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Local rookies, lady stars spice sprint car entries.
By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - April 10, 2013 --- A handful of local rookie contenders, quick lady racers and sea of former champions will be in the sprint car field Saturday as Marysville Raceway Park features sprint car racing once again Saturday night. It will be the “United Rental Night at the Races” and will be headlined by the mighty MRP Winged Sprint Cars. The MRP Wingless 360 Sprint Cars will be offered as well. 2013’s first appearance of the MRP Mini Stocks is also on the card with a visit by the Pro 4 Sprints.

This year, in the MRP Wingless Sprint Car ranks, an especially talented trio of rookie contenders is trying to take Rookie of the Year honors for 2013. The most eagerly anticipated move was by 4 time MRP Mini Stock champion Misty Castleberry of Brownsville. Her grip on the MRP Mini Stocks turned out to be a record run in the division over the last 5 years. She has dominated. Castleberry has also won with consistency in the Pro 4 Sprint Car ranks as well. So, open wheelers are not new to the spirited Castleberry. This season she settles into the famous “Flyin’ Ford” wingless sprint car for her shot at the Rookie of the Year trophy in that class. It could be a perfect match. Castleberry could enter in 3 of the 4 divisions presented this week. She still has her Mini Stock and Pro 4 in the garage. We’ll see.

Another MRP graduate, Wheatland’s Johnny Burns, will test the waters in arguably the division that most seriously tests driver skills. Burns became a factor to be reckoned with in Pro 4 Sprint Car competition last year before switching to the more powerful wingless 360 sprinters this season.

The surprise entrant into the Rookie of the Year competition in the MRP Wingless Sprint Cars is Yuba City’s Cameron Bartlett. This observer was informed that Bartlett intends to run the full schedule at MRP this year. Bartlett represents a 4th generation of Bartlett involvement at the raceway. Al Bartlett was the first on the scene before his son Jerry made a big impact on stock car racing in this community, securing multiple championships. His wife Lisa took a turn or two at the wheel before daughter Heather Bartlett became a stock car champion.

Cameron has taken a different route, however. Cameron is the son of John Bartlett (Jerry’s brother and former driver). Cameron has worked his way up in volatile and dangerous open wheelers, rather than stock cars to get to this stage in his career. If his initial performance of 2013 is any measure, he did very well. Last week he went from 8th starting position to finish an outstanding 3rd. He passed some pretty stout hot rods with veteran drivers to get there. This young man could be the “real deal”

Two lady racers were entered in the monster-fast premiere sprint car class last week, the MRP Winged Sprint Cars. Both are expected to return. Lady speedster Reyna Krueger from Orland has several victories in the class. Her arrival on the scene has gotten everyone’s attention over the last couple of seasons. Her success has been remarkable in this, the fastest of all dirt track classes. Krueger qualified 6th last week in a star-studded field of cars and stars in this professional class of racecar that spawned such stars as Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson and others from northern California. Kahne and Larson have victories at MRP.

There’s another lady racer new to the MRP Winged Sprint Car scene and she is Raquel Jennings. Jennings is just getting started in the class, but she’ll have veteran sprint car driver and builder Heath Hall turning the wrenches and giving advice. Hall won the Rich Dozier Classic last year at MRP. Speaking of Hall, he will be back in the saddle again after a five month hiatus. He will take over the ride vacated by injured sprint car star Robby Hight.

The MRP Winged Sprint Car field is expected to be a fine one once again; featuring defending champion Billy Wallace from Grass Valley, 2007 champion (and last week’s feature event winner) Jeremy Burt also from Grass Valley, 5-time champ Korey Lovell of Yuba City, 3 time champ Brent Dothage from Kelseyville, 2004 MRP champion and 3 time Montana State Champion Mike Monahan out of Sparks, Nevada. Also in the field will be former champion, Marysville’s own, Cort Dozier along with 9 time Hawaiian state champion Dean Freitas. All have indicated that they will be at MRP this week.

Burt, Lovell and Monahan continue to recover from significant injuries suffered last season. Two of the wounded warriors, Monahan and Burt, dueled all race long, last week, for the win. Burt just got by Monahan with two laps to go. Lovell ran a fine 5th. It takes tough guys to overcome the debilitating injuries that these three champions have endured.

If you add Woodland hot-shoe Peter Paulson, Krueger, Auburn’s Jimmy Steward and Marysville’s Brandon Dozier you have a fine field that traveling teams will have trouble beating. Oregon ASCS star Vern Wheeler indicated to this observer that he’d be back as well.

Promoter Paul Hawes confirmed that Legal Shield represented by Rod Engberson and, will post a $100 qualifying bonus at every MRP Winged Sprint Car event this year. Marysville Raceway Park is a major player in the Contingency Connection Bonus program again this year.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of opening night was the dominant performance of Sacramento’s Tim Sherman Jr. who swept the program and led every lap of the main event. Absent for more than a year, Sherman brought a brand new car to the fight and seemingly had everybody covered. MRP Wingless Warrior Sprint Car stars like Jeremy Hawes, Rowdy McClenon, Peter Paulson and Josh Vieira didn’t have anything for the fleet Sherman. They’ll all be back for round two.

The MRP Mini Stocks will roar onto the MRP clay in their first event of the year. With Misty Castleberry running a limited schedule this year, the doors are open for a new star to walk through. Almost all of the entries in this class are local. Some of the drivers vying for the title this year include, Kyle Davey, Travis Carter, Shawn Merritt, Jason Clayton, Erik Davey and Miranda Hammons, to name a few. The Mighty Minis will roar once again at MRP!

The Pro 4 Sprinters will be at MRP for the first time as well featuring champion driver Tim Maclaughlin.

Pit gate opens at 3PM. Grandstands open at 5PM. Hot Laps at 5.30. Qualifying at 6PM. Racing begins after qualifying at about 6.45. The text is based on information we have at the time of its release.

Note: Please make this observer aware of any names that are misspelled or incorrect.