TROY'S TIDBITS - By Troy Hennig April 2002
A sports celebrity was at Silver Dollar Speedway Friday night. Orlando, Florida resident Emillee Klein was in the pit area, compliments of Jim Richardson. Klein, the 1996 LPGA British Open Champion and 2001 Michelob Light Classic Winner in St. Louis, was visiting friends of Richardson and decided to go to the races. She was very impressed with sprint cars. Jim said it was interesting that she asked some very observant questions like, “why is one rear tire bigger than the other and do the top wings help with downforce.” Jim explained about stagger and how it helps the car turn. “Man, it was really amazing that she was able to look at our sport and being that she is such a fierce competitor in her own right, I think she was able to look at our sport and really appreciate and understand the finer points of a sprint car.”
Not since 1997 had Jamie Cobby raced a sprint car at Silver Dollar Speedway, but the recent honeymooner was back in action on Friday night. Cobby, it seems, just got married (March 30) and his wife had always wanted to see California, so Cobby made it a trip. He ended up in Sacramento to see some old friends and on Thursday was offered a ride at Chico for Friday night. Cobby once again hooked up with veteran car owner Ted Finkenbinder in the 3f. It seems since Cobby has left the states, he has become a professor in the art of sprint car racing and teaches at Win-More, a sprint car driving school in Adelaide, Australia. Cobby told me that he had won 45 main events between 1991-96. Cobby left on Sunday to go back home to Australia.
The Civil War seems to be the place to be nowadays. A total of 53, 360 sprint cars were in the pit area at Chico. To even “hammer down” the point more, there was a 20 car “C” main event.
Who said there is no more passing in sprint car racing? Winner, Jonathan Allard, started in the fourth row on Friday night and took the lead on lap 21, after lap by lap picking off one driver at a time. Also starting in the same row as Allard was Andy Forsberg. Instead of moving up, he moved back and ultimately finished in 14th spot. So two guys, same row, 14 finishing spots different.
Give a call out to two racers who usually don’t get any public ink, Elk Grove’s Gary Morgan and Sac-town’s Ron McBride. Morgan led the first 20 laps Friday until Allard passed him. McBride had his best finish in years to finish second, one spot ahead of Morgan.
Another call out to Greg DeCaries and car owner Lee Lindgren for two weekend’s in a row coming home the winner at two different tracks. The first win came at P-Ville and the second, this past Saturday night at Marysville. On the previous night, the team blew a motor while running second in the B main at Chico, but with the help of Bill Owens, Destiny Hays grandfather, DeCaries was able to use Hays motor and get the win. Talk about a family affair, Greg is married to Lee’s sister and Lee is married to Greg’s sister.
Speaking of Marysville, it is quite possibly the toughest track to make the A main at in California. Only 18 cars make the main, but they run three heats, take the top five out of the heat race. The fast guys start in row three of the heats, so there is a chance some of the top qualifiers won’t make the show. Here’s where it is tough. Once in the B, only the winner of the race gets their time back behind the inversion, which on Saturday was an eight. Forsberg, who timed in 5th on the night, finished second in the B main to Jimmy Trulli who qualified third and usually would have started next to Jimmy Trulli in row five, started dead last in the A main and ultimately couldn’t pass and finished last. Trulli, by virtue of winning the B and getting his time back, finished the race in the top ten. A total of 29 sprint cars were at the show.
Marysville, four weeks, four different winners during their point’s series. Tracy Canaless, Jeremy Phillips, Kyle Schild and now DeCaries. Throw in the Civil War race in March and the winner was Roger Crockett. With their format, expect a new winner this Saturday night.
Last week, Jonathan Allard and John Padjen did their usual thing, having lunch in Chico during the week. This lunch, however, was different. Allard had criticized Chico’s racing surface of late even though he realized John was doing all that he could do to make it as good as he could. The wet weather had not allowed the grader onto the track. So Padjen replied with his own jab and told Allard he could prepare the track this week, along with Duke and Scott McMillen, who Allard drivers for, if John could set up Allard’s car for the race. Allard balked at Padjen’s offer and it’s a good thing he did. Allard went on to win the Friday night Civil War race and in victory lane jokingly told Padjen that the track was fine and nothing was wrong with it. Kind of funny how things that drivers bitch about, have a weird way of working out for them.
Former Chico Champ, Johnny Rodriguez had a driveline break on him while running 7th in the main event Friday night. ...former champ, David “Powerfeed” Robinson lost a motor in hot laps.
When you just should have stayed home story. Chad Riolo, a Civil War heavy hitter, arrived real late to the pit area on Friday and it was found out that the team had a flat tire on the rig. Also, after that was fixed, the rig sat for 10 minutes at a railroad crossing until the longest train Chad had ever seen went by. Once at the track I asked him about racing and he said I hope it’s nothing like what kind of luck we had getting up here tonight. Well, it only got worse. In the C main, he was running second and had a for sure transfer as the white flag flew, however, entering turn three, third place driver Eric Hopkins drove into the rear of Riolo, spinning him around and out of a transfer. Adding insult to injury, Hopkins got the transfer as Riolo had to park his car for the night. Maybe the flat tire or the train was a sign that Riolo just should have probably never even made it to Chico.