(March 16, Hanford, CA) Luke Bebereia and Gene Manhire posted thrilling wins in the Rebel Cup and Bandit sprint season point opening races and Lonnie Lacy won the IMCA modified portion of the three division show at Hanford. Despite the below normal temperatures, a large crowd assembled at the 3/8 facility along with 21 Rebel Cup winged 360 sprints, 19 nonwing Bandit 360 sprints, and 16 IMCA modifieds. Outstanding track conditions along with efficient organization and an early start got the chilled crowd on the road by 9:40 pm.
The Rebel Cup drivers started the evening by testing the clocks and Tom Tarlton took advantage of a week off from the Golden State Challenge series to set quick time with a 13.934, just ahead of Craig Stidham for the honor. A trio of invert six heats put wins in the diary of Tim Worth, Kurt Nelson, and David Key. Newcomer Jerry Pelayo flipped hard off the top of turn one in his heat and the other 20 healthy entries lined up for their 30 lap A main.
An invert four procedure set Lawrence Edlund and Bebereia on the front row with Stidham and Tarlton right behind them. Bebereia got the jump on Edlund and grabbed the lower groove heading into turn one, allowing Tarlton to follow him into 2nd. On the seventh tour, Tarlton executed one of those classic Kings Speedway slide jobs by sweeping low past Bebereia entering turn three and sliding up in front of the 6K entry to lead the next 11 laps.
After a pair of yellows for Stan Greenberg and a red for a hard Danny Faria Jr. flip off of the top of turn one, Bebereia was able to return the favor, driving under Tarlton as the pair raced through turn four and sliding up in front of the Easton, CA driver to retake the lead on lap 18.
The heated battle continued when just a half a lap later Tarlton was able to speed past Bebereia on the top of turn two to lead at the 20 lap mark. When Mark Barroso and Ron Myska tangled at the top of turn two on lap 21, the speeding lead duo encountered them and Tarlton stop to avoid slamming into the spun pair.
This ended the frantic duel between the pair as Tarlton was required to start at the rear per track rules and Bebereia led the last nine laps without significant pressure. Defending Rebel Cup and Trophy Cup defending champion Stidham raced his way into 3rd and inherited 2nd with Tarlton’s misfortune, a spot he held the last nine laps. Edlund and Ricci Faria waged a furious battle for 3rd, trading the spot many times over the last seven laps until Edlund stormed past R. Faria on the top of turn two on the last lap. R. Faria was 4th ahead of 10th starting Nelson.
The Bandit nonwing sprints also qualified and Manhire was the quickest at 16.317 for the 19 car field. Richard Harvey, Jr., A. J. Burgin, and Sherman May won heats before their invert four setup for the 20 lap main put Aaron Altaffer and John Burnett on the front row ahead of former New Zealand resident, Greg Keegan and Manhire.
Burnett led the first 13 laps, slowed only by a red on lap 7 when the engine in Bobby Elliott exploded in a huge ball of flames. On the red that followed the engine detonation, Scott Nail and Altaffer were sent to the rear for having more than one crew member on the track during a closed red.
With racing resuming on lap 8, Manhire drew steadily closer to Burnett while Jimmy Thompson ran 3rd ahead of Keegan. As the lead pair left turn four for the 14th time, Manhire got under Burnett and as they raced down the frontstretch, slight contact between Manhire’s right rear and Burnett’s left front led to the collapse of Burnett’s suspension. Burnett glided helplessly into the infield and Manhire held off Thompson for the win with Keegan 3rd ahead of Dale Cross and the resurgent Altaffer.
The sixteen IMCA modifieds were separated into two heats and Petaluma long tow, Nick Perivolaris and Watsonville driver, Lonnie Lacy won those six lap events. A field of fourteen were healthy for their 20 lap A main and the front row was filled by Perivolaris and Jimmy Reeves while Ed Nichols and Lacy lined up behind them.
Perivolaris led the first three, chased by Lacy and Reeves, until Lacy and Perivolaris made heavy contact on lap four as Lacy was attempting a low side pass in turn three. The resulting pileup saw Lacy drive away to assume the lead while Perivolaris, Brian Cass, and opening night winner, Steve Smotherman all victims of the situation.
Once that mess was cleared away, the last 17 laps ran nonstop with Lacy comfortably ahead of Reeves the whole time. Defending track champion Reeves was 2nd ahead of Joe Chapman, Rodney Freitas and Paul Stone.
The Bandits return next Saturday to team with the Golden State Challenge Series and the Rebels are back in two weeks for their next point race.
Fast time-Tom Tarlton 13.934
Heat one-Tim Worth, Danny Faria Jr., Andy Ferris, Tarlton, Rick Williams
Heat two-Kurt Nelson, Chris D’Arcy, Lawrence Edlund, Craig Stidham, Kirk Sargent
Heat three-David Key, Luke Bebereia, Ron Myska, Ricci Faria, Tammy Wright
A main-Bebereia, Stidham, Edlund, R. Faria, Nelson, Williams, Tarlton, Worth, D’Arcy, Myska, Gary Morgan, Ferris, Jeff Botelho, Key, Wright
Fast time-Gene Manhire 16.317
Heat one-Richard Harvey Jr., Aaron Altaffer, Manhire, Dale Cross, Buck Cox
Heat two-A. J. Burgin, Dick Stevens, Jeff Fiscus, Greg Keegan, Jason Yount
Heat three-Sherman May, Jimmy Thompson, Scott Nail, John Burnett, Bobby Elliott
A main-Manhire, Thompson, Keegan, Cross, Altaffer, May, Burgin, Stevens, Jonathan Logan, Burnett, Matt Day, Harvey Jr., Nail, Cox, Elliott
Heat one-Nick Perivolaris, Ed Nichols, Joe Chapman, Brian Cass, Bryan Burnes
Heat two-Lonnie Lacy, Jimmy Reeves, Gerard Felipe, Tim Clark, Steve Smotherman
A main-Lacy, Reeves, Chapman, Rodney Freitas, Paul Stone, Burnes, Clark, Eddie Stewart, Marcus Aue, Nichols, Felipe, Smotherman, Perivolaris, Cass