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Thunder Hill Raceway recap, 6/19/04

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June 21, 2004

Contact: Thunder Hill Raceway, 512.262.1352




By Jon Sagester and Chuck Licata


KYLE-It was a night of bumps and bruises at Thunder Hill Raceway Saturday night (June 19), both for the cars and drivers at the 3/8-mile paved oval track in Kyle.


The unusual happenings started early on as Jerry "Lee" Barnett (Lockhart) hit the front wall coming out of Turn 4 in the A-Line Auto Parts (AAP) Street Stock's first heat race. Besides demolishing the front end of his 1984 Chevy Nova, Barnett was shaken up a bit and was taken off the track in the ambulance for observation. Following the night of racing, he reported he was "a little sore, but I'll probably be even more sore tomorrow (Sunday)." However, he was spotted later in the pits, helping to load his damaged car on the trailer, so all seemed to be okay with Barnett.


In the second AAP Street Stock heat race, Chris Birmingham (Leander) and Rick Garner (Cedar Creek) were disqualified from completing the heat race for intentionally hitting each other. It reminded the crowd of approximately 1,200 fans - who were there enjoying Z-102.3 FM Night at the Races - of the on-track incident between NEXTEL Cup drivers Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick at Pocono a couple weeks ago. Although tempers flared, both were allowed back in the feature race, with Garner finishing 7th and Birmingham placing 15th.


The carnage of sheet metal continued on through the night. A total of 78 cars were entered in the five feature races but only 30 were able to complete all the laps.


The Texas Asphalt Modified Series (TAMS) took the hardest hit. TAMS was making its first appearance of the season at Thunder Hill Raceway. Of the 25 cars that started the feature race, only seven were able to complete the full 50 laps of the TAMS feature race. Probably the most frustrated driver was Newton Barton, Jr. (Lytle) who ran out of gas on the 48th lap, and had to be pushed off the track.


The caution flag flew 10 times in the TAMS feature race. Joey Heinaman (Corpus Christi) was able to stay in front of all the problems, starting on the pole and taking the checkered flag at the end. He was followed by Bruce Beddoe (Robstown) Greg and Davidson (Pearland).


Another pole-sitter who had a good night was Donnie Moore (Hutto), who won the Texas Pro Sedans (TPS) feature. Moore, the TPS points leader coming in, completely ran away from the pack, taking the checkered flag in front of Bill LaBarge (Bryan), who finished second, and Lalo Leal (Corpus Christi).


The A-Line Auto Parts Street Stocks caught the "Yellow Flag Fever" that seemed to permeate the track, as the class was hit with two caution flags before it could complete the first lap. Pole-sitter Todd Weeks (Bulverde) and James Bailey (La Vernia) got together in Turn 4 on the first lap, and the incident sent both cars to the pits.


After the re-start, the lead changed twice before Brian Walzel (Goldthwaite) moved up from his sixth-place start to grab the lead on the fourth lap. Walzel then led 17 laps before going wide and off the track on Lap 21. That gave the lead to Bobby LaFont (Volente), who started the race in the 12th position. LaFont led the rest of the way and claimed his first win of the season.


LaFont was followed across the finish line by Cary Stapp (San Marcos) and Doug Ayers (Pflugerville). Ayers held his lead in the AAP Street Stocks points chase (794 points). Bobby Teer, Jr. (Comfort, 771) moved up to second place while Marvin Buck (Pflugerville, 726) moved up to third.


The Capital City Trade and Technical School (CCTTS) Hobby Stocks couldn't avoid Yellow Flag Fever, either, as the class had two cautions before completing its first lap of the feature race. Again, only five of the 11 starters were able to complete the full 20-lap feature, which was hit with four caution flags. Gary Chancellor (Bastrop) raced to the front from his 11th-place start and took the lead on Lap 4. Chancellor then held that lead for the final 16 laps of the race in winning his second straight CCTTS feature race.


David Hassinger (Kyle) finished second and Jay Simon (Lakeway) finished third. Hassinger has finished in the top five positions in seven of the eight races this season. The Kyle resident has two wins and leads the CCTTS Hobby Stock points race with 862 points. He's followed by Joe Tschoerner (Bartlett, 814 points) and Tschoerner's niece, Tracy Tschoerner (Taylor, 761).


Due to a scheduling conflict, Texas State University Football Coach David Bailiff was unable to attend the races and serve as Grand Marshall. Filling in ably for Bailiff was TSU Bobcats' Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback Coach Frank Hernandez. He was accompanied by his four-year-old son, Frank, Jr. Noting that he really enjoyed the races, Hernandez - a graduate of Kansas State - stated, "I'll be back (to see more races). How much are season tickets?"


This coming Saturday (June 26), Thunder Hill Raceway welcomes the ROMCO Super Late Models "Tornado" Tour, along with the Texas Dwarf Cars and the home-based A-Line Auto Parts Street Stocks, the Capital City Trade and Technical School Hobby Stocks and THR Grand Stocks.


The grandstand gates open at 5:30 p.m. and racing starts at 7 p.m. this Saturday night. Thunder Hill Raceway is located off IH-35 at exit 210 (Yarrington Road) and is just 15 minutes south of Austin and 10 minutes north of San Marcos. For more information call Thunder Hill Raceway at 262-1352, or visit www.thunderhillraceway.com.

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