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Bunch beats Burt at the line!! 
Scrap & Steel Ice Cream Nite Saturday

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - August 19, 2012 --- It was one we won’t soon forget. John Michael Bunch just nipped former champion Jeremy Burt at the line in a thrilling, non stop MRP Winged Sprint Car feature Saturday night. It was Best Collateral’s Night at the Races…and what a night it was. Former champ Phillip Shelby clawed his way to the front is an impressive return to victory lane in the MRP Super Stock closer. Misty Castleberry kept her grip on the feature event trophy in the MRP Mini Stock main event as Garrett Agnew returned to victory lane for the first time since his opening night win earlier this year in the MRP Hobby Stock finale. Paul and Kathy Hawes’ Marysville Raceway Park was host to all of MRP’s primary divisions Saturday night. 

It was the second race on the new clay and as good as the surface was last week, it was better this week. The clay had terrific grip and plenty of places to go for passing. Bunch jumped into a sizable lead at the outset having out-dragged point leader Billy Wallace into turn 1 on lap 1. 3rd starting Jeremy Burt slipped by Wallace by lap 5 and it was on from there. Bunch and Burt started to sway in and out of lapped traffic with ease. Neither driver could get an advantage in traffic, but as the rapid fire 25 lapper got into the final 10 Burt started to creep in on Bunch, then he started to close rapidly shortly thereafter. 

With 3 to go, Burt was right there. Burt then pulled nearly even with Bunch on a couple of occasions as the crowd rose in the grandstand in anticipation of another close finish at MRP. 

Bunch was up to the task, however and kept Burt at bay and roared under the checkers by a whisker in yet another close one. The elated Bunch spent some time spinning doughnuts on the back chute and took an extra lap or two in celebration of his first victory ever at MRP. Bunch was very animated in victory lane and climbed up on the wing with his fists in the air. Bunch grabbed the microphone in victory lane and in an emotional address specifically dedicated his 1st ever win to his dad. 

With his impressive 2nd place run, Burt lopped off a couple of points as he tries to close on point leader Billy Wallace for the 2012 title. There are only 2 races remaining in the 2012 MRP championship point struggle. With 50 points available at each event, a big swing is still very possible. Wallace placed 3rd in the feature followed by Cort Dozier and Kyle Hirst. 

The heat races were filled with action. In heat race #1 veteran Robby Hight took a hard flip in turn 2. Hight was complaining of back pain as rescue workers got to the car and he was transported to the hospital. Brent Dothage won the event. Heat race #2 was won by Jimmy Steward after a side by side duel with Bunch. A last lap, high side move by Bunch fell just .123 sec short as both drivers crossed the line side by side. The computers decided this one as officials differed in how they saw the finish. Wallace was quick time qualifier. 

Bunch was also eligible for the Contingency Connection bonus with was worth up to $1500 in additional contingency awards over and above the 1st place cash award from the event purse. 

Former champ Phillip Shelby came from 7th starting position and charged to the lead in an impressive performance in the MRP Super Stock feature. Pole sitter James Castleberry had an opportunity to cut into point leader Brent Hall’s championship point lead but Castleberry’s car seemed to be a handful after just a few circuits. Last week’s feature event winner Ray Trimble was quick all night, but Shelby was bad fast and hooked up. Shelby won by a convincing margin after his high-side, low-side march to the front. 

Of note was ageless Willie Horn’s charge to the front from 10th starting position. Horn got to 3rd before a series of late race problems relegated him to a 3-wheeled 6th place finish. Trimble secured the runner up spot as point leader Hall snagged 3rd in the final rundown. Castleberry and defending champ Corey Hall completed the top 5. Castleberry won heat race #1 in sterling effort as did Corey Hall. 

The new track surface has really helped the stock car show. The MRP Supers were hooked up and carrying terrific speed into the turns. The side by side racing was almost scary sometimes, but with multiple grooves available, the chargers are finding additional ways to get by. It was a very exciting event. 

In addition to the 1st place cash purse Shelby also received the $100 Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package. The Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package will be available to each winner for the next 3 races in the MRP Super Stock class. 

The MRP Mini Stock closer produced a runaway finish for defending champ Misty Castleberry. Much improved Kyle Davey was a factor and the youngster continues to impress. But in the end Castleberry left her cherished low side line for a couple of daring outside passes that secured another trip to victory lane. Castleberry also got heat race honors. In addition to her 1st place cash purse, Castleberry also received the $100 Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package. Like the Supers, the Richmond Gear “Weekend Warrior” prize package will be available to each winner for the next 3 races in the MRP Mini Stock class. 

The MRP Hobby Stock feature was a slam-bang affair that was won by Garrett Agnew after a somewhat amazing final couple of laps. Without question Eddie Hammett was once again the class of the field and was distancing himself from the rest of the pack. Then with 2 to go it became apparent that the red #83 was experiencing some kind of mechanical issue that caused him to slip into the clutches of Jeremy Hammons and then Agnew. Agnew got along side Hammett and the paint and sparks flew as the pair seemed locked together as they roared into turn1. Coming out of the mess was Agnew on top as Hammett wrestled with his spun out racer in turn 1. Point leader Jeremy Hammons, too, got caught in the turn 1 jumble. 

It was Agnew’s 2nd win of the season. Hammett won the heat race. 

Next week the MRP Winged Sprint Cars will headline Yuba City Scrap and Steel’s Ice Cream Night at the Races. The final 2012 visit of the BCRA full midgets will also be on the card. The MRP Super Stocks will provide the fendered excitement as their season heads for the stretch run. The Pro 4 Sprints will also be offered. This will be the second-to-last race for the MRP Winged Sprinters prior to post season special events. Former MRP champ Jeremy Burt inched closer to point leader Billy Wallace Saturday with his fine finish behind John Michael Bunch. It will be a great racing evening at Yuba-Sutter’s only professional sports venue. 

Stay tuned. 

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, assessed penalties and points become official and available at the close of business on Tuesday and will be posted to the web site.