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Casey Burkham takes Texas Sprint Series win at Kennedale


NickHolt
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New Era for Texas Sprint Series Blasts Off with Record Car Count and Nail-Biting Feature Event

Kennedale, TX (3/8/20) - The Texas Sprint Series (TSS) Tony Hernandez Memorial event held at Kennedale Speedway Park on Saturday night brought together a series record field of 40 RaceSaver IMCA race teams.

It was an evening full of remembrance of TSS founder Tony Hernandez, who recently passed away, hotly contested racing action and a wild and completely unpredictable feature event – that at one point hushed the large crowd due to an extremely scary and serious incident.

KSP track prep guru Bo Rawdon somehow had the track set on full-tilt and smooth (after working the track incessantly for days as a result of torrid rains mid-week), and the cars set a blistering pace in the mid-13’s throughout the racing program.

After five qualifying heats and two B-features the field would be whittled down to 20 cars that were set to battle it out. The track became more technical in nature as the 20-lapper would get underway with patches of slick mid-way up the track that caused some minor snafus along the way.

However, it was mid-race when things really got hairy.

Marcus Thomas had advanced several positions and held the lead whilst encountering very heavy lap traffic – with the equally quick Jeff Emerson in tow. As the lead pair caught another pair of lapped cars racing for position, Thomas chose the bottom in corner entry, and instantly that space evaporated forcing him to get on the binders extra hard. With the potent 15T of Thomas wrestling to keep the engine fired as he backed it into corner one it left Emerson with about ¼ car width between him, the wall and Thomas, resulting in contact between the two. Thomas would eventually come to a stop and be relegated to the tail on the ensuing restart, while Emerson would be forced to the infield from damage resulting from the incident.

This allowed 18-year-old Casey Burkham to emerge as the new leader with a pack of strong runners on his tail as the race resumed.

Once again mired by lapped traffic, the breakaway pair of Burkham and Colby Estes (who’s Skyview Inc. sprinter was glued to the track in a perfect combination of horsepower, driver and expert set-up condition) would race nose-to-tail and at times even closer with Estes poised to pounce at any opportunity to do so.

Then, a very scary and crowd-hushing incident would occur.

On lap 18, Estes would make a power move on Burkham coming off corner two and the pair would make contact about a quarter the way down the backstretch, sending Estes flipping wildly into the backstretch wall – yet landing on all-fours, sending the uncontrollable car into the infield where tech was taking place for the previous IMCA Modified feature.

Colby’s car would make contact with a modified sending it into an unsuspecting James Lopez, KSP tech director, as he was working on a car.

Lopez would be transferred to a local hospital, and with a huge sigh, he reported on his own Facebook page this morning that he expects to make a recovery from the highly unusual incident.

Post-event, Colby Estes would comment to this writer that he was okay, but his heart and feelings were solely focused on the status of James Lopez; which was a very honorable statement from the young 2018 Sprint Car Bandits series champion.

Back to restart to contest the final two laps, Casey Burkham, sans an effective right-side top wing panel, would somehow keep control of his car and take the Tony Hernandez Memorial win. Logan Scherb, John Ricketts, Michelle Parson (reminder to all, Michelle Melton got married over the off-season to Chase Parson…congratulations!), Chase Brewer, Marcus Thomas (recovering from his mid-race incident relegating him to the tail of the field) and Jeb Sessums would round out the top seven finishers. Complete official results will be posted at the series website, www.raceTSS.com when available.

Thank you to the staff and crew of Kennedale Speedway Park for manhandling the muddy mess left over from the nearly 3” of rain on Wednesday – you would never know that it even happened – which is a true testament of will and decades of experience on the behalf of KSP.

A jumbo-sized crowd was on hand to witness the event, even though cooler-than-forecast temps and a pesky breeze would attempt to thwart the crowd enthusiasm…but it did not deter the hearty KSP fans at all.

Here’s a video summary of the feature event by Don Cook, that will give you a good taste of last night’s action: https://youtu.be/x76wPi-eb9s

NEXT UP for the Texas Sprint Series will be the Spring Sprint Shakedown at Boyd Raceway on Friday March 27th. Click www.raceTSS.com to view the new event flyer, which is now posted.

Until then, thank you to the family of Tony Hernandez for being on hand last night as we all paid our respects to Tony and we hope that it provided some solace to them all in their time of loss and reflection of his life.

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