Costa Mesa Speedway
Orange County Fairgrounds - Costa Mesa, CA
2001 Costa Mesa
Costa Mesa Speedway
October 6, 2001
From Ryan Evans
Josh Larsen continued his hot streak by winning his third consecutive Scratch Main at the last regular season event at Costa Mesa Saturday Night.
Chris Manchester entered the main event with a perfect score and had first choice of gate for the main event. Manchester chose the pole, while Larsen, who had dropped his only point to Manchester, chose gate two. Scott Brant was lined up in gate three, Dukie Ermolenko was in gate four, and Mike Faria was in gate five.
When the tapes went up, Larsen launched into the lead and got right on the inside groove in turn one. Ermolenko was on the outside and Manchester applied the pressure from the inside throughout lap one, but they couldn't get by Larsen. The 2001 Costa Mesa Season Points Champion withstood their challenges and stretched his lead with every lap to win his fourth Scratch Main of the year. Manchester held on to second, Brant was third, Faria finished fourth, and Ermolenko was fifth.
The format was similar to the format used last week. Each rider competed in three rounds of five-man scratch heats with 4,3,2,1,0 scoring and the top 10 qualifying to one of two five-man semi finals. The top two from each semi qualified directly to the main. The semi finals also used scoring with the top four remaining riders qualified for the Last Chance Race with the winner taking the fifth and final spot in the main event.
Bast started off the evening with a great gate and a win over Faria. Ermolenko got a great start in race two to get the victory. Manchester was lightning-quick with his start in race three and took the victory. Larsen closed out the first round with an easy win ahead of Ryan Fisher.
Faria earned his first victory of the evening by beating Fisher and Brant to start the second round. Bast stayed perfect with a win in the second race. Manchester kept pace with Bast by winning the next race. Larsen and Ermolenko met in the last race of the second round and both vying to join Bast and Manchester with perfect scores. It was Larsen who would join the elite group as he enjoyed another start-to-finish victory.
Schwartz started the final round with a win over Faria. The next race would be a showdown between Larsen and Manchester to remain perfect. Manchester's gate four proved to be better than Larsen's gate five position as the started evenly, but Manchester had the inside track position and used it to take the lead and the victory.
The next race would prove to be the low point of the evening. Bast, trying to keep pace with Manchester, got the start and had Brant giving him all he could handle. Behind them, Jim Estes was holding onto third ahead of Fisher. Fisher banged into Estes on the back straight on the second lap, but Estes was able to hold the position. Fisher appeared to hit Estes as they entered turn one the next lap, but Estes held his ground again. As they went down the back straight Fisher continued to make contact with Estes and disaster struck when they got to turn three. The constant contact caused both riders to become entangled and both riders hit the turn three wall hard. Both were down for several minutes before Estes was helped off the track describing himself as "sore all over." Fisher remained down for several more minutes before being carried off in a seated position with a probable broken foot and potentially other leg injuries.
On the restart, Brant was able to get to turn one first and took the victory over Bast, thus ending Bast's perfect score. McConnell and Oxley put on a great inside-outside battle with McConnell getting the win to finish the qualifying rounds. The scoring was as follows: Manchester with 12 points, Larsen and Bast each with 11, Faria had 10, McConnell, Brant, Schwartz, and Ermolenko all had nine.
Oxley, DiFrancesco, Castro, and Fisher each had six points which forced a runoff for the final two spots in the semis. Fisher would not be able to start due to the injuries suffered earlier. DiFrancesco got the start with Oxley right behind. At the end of lap one Castro made a bold move around the outside of both riders and appeared to have pulled it off as they entered turn one, but Oxley bumped DiFrancesco, who collected Castro, causing the diminutive rider to cartwheel of his bike. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and all would make the restart with Oxley being penalized as the cause. Castro got the start in the second attempt and easily made his way into the semi. DiFrancesco was second and seemed to be on his way as well, but perhaps feeling the effects of the crash, he drifted wide and allowed Oxley to sneak by for second and the spot in the semi.
Larsen got back to his winning ways by easily winning the first semi while Brant finished second to transfer to the main. The second semi saw Manchester keep his perfect evening intact by getting another great start and his fourth victory of the night and Ermolenko took second and also went to the main. Faria took the last spot in the main by winning the Last Chance.
Jeff Blaydes jumped out to the early lead from his gate two starting position in the Support Main. Blaydes opened up a big lead while 2001 Support Points Champion David Lynch gave chase. Lynch chipped away at the leader and was within striking distance as they entered the last bend. Blaydes drifted wide, but was able to win the dash to the finish line. Randy Kreps finished third and Rudy Laurer finished fourth.
Numerous crashes in the Support B Main probably left the crowd wondering if the race would ever be completed. On the attempt that actually counted, Wesley Mounts took the lead and was challenged by Michael Novratil. Novratil pressured Mounts on the inside in each turn, but Mounts was not phased. On the last corner Novratil changed his strategy and went to the outside. The two riders charged toward the finish with Novratil getting there first. Jeremiah LeBlanc finished third, Mike Lewisfinished fourth, K.G. Fairbarn finished fifth, and Mike Boyle finished sixth.
Next week is the biggest evening on the calendar as Costa Mesa will host the 33rd Annual U.S. National Championships.20 riders from around the country will battle to see who will take the championship.
Support B Main Event
181 - Michael Novratil 20
145 - Wesley Mounts 10
137 - Jeremiah LeBlanc 30
205 - Mike Lewis 20 (penalty line)
310 - K.G. Fairbarn 10
198 - Mike Boyle 20
178 - Eloy Medellin 0
163 - Rohn Zellner 10
106 - Robert Fiesler 0
118 - Scott Tidwell 0
100 - Phil Harmatiuk 10
269 - Ed Martinez 10
293 - Rick Valdez 0
338 - Dave Delbridge 10
Support Main Event
173 - Jeff Blaydes
131 - David Lynch
165 - Randy Kreps
182 - Rudy Laurer (fell)
1st Division Scoring 1 2 3 T S T
4 - Josh Larsen 4 4 3 11 4 15
5 - Brad Oxley 1 2 3 6 0 6
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 3 4 9 2 11
9 - Mike Faria 3 4 3 10 2 12
10 - Scott Brant 3 2 4 9 3 12
11 - Bobby Schwartz 3 2 4 9 0 9
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 1 3 2 6 - 6
14 - Eddie Castro 2 2 2 6 1 7
15 - Dukie Ermolenko 4 3 2 9 3 12
17 - Robbie Sauer 0 0 0 0 - 0
23 - Mark Adams 0 1 0 1 - 1
36 - Ryan Fisher 3 3 Fx 6 - 6
47 - Johnny Walker (R) 0 - - 0 - 0
56 - Jim Estes 1 0 N 1 - 1
75n - Eric Carrillo 1 1 2 4 - 4
87n - Bart Bast 4 4 3 11 1 12
130 - Chris Manchester 4 4 4 12 4 16
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 0 F 2 - 2
216 - Kitt Nay 2 1 1 4 - 4
223 - Bobby Krips (R) 1 - - 1 - 1
230 - Doug Greyson 0 1 1 2 - 2
254 - Bryan Yarrow 0 0 1 1 - 1
1: Bast, Faria, Castro, Estes, Adams
2: Ermolenko, Schwartz, McConnell, Carrillo, Greyson
3: Manchester, Brant, Harmatiuk, Oxley, Sauer
4: Larsen, Fisher, Nay, DiFrancesco, Yarrow
7: Faria, Fisher, Brant, Carrillo, Estes (penalty line)
8: Bast, DiFrancesco, Schwartz, Greyson, Sauer
9: Manchester, McConnell, Castro, Nay, Harmatiuk
10: Larsen, Ermolenko, Oxley, Adams, Yarrow
15: Schwartz, Faria, Castro, Nay, Harmatiuk (fell)
16: Manchester, Larsen, Ermolenko, Yarrow, Adams
17: Brant, Bast, Carrillo, Krips, Walker, Estes (non starter), Fisher (fell, excluded)
18: McConnell, Oxley, DiFrancesco, Greyson, Sauer
Runoff for semis: Castro, Oxley (penalty line), DiFrancesco, Fisher (non starter)
Semi #1: Larsen, Brant, McConnell, Bast, Oxley (engine failure)
Semi #2: Manchester, Ermolenko, Faria, Castro, Schwartz
Last Chance: Faria, Bast, McConnell, Schwartz
Scratch Main Event
4 - Josh Larsen
130 - Chris Manchester
10 - Scott Brant
9 - Mike Faria
15 - Dukie Ermolenko