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Wiesz finally gets #51.
Merritt, Wallace and Beardslee also win.

By Bob Burbach
Marysville CA - April 14, 2013 --- 3 time champion of the MRP Winged Sprint Car class, Colby Wiesz, the “Colfax Comet”, finally grabbed victory #51 at Marysville Raceway park after a year’s absence from victory lane. Shaun Merritt won a hard fought battle and captured the 2013 MRP Mini Stock opener and Billy Wallace won the MRP Wingless Sprint Car main. Matt Beardslee grabbed the honors in the Pro 4 main for his 1st victory of the new season. It was United Rentals Night at the Races.

In the MRP Wined Sprint Car feature, Wiesz outgunned fellow front row starter Cort Dozier at the start and was scored the leader of every lap. It was not as easy as it sounds. Defending champion of the division Billy Wallace from Grass Valley dipped into 2nd past Dozier and hounded Wiesz for the first half of the event. A spirited dice for 3rd that included Dozier, Brent Dothage, and last week’s winner Jeremy Burt had the fans on the edge of their collective seats throughout most of the event. Also included in that tussle was Oregon ’s Vern Wheeler.

At half way Wallace seemed to startle Wiesz and flew on by into the lead off of turn 2. At that very instant, however, the yellow lights flashed on as Wheeler had a mechanical issue that caused his car to chug to a stop. Wiesz got the wake-up call on that situation and got up on the wheel for the final 10 circuits distancing himself from Wallace and the rest of the field. It took Wiesz nearly a year to post his 51st win at the historic MRP oval. Wiesz was candid in victory lane by admitting they had some “problems” in 2012. Wiesz finished his motor on Thursday and commented in pre-race conversation that he had only “started it up in the driveway” prior to pushing off to race Saturday night.

Wallace stayed 2nd with Dozier, Dothage and Burt flashing under the checkers in that order. Dothage and Heath Hall won the heats. Wallace secured his 2nd consecutive $100 Legal Shield quick time qualifier award offered by Legal shield representative Rod Engberson. 2013 Contingency Connection bonuses were also awarded during this event.

Billy Wallace was doing double duty Saturday as he got the jump on Jeremy Hawes as the pair drag raced for turn 1 at the drop of the green. Wallace was scored the leader on every lap thereafter in a convincing win in the MRP Wingless Sprint Car feature event.

Hawes kept Wallace in his sights, but could never quite get to the fleet #Xj. The event was red flagged early on when Josh Vieira biked in turn 1, saved it from rolling over, then pounded the turn 1 concrete. It appeared to be a vicious blow, but Vieira shook it off and walked away.

The new green provided some outstanding wheel to wheel dicing and Wallace, with Hawes in tow, approached lapped traffic rapidly. Hawes, whos night would soon become a memorable one, started to close on Wallace as traffic became a factor. Then, with 6 laps to go Misty Castleberry lost it in turn 3 right in front of Hawes. Hawes did everything but stand his yellow #7 on its nose trying to miss Castleberry. But, Hawes was committed and banged into the errant Castleberry. Hawes car gently tipped onto its roll cage after the collision prompting the 2nd red flag of the event. When fire and safety officials righted Hawes mount it caught fire for a couple of long, frightening moments. A hushed crowd looked on as the fire was extinguished.

Then from turn 3 it sounded like Hawes restarted his car. To a wave of cheers, Hawes had done just that and joined the back of the pack for the restart.

At the new green, Wallace was gone as Rowdy McClenon and Peter Paulson raced hard just behind for 2nd. The final 6 laps allowed for some heroics from Hawes as he jumped on the pedal and moved forward quickly. Hawes pulled off some breathtaking passes in the final laps and wound up an amazing 5th after all the trials and tribulations he had encountered in this event.

McClenon stayed ahead of Paulson for 2nd and Gary Deemer put together a nice race finishing 4th just ahead of the charging Hawes. Hawes and Wallace won the heat races.

In the MRP Mini Stock feature, Shaun Merritt battled his way into 2nd place and then had a monumental battle with early leader Kyle Davey. Front row starter Davey seemed to have this one in the bag at half way when Merritt started to close. The fender to fender action was incredible as two of the leading contenders for this year’s title slugged it out for the lead. It was arguably the best side-by-side race of the evening.

Merritt made the pass for the lead with a handful of laps remaining, but Davey had a huge mechanical failure and pulled off leaving a big gap between Merritt and Jason Clayton, who inherited 2nd with Davey’s departure. But, with 2 to go, Kyle Cheney appeared to blow his motor on the front stretch prompting a crash that drew the yellow flag.

With a green-white-checkered ahead Clayton drew up behind Merritt for the final rush to the checkers. But Merritt had this one handled and pulled away to a fine win in his familiar #77m. Clayton stayed 2nd ahead of Greg Prather and Travis Carter. Merritt was composed, but emotional when he noted from victory lane that sister-in-law Jen Merritt had passed away after a long, brave bout with a terminal illness. It was a great victory for the Merritt family that had endured unusual hardship over the last couple of years. Brother Damian was arm in arm with brother Shaun in a Merritt family victory lane celebration.

Matt Beardslee won the companion Pro 4 feature event. He ran away from the field in a dominating performance beating defending champion Tim Maclaughlin to the checkers by a wide margin. Maclaughlin won the heat race. Go to pro4sprints.com for additional information on the class.

Next week the MRP Winged Sprint Cars will once again headline the program as all three fendered divisions will be back for point racing competition as well. The MRP Super Stocks, Mini Stocks and Hobby Stocks will bring their slam-bang style of racing back to MRP’s spectacular clay surface.

Pit Gates open at 3. Grandstands open at 5. Qualifying at 6. The 1st race will roll off right after qualifying.

Next week, the mighty sprint cars return. Both divisions will again present full programs. The MRP Mini Stocks will make their first 2013 appearance as will the Pro 4 Sprint Cars. 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.