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Wiesz makes history in thriller
Machado, Agnew and Whitchurch also score.

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - April 8, 2012 --- Colby Wiesz, the “Colfax Comet” finally locked up a milestone victory in a thrilling ride in the Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Car feature race Saturday night at Marysville Raceway Park. It was Ace Hardware-Union Lumber’s night at the races. Mitch Machado made the tow from the East Bay to Paul and Kathy Hawes’ speed plant pay off with a convincing win in the inaugural 2012 MRP Super Stock feature. Garrett Agnew grabbed the honors in the MRP Hobby Stock main and Robbie Whitchurch won a close BCRA Midget feature in that organization’s 2012 opener.

Wiesz started 9th in the winged sprint car main. Front row starter Jimmy Steward jumped to a convincing early lead after getting the jump at starter Don Dunlap’s green flag. Steward was flawless in the 1st half of the race turning spectacular laps with relentless heat from behind. He was being pressured by a hard charging John Michael Bunch and 3-time MRP champion Brent Dothage. Steward held off some of the best through ½ way before being involved in a turn 4 wheel banging incident that allowed Wiesz, now in 3rd, to motor by on the outside in a daring move. Wiesz had gotten to 3rd with some high side passing and some help by a group of racers that had a war going on from 3rd through 5th.

Cort Dozier and 2011 MRP Sprint Car champion Billy Wallace were rockets but each had early race issues that prevented them from finishing in the top 5. The same fate befell Bunch who is very fast at the Marysville clay. With regard to Wallace’s problems, the champ bounced off the back stretch wall as he attempted an outside pass while going forward from his 6th position start. Wallace visited the pits several times during his own yellow and subsequent yellows for other incidents. The team feverishly worked on the wounded racer at each stop. They got it right and Wallace charged to 6th at the end, from the back, in a very impressive performance. When the aforementioned trio had problems, Wiesz gained 3 spots.

Dothage, who looked to be among the strongest all night made a monumental save in turn 1 on a late race restart but still salvaged a 3rd place finish. Dothage’s car was on 1 wheel (out of a possible 4) as it teetered on the brink of disaster in turn 1, but the talented chauffeur brought it down and motored on. The hic-cup cost him 2nd position as a high flying Jeremy Burt roared by into a superb 2nd place finish after starting 14th. Burt was the show in the final laps as he consistently reeled in Wiesz. After what appeared to be a mild disagreement during heat race action between Burt and Wiesz, this on might have been very interesting at the end. But, Burt ran out of time before he could get to Wiesz.

Lady racer Reyna Krueger (who has 4 more professional championship victories over the last 5 years to her credit than the highly touted Danica Patrick) steadily advanced her position all race long and placed an outstanding 4th as the checkered flag flew. This observer recommends a close look at her car next time you visit the pits. 5-time champ Korey Lovell came from 10th to 5th in another notable ride on Saturday.

There were so many outstanding stories in this one that it made this particular race one that will be remembered for a long time to come. Virtually caution free heat race victories went to Steward, Dothage, Wiesz and Wallace.

Wiesz seemed exhausted but elated as this “jinx” (as he called his quest for #50) had been broken. In victory lane he described MRP as “very physical but very fast once you got to the top”. The outstanding crowd on Saturday was very aware that they had seen sprint car history made at MRP and came up with a mighty cheer as Wiesz exited the family 21. Wiesz will be back next week to try for #51 he said. Wiesz will also be entered in the upcoming King of the West Series 410 sprint car race at MRP on April 21st. Car owner Jim Richardson told this observer Saturday that Wiesz will be in the Black Star #8 for that event.

With MRP’s 360 winged sprint car championship point fund among the highest in California look for a lot of participation and competition for this year’s title.

The MRP Super Stock Main Event featured the same kind of furious action up front as did the early laps of the sprint car finale. But, it lasted all race long. Machado who started inside row 2 made a quick, early move on pole sitter Phillip Shelby and was never headed after that. But, it was a much better race than the box score would indicate. Shelby recovered after a miscue in turn 3 and was a factor throughout. Wayne Trimble challenged early before a charging Brent Hall got into the fight. Hall muscled past Trimble and had a great battle with Shelby for 2nd. When Hall got by Shelby into 2nd, he closed rapidly on Machado with Shelby and Trimble in tow.

Brent Hall camped on Machado’s tail as Shelby and Trimble closed back in. Hall, Shelby and Trimble were faster in 3 and 4 but Machado was so good off of turn 2 that it negated any advantage the others could muster. At times you could have thrown the proverbial blanket over all 4. It was that good. And that’s how it ended as Machado just held off Brent Hall, Shelby and Trimble. Front row starter and defending champion Cory Hall salvaged 5th but was never really a factor for the lead. James Castleberry in his new hot rod followed Cory Hall across the line.

In victory lane, Machado said his car started to “lay down” during the race and he thought he may have been running on 7 at the end. That may have been the reason the other 3 ran him down. But getting to Machado and getting around Machado was 2 completely different issues. Machado’s quick #22m may have had some motor problems but that car was rock steady and hooked up in the corners and handled impressively. Whether Machado runs at MRP all year or not will depend on a couple of personal factors. Finishing positions 2 through 6 on Saturday are expected to be the front runners this season. You can add Machado to that list if he makes all of the shows. Machado and Brent Hall won the heat races.

Young Garrett Agnew won the feature event in the MRP Hobby Stock class. Agnew had a memorable battle with early race leader Jeremy Hammons, Jesse Skidmore, Danny Morton and Kyle Cheney. But, Agnew won the war with an impressive pass for the lead. Promoter Paul Hawes saddled up for this one and wound up 5th. Some late race heroics by Jim Waller put him in 3rd at the end behind Agnew and Skidmore. Hammons, Cheney and Morton all had problems. 

It took a while for Agnew to find victory lane after his first ever win. He motored off the raceway. Then he came back on the track saying he simply didn’t know where to go after winning. Agnew did well and was fast all night. He’ll know where to come next time around.

It was a great closer to a great night of racing before a large crowd at the Yuba-Sutter area’s only professional sports venue.

Hammons won the heat race that featured a grinding front stretch crash that wiped out championship hopeful Mike Dehoogh’s car. Dehoogh’s Camaro was turned into “junk”, (to use Dehoogh’s description) after becoming airborne and spearing Matt Farnham’s mount right at the flag stand.

Robbie Whitchurch grabbed the honors in the companion BCRA Midget feature. For more on that go to bcraracing.com.

Next week the Performance Auto Supply Winged Sprint Cars return on United Rentals night along with the MRP Super Stocks, the MRP Mini Stocks and the Pro 4 Sprinters. 

Life’s short. Live it. Race hard.

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.