the caution. Natenstedt once again showed his dominance by rocketing away on the restart, but the yellow was soon out again as John Durney of Chilcoot, Calif., spun in turn four and was collected by Curt Curtis of Pine Grove, Calif.
A series of restarts followed, with yellow flags and one red flag halting the action and bunching the field. Natenstedt kept his cool (and the lead) through it all, and was rewarded by the sight of the checkered flag as he rounded turn four on the final lap. Pat Couch of Oregon House, Calif., finished second, followed by Sparks driver Randy Reid, Holland, and Cichowicz.
Natenstedt, Reid, and Couch were the heat race winners.
Next weekend will end the oval track racing season at Reno-Fernley with the fifth annual High Desert Shootout. Upwards of 200 cars from the western United States are expected for the two-day event. Qualifying and heat races begin an hour earlier, at 5 p.m. on Saturday, and the mains will be run on Sunday, beginning at 2 p.m.
n Contact Roger Diez at Racytalker@aol.com