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Birges and Tatro Take Pombo Victories

By – Gerald Laurie

The Annual Al Pombo Classic at Madera Speedway featured the SMRA Supermodifieds and the Madera Speedway 360 Supermodifieds in this fourth of six Super Saturday Events. Fresno’s Jim Birges claimed the top prize for the Supermodified Racing Association traveling circus. Madera’s own Lance Tatro was the top 360 finisher.

The 360 Supermodified Time Trials were topped by Lance Tatro(72) with a time of 13.392 seconds. He was followed by David Tuey(6) at 13.475, Kenny Kinchen(5) at 13.524, Lance Jackson(18) at 13.550, and Willie Northammer(15) at 13.921.

Jeff Russell(85) was fastest of the Supermodified Racing Association Supers at 12.396 seconds. Second through fifth fast were Troy Regier(98) at 12.441, Jim Birges(89) at 12.460, Bryan Warf(91) at 12.527, and A.J. Russell(7) at 12.611.

Trophy Dashes were the next order of business. The 360 Supermod Dash featured Lance Jackson, Kenny Kinchen, David Tuey, and Lance Tatro. Kinchen and Tatro blew around the outside in turn two to take the top two spots over Jackson and Tuey on lap one. Tuey grabbed third on the second circuit and that was the end of the passing. Kinchen took the checkers over Tatro, Tuey, and Jackson.

The SMRA Supermodifieds lined up for their four lapper with A.J. Russell and Lonnie Adamson on the front row. The back row consisted of Jim Birges and Troy Regier. Adamson faltered a bit on the start and Regier split the area between Lonnie and Birges to grab the second spot on lap one. Birges was able to pass Adamson in turn three and lap one ended with Russell leading over Regier, Birges, and Adamson. Regier took several shots at A.J. over the next three laps, but wasn’t quite able to complete the pass. Finishing order was Russell over Regier, Birges, and Adamson.

The 360 Supermodifieds ran two six lap heat races. The first heat featured Carl Johnson, Larry Hinz, Kyle Vanderpool, and Doug Gould. The inside line proved faster at the start as Johnson led over Vanderpool, Hinz, and Gould on lap one. And that is how they ran until the final lap when Vanderpool spun in turn one to bring out the yellow with the checkers. Johnson was victorious over Hinz, Gould, and Vanderpool.

The second 360 Heat race had Willie Northammer and Lance Jackson on the front row. Kenny Kinchen, David Tuey, and Lance Tatro rounded out the field. Jackson and Tuey scooted around Northammer on lap one with Kinchen and Tatro in fourth and fifth. Tatro moved to third and Northammer dropped to fifth on lap two. Tatro took second on lap three with Tuey right on his tail. Lap five brought the red and then the checkers as Jackson got loose in turn four and saved the car by slowing dramatically at the start-finish line. Tatro contacted the left rear of Jackson’s car and Tuey couldn’t avoid the mess as the entire front stretch was nearly blocked. The officials decided to call the race at five laps and declared Jackson the winner over Tatro, Tuey, Kinchen and Northammer. All three front runners sustained damage in the incident. Major thrashes ensued for the 72 and 6 teams while Jackson loaded up with terminal damage for the evening.

The first SMRA heat race was paced by Lonnie Adamson followed by A.J. Russell, Jim Birges, and Jeff Russell. Again, Adamson was slow on the start and dropped to fourth on lap one with A.J., Jeff, and Birges in the top three spots. And that is how it ended. A.J. Russell won the heat over Jeff Russell, Birges, and Adamson.

Heat number two featured Kenny White, Bryan Warf, Troy Regier, George Greenway, and Ray Stebbins. Stebbins had some engine issues after push off and headed for the pits before the start of the race. Warf took the lead over White in turn three to lead lap one. Regier was third and Greenway fourth. Regier snagged second on lap five and then slowed after the white flag to allow White back to second. Warf won over White, Regier and Greenway. Regier admitted later in the pits that he mistook the white flag for the checkered before he realized everyone else was still racing. That is a very rare miscue by the multi-time champion and winner of nearly eighty Supermodified features.

The 360 Supermodifieds and the SMRA Supermodifieds were combined for a fifty lap feature. With sixteen surviving entries(Lance Jackson and Ray Stebbins both scratched from the feature) , the field was full and it looked like an interesting evening. The race was scheduled for a twelve car invert. However, with Jackson scratching and Greenway electing to start in the back, Kenny Kinchen inherited the pole position followed by David Tuey, Lance Tatro, Lonnie Adamson, Kenny White, and A.J. Russell. Completing the invert were Bryan Warf, Jim Birges, Troy Regier, and Jeff Russell. Behind the fast crowd were Willie Northammer, Kyle Vanderpool, Carl Johnson, George Greenway, Doug Gould, and Larry Hinz. Lap one was led by Kinchen, Tuey, Adamson, Russell the younger, and Birges. The yellow flew as Northammer spun coming off turn four.

On the restart, Adamson, Russell, and Birges got around Tuey and set sail after Kinchen. Lonnie led lap three with A.J. second, Kinchen third, Birges fourth, and Jeff Russell moving into the top five. A.J. took the lead and Kinchen dropped to fifth on lap four.  Warf displaced Kinchen from the top five on the fifth circuit Birges snookered Lonnie for second on lap six, Jeff Russell took third on lap seven and then passed Birges for second on lap eight. The yellow light blinked on again on lap nine when Northammer repeated his routine coming off turn four again.

There were no major changes on the restart and at the lap ten juncture, A.J. Russell led over Jeff Russell, Birges, Warf, and Adamson. The top five 360 Supers were Kinchen, Tuey, Tatro, Vanderpoll, and Johnson.

Adamson repassed Warf on lap eleven and then Bryan returned the favor on lap fourteen as the leaders encountered lapped traffic. Troy Regier mounted a charge through the lapped traffic and managed to displace both Warf and Adamson by lap seventeen. At the same time, Birges used lapped traffic to pass Jeff Russel and took off after A.J. Russell. At twenty laps, the order was A. Russell, Birges, J. Russell, Regier, and Warf. 360 order was Kinchen, Tuey, Tatro, Vanderpool, and Johnson. Nothammer and Hinz, both joined Gould in the pits at this point of the race.

The yellow hanky waved in the wind once again on lap twenty five when Johnson stalled on the backstretch. On the restart, Birges took a dive under Russell in turn three only to have the yellow fly again when Vanderpool spun in turn one. This time on the restart, A.J. tried to protect the bottom and Birges sailed around the top side to take the lead. Once in the lead, Birges started to distance himself from the rest of the pack. As he again began lapping cars, he was taking no prisoners as he passed high, low and up the middle between cars. At lap thirty, it was Birges over A.J., Jeff, Regier, and Warf. Kinchen and Tatro were battling for the 360 lead side by side lap after lap as Tuey faded when the power steering failed. Tuey was the third 360 and Vanderpool was the remaining 360 survivor in fourth. The order remaine4d the same as the leaders tore through the backmarkers. Birges brought everyone to their seats as he went three wide below the white line on the front stretch to pass the Kinchen – Tatro battle on lap thirty seven. Tatro took advantage and followed Birges through to take the 360 lead. Order at forty laps was Birges, Russell the younger, Russell the elder, Regier, and Warf. Tatro led the 360 contigent over Kinchen, Tuey, and Vanderpool.

The last ten laps were more of the same as Birges consolidated his lead and started to pull further away. At the checkers, Birges was victorious over A.J. Russell, Jeff Russell, Troy Regier and Bryan Warf. Tatro, Kinchen, Tuey, and Vanderpool were the top 360 finishers.

With temperatures soaring up to 108 degrees and track temperatures reaching 153 degrees, not only was the racing hot, but the weather was a scorcher as well for the Pombo classic at Madera Speedway. Cooling off under the ceiling fan and air conditioner, I am the Racing Widow’s Husband.

Madera Speedway Super Saturday Number Four

360 Supermodifieds
Qualifications: 1. Lance Tatro(72), 13.392; 2. David Tuey(6), 13.475; 3. Kenny Kinchen(5), 13.524; 4. Lance Jackson(18), 13.550; 5. Willie Northammer(15), 13.921; 6. Kyle Vanderpool(1), 13.992; 7. Carl Johnson(07), 14.125; 8. Larry Hinz(4), 14.303; 9. Doug Gould(60), 15.686.

Trophy Dash: 1. Kinchen; 2. Tatro; 3. Tuey; 4. Jackson.

Heat 1: 1. Johnson; 2. Hinz; 3. Gould; 4. Vanderpool.

Heat 2: 1. Jackson; 2. Tatro; 3. Tuey; 4. Kinchen; 5. Northammer.

SMRA Supermodifieds
Qualifications: 1. Jeff Russell(85), 12.396; 2. Troy Regier(98), 12.441; 3. Jim Birges(89), 12.460; 4. Bryan Warf(91), 12.527; 5. A.J. Russell(7) 12.611; 6. Kenny White(26), 12.860; 7. Lonnie Adamson(14), 12.991; 8. George Greenway(8), 13.558; 9. Ray Stebbins(28), N/T.

Trophy Dash: 1. A.J. Russell; 2. Regier; 3. Birges; 4. Adamson.

Heat 1: 1. A. Russell; 2. J. Russell; 3. Birges; 4. Adamson.

Heat 2: 1. Warf; 2. White; 3. Regier; 4. Greenway; 5. Stebbins.

Combined 360 and SMRa Supermodified Feature: 1. Birges; 2. A. Russell; 3. J. Russell; 4. Troy Regier; 5. Warf: 6. Adamson:  7. Tatro*; 8. Kinchen*; 9. Tuey*; 10. Vanderpool*; 11. Greenway; 12. White; 13. Johnson*; 14. Northammer*; 15. Hinz*; 16. Gould*; 17. Jackson* (DNS); 18. Stebbins(DNS).
* denotes 360 Supermodified.