Missouri star Jessie Hocket flies in to win third annual Calistoga Cup. Midwest top runner earns $2300 aboard locally owned Flachman team car. By Bill SullivanCALISTOGA, CA (6-17-05) What happens when you put one of the Midwest’s top drivers aboard one of the area’s most competitive 360 powered sprint cars on California’s biggest dirt track ?  The answer was pretty evident Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway when Jessie Hockett of Warsaw, Missouri drove the locally owned Mark and Suzie Flachman #55 sprint car to victory lane in the third annual Calistoga Speedway.

            Hockett was one of 39 competitors in competition at the famed half-mile track in the heart of the Napa Valley Saturday night. Following the victory the team was $2300 richer courtesy of event sponsor M&M Structures of Woodland. M&M Structures added $1500 to the feature event purse Saturday night which was distributed down the finishing order to assist with travel and tire costs incurred by area teams.

            Saturday’s win was the third consecutive win for the Flachman team and the second straight Civil War victory. Just three weeks ago the team clinched a victory in the second leg of the series at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico with Indiana’s Brad Sweet behind the wheel.

            “I have to thank the Flachman’s for the opportunity to come out here and drive for them tonight,” said 22-year-old Hockett, who flew in Saturday morning after racing in Jefferson, South Carolina and Dennison, Iowa the two previous nights “I met Mark through our mutual friend Billy Alley. We had an off night tonight so it was great opportunity for me to come out here and race at this famous track. I’ve never been here before but I have seen this place in a lot of old race videos.”

            In heat racing, Hockett finished third to lock a starting spot in the 20-lap feature event. With the number four drawn for the inversion, Hockett started on the pole of the feature event. Garrett Ishi of Caruthers started on the outside of the front row with Shain Matthews of Marysville and series point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn starting in fourth.

            With an impressive group of spectators estimated near the 1500 mark cheering in anticipation, the green flag waved and Hockett took command of the event from the opening lap of an event that saw only one caution flag during its entire run. Powering ahead of Ishi in the opening turn, Hockett  drove his own race until jut past the halfway point of the event when lapped traffic forced the Midwest ASCS star to pace himself and permitted Ishi to close in on the leader.

            After running in fourth for the first half of the event, Forsberg overtook Matthews for third place near the 13 lap mark and set his sights on Ishi for the bridesmaid position. Three laps later it was evident Forsberg had the horsepower to contend for the event when he overtook Ishi and began closing in on Hockett for the lead.

            On the 18th lap, Forsberg was within striking distance of Hockett and poise to take the lead, but it was the draw of a yellow flag at that moment that ended Forsberg’s hopes of becoming just the second California driver to win this prestigious event. The caution flew when Rick Fowzer lost a front tire in the second turn and spun around.

            With the restart, Hockett was well aware of Forsberg’s presence as he accelerated to a healthy lead and maintained it for the final two circuits. Forsberg gave it his all in an effort to catch the leader while holding off Fresno’s Peter Murphy who charged into the third position in the waning laps. Murphy was aboard the Kumar #1k, the only team to ever win the event prior to Saturday night.

            “When I got caught up in the lapped traffic I knew they were closing in on me, “ said Hockett. “I did my best to pick up the pace but I felt I was pretty safe because the track went away to a point there was really one groove there at the end.”

            Although Hockett had never raced at the famed Calistoga Speedway, he has had his share of large track experience within the 72 races he has won prior to Saturday night. He compared the characteristics of Calistoga Speedway to that of Sedalia, Missouri, a half mile that is he regularly competes at.

            “When you fly into a race at a track you have never been at before you have to compare it to one that you know more about,” said Hockett. “Even through there are a lot of differences this track is very similar to Sedalia so to started off driving as if I were there and you just adjust you line and driving to fit the differences.”

            Sunday morning Hockett flew back to California, Missouri where he will arrive just in time to qualify for a race on Sunday night but looks forward to an opportunity to come back to California one day for another event.

            “Tonight we weren’t racing back home so it worked out really good,” he said. “I definitely like coming out here and hope to come back again one day, maybe to this track. Tomorrow I will arrive back home just in time for qualifying but I can do that at a track I have been on before. We couldn’t have done that here, I needed some hot laps around this place tonight.”

            Although California’s big one eluded him from another victory, Forsberg was still satisfied to be among the top three finishers on Saturday night. He dedicated his effort to Fred Brownfield, the race promoter of the Pacific Northwest and the National Sprint Tour who died away after being struck by a race car this week. Like many racers, Forsberg was a good friend of Brownfield from the days he was a youngster watching his dad race against the promoter that once was behind the wheel.

            “I really wanted to win this one tonight in memory of Fred Brownfield,” said Forsberg. “We always use to joke about who had the original number ninety two because that’s the number he use to run when he raced. He was a great person and I am really going to miss going up to his tracks and seeing him now and then. I wanted to dedicate a win to him tonight but a second place at Calistoga is still decent and I’ll dedicate this to him tonight. We had a good run, we’re still in the point lead and the car is one piece, I can’t complain about that racing at this big place.”

            Murphy, who is the new full time driver for the Kumar 1K was also smiling after his third place finish. Both Murphy and the team have been dialing in their operation this season, working together to find their way to victory lane.

            “I know a lot of drivers wanted this race to be more than 20 laps,” said Murphy. “It wouldn’t have mattered if we raced 20 laps or 40 laps tonight, nobody was going to catch those two guys. They drove a great race tonight. We’re happy being here in third, we’ve had our troubles this year and most of the time its been those little things that have cost us a top finish or a win. But we are getting there.”

            In preliminary racing on Saturday, the B feature was won by Murphy who finished ahead of Chad Riolo, Andy Ferris, Roger Crockett and Chuck Gurney Jr. The C feature was claimed by Brad Bumgarner who finished and of Jason Botsford and Pat Harvey. Heat races for the night were won by Jeff Parady, Jim Richardson, Rick Fowzer and former series Rookie of the Year Brett Rollag.

            This Saturday the Civil War Series will return to the action packed Placerville Speedway for the fourth event of the season. The series returns to Calistoga Speedway on August 12th for the second and final visit of the year.

For complete results of Saturday’s race and  information on any of the upcoming Civil War Series events and complete point standings, log on to www.johnpadjenmotorsports.com, the official website for the Civil War Series.