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Live Race Coverage from Houston Motorsports Park, 3/15/08


NickHolt

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It's a warm, cloudless afternoon in Houston. Perfect for racing.

 

It's only 5:30 and the parking lot is filling quickly. According to Sarah Mandabach, they sold a "bunch" of pre-sale tickets adn they are expecting a full grandstand tonight.

 

At this point, there are 19 Pro LMs, 16 Pro Modifieds, 11 Pro Trucks, 11 Pro Stocks and some Legends and Banoleros (not too sure how many of those....) in the pits.

 

The Modifieds just finished qualiyfing with defending Pro Mod Champ Ralph Burris Jr, on the pole with a scorching 14.855 lap. H. E. Nauman and John Heil tied for second with identical 14.914 timings. The top 15 cars are all within 1.8 second of each other. This one should be a real Texas barnburner.

 

Jim Albert set quick time for the Pro Stocks at 16.014 seconds with Jeff Hull, Jr (16.056) second and Rusty Mirth (16.153) third. Looks like the trucks are making a comeback. I hear there are more trucks that are not quite finished yet but who are planning on coming out later in the season.

 

In the Pro Stocks, Del Harris picked up where he left off last season with a 16.719 timing followed by Arthur Hermiz (16.767) and James Huff (16.813).

 

Up next, the ASA Pro Late Models - Two veteran drivers took the top two spots with Brandon Bendele clocking in with an amazing 14.377 second lap. Greg Davidson wasn't far behind with his Ford Taurus with a 14.394 second lap. Kristen Bumbera timed in third at 14.697.

 

Really a pretty good looking field for first night out... for any night out actually...

 

It's now 6:30 and the stands are filling fast. Lots of cars still pulling into the parking lot and the traffic is stacking up down Mt. Houston Road. The Bakers have to be feeling good about this...

 

 

Way to go Houston Motorsports Park!

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Here are some unofficial Pro Late Model qualifying times that we tracked manually from the pits:

 

6 Brandon Bendele 14.53 14.37

96 Greg Davidson 14.44 14.39

00 Kristen Bumbera 14.92 14.71

15 John Heil 14.94 14.72

28 Ralph Burris 14.97 14.78

71D Donnie Kelley 14.82 14.87

19 Kent Baltzell 14.84 15.02

29 Thad Felton 15.23 14.86

14 Carl Smith 15.18 14.90

02 Matt Smith 14.91 14.94

1 McCurley 15.24 14.97

80 Lloyd Alexander 15.08 14.98

1 Ronnie Whitlock 15.45 15.06

40 Craig Roper 15.16 15.11

70 Sonny Hunt 15.57 15.40

11 Larry Schild 16.01 15.58

7 Larry Schild III 15.91 15.60

69 Matt (Last Name ?) 18.10 16.86

01 George Russell 17.93 17.02

 

I think there were about 16 Pro Modifieds that qualified. And there were quite a few Pro Trucks too - about 15 or so.

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Legends started 10 cars for their 25 lapper.

 

Lancaster Garrett and Zachary Hausler on the front row.. Garrett jumps out to a good lead early with Derek Shumacher working up to fifth from his next to last starting spot.

 

Garrett now facing some pressure form Hausler with Steve Hyche and Steven Abbey not far behind at half-way.

 

Abbey gets by Hyche for 3rd with 12 to go and closes on the two leaders. Top three nose to tail with 8 laps to go. Lots of little love taps as the threesome dices for the lead. Abbey works past Hausler with 4 to go and sets his sights on Garrett. Lots of contact in 1-2 on last lap with Abbey getting Garrett just loose enough to move under down the backstraight and take the lead. Garrett tried to get back by, but Abbey was able to hold him off for the win.

 

Banoleros started 12 for their 15 lap feature with Boyd Bumbera on the pole and Clayton Greene on the outside pole.

 

Bumbera jumps out to a pretty decent lead start, but it was not to be due to a spin in turn 2 by Alec Stutes. Complete restart. Deja vu all over again with Bumbera jumping out once again but after one lap, Stutes spins in turn four to bring out the second caution...

 

Got 3 laps in before the next yellow for a spin by 96 (no name). During the yellow 96 was collected by Craig Thor at the pit exit for a bit more excitement. Unitentional I'm sure.

 

On the restart Bumbera again was able to opoen up a few car lengths on Greene, Travis Benson and Jeffery Abbey. With 5 to go, Benson got by Greene for second, but Bumbera was long gone and took the win by a second and a half over Bernson.

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Pro Trucks will start 12 for their 50 lap feature.

 

Jim Albert on the pole, Jeff Hull outside pole. Rusty Mirth and DL Wilson row 2. Brent Bell and Mike Mogensen in row 3.

 

Brent Thor coasts to a stop on the warm up laps...does not take green.

 

Albert gets a good start and exits turn two with a car length on Mirth. Bell looks strong in third early. Hull drops back to fourth. Thor joins field on lap 5.

 

Pat Wiley spins in turn 4 to bring out the first yellow. No harm done. Albert had built up a few truck lengths lead over Mirth and Hull, who had moved back past Bell a lap earlier.

 

On the restart Albert opened up a quick lead and watched Mirth and Hull dice a few truck lengths behind..

Jody Buzbee and Pat Wiley pull into the pits a lap or two after the green.

 

At lap 15 Albert has a second on Mirth who has 3 truck lengths on Hull. THen a big gap back to Morgense and another big gap back to DL Wilson, Terry Buzbee and Bell, who is having problems with some light smoke coming out from behind his truck....

 

At halfway it's still the same running order with the front six spaced out fairly evenly.

 

With 22 to go, Mirth makes a big move and reels in Albert to wind up on his bumper with 20 remaining. Albert seems to be able to hold his own, but there is traffic to lap right in front of them.

 

Opps. With 18 to go, Bell and Terry Buzbee got together coming off turn four and spin down the front straight. Unfortunately, the two leaders were right behind them and both Mirth and Ablert spun to avoid, collecting each other in the process with Mirth hitting the front straight wall with the rear of his 07 truck. Mirth has sheet metal damage that looks like it's not hanging on by much... Albert's truck seems OK and they both assume their front positions as the clean up continues.

 

On the lap 18 restart it's Albert, Mirth, Hull, Mogensen, Terry Buzbee, DL Wilson, Thor and Jim Beasley. Albert opens up a truck length as Mirth and Hull have fun running in second and third.

 

With 10 remaining, Albert has opened up that half second lead with the rest of the field single file behind him by over a second.

 

Hull starts to make a serious move on Mirth with 3 to go and taps Mirth in 1-2 on the last lap, but Mirth is able to hang on for second. Albert made it look easy, winning by almost two full seconds.

 

It's good to see the trucks making a comeback...

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The Pro Stocks started 13 cars for their 50 lap feature - The Texas Roadhouse 50.

 

Del Harris on the pole, Arthur Hermiz outside pole, James Huff and Ty Daniel row two. Lynn Hardy and Deed Dupont on row three..

 

Harris out first with Huff claiming second ahead of Hermiz... but it would not stick as on lap 2 some debris in turn four brings out the 1st yellow. On the lap 1 restart (not a complete restart since one lap was in the books, it's Harris, Hermiz, Huff, Daniel and Hardy (notice how it helps to have your last name begin with an "H".. LOL... )

 

The restart is uneventful with everyone retaining their positions. On Lap 10, the top four are pretty much nose to tail with a car length separating each of them... Same scenario on lap 20 except Hermiz is starting to put some pressure on the back bumper of Harris. Huff right there too with Daniel, ready to take over should the front duo tangle. The rest of the field is pretty much spread out...

 

By halfway, the leaders have caught the rest of the field and the lapping begins. Sure enough, on lap 26 James Asher Sr and Rick Clark almost crash coming off turn four in front of the leaders but manage to hang on. Phew! That was close!

 

On lap 32, Huff gets a great run coming off turn four and gets beside Hermiz going into turn one. Whether Huff came up or Hermiz came down is for the track officials to decide. Daniel gets tangled up in the melee and has a big piece of sheet metal hanging on the right front. Everyone is able to continue, although the only car in the top five with no damage is the leader, Del Harris.

 

On restart it's Harris, Hermiz and Daniel with Huff sent to somewhere near the rear. But before a lap is completed, Deed Dupont spins wildly down the front straight and the rest of the field spins all over the place to try to avoid. Jannette Huff catches a corner of Daniel's ride, but is also able to continue.

 

On the lap 34 restart, it's Harris Daniel, Hermiz, Hardy and Huff, who made up several spots between the two quick cautions.

 

No problems on the restart this time with the top five nose-to-tail.

 

Jim Asher, Sr. brought out the next caution slamming into the front striaght wall very hard on lap 38. Parts and pieces tumbled down the front straight creating a shower of sparks. Looks like a pretty dark strip of oil got laid behind Asher. Looked to me like he blew up just before he collected the wall. Clean up should take a while on this one... They'll need lots of oil dry for this one..

 

Restart uneventful as everyone being careful with oil dry to contend with.

 

With 10 to go, the top three - Harris, Daniel and Hermiz pull away from Hardy and Huff. with seven to go, Hermiz gets by Daniel for second after getting under him in turn 3-4. With 5 to go, Daniel able to maintain lead, but almost spins coming off turn four tyring to avoid a lapped car. This gives Hermiz a chance to close, but the anticipate shootout did not happen because with 2 to go, Jim Asher, Jr. blew up up going into one and everyone scatters. Huff and Hardy make hard contact and Huff pulls into the pits.

 

The track decides to call the race official with the last completed lap (lap 48). So it ends up with Harris taking the win, Hermiz second, Daniel third, Lynn Hardy fourth and James Huff, his pretty new car pretty much banged up, fifth.

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During intermission I typed up the Pro Modified and Pro Truck time trial results.

 

Pro Modifieds Qualifying

 

1. 28 Ralph Burris, 14.855

2. 44 H.E. Naumann, 14.914

3. 15 John Heil, 14.914

4. 7 Tuffy Hudson, 14.944

5. 007 Denny Burton, 14.959

6. 11 James Cole, 14.999

7. 21 Tryan Stutes, 15.055

8. 04 Brad Hudak, 15.065

9. 5 J.C. Umscheid, 15.085

10. 1 Jerry Schild, 15.175

11. 3 Mike Williams, 15. 274

12. 26 Bob Slezinsky, 15.408

13. 8 Jim Nides, 15.409

14. 82 Shane Richard, 15.551

15. 65 Gary Junco, 16.662

16. 33 Jason Morman, 16.916

 

Pro Trucks Qualifying

 

1. 31 Jim Albert, 16.014

2. 47 Jeff Hull, Jr, 16.056

3. 07 Rusty Mirth, 16.153

4. 6 D.L. Wilson, 16.190

5. 72 Brent Bell, 16.206

6. 44 Mike Mogensen, 16.299

7. 90 Brent Thor, 16.584

8. 1 Terry Buzbee, 16.840

9. 56 Pat Wiley, 17.005

10. 13 Nick Riddell, 17.365

11. 77 Justin Buzbee, 17.773

 

Pro LM Qualifying

 

1. 6 Brandon Bendele, 14.377

2. 96 Greg Davidson, 14.394

3. 00 Kristen Bumbera, 14.597

4. 15 John Heil, 14.702

5. 28 Ralph Burris, Jr, 14.717

6. 71 Donnie Kelley, 14.824

7. 19 Kent Baltzell, 14.853

8. 29 Thad Felton, 14.858

9. 02 Matt Smith, 14.892

10. 1 Stephan McCurley, 14.922

11. 14 Carl Smith, 14.952

12. 80 Lloyd Alexander, 14.977

13. 1 Ronnie Whitlock, 15.091

14. 40 Craig Roper, 15.101

15. 70 Sonny Hunt, 15.341

16. 11 Larry Schild, Sr. 15.575

17. 7 Larry Schild, III, 15.626

18. 69 Matt Mecum, 16.784

19. 01 George Russell, 16.971

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Sixteen Pro Modifieds took the green for their 75 lap Feature - "The Shoppa's Farm Supply & Double Oak Construction 75"

 

Ralph Burris and H.E. Naumann on the front row. John Heil and Tuffy Hudson hold down row 2. Denny Burton and James Cole on row 3.

 

Lots of folks down on the front straight for autograph session with the Pro Late Models and Pro Modifieds. I'll be back in a bit to call the race.

 

Some pretty good shoes in this one. Man, these guys are racing each other hard even during the hot lap session!

 

On the very first lap, Denny Burton got into the back of Naumann and got him loose, but Naumann saved it. But the rest of the field slowed behind them and Tryan Stutes, Bob Slezinsky and Shane Richard all got caught up in the mess. Slezinsky and Stutes return, but Richard doesn't.

 

On complete restart we get a lap in before Jim Nides spins in turn four to bring out the second yellow with only one lap in the books. Meanwhile Slezinsky pits again.

 

This time it's a single file restart with Burris, Heil, Burton, Naumann (who got shuffled back on the last restart) and Umscheid the top five at this point. Yellows count for a while so the restart was with 67 remaining.

 

Burris gets a good start and the field falls into line behind him. Heil takes a look or two as the leaders pass a lapped car, but Burris shuts the door with 60 to go.

 

Hudson and Hudak have some fun behind Umschied with Hudson taking the position and setting his sights on Umscheid.

 

With 50 to go, the top three, Burris, Heil and Burton take off and open a multi-car gap back to Nauman who has his hands full of Umscheid. Naumann tastes Umscheid's front bumper a couple of times as his car seems to be a bit too loose.

 

With 43 to go Heil squeezes under Burris going into turn one and brings Burton with him.

 

But Burton and Heil take each other out with 38 to go as the pair split a lapped car going into the first turn. They met as one went high and one went low and went for the same spot at the same time. Burton and Heil get their places back.

 

So, it's Hiel, Burton, Burris, and Naumann with the restart showing 32 laps to go.

 

The leaders all behave on the restart and everyone goes single file for a while.

 

With 25 to go, Naumann looses the handle in turn 2 and Umscheid gets buy for fifth. Hudson's now giving Naumann all he wants as the yellow flies with 20 to go when Mike Williams and Tryan Stutes get together in 3-4.

 

On the restart it's Heil, Burton, Burris, Umscheid, Naumann, Hudson and Hudak.

 

Heil almost stops in turn 3-4 on the restart and the yellow flies after everyone stacks up acordian style. Heil gets a 'stern" warning.

 

With 12 to go the green flies once again with no problems.

 

Heil pulls out to a slight lead over Burton as Burris seems to fade a bit. Hudson works his way under Naumann for fifth with seven to go. Hudak now works Nauman over pretty good...

 

Heil has a two car length lead with two to go with Burris and Umscheid a few more car lengths back. Burton slams into Heil on the last turn but Heil hangs on for the win and a $3,000 paycheck.

 

Burton and Heil were very evenly matched and put on a great show for the full grandstands.

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Nineteen ASA Pro Late Models grid for the "Delmar Systems 100" which pays $5,000 to win.

 

Brandon Bendele and Greg Davidson on the front row. Kristin Bumbera and John Heil (trying to make it a double at HMP) in row two. Ralph Burris and Donny Kelley in the third row. Kent Baltzell and Thad Felton in row four. Matt Smith and Stephan McCurley in row five. Carl Smith and Lloyd Alexander row six. Ronnie Whitlock and Craig Roper row seven. Sonny Hunt and Larry Schild Sr in row eight. Larry Schild III and Matt Mecum row nine. George Russell all by himself at the end of the line...

 

Bendele gets a good start as does Davidson. Heil makes some very aggressive looks to the inside as Bendele and Davidson race side by side. Going into one of the start of the second lap, Hiel hits Bendele and spins him to bring out a yellow. Heil sent to the back. Bendle gets his spot back.

 

It's Bendele, Davidson, Bumbera, Burris and Kelley the top five on the single file restart with 94 remaining.

 

Baltzell makes a great move to get by Kelley and takes Felton with him as the pair move through the field.

 

UP front Bendele and Davidsion encounter lapped traffic after only 10 laps but make it through OK. Burris, meantime has moved by Bumbera for third. Baltzell moves into fifth and sets sights on Bumbera, again with Felton on his rear bumper.

 

Bendele is on rails as he opens a four car lead.

 

George Russell hits the turn four wall to bring out the second caution with 81 laps remaining.

 

On the lap 70 restart it's Bendele, Davidson, Burris, Bumbera, Baltzell, Felton, Kelley, Smith, Alexander, Roper, Schild Sr, Sonny Hunt, Whitlock, Heil, McCurley, SchildII and Matt Mecum.

 

But the lap was not complete before Carl Smith got into the back of Alexander and turned him down the back straight to bring out another yellow. Hunt got caught up in it and scraped the wall pretty hard trying to miss Alexander who was sideways in the groove. Both Alexander and Carl Smith get their spots back, but Hunt gets to ride the hook off the track after suffering extensive right side damage.

 

The lap 50 restart wasn't to last long because Carl Smith once again gets into the back of Alexander, only this time down the front straight. This time Smith goes to the back while Alexander gets his spot back. Alexander pits instead. Felton pits too but his hood comes off. Heil pits also with tire rub in the front end.

 

Restart with 53 remaining. Bendele gets another good start and Davidson has to fall in line. Bumbera gets passed by Baltzell on lpa 50 moving her back to fifth.

 

Things get a bit strung out up front with three or four car lengths separating the top six cars.

 

With 40 to go, Bendele has opened up a big gap to Davidson and Burris finds himself on Davidson's rear bumper. The best battle is between Kelley and Matt Smith. But with 36 remaining Matt Smith spins in turn four

 

Greg Davidson pits with 35 to go under the yellow. Hood removed and he joins the tail end of the line... Wonder what that was about. He re-pits with 33 to go, still under yellow. Gets out of pits just before the pack takes the green.

 

So now it's Bendele, Burris, Baltzell, Bumbera, Kelley, Matt Smith... (I guess it helps if your last name begins with a "B")

 

With 27 to go, Heil spins down the front straight and into the pit wall to bring fout yet another yellow. Heil gets the black flag.

 

Restart on lap 23 is clean, but on the next lap, Bumberra gets into Baltzell who almost spins but recovers. Then McCurley spins down the front straight to bring out the yellow.

 

Lap 17 restart has Kelley spinning down the front straight after some contact, but I didn't see with whom...

 

Still Bendele, Burris, Baltzell, Bumbera, Kelley and Matt Smith up front.

 

With only 12 laps to go the 12 remaining cars take the green. As usual, Bendele makes it look easy as he sprints out to another pretty good lead. The rest fall in behind in single file.

 

With seven to go and there is a major wreck down the back straight. Roper, Matt Smith, McCurley and Ronnie Whitlock are all in a wad just before the entrance to turn 3. Someone got loose - it might have been Whitlock, but not sure - coming off turn 2, tried to correct and came down in front of some folks.

 

 

Six cars take the green with 7 to go.. Bendele again gets out strong. Burris stays closer this time as Baltzell drops back. Bumbera gets some pressure from Karl Smith with 4 to go.

 

Bendele wins by four car lengths over Burris, Baltzell, Bumbera, Matt Smith and Larry Schild III.

 

Must have been the big bucks being offered, but the race really turned out to be pretty much a wreck fest. A crowd-pleasing wreck fest, I'm sure..

 

I'll try to get the full results out sometime Sunday...

 

Nick

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good coverage nick. too bad the officials at hmp cant see when a car is driving over their head and pretty much running over every car in front of them. There sure was a lot of mysterious solo spins in front of a certain orange and white 14 car all night. Just wish the officials would make a call every once in a while.

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good coverage nick. too bad the officials at hmp cant see when a car is driving over their head and pretty much running over every car in front of them. There sure was a lot of mysterious solo spins in front of a certain orange and white 14 car all night. Just wish the officials would make a call every once in a while.

Just got in!!!!Had a blast!!!!!Great turn-out John Madebach(spelling)is "THE MAN".lloyd is right and I have video that shows several cars getting away with spinning people.(not that it will change the outcome or anything)

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Outstanding Job Nick. That broadcasting/journalism school is really paying off.

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pretty good night of racing , glad to see all the fans in the stands ,all the cars in the pits really glad to see the track officials call some of the races when there were a few laps to go because of the time limits ,looking forward to the whole racing season at HMP i think it's going to be great. B)

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There really are a log of positive things that are happening at HMP. The grandstands were literally packed and the racing was fast and furious. Kinda reminds me of the good old days...

 

Nick

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I would like to personally thank all the drivers that came out to support the event. We had the best truck field I've ever seen and it was great to meet some of those guys that I'd only chatted with here. A special thanks to John, Graham, Sarah and all the staff at HMP. You guys kept the show moving and it was great to stand in the infield and look at the stands full and the crowd spilling out onto the grass. Only comment I heard from many was that it took to long to get through the gate. Maybe move the pit sales to the back gate or have a separate gate for pit passes.

 

I can't wait to see what is going to happen at HMP this year. I also hope we keep seeing truck fields like we did.

 

Thanks again all,

 

Brent Thor

Owner / Driver #90 Pro Truck

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Damn Nick, I am dissapointed, you didn't come to say hi. We had fun, we tore up a lot of crap, my best looking car ever(in my eyes) and it didn't last a whole race. Man was I shocked when I got out of the car and saw the damage. Its all cosmetic though, and to still finish second, that was amazing.

 

John, awsome job, awsome crowd, awsome night., I brought out one of my sponsors to watch, he was at the last race last year, and then gave me a check on Friday, and loved the races on Sat. He is going to be coming to all the races, they said they had lots of fun.

 

See everyone in 2 weeks. I am running to the store to find a big bandaid for the car.

 

p.s. video will be added later today, we had a tower cam and an in car cam.

 

Arthur Hermiz

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Damn Nick, I am dissapointed, you didn't come to say hi... Arthur Hermiz

 

Arthur, I really shouldn't have gone to Houston at all. My wife had major surgery on Wednesday and she had only been home a day and I (guilty look plastered on face) take off to go racin... So I arrived late and left shortly after the last checkered. I made the return trip in 2 hours and 59 minutes - a personal record - thanks to the semi rig with the awesome radar that I followed all the way from 610 & 10 to 1604.

 

Sandy did fine, though. My 23-year old son and 17-year old daughter were there with her, so it wasn't like I abandoned her, right? (more guilty looks on face... )

 

Your car look great and handled pretty decent too. But I see where your fellow suspenson seminar student, Mr. Huff, had his car pretty well hooked up too.

 

So, not to stir the pot or anything (LOL), but why did you come down on Huff going into turn one? JUST KIDDING! He actually came up on you, right? JUST KIDDING! Looked like he wanted your spot and you wanted to keep your spot. Kinda a classic racing deal..

 

Nick

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