The Grand Industry Hills Expo Center
City of Industry, California
California State Championship
July 15, 2006 - Industry Speedway
By: Ryan Evans
Josh Larsen captured his first California State Championship during an exciting and action-packed evening at Industry Hills Speedway.
Larsen overcame a first round nightmare by collecting four straight wins and ending his evening with 13 points, enough to secure the title and the beautiful grandfather clock awarded to the winner. Four-time State Champion Mike Faria defeating Tommy Hedden in a runoff for second place after both riders tied with 12 points.
Larsen took a lot of personal satisfaction with the victory. He has been second in the National Championship four times and has been dogged with the runner-up label to the point that he sarcastically uses two as his riding number. This is the biggest win of his domestic career and he is hoping that it has paved the way to more evenings that end on the top of the podium, including the National Championship.
Round one greeted the riders with a deep and tricky race track. The first start ended in turn one with Larsen and Dario Galvin going down. On the restart, Bryan Yarrow jumped to the front while Larsen spun around and was mired in last on the first lap. Yarrow ran away with the win, but Buck Blair fell which handed second to Dario Galvin who was able to hold off a last-second charge from Larsen.
Charlie Venegas, who has held the title since the event was last staged in 1997, easily won his first race while Shaun Harmatiuk edged Dale Facchini for second after passing him on the outside. Hedden, the only rider to defeat Venegas at Industry Hills in the last four weeks, scored his first victory ahead of Shawn McConnell. Faria, making his first 2006 appearance at Industry Hills, won the final race of the first round.
Venegas began round two with another victory and Mark Dwyer used the outside to pass Bobby Schwartz for second. Larsen got his evening on the right path with a scorching victory over Faria and Hedden. Yarrow matched the perfect score of Venegas by trapping from the outside and running away with his second win. Eddie Castro brought the curtain down on the second round with his first win.
Castro made it two in a row with a win over Dale Facchini to start the third round. In the next race, Larsen trapped from the outside and handed Venegas just his second defeat in his last 23 races at Industry Hills.
Event 19 was probably the most exciting race of the night. Yarrow came to the tapes trying to remain the only rider with a perfect score. Faria lined up outside of him hoping for a win that would create a four-way tie for the lead. Faria got the best start and the wily veteran held off his young challenger for two laps. On lap three, Yarrow started closing on Faria and switched his attack to the outside line. Yarrow stayed wide as they took the white flag and went deep into turns one and two. He found plenty of traction and went around Faria on the back straight and dropped to the inside on the final corner to protect the lead and secure victory. A very appreciative crowd gave Yarrow a standing ovation.
Blair defeated Tommy Hedden for his first win of the evening to bring round three to a conclusion.
At intermission, Yarrow was alone at the top with nine points; Venegas and Castro were tied with eight points; Larsen and Faria each had seven points; Hedden had six points.
Faria began round four by collecting his second win to remain in the title hunt. Larsen made it three wins in a row by holding off Nate Perkins in event 23.
Event 24 brought circumstances and improbable lead changes that a B-movie script writer wouldn't dare include in a movie. Yarrow lined up in gate two trying to protect his perfect score. On his inside was Castro and in gate four was Venegas, both of whom were only down one point and could propel themselves into at least a share of the overall lead with a victory. In gate three was Hedden who could really shake up the standings with a win. Venegas jumped to the front with Yarrow in tow. After one lap, Venegas appeared to be on his way to tying up Yarrow for the overall lead, but suffered a flat tire in turn two and fell by himself. The rest of the field went by and Yarrow looked set to enter the final round perfect and with two points to spare. Turn two was jinxed again as Yarrow's bike slowed on lap three. The lead then fell in Hedden's lap and he held on for the win with Castro second. Yarrow, having never pulled off the track or being lapped, coasted to a stop on the back straight of his final lap. With the crowd's encouragement, he pushed his machine the final half-lap for a very important third place. Blair ended the fourth round with his second straight victory.
Entering the final round, Larsen, Yarrow, Faria, and Castro were deadlocked at the top with ten points each. Hedden had nine points, and Blair and Venegas both had eight.
Hedden started the last round with an easy win and the hopes for a chance on the podium.
Event 28 brought out Larsen and Castro in the only last-round battle of overall leaders. Should either rider win, he would be guaranteed no worse than a runoff for first. The first start ended in turn one with Castro and Harmatiuk going down. Larsen left little doubt on the restart with a great start and the win while Castro ended up third behind Harmatiuk.
Yarrow was on the pole in the next race and was first off the line, but his bike stopped again. This time the fuel hadn't been turned on. Schwartz who took the victory with Dale Facchini second and Yarrow managing to get third.
The final scheduled race came to the tapes with championship and podium ramifications. Faria needed to win to force a runoff for the title. Second place would earn him a runoff with Hedden for second overall. If he finished third, then he would be in a runoff for third overall. If either Venegas or Blair could win and have Faria finish third, then the victory would earn a runoff for third overall. Blair was first off the line with Venegas in second and Faria running third. Venegas was determined, however, and went underneath Blair for the lead with Faria following him past. Faria kept the pressure on Venegas, but couldn't force a mistake. Venegas took the win while Faria would have to come back for a runoff for second overall with Hedden.
Hedden won the coin toss and chose the outside starting position for the runoff. Faria, using the inside gate, beat Hedden to turn one and used the low line to hold the lead the first two laps. Hedden, having made many successful outside passes this season, tried to make the cushion work, but couldn't muster enough traction to make a pass on Faria. Faria, played it safe by choosing a wider line the final lap, and beat Hedden to the checkered flag.
The Industry Invitational featured twelve riders not in the State Championship field. Neil Facchini followed up wins in his heat and semi with a resounding victory in the main event. Mark Adams was second, Rohn Zellner finished third, and George Fox was fourth.
The California State Championship was resurrected after not being held since 1997. The event has a lot of tradition and the riders and fans were excited about its return to the racing schedule. The promoters of Industry Hills Speedway added to that tradition by awarding a grandfather clock to the event winner and indicated that they will continue presenting that as a trophy in the future.
Industry Invitational Consolation
136 - Kim Stevens
210 - Tim Cochren
150 - Damon Barry
288 - Rick Fritch
194 - Tony Bracy (non starter)
Industry Invitational Consolation
293 - Rick Valdez
77 - Bryan Buffington
238 - Travis Henderson
309 - Vince Giamformaggio (fell)
Industry Invitational Main Event
201 - Neil Facchini
23 - Mark Adams
163 - Rohn Zellner
29 - George Fox (fell)
California State Championship 1 2 3 4 5 T
2 - Josh Larsen 1 3 3 3 3 13 1st
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 F 1 1 0 4
8n - Bryan Yarrow 3 3 3 1 1 11
9 - Mike Faria 3 2 2 3 2 12 2nd
11 - Bobby Schwartz 0 1 1 1 3 6
13 - Nate Perkins Fx 1 0 2 0 3
14 - Eddie Castro 2 3 3 2 1 11
24 - Bobby Krips 1 0 0 R F 1
39 - Buck Blair 0 2 3 3 1 9
40n - Tommy Hedden 3 1 2 3 3 12 3rd
43 - Charlie Venegas 3 3 2 F 3 11
45 - Dario Galvin 2 0 1 0 1 4
99 - Greg Ayers 0 1 0 0 2 3
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 2 2 0 2 2 8
145 - Mark Dwyer 1 2 1 1 0 5
301 - Dale Facchini 1 0 2 2 2 7
29 - George Fox (R) 0 - - - - 0
201 - Neil Facchini (R) Did Not Ride
5: (restarted) Yarrow, Galvin, Larsen (fell, remounted), Blair (fell, remounted)
6: Venegas, Harmatiuk, Facchini, Ayers (fell, remounted)
7: (restarted) Hedden, McConnell, Dwyer, Fox, Perkins (fell, excluded)
8: Faria, Castro, Krips, Schwartz
11: Venegas, Dwyer, Schwartz, Galvin
12: Larsen, Faria, Hedden, Facchini
13: Yarrow, Harmatiuk, Perkins, Krips
14: Castro, Blair, Ayers, McConnell (fell)
17: Castro, Facchini, Galvin, Perkins
18: Larsen, Venegas, McConnell, Krips (fell, remounted)
19: Yarrow, Faria, Dwyer, Ayers
20: Blair, Hedden, Schwartz, Harmatiuk
22: Faria, Harmatiuk, McConnell, Galvin
23: Larsen, Perkins, Schwartz, Ayers
24: Hedden, Castro, Yarrow, Venegas (fell)
25: Blair, Facchini, Dwyer, Krips (retired)
27: Hedden, Ayers, Galvin, Krips (fell)
28: Larsen, Harmatiuk, Castro, Dwyer
29: Schwartz, Facchini, Yarrow, McConnell
30: Venegas, Faria, Blair, Perkins
Runoff for Second Place
9 - Mike Faria
40n - Tommy Hedden