Victorville Track Championship
August 18, 2007 - Victorville
By: Ryan Evans
Buck Blair finished an action-packed night by capturing his biggest title to date, the 2007 Victorville Track Championship, in dramatic fashion in front of a packed house at Wheel2Wheel Raceway.
Blair and Scott Brant both completed their five races with 14 points and had to meet in a runoff to decide the championship. Brant won the coin toss and selected the outside starting position which left Blair with the inside. Brant was first off the line and trapped Blair entering turn one. Brant stuck to the bottom of the race track while Blair followed him for a lap hoping for a mistake. Blair switched strategy on the second lap and attacked on the outside going into turn three. Brant drifted wide to protect his lead, but Blair squeezed between Brant and the fence and made a breathtaking pass that brought the fans to their feet. Brant chased Blair and tried a cutback move in the final corner, but Blair beat him to the checkered flag for the win. Blair jubilantly celebrated and received the congratulatory bumps from his fellow competitors.
Five rounds of competition began with Brant taking on defending Track Champion Eddie Castro. Brant got the best start, but Castro used the track's banking to his advantage and passed Brant on the outside for the lead and his first three points of the night.
During the pre-race rider meeting, the referee issued a stern warning to the riders about where they may make their practice starts. Shaun Harmatiuk and Ricky Wells felt his wrath when he penalized them both for ignoring his warning. John Marquez led the race before Harmatiuk passed him while Wells struggled to do the same. By the time Wells got by, Harmatiuk had the win sewed up.
Blair defeated Shawn McConnell for his first win of the evening in the next heat.
Dale Facchini beat Greg Ayers for his first win in the final race of round one.
Blair started round two with a runaway victory over Brad Sauer. Brant earned his first win while Facchini used the outside to pass McConnell and narrowly take second place at the line.
In race 16 Harmatiuk beat Castro to turn one and when Castro went to the outside he bobbled and went down. Harmatiuk took the win and Castro's fourth place all but eliminated his title defense.
Wells ended the second round by beating Ayers for his first win.
The third round started with Marquez leading Ayers and the Sauer Brothers. Ayers stalked Marquez for three laps before taking the lead at the white flag and going on to the victory while Marquez scored and impressive second.
Brant cruised to his second straight win ahead of Travis Henderson and John Stunkard in race 24.
Blair, Facchini, Wells, and Castro came to the tapes in a race 25 that would have major title implications. Castro's night continued to go downhill as he was penalized for touching the tapes. Blair got the best start and cruised to his third straight win. Wells was running second before the never-say-die Castro blitzed him from the outside and snagged second place.
The final race of round three had an entertaining four-lap battle with McConnell hugging the inside and Harmatiuk using the outside. The riders swapped the lead on each lap, but the top of the race track ultimately paid off for Harmatiuk who took his third win.
At intermission, Blair and Harmatiuk were tied at the top with nine points each; Brant had eight points; Ayers had tallied seven points; Wells had six points; and McConnell, Castro, and Facchini each had five.
The fourth round began started with Facchini leading Harmatiuk. Both riders struggled with the freshly groomed track, but Harmatiuk used the dirt on the outside to go around Facchini on lap two and went on to his fourth win.
Brant needed a victory in race 32 to keep his title hopes alive. Wells made a strong bid to end those hopes by leading the former National Champion the first three laps. Brant went to the outside on the final lap and gained a lot of ground in the first corner and charged to the back of Wells entering the final bend. Brant went deep into turn three and found enough traction to pull alongside the sixteen year old and drag race him to the finish. Brant was declared the winner by the narrowest of margins and received a standing ovation for his effort.
McConnell led the next race for two laps before Castro used his customary outside line to take over the lead and earn his second win of the night.
Blair decided to experiment with a 22" rear wheel in his fourth race to prepare for his huge final round matchup. He cruised to the win, but decided to revert back to his standard back wheel for his final heat race.
Entering the final round Blair and Harmatiuk were tied with 12 points apiece with Brant sitting at 11. All three riders would meet in the final round. Castro, Ayers, and Wells each had eight points while McConnell and Facchini each had seven.
Wells began the final round with a resounding victory over Brad Sauer and McConnell.
Race 40 came to the tapes with all three podium places at stake. Blair and Harmatiuk could secure the title with a victory. Brant needed a victory to force a runoff for the title or a second place to force a runoff for second overall. Blair was off the line first and was followed by Brant into turn one while Harmatiuk trailed behind. The leading duo separated themselves from Harmatiuk on the back straight with Blair maintaining his lead. Harmatiuk's chase ended in a heap when he fell in turn two, but Brant remained steadfast in his pursuit of the leader. On the final lap Brant went to the outside and closed on Blair much the same way as he had Wells the previous round. On the final corner Brant made a desperate move around the boards and made a scintillating pass on Blair to take the win and force the runoff. The crowd roared its approval with a thunderous applause for both riders.
The Second Division Track Championship Final ended in turn two with Allen Doss and Rick Valdez going down. Doss led the second attempt before his three competitors all went down behind him in turn four. Valdez got the best start the third time, but went wide in turn four and Doss blasted underneath for the lead. Doss made the same mistake the next lap and Valdez retook the lead at the end of the second lap. Doss tried inside and then outside to regain the lead, but Valdez stayed cool under the pressure and was first to the checkered flag. Doss had to settle for second, Rohn Zellner finished third, and Max Eddy was fourth.
Fred Remington was first off the line and led all four laps to win the Third Division Track Championship. Scott York, who won the title last year, finished second, Mike Nutting was third, Joe Dillard finished fourth, and Jeff Remington was fifth.
Joey Holt won both heats to win the Junior Track Championship. Russell Green was second overall and Richard Crocker was third overall.
The top three in the Pee Wee Track Championship duplicated last year's result. Garrett Nepi won both heats to retain his title with Erica Lyons getting second overall and Marina Braden finishing third overall. Jack Giamformaggio was fourth and Yasmine Eddy was fifth.
Joe Jones and Jimmy Olsen led the Sidecar Track Championship final before Dale Facchini and Matt Davis took over on the third lap. Jones and Olsen made a valiant attempt in the final corner, but parked and Facchini and Davis took the win. Scott and Shawn Driggers finished second, Brian Motis and Loren Thurston were third, Jones and Olsen finished fourth, and Tommy Thornton and Pat Grames were fifth.
John Aden gave the riders an excellently prepared race track and the largest crowd of the season was thoroughly entertained with the best racing of the season. Outside passing was the rule of the night and not the exception and the fans certainly got their money's worth.
The next event at Wheel2Wheel Raceway is the Victorville Best Pairs Track Championship on Saturday, September 1 at 6:00 and most of the Track Championship field has already pledged to be there.
Sidecar Track Championship Final
19 - Dale Facchini/Matt Davis
13 - Scott Driggers/Shawn Driggers
4 - Brian Motis/Loren Thurston
15 - Joe Jones/Jimmy Olsen
31 - Tommy Thornton/Pat Grames
Pee Wee Scoring 1 2 T
5 - Garrett Nepi 4 4 8
12 - Yasmine Eddy 0 0 0
39 - Jack Giamformaggio 1 1 2
77 - Erika Lyons 2 3 5
117 - Marina Braden 3 2 5
Junior Scoring 1 2 T
4 - Joey Holt 3 3 6
18 - Russell Green 2 2 4
91 - Richard Crocker 1 1 2
Third Division Track Championship Final
152 - Fred Remington
155 - Scott York
218 - Mike Nutting
714 - Joe Dillard
252 - Jeff Remington
Second Division Track Championship Final (restarted twice)
293 - Rick Valdez
232 - Allen Doss
163 - Rohn Zellner
148 - Max Eddy (fell)
First Division Track Championship 1 2 3 4 5 T
6 - Shawn McConnell 2 1 2 2 1 8
10 - Scott Brant 2 3 3 3 3 14
14 - Eddie Castro 3 F 2 3 3 11
17 - Robbie Sauer 1 2 1 1 2 7
19 - Dale Facchini 3 2 0 2 3 10
21 - Brad Sauer 0 2 0 1 2 5
30 - Tim Gomez withdrew - illness
32 - Billy Lyons withdrew - injury
39 - Buck Blair 3 3 3 3 2 14
55 - Travis Henderson 1 1 2 2 0 6
77 - Bryan Buffington 1 1 - - - 2
99 - Greg Ayers 2 2 3 1 1 9
139 - Shaun Harmatiuk 3 3 3 3 F 12
142 - Ricky Wells 2 3 1 2 3 11
163 - Rohn Zellner 1 1 1 N N 3
241 - John Marquez 1 F 2 1 2 6
249 - John Stunkard 0 0 1 0 2 3
320 - Michael Hull withdrew
4: Castro, Brant, Zellner, B.Sauer (fell, remounted)
5: Harmatiuk (penalty line), Wells (penalty line), Marquez
6: Blair, McConnell, R.Sauer, Stunkard
7: Facchini, Ayers, Henderson (penalty line)
14: Blair, B.Sauer, Buffington
15: Brant, Facchini, McConnell, Marquez (fell)
16: Harmatiuk, R.Sauer, Henderson, Castro (fell)
17: Wells, Ayers, Zellner, Stunkard
23: (restarted) Ayers, Marquez, R.Sauer, B.Sauer
24: Brant, Henderson, Stunkard
25: Blair, Castro (tape penalty), Wells, Facchini
26: Harmatiuk, McConnell, Zellner
31: Harmatiuk, Facchini, B.Sauer, Stunkard
32: Brant, Wells, R.Sauer
33: Castro, McConnell, Ayers
34: Blair, Henderson, Marquez (fell, remounted), Zellner (non starter)
39: Wells, B.Sauer, McConnell, Henderson
40: Brant, Blair, Ayers, Harmatiuk (fell)
41: Castro, Stunkard, Marquez
42: Facchini, R.Sauer, Buffington, Zellner (non starter)
Runoff for Track Championship
39 - Buck Blair
10 - Scott Brant