Last lap pass nets overdue win for Forsberg in round five of Civil War series at Chico CHICO, CA (6-14-02)- A little over a month ago, Northern California race fans were concerned and disheartened when two-time Civil War champion Andy Forsberg of Auburn announced he would park his race cars to reevaluate his racing career. Friday night Forsberg's brief absence was long forgotten , however, as the fans of the driver bannered as "Mr. Excitement" witnessed a comeback victory that will long be remembered as Forsberg brought pure excitement back to Silver Dollar Speedway with a last lap passed which netted his first victory in nearly a year. "I took a month off to re-group and get my head straight," said Forsberg. "My driving style had been so bad I couldn't even drive a sharp stick into the mud. It feels good to be back in a sprint car again and win...we're back. I really want to thank all the fans that have supported me and encouraged me through these tough times."
Dedicated to 360 cubic inch powered winged sprint cars, the Civil War series are a traveling campaign that competes between the months of March and October. Visiting four different California cities, the campaign consists of 13 overall events, each offering cash winnings and accumulative points towards the coveted series championship, sponsored by Hoosier Performance Tires. Starting in the fifth position, Forsberg saw the green flag go out to pole sitter and series point leader Mike Henry of Sacramento, winner of the last Civil War event which also took place at Silver Dollar Speedway.
At the flying of the green, Henry hugged the low line of the track and out powered second place started Ricky Wondergem of Grass Valley for the early lead. Once in front, Henry drove his way to healthy lead and began working his way into lapped traffic with Wondergem, Greg DeCaires and Jimmy Trulli all in tow. After working his way to near half straight lead a series of caution flags put Henry's dominate lead to bed and gathered the field for the ensuing restarts.
The most serious of those caution periods were two red flags, the first for Sacramento's Ron McBride who went upside down in turns one and two while running seventh. The second red flew on lap 16 when Kyle Schild of Sacramento and Jeremy Phillips of Wheatland tangled in turn four and collided with the grandstand wall. Neither driver was injured in the scary looking crash which destroyed Schild's cars and posed significant damage to Phillips' ride as well.
Once the green flag flew again on the 30-lap feature Henry set the pace once again with the lapped car of Destiny Hays racing between he and bridesmaid Wondergem. On the restart lap Hays, despite being a lap down, slid beneath Henry and gained her lap back, holding Henry at bay for the next four laps until a yellow flag flew on the 20th circuit for Mark Hall who spun and stalled to draw the flag. On the restart for the final 10-laps, Henry was challenged by Trulli who advanced to second place prior to the flag while Robinson sat close behind in the third position and Forsberg in fourth.
When the final green flag of the night flew Henry muscled ahead and appeared to be bound for back to back wins but Forsberg soon became the car to watch as he picked off both Robinson and Trulli to move into second place. After lapping Hays on the 26th lap, Forsberg had a clear view of Henry who still maintained a half straight lead entering the final four circuits.
Forsberg, a driver who commonly runs the high groove at Chico, placed his #92 to the low groove in rare fashion and closed in on Henry's strong lead. As the white flag waved, Forsberg again took the low line in turn one and pulled beside Henry to challenge for the lead. Exiting the second turn he got the attention of the crowd as he overtook Henry by a half-car-length lead. Continuing down the backstretch Henry refused to give the lead up easily as he raced to the outside of Forsberg through the final set of turns but it was Forsberg with the advantage down low.
"Second is real good, " said Henry. "Andy is a good clean racer, I had fun racing with him tonight. The last lap I just drove it in too hard in turn one, wheelied out of two and tried to get it back in three but he held on to it at the bottom." In preliminary events on Friday, Robert Stice won the 12-lap B-main event followed by Mark Hall, Ron McBride and Joey Magaruh. Former Silver Dollar track champion Johnny Rodriguez of Elk Grove was racing in the third position, looking to transfer until magneto woes ended his night. On the last lap of the event Korey Lovell of Yuba City held the final transfer position until Magaruh, who started 12th, made a last lap pass to steal the position. Magaruh spent much of the night passing others as he started 20th in the A-main and finished ninth. In the A and B mains combined Magaruh passed an impressive total of 19 cars.
The C main ran without incident Friday night with Pat Harvey of Grass Valley picking up the win ahead of Mark Tabor Sr., Steven Tiner and Eric Hopkins. For many drivers the preliminary events ended their night Friday as only five drivers that sat within the top 10 point standings entering the event transferred into the feature event which will benefit Henry, who entered the night in the point lead. In additional to the title sponsor, Hoosier Performance Tires, Friday's event was sponsored in part by area Napa Auto Part stores. Various local stores including those in Paradise, Orland and Anderson performed live radio broadcasts from their stores recently and featured Napa Auto Parts sprint car driver Jason York and his #25 race car to meet the fans at each remote broadcast.
The Civil War Series will complete its double header weekend with round six at Twin Cities Speedway in Marysville tomorrow (June 14). Action is set to begin Saturday night with the front gates opening at 5 p.m. Qualifying will begin at 6:30 with racing following time trials. Adult Tickets will be $ 13, Juniors $9, Children $4 and those under six will be admitted for free. For any further information on this event please contact Twin Cities Speedway at (530) 742-9222.
For any additional information and complete race results on the California Sprint Car Civil War Race Series contact the business office of John Padjen Motorsports at (916) 969-7484 or log on to the official website for the series at www.johnpadjenmotorsports.com. Special thanks to Troy Hennig for his assistance with this race report.
HOOSIER TIRES CIVIL WAR SERIES #5 RACE SUMMARY SILVER DOLLAR SPEEDWAY, CHICO, CALIFORNIA FRIDAY, JUNE 14, 2002 FAST TIME: Jimmy Trulli 13:392
HEAT ONE: David Robinson Jr.; Sean Becker; Trulli; Colby Weisz; Mark Hall
HEAT TWO: Greg DeCaires; Scott Russell; Andy Forsberg; Jeremy Phillips: Andy Gregg
HEAT THREE: Billy Wallace; Destiny Hays; Kyle Schild; Ricky Wondergem; Robert Stice.
HEAT FOUR: Steven Allard; Herman Klein; Chad Riolo; Mike Henry; Justin Johnson.
C-MAIN: Pat Harvey; Mark Tabor Sr.; Steven Tiner; Eric Hopkins; Mark Mackay
B-MAIN: Stice; Hall; Ron McBride; Joey Magaruh; Korey Lovell.
A-MAIN: Forsberg; Henry; Wondergem; Robinson; Alllard; Trulli; Klein; DeCaires; Magaruh; Stice; Hall; Wallace; Becker; Hays; Russell; McBride; Riolo; Schild; Phillips; Weisz. Lap leaders Henry 1-29 ; Forsberg 30