‘Sprint car drivers perform an awesome show’
Twenty-seven USAC western and regional drivers representing five Western states competed at Champion Speedway Saturday night, with a Utah driver making it to winners circle at the end of the fast and furious, 50-lap main event.
Todd Ellison of West Jordan, Utah made driving the race in lapped traffic look too easy. But to their credit, Tony Hunt of Elk Grove, Calif. and Chad Nichols of San Carlos, Calif., the drivers finishing second and third respectively, kept a close pace on the leader right up to the checkered flag.
Four heat races were held with the top-4 from each heat transferring to the main event. A B-main would transfer the remaining four, with seven drivers left to sit it out. After determining the starting 20, the top six positions would be inverted. Ellison found himself on the pole for the start of the
By the 11th lap, Ellison was lapping slower cars. A solo spin by Rick Hendrix of Canoga Park, Calif. brought out the first caution on lap 19. The top-3 were Ellison, Hunt and Nichols. Hendrix pulled his ride into the pits on lap 21.
Hunt made several attempts on Ellison challenging for the lead, but couldn’t find a clear way around him. With only one more caution in the race coming out on lap 39 for two cars in solo spins, Hunt and Nichols’ chances of breaking for the lead were slim.
“Hunt’s always a tough competitor, so is Nichols,” said Ellison after the win.
“This track is tough to pass on. Plus working through traffic, it’s hard.”
Ellison thanked his sponsors — Aerojet Services of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Hamilton-Aaby Racing — along with his crew for his win.
“I’ve got an awesome crew. We worked on the car’s set-up a little bit through the night. It was great for the main event.”
Rounding out the field were: Bryan Bullard, Sacramento, 14; Brian McClish, Santa Rosa, 04; Tim Barber, San Francisco, 77; Scott Hansen, Simi Valley, Calif. 33; Mike Aaby, Scottsdale, Ariz. 07; Mike Ogden, Reno, 7; Brad Bumgarner, Chico, 88; Shaunna Hogg, Roseville, 5; Amy Barnes, Minden, 12; Tony Iacobitti, Santa Clara, Calif. 31; Tom Stansberry, Bakersfield, Calif. 75; Mark Monico, San Jose, 21x; Mike McCreary, Placerville, 71; Randy Mello, Danville, Calif. 25; Bill Foland, Mountain View, Calif. 78; Mike Ford, Kuna,
Idaho, 46, and Hendrix, Canoga Park, Calif. 97.
Drivers not transferring to the main event were: Greg Taylor of Ojai, Calif.; Doug Lippencott, Carson City; Bob Beck, Carson City; Mark Beck, Carson City; Joe Frock, Reno; Glenn Hopper, San Jose, and Andy Steyn, Las Vegas.
Also on the night’s schedule were the Legends division. Denny Hadler Jr. started the night off with a win in the trophy dash.
In the first of two, 10-lap heats it was Bob Cose with a solid win over Bill Brown in second and George Weeks in third. John Taylor from Las Vegas took the win in the second heat over Jim Klopp in second and Hadler in third. The second heat had two tough side-by-side battles for position.
The Legends main event was no exception for excitement and battles for the lead. Lead changes were taking place between Brown, John Burritt, Hadler, Cose and Klopp. After several laps of sparring, Burritt checked out from the field with Klopp falling in for second and Hadler in third.
At the checkered flag, it was Burritt with the win over Klopp in second, Hadler third, Brown fourth and Jack Randall in fifth. Rounding out the field were: Cose, Taylor, Mark Tompkins of Gardnerville, Joey Mogar (Las Vegas), David Ross of Colton, Calif., Weeks, Gary Hale of Sparks and Jennifer Hodges.
“The car was all hooked up,” said Burritt. “All I do is drive it.”
Burritt commented his cousin, Hadler, has picked up his pace of driving and was complimentary of Klopp on his driving.
“Jim was quick, too. But we were just a little quicker. I want to thank PLC Automation, Greg Raymond Drywall and Travelers RV, my sponsors.”
The Bandoleros also took time on the track, with a close main event taking place between father and daughter. On the 15-lap main event it was Jennifer Hodges taking the win over Henry Hodges Jr., and Kelley Hodges finishing third, while Bobby Hodges placed fourth, pulling out from the main early due to car problems. Jennifer also won the trophy dash.
Entertaining the crowd with their vintage midget sprints, were several members of the Bay Cities Racing Association. Eight drivers showed their cars are still operational and performed an exhibition main event.
Local divisions return to Champion Speedway this Saturday including the late models, sportsman and hobby stocks. For information, call 267-3723 or visit http://www.championspeedway.com.