Former series champion Roger Crockett wins Civil War opener in Marysville - By Bill Sullivan

MARYSVILLE, CA (3-16-02)- Despite an unsettled weather system surrounding the region for much of the day and unusual low temperatures, action managed to heat things up at Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville Saturday night as the traveling Hoosier Racing Tires California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series kicked off it's 2002 season.

A total of 43 cars entertained the crowd of die-hard race fans who braved the elements to witness the opener of the traveling campaign that visits four different California tracks for a total of 13-events between March and October. When the checkered lag flew on Saturday's event it was former Californian Roger Crockett becoming the first driver to visit victory lane in this young season.

Crockett, the defending 2001 Northern Sprint Tour Champion recently moved to Eugene, Oregon but returned Saturday night to compete in the series which named him champion back in 1998. After clocking the seventh qualifying position and placing fourth in his heat race, Crockett started the feature event on the outside of the front row.

At the waving of the green flag it was polesitter Chad Riolo of Roseville taking the initial lead as he muscled ahead of Crockett and Mark Hall exiting the first set of turns. While Riolo appeared he would be a force to contend with for the 29-laps to come, his residence at the top spot was short lived as he pulled off the track surface just five laps into the event with mechanical woes and allowed Crockett to inherit the lead.

Running the middle groove of the race track, Crockett wasted no time in distancing himself from the field as he muscled six or more car lengths ahead of second place runner Mark Hall as early as the nine lap mark. With 10-laps complete the first red flag of the event came out with a three-car incident on the back stretch involving Billy Wallace, Steve Fehrman and Jeff Halleib who went over on his side in the incident.

On the restart, Crockett continued to use the middle line of the track to increase his lead over Hall and Johnny Rodriguez while Jonathan Allard and Mike McClish battled for the fourth position. Despite a series of yellow flags in the final 13 laps of the event Crockett maintained his healthy lead all the way to the finish line where he was trailed by Hall, Rodriguez, Mike Henry and defending champion Andy Forsberg who started 14th.

In preliminary action on Saturday the 12-lap B-main event was a rough and tumble event. The initial attempt at a start had a multiple drivers falling out of position on the front stretch with a stray torsion bar and front bumper becoming a hazard and drawing the yellow flag. On the second attempt at a start the red flag followed the green as Destiny Hays of Oroville went upside down in turn two and Ricky Wondergem of Grass Valley went upside down in the fourth turn in an unrelated incident.

Following a brief delay, when the green flag came out again it was Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove piloting his Tri-R Motorsports #3R to the head of the pack and maintaining the lead all the way to the finish. Mark Mackay finished second followed by Mike McClish and The 10-lap C-main event had Elk Grove's Greg DeCaires picking up the win. DeCaires started the pole and held off the challenge of Placerville's Andy Gregg who emerged from fourth in the early laps. At the finish line it was DeCaires being trailed by Gregg. Dennis Harvey finished third followed by Tony Silveria.

In heat race competition on Saturday, the first 10-lap event of the night went trouble free as defending champion Andy Forsberg picked up his first win of the season. Forsberg jumped out in front of the field early in the event and began lapping traffic prior to the halfway mark. With just one lap to go the first yellow flag of the night came out when Willie Croft stalled just off the inside of the track surface in turn one. Following the restart Forsberg picked up the win followed by Mike Monahan, Chad Riolo and Mike Benson.

The second heat race of the night saw trouble in the opening lap when a traffic jam broke out in the first turn. The incident sent Eric Hopkins into the infield with minimal damage and Mike Wasina Jr. of Elverta upside down in the middle groove of the track. Neither competitor was injured but both neglected to restart the event that say Korey Lovell of Yuba City pick up the win over Jeff Halleib, JIm Richardsen and Justin Johnson.

In heat race three, a number of cautions delayed the 10-lap affair. the most serious incident happened on the fourth lap when Bryan Evans flipped end over in in turns one and two. Once restarted the event had Joey Magaruh of Vacaville fending off Marc Hall to the finish line. In the post race weigh-in Magaruh's ride fell short of the 1375 pound limit and he was disqualified for the night which gave Hall the victory followed by Steve Fehrman and Roger Crockett.

The fourth and final heat race also saw a pair of red flags. The first came out when Ron McBride got caught up in traffic and flipped over in the outside of turn four. Once the race was underway again the second red flew on the second restart attempt when a multi-car melee sent Colby Weisz through a chain link fence and into the parking area off of turn four.

Once green flag racing resumed in this event Richard Brace Jr. of Auburn picked up the win over Mike Henry, Billy Wallace and Ron McBride who made returns to finish fourth. In qualifying action Saturday night Johnny Rodriguez turned the quickest lap of the night with an 11:068. Mike McClish turned the second quickest lap with an 11:069 ahead of third quick Marc Hall who clocked an 11:074.

The next Civil War event will bring competitors to the banks of John Padjen's Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on Friday, April 19th. This will be round two of the series and the first of four Civil War events at the Silver Dollar Fairground. For further information on this event visit the official website for the Hoosier Racing Tires California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series.


TOP QUALIFIERS 1.)Johnny Rodriguez 11:068 2.)Mike McClish 11:069 3.)Mark Hall 11:074 4.)Mike Henry 11:080 5.)Willie Croft 11:087

HEAT ONE: Andy Forsberg; Mike Monahan; Chad Riolo; Mike Benson; Johnny Rodriguez; Jack Lowder; Destiny Hays; Jeff Parady; Andy Gregg; Randal Ditgen; Willie Croft.

HEAT TWO: Korey Lovell; Jeff Halleib;Jim Richardsen; Justin Johnson; Greg DeCaires; Marc Mackay; Tony Silveria; Mike McClish; Eric Hopkins; Mike Wasina Jr.

HEAT THREE: Marc Hall; Steve Fehrman; Roger Crockett; Jonathan Allard; Robert Stice; Rob Johnson; Dennis Harvey; Jim Marsh; Pat Harvey; Bryan Evans (Joey Magaruh, disqualified - weight)

HEAT FOUR: Richard Brace Jr.; Mike Henry; Billy Wallace; Ron McBride; Steven Tiner; Ricky Wondergem; Tim Sherman; Beau Perkins.

C-MAIN: Greg DeCaires; Andy Gregg; Dennis Harvey; Tony Silveria; Jim Marsh; Randall Ditgen; Tim Sherman

B-MAIN: Johnny Rodriguez; Marc Mackay; Mike McClish; Greg DeCaires; Steven Tiner; Robert Stice; Andy Gregg; Jeff Parady; Beau Perkins; Pat Harvey; Willie Croft; Jack Lowder; Dennis Harvey; Ricky Wondergem; Eric Hopkins; Rob Johnson; Destiny Hays.

A-MAIN: Roger Crockett; Mark Hall; Johnny Rodriguez; Andy Forsberg; Jonathan Allard; Mike Benson; Ron McBride; Mike McClish; Greg DeCaires; Korey Lovell; Mike Monahan; Justin Johnson; Richard Brace. Jr.; Jim Richardsen; Marc Mackay; Steve Fehrman; Jeff Halleib; Billy Wallace; Chad Riolo


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