Becker Wins Calistoga Commemorative Classic

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5091d57236f2e.preview-620Sean Becker surprised himself by winning Calistoga Speedway’s Commemorative Classic Saturday night, a race that saw the lead change in the last two turns on the half mile oval and that was marred by a fatal accident involving driver Tyler Wolf.

Becker inherited the lead on the last lap after Rico Abreu, who looked ready to bank the $15,000 payout, ran out of fuel with less than two turns to go to the checkered flag.  As Abreu’s sprint car sputtered and coughed the last half lap, Becker swept to the win he had been stalking for 29 laps.

“I know Rico had this race won and I feel bad for him, but winning here (at Calistoga) has been a long time coming for me,” said the 2012 Silver Dollar Speedway champion.  “I’ve lost so many races here while leading,” an excited Becker added, when the rear end broke, or I had a flat tire, or something else broke on the car.  “So I was due for one here.”

The race was a celebration of Calistoga Speedway’s 75 years of operation, making the win especially sweet for car owner and former Calistoga resident Dan Monhoff, who had to borrow a motor in the last week just to enter the race.   “We originally weren’t going to come here, but my car owner got on the phone and pulled out all the chips and here we are winning this thing,” said Becker.

Abreu inherited the lead on lap 19 after 16 year old Carson Macedo, who dominated the first half of the race despite racing at Calistoga for the first time, slipped coming off turn two, losing the lead but keeping Becker behind him.  A broken suspension part would later end his night with the car upside down in turn three, setting up a restart with three laps to go.

On the restart, Abreu jumpted back into the lead until the car sputtered on the backstretch.  He hung on to finish fourth after Tim Kaeding and current World of Outlaws champion Jason Meyers swept by for the two remaining podium spots.  “We had a seven year old engine in this car tonight and found out it’s tired and doesn’t work on a half mile track,” said Kaeding, conceding he had no chance to make a move on Becker for the win.

On lap three, Wolf’s sprint car made hard contact with the wall in turn two at high speed, flipped and came to rest on the racetrack.  He was attended to by medical personnel at the track and was taken from the track by ambulance to a local hospital where he later succombed to his injuries and was later declared deceased by the Napa County Coroner, marking the first fatality at Calistoga Speedway in 26 years.

The 20 year old driver form Redding,  was the 2011 sprint car champion at Silver Dollar Speedway, the youngest champion in that track’s history.

Calistoga Speedway Commemorative Classic (360 open competition sprint cars:  Fast time qualifier:  Jason Meyers, Clovis (18.753 sec).  Heat one (8 laps):  Shane Golobic, Fremont; Meyers; Andy Gregg, Placerville; Geoff Ensign, Sebastopol.  Heat 2:  Herman Klein, Sacramento; Stephen Allard, Cameron Park; Carson Madedo, Lemoore;  Tim Kaeding, San Jose.  Heat 3: Sean Becker, Roseville; Mike Benson, Calistoga;  Andy Forsberg, Auburn; Roger Crockett, Eugene, Ore.  Heat 4:  Justyn Cox, Sacramento; Logan Forlor; Rico Abreau, St.Helena; Brad Sweet, Charlotte, N.C.   Semi-main (12 laps):  Kyle Hirst, Sacramento; Tyler  Wolf, Redding; Craig Stidham,  Fresno; Bradley Terrell, Sebastopol; Jimmy Trulli, Placerville; Mason Moore, Chico;  Zach Zimmerly, Seattle; Greg DeCaires, Elk Grove.   Main event:  (30 laps)  Becker, Kaeding, Meyers, Abreau, Hirst, Gregg, Stidham, Allard, Forlor, Zimmerly, Crockett, Forsberg, Benson, DeCaires, Moore, Terrell, Macedo, Sweet, Trulli, Cox, Wolf, Ensign.

-by Bill Sessa

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