Robinson dethrones Sellers for Placerville Pacific Sprint title Moran, Hansard score season championships in stock car divisions PLACERVILLE (9-12-98) The 1998 "Thunder in the Foothills" championship season came to a close Saturday night with...
Robinson dethrones Sellers for Placerville Pacific Sprint title
Moran, Hansard score season championships in stock car divisions
PLACERVILLE (9-12-98) The 1998 "Thunder in the Foothills" championship season came to a close Saturday night with three drivers receiving champagne showers for their efforts in earning the 1998 championship titles. Topping the list of champions for the Budweiser ¥ Coors Light ¥ RC Cola ¥ McCreary Tires season were David Robinson Jr. of Sacramento earning his first track title in the Pacific Sprint. Mike Moran of Rancho Cordova scored his first career title in the Pro Stock class and Eric Hansard of Orangevale earned his second career championship in the Pure Stock division.
In the Pacific Sprint division, Robinson entered Saturday's program with a 28-point advantage over defending track champion Billy Sellers of Sacramento. After Sellers finished third in his heat race and Robinson watched the remainder of his heat from the pits by means of a penalty, much attention was focused on the 12-lap semi-main event. Only the top four drivers from this race transfer into the feature event and such a transfer was of the utmost importance to Robinson to lock the season title.
Much like he has all season long, Robinson took the situation with stride Saturday night, driving cautious in the semi-main but at the same time making sure he remained in the top four at all times. When the checkered flew, Robinson finished second and earned the outside fourth row starting position for the 20-lap feature event.
As they lined up for position for the 20-lap feature, a total of 26-points unofficially stood between Robinson and Sellers. In a feature event at Placerville a driver can earn as many as 40-points and no less than 21. With 26-points already in his favor, Robinson locked the title unofficially with the waving of the green flag which saw Sloughs driver Bryan Bullard take charge of in the early stages.
Bullard would lead the event up until the 19th lap when became caught up in traffic in the fourth turn and spun to the inside edge of the track. The incident allowed Auburn driver Andy Forsberg to move into the lead with just one lap remaining. At the checkered flag, Forsberg picked up his first win of the season, one that has been challenging both financially and emotionally for the family operated team.
"This feels real good to end the season with a win, it's good for us emotionally and financially. This has been a tough season for us and now that it's ending we're back on track," said Forsberg."I started fifth and fell back to seventh or eighth. I got up top and things started going our way. It looked like Bryan Bullard was going to clearly win this race but stuff happens and we pulled it off."
Forsberg was followed across the line by Campbell's Tim Kaeding, Placerville driver Dave Angus, Mike Benson of Calistoga and Sellers. Robinson finished seventh in the race and emotions were high in victory lane for the former midget racer that has finished second in the Placerville point ranks in the previous two seasons aboard his Chuck Wimer and Sandy Robinson owned John Boy. Unofficial calculations show Robinson closing out the season with a 24-point advantage over Sellers.
"I'm really proud to win this championship and I'd like everyone to know that this one is for Chuck Wimer my car owner, we've worked three years together to win the championship here and we finally did it," said Robinson. "We just built a new race car and I have a lot of faith in my pit crew so I wasn't too worried about any mechanical problems during the B-main. I'd like to thank all my sponsors and my fans for coming every week and being so supportive. Sponsorships is what makes it possible for all of us to race out here and that sponsorship is made possible by the fans who support those sponsors on these cars."
In the Pro Stock division, point leader Mike Moran of Rancho Cordova entered Saturday night's event with a 13-point advantage over Citrus Heights' Mike Chandler. After winning his heat race, Moran padded his slim lead with an additional four digits which became useful in the 20-lap feature event.
At the waving of the green flag, Pollock Pines driver Mike Nuss powered off of the outside front row to take the lead from polesitter Dennis Armstrong. While both Nuss and Armstrong dueled for the top spot, Moran maintained his third place starting position and made several attempts to pass Armstrong for second.
On the ninth lap, a stray bumper lying in the first turn brought out the yellow flag, unfortunately Moran was unable to avoid the stray part prior to the caution, striking it and damaging his transmission. one lap later when the event went back to green, Moran retired his Chevy Camaro to the pit area for the remainder of the event as Chandler began powering his way through the field. On the 12th circuit Nuss and Armstrong collided coming out of the second turn and allowed Yuba City driver Charlie Mars to take the lead just as the yellow flag came out.
Driving a steady low groove on the entire track surface, Chandler reached the third position in the late stages of the race but a collision in traffic set him back several positions with handling woes just before the checkered flag came out to Mars for the second time this season. Larry Burton of Shingle Springs finished second, Nuss third, Chandler scored the fourth position with Randy Rigdon Jr. of Cameron Park rounding out the top five. Unofficial point calculations show Moran winning the 1998 track title by 13-points, the same amount that has separated he and Chandler for the last two weeks.
"I was pretty comfortable after the heat race as far as the championship was concerned," said Moran. "Unfortunately someone lost a bumper on the track and we lost the transmission I would have liked to run the whole main. We started real strong this season with a good point lead which went away with some bad luck. Mike Chandler and I had a great season together he had his share of good luck and bad and I think we both put on a great show for the fans."
In the Pure Stock division, the green flag waved to front row starters Neil Webster of Placerville and Rick Grunert of Woodland. Division point leader Eric Hansard of Orangevale started the event in the fourth position. With a 40-point advantage entering the evening's program, Hansard clinched the title at the waving of the green flag but mechanical woes early in the race sent him to the infield for the night where he watched Webster drive his way to his third win of the season.
"Were very happy about winning the championship but I wish I could have finished out this race for the fans and given them a good show. That's the way it goes in this sport sometimes," said Hansard. "My hat goes off tonight to Neil Webster he's been an excellent competitor all season and if you don't have the competitors you don't have the winners. We've got a good group of guys racing here and this division is really going to take off soon."
Throughout the 1998 campaign, Hansard was trailed by Webster, as the former street stock racer celebrated his third win of the season in victory lane he made note of Hansard's success and the friendly rivalry the two drivers have enjoyed all season.
"I'd like to congratulate Eric, he did a terrific job all year long. We had some tough luck at the beginning of the year and if that hadn't happened I think the race might have been a little bit closer tonight," said Webster. "At least I ended this season on a good note. My pit crew is great my sponsors are great I couldn't ask for a better way to end the season."
Now that the championship season has ended, Placerville Speedway will remain dark for the next two weeks. Action will resume on October 4 with the California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series. For further information on this event contact the track business office at (916) 969-7484. The official final championship point standings are scheduled to be released early this week from John Padjen Motorsports.
PLACERVILLE SPEEDWAY-RACE SUMMARY SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 1998 'THUNDER IN THE FOOTHILLS CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES-FINAL"
TOP QUALIFIERS: Mike Benson 11:194; Tim Kaeding 11:205; Andy Forsberg 11:469; Damion Gardner 11:473; Terry Cox 11:576
HEAT ONE: Mark Flachman; Ray Rust; Justin Johnson; Gary Morgan; Mike Benson.
HEAT TWO: Alan Bradway; Bryan Bullard; Billy Sellers; Tim Kaeding; Alan Silva/
HEAT THREE: Mike Henry; Shawn Whitney; Andy Forsberg; Dave Angus; Johnny Wisner.
HEAT FOUR: Matt Cole; Ty Hawkins; C.J. Humphreys; Damion Gardner; Joey Magaruh.
B-MAIN: Benson; David Robinson Jr.; Terry Cox; vern Morrison; Steve Tuccelli.
A-MAIN: Forseberg; Kaeding; Angus; Benson;Sellers.
1998 PACIFIC SPRINT CHAMPION: David Robinson Jr.
HEAT ONE: Mike Moran; Dennis Armstrong; Alex Hansen; Greg Lewing; Ray Smith.
HEAT TWO: Mike Gamble; Mike Nuss; Larry Burton; Randy Rigdon Jr./
MAIN: Charlie Mars; Burton; Nuss; Mike Chandler; Rigdon.
1998 PRO STOCK CHAMPION: Mike Moran
HEAT ONE: Neil Webster; Dan Farrington; Marek Bernert; Richard Samagnaro; Jess Webster.
HEAT TWO: Rick Grunert; Eric Hansard; Will Fanning; Matt Keeler; David Castro.
MAIN: Neil Webster; Fanning; Castro; Keeler; Greg West.
1998 PURE STOCK CHAMPION: ERIC HANSARD