Russell snaps dry spell, wins first Sportsman main race since May
Just a few weekends of racing remains before the championships
The month of August has already been kind to River City vet Bud Russell.
Russell finally broke his slump in the Sportsman Division on August 2, topping Sean Fox and Dan Smith for the first main race victory since the month of May.
And as only one night of action remains at River City Speedway before the track's biggest event of the year â€“ the Two Day Race on August 30 and 31 â€“ the time is short for the Sportsman Division leaders to make a last-ditch move for a title. Each division, including the Mini-Sprints that seemed sewn up a week ago, has continued to heat up as the racing season zips to a close.
Sportsman, River City's premiere division, is as roasted as any of the racing classes on Saturday nights. Russell won the first two events on May 17 and 31, but fell behind on June 7 when Clyde White and Smith finished first and second. Smith won the division on June 21 and again on July 12, and Russell's quiet patch continued on July 26 as Aaron Elwess crossed the finish line first.
Last Saturday was next to a perfect outing for Russell, who in addition to the victory in the main race, also picked up points with a first place finish in his heat and a handful of points with a win in the trophy dash. Those nickel-and-dime points have done quite a number for the two-time defending champion. Russell entered the evening trailing Smith by 25 points, but left the track down by just 13 after picking up 112 points to Smith's clean 100.
In the Street Stock Division, it was another win for points' leader Justin McMullen after a victory in the main race gave McMullen a wider edge over Cody Smith. Justin McMullen also won the dash, but Scott McMullen set the fast time at 16:042. The three racers maintain a narrow gap between one another, but Justin McMullen's 39-point lead over third place is beginning to swell.
Don Jenner broke up Cody Jones' party on Saturday evening, taking the Modified Division's main race over the points leader and throwing a wrench into the standings with just a few weeks left. Both Don and Matt Jenner finished ahead of Jones, knocking him to third place after finishing dead last in their heat shortly ahead of time. Jones, who took third in his heat, picked up four points in the dash and maintains a decent lead heading into the races on Aug. 16.
Scott Dorie remains the points leader in the Pacific Hardtop Division after racing his No. 76 dwarf car to a third place finish. Chris McCleary won the division's main race, taking first over Doug McVae after finishing at the back of the pack during the heats. McCleary also took the trophy dash ahead of Dennis Liebig, Neal Hopwood and Gary Brogan, who sits in second place in the points standings.
In the 4-Cylinder Division, Crystal Flath returned to the winners' circle after beating out John Henry and Jonathan West for the top spot in the main race. Flath had little room for error last week, holding a seven-point margin over Matt Brown, but did just enough to hang on to the division lead, totaling 112 points to remain in first place.
Pacific Mini-Sprints, which looked to be firmly in the grasp of Greg Lane after last week's action, is back open once again. Both Greg Lane and Brett Lane weren't present for the races on Aug. 2, holding the door ajar for Mike Opoka Sr. to make up some serious ground. Opoka jumped on the chance, taking second in the main race, winning his heat and taking second in the trophy dash for 107 points. It's still a sizable gap â€“ Greg Lane has a 46-point lead â€“ but it's no longer impossible to catch Lane before the season ends.
Dimmer still are the chances for Keith Everson, who won 117 points after beating Opoka in the division main. Even after a solid showing, Everson still sits 81 points back, a massive gap should Lane return for the remainder of the year.
In the Tracers Division, Kylie Dorie finally got back on the horse, beating Justen Case in the main event â€“ simply for a little insurance as the season rushes to a close. Case, who sits at third in the division standings, laid claim to points across the board, with a first place finish in the heat and setting the fast time, while taking fourth in the trophy dash.
Races resume once again on Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. Ticket information can be found on the Columbia County Racing Association's website. Full results can be found on the next page.
By John William Howard
Follow me on Twitter @JowardHoward
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