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See You At The Races!!!

 Press Release

by Windy McDonald

Phoenix, AZ (March 15) A total of 85 cars filled the pits for Manzanita Speedway's Sprint Car, Mini Sprint and Dwarf Car season opener Saturday night and Marty Miller, Terry Palmer and Rick Kochanowski were the three drivers celebrating in the winner's circle. Past champions in general and Marty Miller and Ricky Johnson in particular had the attention of the fans Saturday night. Although Miller led all 25 laps it took a daring move on the 23rd lap to preserve the win for the Bill & Linda Sweeney Buckley.

Miller shot past pole sitter Shon Deskins at the drop of the green and Johnson followed him on the outside line into second. The duo ran that way as they were slowed numerous times for spins and crashes and the race was briefly halted when Chris Bonneau did a slow roll. While Miller was hearing Johnson's motor roaring behind him, the chase for third on back was hectic with Kaylene Verville holding off the challengers until Brandon Lane who started 11th finally worked his way past her. Just behind them were Charles Davis, Jr. and Bob Ream, Jr. who repeatedly traded postitions. The two made contact on the 21st lap with Ream spinning and Davis flying off the end of the track. Some heated words were exchanged as Davis confronted Ream while the track was being cleared but the exchange ended peacefully as the drivers expressed their ideas on the cause of the contact. 

When the green flag fell for the restart it was again Miller  running low and Johnson still on his rear bumper. As the duo headed for the first turn on lap 23 Johnson, a five time champion, pulled out all the stops and put the Bobby Martin Ellis to the outside. He shot past Miller and had a three car length lead as he drove into turn 3. Miller never lifted his heavy right foot and the Buckley stuck like glue on the bottom of the track. He was back in front before the lap was completed.

Johnson was a car length back at the checkered flag with Terry Belcher, Jr., taking third after starting in the seventh row. Lane was fourth and Jeremy Sherman came from 15th to claim fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Verville, the ‘97 champion Josh Pelkey, Bernie Smith, Mike Martin and Ben Gregg. Belcher was the hard charger of the race as he passed ten cars on his way to his third place finish. Sherman and Smith also improved ten positions in the 25 lapper.

Pelkey was a surprisingly easy winner in the trophy dash as he beat Ream into the first turn and was able to pull away. Ream came back to get an impressive win in the first heat by driving out of the third row to beat John Gaston and Chris Bonneau. The second heat ended up with only three cars taking the green flag after two unsuccessful starts and Davis won over Ben Gregg and Jeff Henry. Jimmy Norman, Bernie Smith, Paul Norbury and Tony Smiley were all involved in the incidents that caused the restarts and all were sidelined. The third heat went to Lane who led all the way to beat Pelkey and Johnson. Miller got by Verville midway through the fourth heat and went on to win with Kaylene edging Shon Deskins for second.

The semi main was a showcase for two top contenders for rookie of the year honors. Justin Fisher who finished second to R.J. Johnson in the 2002 Midget points, got the win with Johnson taking second over Jay Ervine. Bernie Smith was fourth and Smiley took fifth.
Eric Wilkins, the defending champion, sucked a valve in his chevy powerplant during warmups and was a spectator the rest of the evening.


Main Event: 1. Marty Miller 2. Ricky Johnson 3. Terry Belcher, Jr. 4. Brandon Lane 5. Jeremy Sherman 6. Kayllene Verville 7. Josh Pelkey 8. Bernie Smith 9. Mike Martin 10. Ben Gregg 11. Bugs Norbury 12. R.J. Johnson 13. Jay Ervine 14. Bob Ream, Jr. 15. Charles Davis, Jr. 16. Jimmy Norman 17. Shon Deskins 18. Chris Bonneau 19. John Gaston 20. Justin Fisher
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-25, Miller

Semi Main: 1. Justin Fisher 2. R.J. Johnson 3. Jay Ervine 4. Bernie Smith 5. Tony Smiley 6. Bugs Norbury 7. Jason Sutphen 8. Joey Moriarity 9. Paul Norbury 10. Mike Kuemper 11. Jess Dunham 12. Mike Deskocick

1st Heat: 1. Bob Ream, Jr. 2. John Gaston 3. Chris Bonneau 4. Terry Belcher, Jr. 5. Joey Moriarity 6. Jesse Dunham 7. Mark Deskocick

2nd Heat: 1. Charles Davis, Jr. 2. Ben Gregg 3. Jeff Henry 4. Jimmy Norman 5. Bernie Smith 6. Paul Norbury  7. Tony Smiley

3rd Heat: 1. Brandon Lane 2. Josh Pelkey 3. Ricky Johnson 4. Jeremy Sherman 5. Justin Fisher 6. Jay Ervine 7. Bugs Norbury 

4th Heat: 1. Marty Miller 2. Kaylene Verville 3. Shon Deskins 4. Mike Martin 5. R.J. Johnson 6. Mike Keumper (DNS-Eric Wilkins)
Trophy Dash: 1. Josh Pelkey 2. Bob Ream, Jr. 3. Jeff Henry 4. Marty Miller

It took Terry Palmer all year to finally win a feature in 2002 and his chances of getting to the checkered flag first in the season opener appeared dim when he dropped far back in the early stages of the 20 lap feature. His Razor Performance Products car handled perfectly and he made up the deficit to take the lead on the 17th lap and then brought it home.Jeff Greszler drove from fourth to first in the opening lap of the main event but gave way to Danny Mathus on the second lap. Mathus was able to build a slight lead as the two worked their way past the back markers under green flag conditions for the first 15 laps.

The yellow was displayed for a stalled car and Mathus suddenly lost power and dropped to the back of the field turning the lead over to Greszler. Palmer had moved into contention and had the lead a lap later and then beat Greszler by three car lengths. Charles Mokry came out of the fourth row to finish third ahead of Dustin Carmony and Don Keesler. Behind the top five were Thomas Ogle, Brent Yarnell, Mark Stroh, Kiley Fellers and Jim Mattison. Mokry started off well as he beat Carmony in the trophy dash and then went wire to wire to beat Kurt Stults and Mattison in the first heat. Ogle bested Greszler and Carmony in the second heat and Fellers worked his way from seventh to first in the final heat to win over Mathus and Palmer.

Main Event:
1. Terry Palmer 2. Jeff Greszler 3. Charles Mokry 4. Dustin Carmony 5. Don Keesler 6. Thomas Ogle 7. Brent Yarnell 8. Mark Stroh 9. Kiley Fellers 10. Jim Mattison 11. Tony Osculi 12. Rick Alexander 13. Lance Petersen 14. Danny Mathus 15. Dan Goodman 16. Kurt Stults 17. Judd Hathaway 18. Brian Shaw 19. Brandon George
Lap Leaders: Lap 1, Greszler–laps 2-15, Mathus–lap 16, Greszler–laps 17-20, Palmer

Semi Main: 1. Judd Hathaway 2. Tony Osculi 3. Don Keesler 4. Brian Shaw 5. Lance Petersen 6. Dan Goodman 7. Dennis Parks 8. Dale Janisse 9. Robert Mobley 10. Brandon George

1st Heat: 1. Charles Mokry 2. Kurt Stults 3. Jim Mattison 4. Rick Alexander 5. Lance Petersen 6. Tony Osucli 7. Dave Alexander 8. Dan Goodman 9. Soctt Birdzell

2nd Heat: 1. Thomas Ogle 2. Jeff Greszler 3. Dustin Carmony 4. Mark Stroh 5. Judd Hathaway 6. Brian Shaw

3rd Heat: 1. Danny Mathus 2. Terry Palmer 3. Kiley Fellers 4. Brent Yarnell 5. Don Keesler 6. Dale Janisse 7. Robert Mobley

Trophy Dash: 1. Charles Mokry 2. Dustin Carmony 3. Jeff Greszler 4. Terry Palmer 5. Mark Stroh 6. Dennis Parks

What a difference a car can make. After watching his fellow drivers take home all the glory for the past few years Rick Kochanowski displayed remarkable skills as he debuted a new Ford sedan Saturday night and proved to be the cream of the 28 car field.
Rick gave an indication of things to come when he opened the season with a win in the trophy dash and then finished third in his heat race after starting sixth.
He saved the best for last as he methodically drove his way from seventh to wrest the lead from Kevin Stalbaum on the sixth lap and was still out front when the checkered flag fell six laps later. Tim Jones, who started one row behind Kochanowski, was just behind him at the finish with Matt Lund, who ran with the leaders all evening, in third. Pole sitter Garry Clovis edged Stalbaum for fourth. Rounding out the top ten were Nick Bruce, Sandy Matthews, Art Garcia, David Brodeur and Craig Austin.

Clovis drove his Ford pickup to a win over Matthews and Kochanowski in the first heat: Stalbaum won the second heat after starting sixth as he bested Pat Hennesey and Craig Austin while Lund stayed in front of Bruce and Tim Jones in the third heat.
Kochanowski's win in the dash came at the expense of Stalbaum, Matthews and Brodeur.

Main Event: 1. Rick Kockanowski 2. Tim Jones 3. Matt Lund 4. Garry Clovis 5. Kevin Stalbaum 6. Nick Bruce 7. Sandy Matthews 8. Art Garcia 9. David Brodeur 10. Craig Austin 11. Theron Bobbitt 12. Denny Dowty 13. Pat Hennesey 14. Chuck Vallone 15. Helen Hennesey 16. Rob Chevalier 17. Nick Escobedo 18. Rick Hoelzer 19. Gary Sibley 20. Mark Pasucci 21. Tom Jones    22. Larry Stewart 23. Jason Swonger 24. Mike Wooster 25. Greg Loper
Lap Leaders: Laps 1-5, Stalbaum–laps 6-12, Kochanowski

1st Heat: 1. Garry Clovis 2. Sandy Matthews 3. Rick Kochanowski 4. Art Garcia 5. David Brodeur 6. Denny Dowty 7. Helen Hennesey 8. Rick Hoelzer 9. Larry Stewart 10. Mike Wooster

2nd Heat: 1. Kevin Stalbaum 2. Pat Hennesey 3. Craig Austin 4. Storm Phillips 5. Greg Loper 6. Chuck Vallone 7. Theron Bobbitt 8. Ryan Hennesey 9. Chris Snyder

3rd Heat: 1. Matt Lund 2. Nick Bruce 3. Tim Jones 4. Jason Swonger 5. Tom Jones 6. Mark Pasucci 7. Nick Escobedo 8. Gary Sibley 9. Rob Chevalier
Trophy Dash: 1. Rick Kochanowski 2. Kevin Stalbaum 3. Sandy Matthews 4. David Brodeur






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