Dorothy Talan-Quaid: Roseville short track duel
Roseville’s All American Speedway, located at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville, has been the scene of some might fine racing over the years. In 2007 the speedway received its NASCAR sanction again in time to run NASCAR’s Western Late Model Series and began running NASCAR-sanctioned Camping World Series West (CWSW) races in 2008. Local race team owner Bill McAnally has been instrumental in promoting CWSW races at his home track, with two races scheduled each of the past two years at All American Speedway, including the last race of the season for each of those years.
Last year McAnally’s #20 team, led by driver Eric Holmes, won the championship for Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) in a nail-biter that went down to the last few laps of the final race of the season. Runner-up Jason Bowles battled Holmes throughout 2008 and 2009 was practically a repeat of the previous year, only this time Bowles had possession of the points lead when the teams started this final race of the year.
Holmes’ teammate, rookie Paulie Harraka, started on the pole Saturday night and led 149 of the 150-lap race, bringing home his second win of the season and clinching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title. Involvement in a crash early in the race left defending series champion Holmes several laps down and took him out of contention for the series championship.
Knowing that Holmes was having problems didn’t change Bowles’ race plan, according to the 26-year-old driver. “I didn’t have much of a choice cuz they were yelling at me that I’d better just kind of relax,” Bowles said of the instructions from his crew. “I wish we could have contended for the win. I think we were faster than the 12 (Harraka) but it is what it is, we came here to win a championship.” His fourth-place finish secured the 2009 Camping World Series West championship for Bowles and his team, who had 10 top-five finishes in the 13 race season. “It’s a compliment to my guys, what a good job they’ve done,” Bowles added.
Meanwhile Harraka showed the field how to win at All American Speedway, the track this New Jersey native calls home. “It’s a great way to end our season,” Harraka said. “To end the season with two wins in the last three races is certainly big for NAPA and for all our sponsors and for the fans.” Harraka finished fourth in the points standings and his future goals include winning a championship for McAnally next year. “I think Paulie is a great driver and I’d love to put together a program and go after the championship next year,” McAnally said. “I’d like to keep all three of our drivers,” he added. Holmes finished second in the championship and teammate Moses Smith was seventh in points.
Also on the night’s agenda was the media celebrity race, the A-All Mini-Storage Media Blitz 100. Seven cars were entered in the race for charity and bragging rights, but the FOX40 car, driven by Mark Demsky, crashed during Friday night practice, taking Demsky and partner Natalie Bomke out of Saturday night’s race. The remaining drivers were pumped up for the event and excited to be part of a real NASCAR experience. “It’s just the opportunity of a lifetime,” said CBS13’s Dave Bender, whose experience behind the wheel of a stock car was limited to participating in a Richard Petty Driving School package at the track in Fontana, CA. “We’re going to give a great show no matter what happens, I think the crowd is really going to get into it,” he added.
The action began early on in the race when CW31’s Mark S. Allen and Bender fought for the same piece of the track in turn one. Bender spun, striking KCRA’s Brian Hickey and Allen came to a stop; all three received body damage to their cars but restarted the race without repairs. (Allen and Bender, friends and colleagues at their sister-stations, have had some post-race fun blaming each other for the crash).
Assemblyman Ted Gaines, substituting for Comcast Sports’ Jim Kozimor, called his first time in a stock car “an incredible experience”. “It all happens so quickly and it’s very, very hot,” Gaines said of his time on the track. “You don’t have a whole lot of time to react.” Gaines said the power generated by the racing engine was impressive. “I’ve never been behind the wheel of a car that powerful before.”
Gaines actually led the first half of the media race until a mid-race caution allowed Hickey to pass Gaines for the lead. Hickey, who started last, comes from a racing family, although his father stopped competing when he was a child. He credits his win to paying attention to what the other drivers were doing on the track – mainly braking hard in the corners. “I just stayed off the brakes and I dared to go to the outside again, and I think I got Gaines on the outside,” Hickey said. His strategy worked and Hickey brought home the win, a trophy and $1,000 for his charity, A Touch of Understanding.
NASCAR Notes: The Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series were both in Dover, Delaware last weekend while the Camping World Trucks were in Las Vegas. Johnny Sauter won Saturday’s truck race but Ron Hornaday maintained his lead in the championship points race. The trucks race again October 24th in Martinsville.
Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide race was a nail-biter, with only 13 cars finishing on the lead lap as rain threatened to end the race early. The race was won by Clint Bowyer. Those rains came overnight, washing off the track and adding another element to Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. The green track didn’t seem to bother race winner Jimmie Johnson, who cut Mark Martin’s point lead to 10 with eight races to go in the season. Both series will be at Kansas Speedway this weekend.
Dorothy Talan-Quaid is a freelance writer. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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