Arrowhead Motor Speedway
Orange Show Pavilion
San Bernardino, California
2002 Track Championship
September 4, 2002
From Ryan Evans
Josh Larsen scored 14 points and won a runoff to claim the 2002 Arrowhead Track Championship and brought the track's season to a dramatic end on Wednesday.
Larsen's point total left him tied with Arrowhead Season Points Champion Scott Brant, which led to the runoff. Larsen won the coin flip and wisely chose the inside, leaving Brant on the outside. When the tapes went up, Larsen launched into the lead as they entered turn one. He stretched his lead slightly throughout the first lap, but he couldn't afford any mistakes. Larsen's lead began to shrink on the third lap and as he took the white flag Brant was right on his tail. Complicating matters was the fact that Larsen's back tire was rapidly going flat. Larsen was unfazed by the adversity, though, and he held off Brant to win the title.
A runoff was also needed to determine third place for the meeting. Shawn McConnell won the coin toss and selected the inside, while "Fast" Eddie Castro had to start on the outside. McConnell lead as they came off turn two, but Castro was riding the outside line. McConnell remained on the low line and Castro couldn't find enough traction to get around McConnell. He switched his attack to the inside, but couldn't find an opening there either. Castro made one last run on the outside to no avail as McConnell earned the victory.
The Second Division Track Championship provided some extra incentive for the competitors. Kelly Dunagan, sponsor of Eddie Castro, offered an extra $500 to the winner of the title. The lineup for the main event featured Chad Newlee on the pole, David Lynch in gate two, Steve Murray in three, and Northern California's Jonathan Curry on the outside. Lynch was first out of the gate and held the lead as the pack exited turn two. He faced pressure from both sides as Newlee was closing fast on the inside and Curry was building up speed on the outside. Curry had the best route around Lynch as he stayed wide in turns three and four and completed the pass at the end of lap one. Lynch kept the pressure on until he fell entering turn three leaving Newlee to chase the teenager. Curry, however, was not going to squander $500, and he held on for the victory. Newlee settled for second, Lynch remounted and finished third, and Murray fell and was credited with fourth.
The Second Division B Track Championship began with Geoff Herkner taking the lead, which he maintained throughout the first lap. On the second lap, a nasty crash involving Steve Nelson and Craig Collier brought out the red flag. After a couple minutes both riders were on their feet. Nelson was penalized as the cause of the red flag, but Collier was unable to make the restart. On the restart, Herkner quickly opened up a big lead on last year's champion, New Zealand's Kim Stevens, and he ran away with the win.
The Track Championship began with McConnell getting the win in race one ahead of Shaun Harmatiuk. Castro won race two, but Randy DiFrancesco had his first bit of misfortune when he lost a chain while running second. Brant held off Bobby Schwartz to win race three. Larsen finished round one with a victory over Bryan Yarrow.
Round two began with DiFrancesco turning his luck around with a win. The riders who would eventually form the podium all met in race 10 and it was Larsen who took the win ahead of Brant and McConnell. 46 year old Schwartz picked on the youngsters as he defeated teenagers Yarrow, Chris Kerr, and Harmatiuk to win the next race. Castro kept pace with Larsen with a win to finish the round.
Schwartz opened round three with his second straight win. McConnell and DiFrancesco had a great battle for two laps when DiFrancesco slowed with an engine failure allowing McConnell to take the win. Race 18 brought Castro and Larsen to the tapes as the only undefeated riders left. Castro got the gate and held off Larsen to take the win and remain unbeaten. Brant won the final race before intermission to remain just one point off the pace.
Larsen earned his third victory of the night to begin round four. McConnell got the jump on Castro in race 27 and held off every outside challenge that Castro could muster and took the win. Brant won the next race and Bobby Krips finished round four with a victory.
With one round remaining Larsen, Brant, and Castro were in a three-way tie with 11 points. McConnell had 10 points, Schwartz had nine points, and Yarrow and Krips each had 7.
Round five began with a race that would effect the overall outcome as Castro and Brant lined up. A win by either rider would ensure at least a tie for the title, while second place offered a myriad of possibilities. Brant exploded from the gate and Castro couldn't find a way around him as Brant went on to the victory. McConnell was victorious in the next race and brought his point total to 13, which tied him with Castro.
The final race had major ramifications on the championship. A Larsen victory meant a runoff for the title. Second place meant a three-way runoff for second overall with McConnell and Castro. Lining up next to Larsen was Schwartz, who could certainly spoil Larsen's evening. Larsen jumped into the lead and pulled away for the win and also set up the dramatic runoff for the track championship.
The evening was bittersweet as it featured great racing, but it also brought a close to the 2002 season at Arrowhead Motor Speedway. Promoter Charlie Venegas was very satisfied with his fantastic season which featured an exciting National Championship round and had the track championship come down to the last race for the second year in a row. Venegas also announced that the 2003 King of Concrete is tentatively scheduled to be in January.
Second Division B Consolation
244 - DeWayne Stark
132 - David Moore
212 - Steve Dziadus
164 - Rusty Hall (non starter)
Second Division Consolation
201 - Neil Facchini 0
163 - Rohn Zellner 0
178 - Eloy Medellin 30
118 - Scott Tidwell 30
161 - Hector Quevedo 0 (fell, remounted)
174 - Tomasz Hampel 0 (fell)
10 - Tim Gomez 50
27 - Krystal Cramer 0
5 - Dario Galvin 10
3 - Justin Boyle 50
66 - Jason Ramirez 0
Second Division B Track Championship (restarted)
208 - Geoff Herkner
197 - Kim Stevens
202 - Steve Nelson (penalty line) (retired)
133 - Craig Collier (non starter - restart)
Second Division Track Championship
31n - Jonathan Curry
123 - Chad Newlee
131 - David Lynch (fell, remounted)
214 - Steve Murray (fell)
Track Championship Scoring 1 2 3 4 5 T
2 - Josh Larsen 3 3 2 3 3 14
6 - Shawn McConnell 3 1 3 3 3 13
8n - Bryan Yarrow 2 2 2 1 1 8
10 - Scott Brant 3 2 3 3 3 14
11 - Bobby Schwartz 2 3 3 1 2 11
12 - Randy DiFrancesco R 3 E 1 N 4
14 - Eddie Castro 3 3 3 2 2 13
19 - Richard Jones 0 1 1 1 M 3
24 - Bobby Krips 2 0 2 3 3 10
27n - Chris Kerr 1 1 2 2 1 7
31n - Jonathan Curry 1 1 2 - - 4
44n - Billy Hiles 1 2 1 E 2 6
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 0 1 2 1 6
316 - John DeFries 1 2 0 2 1 6
1: McConnell, Harmatiuk, DeFries, Jones
2: Castro, Krips, Kerr, DiFrancesco (retired)
3: Brant, Schwartz, Curry
4: Larsen, Yarrow, Hiles
9: DiFrancesco, Hiles, Jones
10: Larsen, Brant, McConnell, Krips
11: Schwartz, Yarrow, Kerr, Harmatiuk
12: Castro, DeFries, Curry
16: Schwartz, Krips, Jones
17: McConnell, Yarrow, DiFrancesco (engine failure)
18: Castro, Larsen, Harmatiuk
19: Brant, Kerr, Hiles, DeFries
26: Larsen, Kerr, Jones
27: McConnell, Castro, Schwartz, Hiles (engine failure)
28: Brant, Harmatiuk, DiFrancesco
29: Krips, DeFries, Yarrow
38: Brant, Castro, Yarrow, Jones (two minute exclusion)
39: McConnell, Curry, Kerr (penalized)
40: Krips, Hiles, Harmatiuk
41: Larsen, Schwartz, DeFries, DiFrancesco (non starter)
Runoff for Third Place
6 - Shawn McConnell
14 - Eddie Castro
Runoff for Track Championship
2 - Josh Larsen
10 - Scott Brant