Forsberg Wins Sprint Car Feature
Five time Civil War series champion Andy Forsberg took command of another title run, winning the main event for sprint cars Saturday night at Calistoga Speedway, but only after challenges by rival drivers blew up with untimely tire woes.
In the middle stages of the 25 lap race, two-time champion Sean Becker, who narrowly lost the title to Forsberg last year, was leading the race by a comfortable margin when his left rear tire exploded on the backstretch, handing the lead to Forsberg.
In the closing laps, Forsberg had to beat back a strong challenge from former state sprint car champion Ronnie Day, who diced nose to tail and side by side with him over the last five laps before Day’s bid for the win ended when his rear tire blew on the white flag lap.
“I’ve won races I should have lost and lost races I should have won,” said Forsberg about the bad luck of Becker and Day. “This was a very fortunate night for us,” added Forsberg, who padded his bid for a sixth championship with the win.
Forsberg’s strongest challenge came from Day, who hounded the current champion in the closing laps, diving under him on the low groove of turns one and two and then trying to power around him on the outside of turns three and four. Day appeared to have the advantage as the pair ran side by side down the front stretch with two laps to go before the yellow caution flew for a stalled car, regrouping the field. “I think without that last yellow flag, I would have passed him,” Day contended.
Day said he knew the tire was going low, alerted by another driver on a pace lap. “But with so few laps to go, it didn’t matter,” added Day, who chose to push for the win instead of slowing down to preserve the tire.
Hometown racer Mike Benson finished third, his second best career finish on the half mile oval. “I’ve finished fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh,” said Benson, who won the Civil War series race on this track three years ago. “We are real happy to be running with the front runners,” added Benson, whose crew started building the car he raced on Monday night. “I made some mistakes and backed up in the field, but I made up for them later in the race,” he said about preserving his podium finish.
Sixteen year old driver Chase Johnson saw his dream of a career first win come to a crashing end near the half way point. The second year driver from Penngrove who races weekly at Petaluma Speedway pulled away from the field and drove confidently on the high speed half mile But on lap 11 as he caught lapped traffic, he ran into the rear of a slower car, ending his night. “It would have been my first career win said the young driver.
Racing will return to Calistoga’s half mile oval with the Louie Vermeil Classic for non-winged sprint cars and midgets on Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend.
Calistoga Speedway, Civil War sprint car series (Saturday) Fast time qualifier: Ronnie Day, Salinas (17.983 sec). Heat 1 (8 laps): Rich Griffin, St. Helena; Nicole Miller, Loomis; Mike Benson, Calistoga; Day; Chase Johnson, Penngrove. Heat 2: Steven Tiner, Visalia; Kyle Hirst, Loomis, Elk Grove; Sean Becker, Roseville. Jeremy Burt, Grass Valley; Nick Green, San Jose. Heat 3 : Greg DeCaires, Elk Grove; Billy Aton, Benecia; Allissa Geving, Penngrove; Trent Canales; Andy For sberg ,Auburn; Dennis Harvey, Orangevale. Semi-main (12 laps): Herman Klein, Sacramento; Jeff Parady, Pope Valley; B rett Miller, Chico; Shain Matthews, Paradise; Cody LaMar, Sacramento; Shawn Wright, Lodi. MAIN EVENT (25 LAPS): Forsberg; Hirst; Benson; DeCaires; B. Miller; Matthews; Klein; Geving; Becker; Aton; Lamar; Wright; N. Miller; Parady; Harvey; Day; Tiner; Green; Burt; Canales; Johnson.