Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

 Press Release

TCS crowns champions

Outstanding racing all night long!

by Bob Burbach

September 4, 2006... Marysville CA.  The best way to keep your championship point lead is to sweep the show. In a bizarre turn of events, three of the four divisions Saturday night were swept. Two of the four division championships were decided by drivers who won all of the events they competed in.
One of the great parts of doing what I do is that I get to talk to everybody in the pits before every race. On the tension packed final night for season championship points some of the contenders were reflective, others focused.
“We came here to win, that’s when it’s fun.” quipped steely eyed Hunt Magneto Wingless Sprint Car driver, Charlie Marrs. Marrs came into Saturday’s show leading in the standings. His bright red hot rod with the bold yellow numbers glistened in the afternoon sun.
Phillip Shelby’s father and car owner Phil Shelby remarked on his driver, “I told him how to win this thing, but he thinks he needs to lead every lap.”  The black 86 TCS Stock Car seemed ready for the war.
Shelby’s closest contender, veteran Billy Knoop greeted me with his charismatic smile and seemed relaxed, yet poised for battle. Knoop was only six points out in the championship chase. The full fendered rockets had the closest point battle going into Saturday.
Point leader Mike Merritt was sitting next to his “Crazy Taxi” MiniStock. When I wished him well in Saturday’s race he simply said “Thanks”. He went on about the business of the night.
Merritt’s closest challenger Joel Giusti seemed content to cruise through the afternoon walking hand in hand with girlfriend and fellow MiniStock driver Lisa Shelby. Lisa had a mathematical chance going in, but Giusti and Merritt would have to settle it.
Winged Pacific Sprint Car point leader Brent Dothage was strangely relaxed. He joked and had a smooth afternoon. Preparation on the red and yellow car went on as usual. His closest competition in the chase came from Yuba City’s own Kevin Lovell. Lovell had begun his late season charge to the front and was ready. Lovell had been brilliant lately and crept close to Dothage as the final night approached. I saw Lovell only once during the early afternoon. He said “Hi”, cracked a smile and disappeared into the hauler
Marysville’s Brandon Dozier had an outside shot at the title if Dothage and Lovell had tough nights. If Dozier swept he had a chance. So the wickedly fast driver had little to say when I dropped by. He and his cohorts were working at a feverish pace and I didn’t want to interfere.
In an effort to beat the nearly 100 degree heat and breeze of mid-day the track was watered and worked hard. Practice created a monster cushion and a sticky bumpy surface. The fans would get their money’s worth on this track that would become a drivers track.
Qualifying was rugged in more ways than one. Dozier blasted through the dark clay, up high and clicked off an 11.640. The gray 95 was teetering on the edge of disaster the whole way. The lap was brilliant. No one got within half a second of the high- flying Dozier.
Two more cars qualified, then Lovell took to the track. As he entered turn three about to take the green, his silver 81 twisted left, slowed abruptly and began an easy circle toward the infield light standard, out of control with no brakes. Lovell’s car surprised corner workers as it slid through the infield. Lovell’s car simultaneously hit corner worker Hal Smedley and the light pole coming to an abrupt stop. Smedley was transported and taken to Rideout hospital after he was stabilized. A shaken Lovell repaired his car and qualified for the show shortly thereafter.
The TCS MiniStock feature was the first out and it was a great one. Young James Foster of Marysville jumped into an n early lead that he would never give up. Last Year’s rookie of the year put together twenty perfect laps. When you do that, you win. Foster’s quick, but has not always shown the maturity to be a champion. In this observer’s opinion, he may have turned the corner tonight with his outstanding victory.
Meanwhile. Back in the pack, Merritt stayed two positions ahead of Giusti through three quarters distance. It was more than enough to secure the title. Then the wheels fell off. As the point leader turned onto the front chute at lap fifteen the motor went away. Merritt rolled to a stop. Giusti motored on to a fourth place finish and the title. The eighteen point turn around gave Giusti an eight point cushion at the end.
In the Hunt Magneto Wingless Sprint Car feature Marrs bested Ty Hawkins for the victory after a torrid duel that lasted nearly the entire distance. Marrs won his heat and merely needed to ride around, keeping Rick Eversult in sight and he would have his championship. But, that’s not how this one went.
Hawkins and Marrs hooked up in a memorable slice and dice struggle that had the packed grandstands howling. It was a gem. Marrs finally took the lead for good during the final five circuits, but Hawkins never gave up.
Marrs’ sweep of the event kept any challengers from making up ground in the point chase. Marrs’ close, hard fought victory capped a successful 2006 campaign.
In the TCS Stock Car finale, Phillip Shelby did exactly what his father told me he would do. He won them all, sweeping the program. Shelby picked up his fourth straight win in an event that saw Knoop pull off with mechanical problems at half distance. The rest of the way it was clear sailing for Shelby. It appeared that Shelby was unaware that Knoop had gone to the pits. With clear track ahead, Shelby was unreachable for the entire race.
The Pacific Sprint Car feature was the last on the card. The six car inversion put Brandon Dozier outside row three. It also put Kevin Lovell in the front row. Dothage, with an uncharacteristically poor qualifying time was mired deep in the pack.
As starter Tim Dillon’s green flag fluttered, Lovell was gone. The surface had slicked up during the evening. Only the very top had a workable cushion. Lovell’s winged rocket seemed the class of the field and Dothage was not moving through the field. He was only eighth by half way.
Then the complexion of the event changed. Dozier moved his car onto the cushion and started to pass cars. He made quick progress and found Lovell in his sights as the race stormed to its conclusion. Dozier flew by the leader on the outside and never looked back.
A couple of late race yellows gave Lovell a shot, but he could never get back by Dozier. Dozier’s third win was his best as he took what the track gave him, tweaked the car just right and went forward. Lovell remained second. Dothage stayed eighth, but it was enough to salvage a second straight championship. Lovell was only seven markers behind in the final tally.
The sprint car racing in both classes, winged and wingless, was thrilling. Fan appreciation night drew a capacity house and the racing was never better. Our thoughts are with Hal Smedley today and we wish him the best in what will be a lengthy recovery period. Here’s to you Hal!
Twin Cities Speedway will be dark on Saturday night September 9th. The lights come back on Saturday night September 16th. The Hunt Magneto Wingless Sprint Cars, the TCS MiniStocks and the Sprint 100s will be on the program. Spectator gates open at 5PM and racing will begin promptly at 7PM.
You can reach the business office at 530-675-2050 or on raceday call the track at 530-742-9222. All the latest points data is available at






Get your own FREE Guestbook from htmlGEAR