Strong fields take to track on perfect night | NevadaAppeal.com

Strong fields take to track on perfect night

Roger Diez
Nevada appeal news service

FERNLEY- It was a perfect night for racing at Reno-Fernley Raceway on Saturday night, with four stock car divisions and the IMCA Modifieds providing the entertainment and the Pizza Factory providing Frisbees to fans. Fortunately, no Frisbees found their way onto the racetrack.

In the Pure Stock division, Pete Moore of Fernley took the lead at the green flag with Fallon’s John Hall and Gordon Hughes of Sun Valley in hot pursuit. Fernley’s Lynda Crook quickly moved into second and started to work on Moore for the lead. Hall spun in turn four, putting the track under caution and bunching the field.

On the restart Moore and Crook went side by side battling for the lead, while Tim Cremeans of Reno, Carson City’s Greg Salaces, and Jesse James of Silver Springs fought over third. Crook finally got by Moore, who then spun in turn three but recovered before the yellow flag flew. Crook now had a huge lead over Salaces, James, and Jason Flores of Reno.

Flores, who has shown remarkable speed in earlier races, turned it up and passed James and Salaces, then set out in pursuit of Crook. But Flores ran out of race, and at the checker it was Crook, Flores, Salaces, James, and Fernley’s Sarah Sherman taking the top five spots. Earlier heat race wins went to Cremeans and Crook.

The second race was for the quick Dwarf cars, with a large field of 21 taking the green flag. A multi-car pileup in turn one immediately halted the action with a red flag while the track crew and tow trucks cleared the carnage. On the second attempt Skip Hempler of Zephyr Cove grabbed the lead with brothers Billy and Reece Wilson of Minden all over him.

Three yellow flags and subsequent restarts in quick succession slowed the action, but on the third restart the Wilson brothers surged to the front with Billy leading brother Reece. Behind them, Carson City’s Jeff Shurley and Billie Canham of Sparks moved into the top five along with Derek Rosse of Carson City. The leaders were soon in lapped traffic, and when Billy Wilson did a quick spin in turn two, Reece found himself with a big lead. Vuki Wilson, the father of Billy and Reece, made a late-race charge into the top five, and at the checker the order was Reece Wilson, Rosse, Hempler, Vuki Wilson, and Canham. Joe Frock of Reno won his heat race, as did Vuki Wilson and Rosse.

Next up were the ground-pounding Pro Stock cars, and Reno’s Kenny Schmitt took the early lead from the pole. Two laps later, Carl Barlow of Silver Springs passed Schmitt just before the caution flag flew. Barlow and Schmitt hooked up and pulled away from the field on the restart, running side by side and nose to tail until they came together in turn four, spinning Barlow, who recovered to rejoin in sixth.

Schmitt built a substantial lead which evaporated when the yellow flag flew for a multi-car tangle in turn one. During the caution Barlow coasted to the infield in a cloud of steam, his race done. Schmitt again took control on the restart with Fernley’s Joe Specchio Jr., Reno’s Scott Doich, Craig Eubanks of Yuba City, Calif., and Reno’s Jay Sears in tow.

The caution flew again for a multi-car wreck in turn two, and Doich pitted with his hood folded back over the roof. Schmitt rocketed away on the restart while a four-car scramble for second boiled behind him. Specchio spun into the infield, dropping out of that fight, and when the checkered flag waved the finish order was Schmitt, Reno’s Mark Hain, Eubanks, Al Goss of Carson City, and Sears. Heat race winners were Hain and Eubanks.

In keeping with the theme of the evening, the IMCA Modified main started with a yellow flag for a turn one incident. Robert Smotherman of Dayton surged to the front on the second attempt and held the lead for the first half-dozen laps until overtaken by Rich Hill of Sparks. Hill looked to have things well in hand until he slid wide in turn two, opening the door for Reno’s Bill Pearson to take the lead.

After a yellow flag bunched the field, Pearson came under serious attack from Kevin Boles, who challenged for several laps until he spun in turn three, bringing out another caution flag. Gardnerville’s Robert Miller came up through the field to run in the front pack in the early going, and Hill recovered from his earlier spin to join in the lead battle. Pearson managed to hold off all challengers to take the win, followed home by Hill, Miller, Darren Manning of Sparks, and Smotherman. Smotherman and Gene Kay of Yerington won the heat races.

The night’s racing action was capped off by a 50-lap race for the Hobby Stock division featuring a pit stop competition at the halfway mark. David “Hollywood” Pearce of Stagecoach was the early leader, followed by Round Mountain’s Billy Anderson, Jerry Marrow of Reno, and Carson City’s Janet Wainscott. A red flag for a brief car fire on the back straight led to a restart with Anderson grabbing the lead from Pearce.

Rich Italiano of Sparks, who had started dead last in the field, moved up to ninth, then to seventh a lap later. Anderson dropped out of the lead with a flat tire and pitted, putting Rick Miller of Reno into the lead. By this time Italiano had advanced to second place and soon caught Miller. The pair waged an exciting side by side battle until another caution flag slowed the field. On the restart Italiano grabbed the lead from Miller after two more laps of side by side racing, then Miller came back and the pair raced side by side to the yellow flag that signified the halfway mark.

The cars lined up in order on the front straight and the crews came out of the pits to perform service. The first team to complete the mandatory two-tire change and gas fill-up was the crew members of Carson City’s Shane Ramthun, and they received a handsome trophy for their efforts.

On the restart after the pit stop, Marrow tangled with Josh Ogg of Sparks, sending Ogg into the infield where the car dug in and rolled. Wainscott also took a hard hit, but both she and Ogg walked to the ambulance under their own power to be checked out by track paramedics. During the caution Miller pitted and came back out at the tail end of the field as Italiano led on the restart.

Now the positions were reversed, and Miller was trying to duplicate Italiano’s feat from the first half of the race, coming through the field to challenge for the lead. With help from a couple of caution flags, Miller worked his way to fourth, then third, then second.

But with a big gap to the flying Italiano, Miller needed another yellow to help him close. He was slowly reeling Italiano in, but the track stayed green and he ran out of race. When the checker flew it was Italiano with the win, Miller second, Ramthun third, Marrow fourth, and David Clark rounding out the top five. Miller won the first heat race, with Ogg taking the second heat.

Next Saturday night is NAPA Auto Parts Hat Night at the races, featuring the first appearance of the NCMA sprint cars for the 2007 season. Also on tap are the 318 Modifieds, Pro Fours, Legends, and a four-cylinder demolition derby. Spectator gates open at 3 p.m., with racing action starting at 6. For more information, call (775) 575-7217 or go to http://www.renofernleyraceway.com on the Web.