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Kyle Hirst: 8th to first. 105 cars jam MRP pits.
Schank, Hall, Cheney and Giusti also win.

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - April 3, 2011 --- Marysville Raceway Park provided the stage for another record record-breaking night of action Saturday. 104 cars swelled the pits as Paul and Kathy Hawes offered Marysville Raceway Park’s 43rd consecutive opening night in front of a huge crowd.

With a championship point race record 40 MRP Winged Sprint Cars on the grounds, 4 -12 lap heats and 2 -12 lap “B” mains decided the feature event starters. In the finale it was as simple as this. Kyle Hirst rocketed from his 8th starting position, slid his white #14s to the top of the MRP clay and in 3 laps shot around 7 other competitors into a lead he would never relinquish. Simple? Well, hardly. Spectacular? Absolutely. 

The frantic 22-car, 20-lapper ran the 1st 16 laps under the green banner. During that sequence 6th starting Colby Wiesz, looking for his 47th checkered flag at MRP went from 6th to 4th. But, the biggest mover was high-flyin’ Herman Klein. Klein rapidly went from 20th starting position to 6th in 16 laps after flipping hard in his heat race. Klein made the show through the “B” main.

The final 6 laps of the feature were reeled off in quick fashion and Klein was able to pick off Brent Dothage for 5th at the checkers. The other front running positions did not change as Hirst lead Nick Green, Billy Wallace, Wiesz and Klein under the checkered banner.

The huge field of winged cars provided a host of thrills and spills during the evening for the near capacity crowd. The most spectacular ride of the night was taken by one of the quickest drivers on the grounds. After flipping in his heat race, Mike Henry was relegated (like Klein) to a “B” main start. Henry got a wheel at the opening green in the “B” that pitched his white 18 into the air and into a series of jarring end-over-end flips. His car landed in front of the flag stand. Henry popped out quickly and was unhurt. 

The electric atmosphere of the event seemed to transform the winged sprint car drivers into an unusual frenzy of hardball racing. Close to ½ the field had to be sorted out to reach the 22-car starting feature field. The desperation in each of the preliminary events spiked the action. It was a spectator’s dream race with action all night long.

2010 MRP Champ Terry Schank won the Performance Auto Supply Wingless Warrior Sprint Car race with ease after a crash in turn 3 eliminated early race leader Ron LaPlant. Schank who jumped into 2nd position on lap 1 from his 7th starting position got together with LaPlant as the pair entered turn 3. Laplant’s car jumped sideways and collected 2 others as Schank spun to the wall. Schank resumed and was placed at the front of the field for the restart.

From that point on, he was gone. Johnny Reeves stayed 2nd for the duration of the event as Brett Youngman ran a strong 3rd. Biggest mover in this one was Cody Myers as he went from an 11th place start to a fine 4th place finish.

The MRP Super Stock feature was an absolute thriller from start to finish. Long green flag segments provided for a quick resolution to this event. Jeff Olschowka jumped to a sizable early race lead with Craig Neimans falling into 2nd. 2010 series champion Corey Hall dropped into a consistent 3rd. Neimans dropped out of the event late in the going moving Hall into the runner up spot.

Then Hall got busy. With 3 laps left in the contest, the champ made a run on Olschowka and drew along side. A sea of spectators rose in unison as the 2 drivers dueled side by side. It was a thriller.

Hall inched on by and secured his 1st victory of the new season. Olschowka gave Hall a thumbs-up on the cool down lap. Hall’s brother, Brent took his car to a fine 3rd place finish. Willie Horn and James Castleberry were 4th and 5th respectively.

The MRP Mini Stock feature was a jumble of spectacular driving and strange turns of events that left many breathless and exhausted. It simply was impossible to have predicted this race’s extraordinary outcome.

Kyle Cheney picked up his 1st career feature event victory with a quick, smooth drive. But the event featured multiple leaders; wall banging crashes and some bizarre twists. Early on it looked like sophomore driver Derik Gallier was going to be the star of the show. In many ways he was as this young charger kept the field at bay for a while. Early race action put Gallier, Misty Castleberry and Shawn Merritt up front with Merritt shooting out of the mix with a ½ car length lead on Castleberry. Merritt and Castleberry got together with Merritt spinning to a stop in the infield and Castleberry heading to the pits with a right-side flat tire. Merritt went a lap down as the field raced to the yellow flag. Merritt however rejoined the field.

Big movers in the event included Scotty Kames and Jim Davis who charged to the front in a pair of quick mini-trucks. Kames would be a DNF, but Davis would pull off a career best 2nd place in the end result.

Gallier came to grief in turn 1 late in the race ending his victory hopes, but Cheney continued to pick off cars in a smooth and steady fashion putting him at the head of the standings.

Merritt un-lapped himself in late race action, but never got the yellow flag he needed to challenge for the top spots. Behind Cheney and Davis came Alan Furuta and Howard Law. Law was a front-runner in this one until a midrace spin put him in the back. His charge to 4th was among the best drives of the event. Castleberry recovered from her flat tire to finish 6th behind Robert Luster.

2-time Mini Stock Champion Joel Giusti smoked the Pro 4 field in convincing fashion. Giusti made quick work of 3-time Pro 4 Champ Tim Maclaughlin and ran away with the victory. Giusti grabbed the checkers in front of Maclaughlin and 3rd finishing Misty Castleberry. MRP Mini Stock graduates are looking to dominate this open wheel entry-level class. 2010 Champ P. J. Petersen was 4th.

During hot laps veteran MRP Winged Sprint Car driver Mark Michelet was burned in a pit road incident and taken to the hospital. We will update his condition as is warranted.

Next week, the mighty MRP Winged Sprint Cars return for race #2 of the 2011 season. It will be Ace Hardware/Union Lumber night at the raceway. The MRP Super Stocks and the Pro 4 sprinters will return as well. In addition, next week the all-new MRP Hobby Stocks will debut. This new class is the next step in the development of an entry-level class of racing that started with the Extreme Bombers. It should be a gas. Be there.

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect. The text is based on information we have at the time of its release. Complete finishes, stats and points become official and available at the close of business on Tuesday and will be posted to the web site.