Arrowhead Motor Speedway
Orange Show Pavilion
San Bernardino, California
2002 King of Concrete
March 9, 2002
From Ryan Evans
Shawn "Mad Dog" McConnell kicked off the 2002 season with a dominant performance by scoring 15 points and winning the King of Concrete Championship Final to cap a perfect night at the Orange Pavilion in San Bernardino, California.
Edge Promotions, headed by Charlie Venegas, decided to start the season a month early and with a twist. The race was held on a concrete surface inside a building at the Orange Show Fairgrounds. Several top riders, including riders from Northern California, decided to give concrete racing a try.
In the final, the riders picked their starting spot based on their points from the qualifying rounds. McConnell chose the pole, Bobby "The Blaze" Hedden (12 points) chose gate two, 18 year old Shaun Harmatiuk (10 points) selected the third starting spot, and Bobby "Boogaloo" Schwartz (10 points) was left with the outside. Harmatiuk picked ahead of Schwartz because he finished ahead of him in their head-to-head meeting earlier.
Schwartz appeared to be moving at prior to the start, but Hedden was first to turn one. Referee Steve Lucero immediately ordered a restart as he saw Schwartz move an instant before the tapes went up. On the restart, McConnell showed that he wasn't going to be denied as he jumped into the lead and never allowed anyone to get close. He dominated just as he had all evening and took the win. Hedden's long trip to Southern California netted him second place, while Harmatiuk, who was probably more excited than either of the top two finishers, finished third.
McConnell gave everyone a preview of things to come with a convincing win in race one. 2000 Junior National Champion Bryan Yarrow captured the second race. Schwartz passed Bart Bast and went on to win race three. Hedden closed out round one with a victory over Mark Adams.
McConnell took an easy victory to open the second round. Harmatiuk earned his first victory of the evening by winning the next race. Schwartz kept his score sheet perfect with a victory in race nine. Randy DiFrancesco held off Hedden for all four laps of race 10 to get the victory.
McConnell and Schwartz entered round three as the only undefeated riders and they were set to meet each other at the start of round three. Hedden looked to spoil both their evenings by getting the gate. McConnell stalked Hedden for two laps before making the pass on the outside! Hedden was stunned and the crowd came to its feet as McConnell raced away with the win.
"Fast" Eddie Castro followed up McConnell's win with his only victory of the night. DiFrancesco seemed to be warming up as he took his second victory in a row in race 15. Yarrow got back on the winning track to close out round three.
Yarrow had a chance to close ground on McConnell as they met at the beginning of round four. Yarrow was starting from the pole and McConnell lined up on the outside. Amazingly, McConnell trapped from the outside and left Yarrow in his wake. After four rounds, McConnell was already guaranteed a spot in the final.
Schwartz regained his winning form in race 20, while Hedden followed with a convincing victory in race 21. Bast held back the challenges of Harmatiuk for the win in the last race of round four. Entering the final round McConnell had a perfect 12 points; Yarrow, Schwartz, and Hedden each had nine points; DiFrancesco and Adams had eight apiece; and Harmatiuk had seven.
McConnell made it five-for-five with a win to open the final round. All three Northern California riders met in the next race and it was Hedden who took the win after passing Bast, while Yarrow failed to score a point and it ended up costing him a chance of competing in the final. Harmatiuk booked his place in the final by winning event 27. John DeFries took a surprising victory to close out the qualifying rounds, and Schwartz' third place was good enough for the last spot in the final.
The vast majority of the riders had mounted street tires on the back wheel. The riders were allowed to run any tire, but the street tires had been highly recommended. Unlike most of his competition, McConnell used a Barum speedway tire on the back and he was clearly the best rider often lapping his competition.
John O'Neill applied his ice racing experience to the concrete to get the win in the 2nd Division Main Event. O'Neill won his heat and drew the pole in the main and used it to take the lead in turn one. He was never really challenged as he took the win over Mike Boyle, Michael Novratil, and Malcolm Roe.
Edge Promtions used the race as a way to get people excited about the 2002 speedway season. It was evident by the fans, the riders who participated, and the many riders who came out to watch the event that Southern California is ready for the 2002 season to begin. Edge Promotions will begin its second season at Arrowhead Motor Speedway in San Bernardino on Wednesday, April 3.
Second Division Consolation
301n - Bill Warnock
350 - Kodiak Calkin
269 - Ed Martinez
103 - Brent Smith (non-starter)
Second Divison Main Event
219 - John O'Neill
198 - Mike Boyle
181 - Michael Novratil
180 - Malcolm Roe
Qualfiying Scores 1 2 3 4 5 T
6 - Shawn McConnell 3 3 3 3 3 15
8n - Bryan Yarrow 3 1 3 2 0 9
11 - Bobby Schwartz 3 3 0 3 1 10
12 - Randy DiFrancesco 1 3 3 1 1 9
14 - Eddie Castro 1 2 3 0 2 8
16 - Charlie Cooley 2 1 2 0 0 5
23 - Mark Adams 2 2 2 2 1 9
47 - Johnny Walker 0 N 1 2 R 3
63n - Bobby Hedden 3 2 1 3 3 12
87n - Bart Bast 1 0 1 3 2 7
106 - Robert Fiesler 1 2 0 0 1 4
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 0 3 2 2 3 10
182 - Rudy Laurer R 0 2 1 2 5
223 - Bobby Krips 2 R 0 1 2 5
243 - Sean McDougall 2 1 1 0 0 4
316 - John DeFries 0 R 0 1 3 4
1: McConnell, Krips, Fiesler, Laurer (retired)
2:(restarted) Yarrow, McDougall, DiFrancesco (penalty line), Harmatiuk (fell, remounted)
3: Schwartz, Cooley, Bast, Walker
4: Hedden, Adams, Castro, DeFries
7: McConnell, Adams, McDougall (fell, remounted), Bast
8:(restarted) Harmatiuk, Fiesler, DeFries (penalty line - retired), Walker (non-starter)
9: Schwartz, Castro, Yarrow, Laurer
10: DiFrancesco, Hedden, Cooley, Krips
13: McConnell, Harmatiuk, Hedden, Schwartz
14: Castro, Cooley, McDougall, Fiesler
15: DiFrancesco, Laurer, Bast, DeFries
16: Yarrow, Adams, Walker, Krips
19: McConnell, Yarrow, DeFries, Cooley
20: Schwartz, Adams, DiFrancesco, Fiesler
21: Hedden, Walker, Laurer, McDougall
22: (restarted) Bast, Harmatiuk, Krips (penalty line), Castro
25: McConnell, Castro, DiFrancesco, Walker (retired)
26: Hedden, Bast, Fiesler, Yarrow
27: Harmatiuk, Laurer, Adams (fell, remounted), Cooley
28: DeFries, Krips, Schwartz, McDougall
King of Concrete Championship Final (restarted)
6 - Shawn McConnell
63n - Bobby Hedden
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk (fell)
11 - Bobby Schwartz (penalty line - retired)