Cody Mansfield Takes NMMRA Sprint Thriller
The Dirt Track @ NAPA Speedway, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Once again weather was not a friend of NAPA Speedway as there were high winds, heavy clouds, intermittent sprinkles then a heavy downpour during the last main event of the night, cutting short the X-Mod main. The NMMRA Spinters again came out and did a great job of packing the track and getting it ready for racing. The track was heavier than usual and saw some cars that don’t always do really well run at or near the front. With the combination of bad weather and 2 classes of cars not running the car count was down but the cars that were on hand put on a great show for the hardy folks who stuck it out to the end. Albuquerque has some of the best dirt track racing fans in the country.
The NMMRA Sprints had a shorter field than usual with only 17 cars but boy did they put on a show. The main-event was one of the most exciting races in any class this year on the Dirt Track @ NAPA Speedway. The 3 heat races were run with only a single caution for a minor spin to slow the action. Heat #1 saw Arizona driver Tom Lee in the #53 hold off a race long challenge from the father and son duo of Robert & Michael Marfia. At the checkered it was son Michael in the #6 holding off dad Robert in the #24 Russell Gossett car coming home 2nd and 3rd respectively. Heat #2 had another hotly contested battled between two previous main event winners this year. At the drop of the green flag the battle was on between the #62 of Bill Mitchell and the #7 of Jesse Baker. After racing nose to tail and side by side the entire race Mitchell was able to hold off Baker for the win with the #24C of Cody Dons not far behind. Dons is a rookie this year and getting faster and faster every week and will be in the hunt for a win soon. Heat #3 had an early battle between the #19 of Ronnie Smith and the #4X of Cody Mansfield with Mansfield pulling away for a fairly big win over Smith with the #4L of lady driver Kristy Smith not far behind in 3rd spot. The main-event was run on a nearly perfect track and was possibly the best race at NAPA Speedway this year. The #7 of Jesse Baker started on the inside front row with the #4X of Cody Mansfield starting on the outside front row. At the drop of the green the battle raged with Baker taking off in the lead with Mansfield right on his rear bumper. As the laps continued Baker and Mansfield swapped the lead several times with several more cars hot on their heels. At one point the #62 of Bill Mitchell got by Mansfield as they changed positions back and forth. Somewhere along the way Mitchell sustained some front-end damage that ended his night. With the laps winding down Baker and Mansfield got into the lapped traffic and the real excitement was on. As Baker and Mansfield got to the lappers first one and then the other went high then low with first one then the other leading at the flag-stand. On the last lap Mansfield made his move on the high side and took a very close victory over Baker. Once again the Marfia’s of Michael and Robert were right behind looking for an opening to take the win. In the end dad Robert finished 3rd with son Michael side by side in 4th. If you didn’t like this race you probably aren’t a real dirt track fan. Great job all drivers with NMMRA.
The A-Mods have struggled with car count this year and only 4 cars were on hand this week. The heat race saw this years big winner Josh Cain in the #3J have a race long battle with the #58 of Clint Miller with the #31 of Gallup racer Doug Goodenough also in the fight until mechanical problems ended his night. In the end Cain was able to hold off the persistent Miller with the #3 of Kenneth Payne taking 3rd position. With Goodenough unable to make the start there were only 3 cars in the main event. One would think that a 3-car main would not be very good but boy would they be wrong. This was the closest race in the A-Mods this year as the battle between Cain and Miller was FANTASTIC. At the drop of the green Miller took off from the pole with Cain right behind him. Miller and Cain were never more than a few feet away from each other the entire race. Miller did a terrific job of holding off every effort that Cain made to get by him. On several occasions Cain was able to get beside Miller but Miller was up to the challenge and fought off every challenge to take the win. Chasing Miller and Cain home was the #3 of Kenneth Payne who was able stay close enough that a small error by the leaders could have let Payne take his first win of the year.
Once again the X-Mods had the largest field of cars on the night with 23 checked into the pits. Like the sprints did with only 1 caution flag in 3 heats the X-Mods duplicated the feat. Heat #1 had Skimmer Leathem in his #28 take off from outside the front row with the #14 of Andrew Fowner right behind. At the finish line it was Leathem with the win with Fowner in 2nd and the #26RD of Ryan Dietz coming home 3rd. Heat #2 saw the #0 of J.R. Bonesteel take off from his front row start and lead all the way but not without some competition from the #23 of Andy Gensen Jr. taking 2nd and the #29 of Mike O’Neal taking 3rd position. Heat #3 had recent newcomer Dee Yates in the #15 take a very hard fought win over the #00 of Steve Bonesteel with the #54 of Tim Hooper a very close 3rd. The Main-Event had 22 or the 23 cars on hand take the green flag with a light rain beginning to fall. The rain made the track about as slick as “Snot on a Doorknob” but the X-Mods did a great job of keeping their cars under control. The #00 of Steve Bonesteel took off from his outside front row start to take what seemed like a big lead, but all of a sudden Bonesteel slowed dramatically with mechanical problems. As Bonesteel slowed another car lightly clipped him and turned him sideways in front of the field. A very fast closing Skimmer Leathem in the #28 ran out of room and crashed hard into Bonesteel’s drivers side door VERY hard. Fortunately both drivers were able to walk away from the incident, but both cars were taken from the track on the back of the wrecker. It appeared that the Leathem car was the most heavily damaged, although both cars did suffer extensive damage. After the crash was cleared up the rain began to fall much harder causing the race to be called. At the end it was the #0 of J.R. Bonesteel taking the win over the #23 of Andy Gensen Jr. and the #29 of Mike O’Neal coming home in the last podium position.
After having their best field of the year last week with 18 the Street Stocks were back to about their normal field of 13 cars. These 13 drivers put on some terrific races in 2 heats and their main event. Heat #1 saw the #143 of Danny Gross Jr. jump out to a very comfortable lead and go on to win with the #3 of Mario Truden Sr. taking 2nd and the #8X of Mario Truden Jr. taking 3rd. How cool is that to have Father’s and Son’s racing against each other in this and other divisions? Heat #2 was the thriller in this class as the top 3 cars ran side-by-side 3 deep on several occasions. In the end the #3D of Nathan Medina held off the very determine #53 of R.C. Combs with the #00 of Jimmy Smith having one of his best runs of the year coming home in 3rd. The main-event had another great battle at the front among several cars but a couple had motor problems that ended their night, leaving 3 or 4 cars to finish the fight. 14-year-old R. C. Combs who has had mechanical problems several times this year that has kept him from some wins, was able to overcome the Gremlins and take over the lead in just a few laps and hold off the hard charging #3 of Mario Truden Sr. taking 2nd and the #99 of Joel Duke coming home in 3rd spot.
The Cruisers had 10 cars to run 2 heats and a main-event. Heat #1 saw the #49 of Brandon Caldwell come from his back row start to take the win over the 1978 Chrysler Cordoba of John Morningstar in the #20 and the #15 of Cheyenna Yates taking 3rd. Heat #2 had another Mopar in the #43 of Art Hurley in the Petty Blue #43 take the win over the very fast #33 of Devon Gates with the #80 of Ernie Sandoval chasing them home in 3rd position. The main-event saw the #00 of Stanley, New Mexico driver Leo Dennisson take the lead and stay out front for most of the race but at the end the #15 of Cheyenna Yates was able to slip by and take the win with the #33 of Devon Gates taking 2nd over the #33 of Gates.
The Hornets again had only 7 cars on hand to run a single heat race and a short main-event. The heat race saw the #7X of Rick Jockisch take off to a big lead and never look back. Chasing Jockisch to the finish was the #29 of Larry Johnson in 2nd and the #99 of Lena Duke. Patricia Gallegos in the #06 had probably her worst finish of the year as she finished in the 5th position. The main-event saw the #06 of Patricia Gallegos come back from her poor finish in the heat race to take over the lead in just a couple of laps and hold off the rest of the field for her umpteenth win of the year. Gallegos not only wins most of the dirt races but also wins most of the races on the asphalt side of NAPA Speedway. Chasing Gallegos to the checkered flag was the #7 of Rick Boelter and the #29 of Larry Johnson. After some beating and banging last week between Gallegos and Boelter these drivers raced side by side and nose to tail and never touched each other. Good job to both drivers.
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