San Bernardino County Fairgrounds
14800 Seventh Street
2002 Firecracker Derby
July 4, 2002
From Ryan Evans
"Fast" Eddie Castro ran away with the main event at the Firecracker Derby in Victorville on a special Thursday night program to celebrate Independence Day.
In the main event, Castro lined up on the pole, Gary Hicks was in gate two, "Flyin'" Mike Faria lined up in three, and National Champion Chris Manchester was on the outside. When the tapes went up, Castro was first out of the blocks and held the lead entering turn one. Castro held the lead exiting turn two, but there was a strong battle for second behind him. Castro was never threatened as he went on to the victory, but the battle behind him was tremendous. All three riders swapped positions several times but in the end Hicks finished second, Faria was third, and Manchester was fourth.
Castro almost didn't make the main event after a debatable decision went in his favor during a runoff. A three-way runoff was required to determine the final two spots in the main event after Faria, Castro, and Scott Brant tied with eight points each after the preliminary heats. Faria got the start and was a runaway winner, but Brant and Castro battled for second for the first three laps. Brant was holding second as they took the white flag, but Castro made a daring move on the inside entering turn one and knocked Brant to the ground. The referee declared it a fair move and the finishing order was determined by how they crossed the finish line.
Brant collected himself and was an easy winner in the Consolation. Shaun Harmatiuk finished second, Brad Sauer finished third, and Northern California's Chris Kerr, who's becoming a regular at Victorville, finished fourth. Kerr qualified after an entertaining runoff with Robbie Sauer in which the riders put in a great effort.
The program had three rounds of scratch heats with the top four qualifying for the main event and the fifth through eighth place scorers qualifying for the consolation. The program was run in conjunction with the speedway sprint cars that also use Wheel2Wheel Raceway.
The evening began with Castro defeating Brant. Manchester followed that victory with an easy win in race two. Hicks cruised to the victory in the next speedway race and Faria was victorious in his first-ever race at the facility.
Brant scored his first victory by defeating Brad Sauer to began the second round of preliminary heats. Manchester made it two for two with an impressive victory over Castro in race 11. Hicks matched Manchester with his second victory of the night, and Faria closed out the round with a win.
Brant began round three with a convincing win over Harmatiuk. Manchester guaranteed his spot in the main event with a win in race 18. Hicks booked his place in the main event by holding off Kerr to win his third race of the night. A Faria victory in the final race would've put himself and Brant the final, but a Castro victory would set up a three-way runoff for the final two spots. Castro was fast out of the gate and held off all of Faria's efforts to get the win and set up the runoff.
Scratch Heat Scoring 1 2 3 T
1 - Chris Manchester 3 3 3 9
3 - Gary Hicks 3 3 3 9
9 - Mike Faria 3 3 2 8
10 - Scott Brant 2 3 3 8
14 - Eddie Castro 3 2 3 8
17 - Robbie Sauer F 2 2 4
21 - Brad Sauer 2 2 1 5
27n - Chris Kerr 2 F 2 4
44n - Billy Hiles 1 1 1 3
128 - Doug Benjamin F 0 0 0
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 2 2 6
171n - David Baker 1 1 0 2
173 - Jeff Blaydes F 0 1 1
211n - Matt Browne 1 1 1 3
236n - Robert Mellor 1 1 0 2
1: Castro, Brant, Mellor, R.Sauer (fell)
2: Manchester, Harmatiuk, Hiles, Benjamin (fell)
5: Hicks, B.Sauer, Baker
6: Faria, Kerr, Browne, Blaydes (fell)
10: Brant, B.Sauer, Hiles, Blaydes
11: Manchester, Castro, Baker, Kerr (fell)
14: Hicks, R.Sauer, Browne, Benjamin
15: Faria, Harmatiuk, Mellor
17: Brant, Harmatiuk, Browne, Baker
18: (restarted) Manchester, R.Sauer, Blaydes (penalty line)
20: Hicks, Kerr, Hiles, Mellor
21: Castro, Faria, B.Sauer, Benjamin
Runoff for Consolation: Kerr, Sauer
Runoff for Main Event: Faria, Castro, Brant (fell)
10 - Scott Brant
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk
21 - Brad Sauer
27n - Chris Kerr
Firecracker Derby Main Event
14 - Eddie Castro
3 - Gary Hicks
9 - Mike Faria
1 - Chris Manchester