By – Gerald Laurie
The 2009 edition of Madera SpeedwayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Annual Harvest Classic turned out to be the proverbial barnburner that keeps fans on their feet. The Classic featuredÃ‚Â the SMRA Supermodifieds, and Madera SpeedwayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s 360 Supermodifieds. When the dance was finally over for the night, Troy Regier had won his third Madera SMRA feature of the year, and Kenny Kinchen had bested the 360 Supermod field.
The 360 Supermodifieds were the first to challenge the clocks. Kenny Kinchen proved fastest at 13.280 seconds, followed by Lance Tatro at 13.399, Lance Jackson at 13.399, Dan Vanderpool at 13.484 and David Tuey at 13.618.
The Supermodified Racing Association supers rounded out time trials. Jeff Russell paced the field at 12.392 seconds. Bryan Warf was next with a time of 12.409, followed by Troy Regier at 12.426, A.J. Russell at 12.492 and Davey Hamilton at 12.566.
The first head-to-head competition of the evening was the 360 Supermodified Trophy Dash. Lance Jackson started on the pole flanked by Dan Vanderpool. Kenny Kinchen and Lance Tatro rounded out the field. Jackson snagged the lead on lap one with Vanderpool second, Tatro third, and Kinchen in back. Tatro and Kinchen both passed Vanderpool on lap two and that was the limit of the passing. Jackson won the four-lapper over Tatro, Kinchen, and Vanderpool.
The SMRA Supermodifieds were next up with their own four-lap dash. A.J. Russell and Troy Regier comprised the first row while Bryan Warf and Jeff Russell made up row two. Regier and A.J ran side by side through turn one with Regier gaining momentum on the high side to lead lap one over A.J., Jeff, and Warf. Warf took third on lap two and Jeff Russell slowed dramatically on lap three. Regier took the hardware with A. Russell second, Warf third and J Russell fourth.
Eight-lap heat races were next on the agenda. The first 360 supermodified heat featured Kenny White, Kyle Vanderpool, Jeremiah Beardon, Larry Hinz, and Doug Gould. Willie Northammer scratched while effecting repairs to a broken torque arm. White led lap one over Vanderpool, Hinz, Gould, and Beardon. And that was the extent of the excitement. White was victorious with the remaining order the same.
The second 360 super heat started with David Tuey and Dan Vanderpool in front followed by Lance Jackson, Lance Tatro, and Kenny Kinchen. Tuey took the lead at the green flag and by the end of lap one Tatro was second followed by Vanderpool, Jackson, and Kinchen. Lap eight directly mirrored lap two.
The first SMRA heat had Jim Birges on the pole flanked by George Greenway and followed by Lonnie Adamson and Davey Hamilton. Tim Skoglund scratched with ignition malfunctions. Birges led lap one over Adamson followed by Hamilton and Greenway. Hamilton began a pitched battle with Adamson that resulted in a pass on lap five. By that time Birges was approaching the next zip code but Hamilton started reeling him in. However, there was too little time and Birges took the checkers over Hamilton, Adamson, and Greenway.
The second supermod heat lined up with A.J. Russell leading Troy Regier, Bryan Warf ,and Jeff Russell. The order after one lap was Regier over A.J., Jeff, and Warf. On lap eight, Jeff Russell slowed dramatically and Warf moved to third. Finishing order was Regier over A. Russell, Warf, J. Russell.
The SMRA supermodifieds and the 360 supermodifieds were combined in a single 50-lap main event featuring a 14-car invert. With nearly a second and a half separating the front of the invert from top qualifiers, the race was bound to be interesting. At the front of the pack, were Kyle Vanderpool, David Tuey, Dan Vanderpool, Lance Jackson, Lance Tatro, Lonnie Adamson, George Greenway, and Kenny Kinchen. Completing the invert were Jim Birges, Davey Hamilton, A.J. Russell, Troy Regier, Bryan Warf and Jeff Russell. Behind the fast burners came Larry Hinz, Carl Johnson (replacing Kenny White), Jeremiah Beardon, Doug Gould, Willie Northammer.
At the drop of the green, K. Vanderpool led from pole followed by Tuey, D. Vanderpool, Jackson, Adamson, and Tatro. Lap two saw Adamson go high, and Birges do a bonsai move on the bottom to bring Lonnie to third, Birges to fourth and Kinchen followed them through to fifth.
Birges took Adamson and Tuey on lap three with A.J. moving to the top five. The yellow flew on lap four when Johnson spun in turn four negating BirgesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pass for the lead. Greenway hit the pits on the yellow with some steering problems.
On the restart, Birges grabbed the lead over K. Vanderpool with A.J. in third, Adamson in fourth, and Regier now up to fifth. Lap five saw Russell move to second and Regier to third. Birges and A.J. split a lapped car on lap seven with Birges up on the top in no manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s land and A.J. leading the lap.
The yellow flew on lap eight when Northammer coasted to a stop in turn two with terminal problems. Birges regained the lead on the restart. The yellow flew on lap ten when Jackson executed a spin in turn three. During the caution the 7 car was brought in for an inspection and relegated to the pits with an oil leak. The order at lap 10 was Birges over Regier, Warf, Adamson, and Jeff Russell. The top five 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s were Kinchen, K. Vanderpool, Tuey, Tatro, and D. Vanderpool.
The yellow fever continued on lap 12 when Johnson spun again in turn four. By this time, Jeff Russell and Adamson had swapped fourth and fifth. Again, Birges held the lead on the high side when the green flew. Tatro also advanced in the 360 order by displacing both Tuey and Vanderpool. Hamilton replaced Adamson in fifth place on lap 14. Birges and Regier encountered a rapidly slowing Jackson on the backstretch on lap 18 and Regier reacted earlier to take the lead. Jackson headed to the pits.
The yellow and then the red few on lap nineteen when Larry Hinz got pinched high on the backstretch and hammered the support pole for the pit gate. The car came to rest in turn three. Jeff Russell checked up to avoid the incident and got nailed by Gould. Russell spun to a stop sideways and Gould was just below him effectively blocking the backstretch. The red light flashed to bring out the ambulance and clean up the carnage. All of the drivers were fine, but the Hinz and Gould rides left on the hook. Jeff Russell was relegated to the rear of the pack. With Jeff starting at the back on the restart, the lap twenty order was Regier over Birges, Warf, Hamilton, and Adamson. Top five 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s were Kinchen, Tatro, K. Vanderpool, Tuey and D. Vanderpool.
The next 10 laps featured Regier slowly pulling away with Bryan Warf continually hounding Birges. Lap after lap, Birges ran the high line for momentum and Warf would dive low off of four trying to affect a pass.
Meanwhile, Jeff Russell was charging back through the field. Jeff regained top five status on lap 25, displacing Adamson. The order after 30 laps was Regier, Birges, Warf, Hamilton and Russell. Kinchen, in seventh, led the 360 contingent followed by Tatro, K. Vanderpool, Tuey and D. Vanderpool. Russell took fourth from Hamilton on lap 35 and then the yellow lights flashed on lap thirty seven.
Tuey and Johnson had a meeting in turn one resulting in both cars coming to a halt in turn two. Hamilton was called to the inspection area under the yellow and sent to the pits with a leaking rear axle seal. This brought Adamson back into the top five. At 40 laps, Regier led over Birges, Warf, Russell, and Adamson. Kinchen, Tatro, Tuey, K. Vanderpool, and D. Vanderpool were the top five 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s in positions six through 10.
And then came the finish. Regier had a substantial lead. Warf had been trying to get around Birges for 30 laps. Russell had nearly caught up to the second place battle. It had to happen on the last lap. Birges had kept the lead up high on the track using momentum and great bite off the corners. He knew Warf would charge hard into turn three on the bottom to try a classic slide job. So Birges went down to protect the bottom in turn three and completely messed up BryanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s charge. Contact ensued. The two tangled and nearly came to a stop trying to negotiate the turn. Russell tried to shoot the gap and got caught up in the action. As Regier had already taken the checkered, Birges managed to cross the finish line at a pace of at least 25mph. Russell wobbled across behind him and Warf wound up in the turn-four infield with the front wheels pointed in different directions.
After the shouting and finger pointing ended, Regier was the victor over Birges, Jeff Russell, Warf and Adamson. Kinchen was top dog among the 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s with Tatro, Tuey, Vanderpool the younger and Vanderpool the elder rounding out the top five.
Madera SpeedwayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Super Saturday events are always interesting and action-packed. Combining the 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s and SMRA cars in the supermodified feature make for an exciting race for the fans. But there needs to be a rigidly enforced limit to the speed differentials used in the inverts. The standard for years has been one second. This usually would give a huge advantage to the top one or two of the 360 teams, putting them at the front with remaining cars behind the invert. So the Madera officials have expanded that differential, looking for a break of three or four tenths of a second in the order and putting everyone faster than the break in the invert.
However, I think the time has come to go back to one second. There were far too many yellows in this event and there was some serious damage to Larry Hinz car. Someone needs to really take a long look at this format for the 2010 season. The 360 class has expanded greatly during the 2009 season and with several more cars possibly joining the fray in 2010, it may be time to let the 360Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s stand alone. The problem is that there are not enough of the open SMRA cars now participating to have a separate event and support their own purse. Hopefully, someone at Madera or SMRA will come up with a solution. From the comfort of my air-conditioned home in this ridiculous heat in September, I am the racing WidowÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Husband.
Qualifications: 1. Kenny Kinchen(5), 13.280; 2. Lance Tatro(72), 13.399; 3. Lance Jackson(18), 13.462; 4. Dan Vandrpool(17), 13.484; 5. Davis Tuey(6), 13.618; 6. Kyle Vanderpool(1), 13.751; 7. Larry Hinz(4), 14.301; 8. Kenny White(07), 14.657; 14.657; 9. Jeremiah Beardon(27), 14.795; 10. Doug Gould(60), 14.876; 11. Willie Northammer(15), N/T.
Trophy Dash: 1. Jackson; 2. Tatro; 3. Kinchen; 4. D. Vanderpool.
Heat 1: 1. White; 2. K. Vanderpool; 3. Hinz; 4. Gould; 5. Beardon.
Heat 2: 1. Tuey; 2. Tatro; 3. D. Vanderpool; 4. Jackson; 5. Kinchen.
Qualifications: 1. Jeff Russell(85), 12.392; 2. Bryan Warf(91), 12.409; 3. Troy Regier(98), 12.426; 4. A.J. Russell(7), 12.492; 5. Davey Hamilton(2), 12.566; 6. Jim Birges(32), 12.677; 7. George Greenway(8), 13.298; 8. Lonnie Adamson(14) 13.393; 9. Tim Skoglund(89), N/T.
Trophy Dash: 1. Regier; 2. A. Russell; 3. Warf; 4. J. Russell.
Heat 1: 1. Birges; 2. Hamilton; 3. Adamson; 4. Greenway.
Heat 2: 1. Regier; 2. A. Russell; 2. Warf; 4. J. Russell.
Combined SMRA and 360 feature: 1. Regier; 2. Birges; 3. J. Rufssell; 4. Warf; 5. Adamson; 6. Kinchen*; 7. Tatro*; 8. Tuey*; 9. K. Vanderpool*; 10. D. Vanderpool*; 11. Hamilton; 12. Johnson*; 13. Hinz*; 14. Jackson*; 15. Gould*; 16. A. Russell; 17. Northammer*; 18. Beardon*; 19. Greenway; 20 Skoglund (DNS).