An evening of emotion for Tillman at Champion Speedway
CARSON CITY — There was a ton of emotion out on the track during the late model division main event at Champion Speedway on Saturday night.
Chet Danburg, the track’s two-time defending late model season champion, ended a drought when he ran to his first main event victory of 2002. Danburg was chased to the finish of the 35-lap race by South Lake Tahoe’s Jeff Tillman, who took a moment afterward to remember his recent passing of his father.
Also, Craig Paulsen turned the fastest qualifying time and came back to finish fifth in the main event on a night when tribute was paid to his mother, Dorothy Paulsen, a 37-year Carson City resident who passed away on July 18.
A moment of silence was observed for Dorothy Paulsen, and prior to the start of the main event, Craig took a memorial lap holding up a checkered flag.
“It was nice they let me take that memorial lap. This was the first time my mom wasn’t here to watch me race. She never missed a race,” said Paulsen, who has raced off and on at the Carson City track since 1971. “It’s been tough. Rich Lawlor lost his mom this past week, too.”
Roger Tillman, who passed away in Clearlake, Calif., three weeks ago, was another familiar face from the old days, having raced back in the 1960s when Champion was known as Tahoe-Carson (T-Car) Speedway.
“He’s the reason I caught this bug,” Jeff Tillman said of his own passion for racing. “That was one reason I came down tonight. I wanted to try out some things for the 100-lapper next week. It would be nice to win that one for him. Or to at least to run well, because it’s going to be tough. Forty other drivers will be out there who don’t care.”
Danburg took the lead of the main at the end of the first lap and never trailed again during a race in which flagman Rick Frock never needed to reach for the yellow.
“My compliments to these guys for running the whole race without a caution,” Danburg said.
Al Goss got the jump on the start, but Danburg came back and passed Goss with an inside move heading into the homestretch on the first lap.
“He did get the jump on me, that son of a gun,” Danburg said. “I just drove in real hard. I’ve been racing with Al for a long time … Al’s a real fair driver, but I knew he wouldn’t give me anything.”
Danburg never relinquished his lead. However, Tillman worked his way up to third by the 13th lap and then caught Goss for second place on lap 16.
“I kept looking for you to come up, Jeff,” Danburg said as he accepted congratulations from Tillman after the race.
“If I’d gotten by the one guy (Jim Bawden) sooner, I might have had a better shot,” said Tillman, who won the second heat earlier in the evening. “That was the race right there. By the time I got out, Chet was gone. The way he was running tonight, he might have been tough to beat anyway.”
Goss finished third, followed in order by Dave Sciarroni, Paulsen, Jim Bawden, Brian Colodny, C.J. Bawden and Lawlor.
Jim Bawden won the late model trophy dash, followed by Lawlor, Paulsen and Colodny.
Meanwhile, the sportsman class featured another exciting duel between Joel Worley and Gary Nevers.
Worley went low on the backstretch of lap 7 to seize the lead from Frank SanFilippo and he never trailed again, although there were several anxious moments during the middle laps when Nevers mounted a challenge. They raced virtually side-by-side for eight laps before the yellow flag came out on lap 19 after Greg Herbold and Thomas Eldridge collided.
Sacramento’s Keith Hopkinson Jr. joined the leaders after the restart and eventually passed Nevers on the backstretch of the final lap to finish second. Nevers wound up third, Keith Hopkinson Sr. fourth and SanFilippo fifth. Miller, who experienced mechanical problems and raced in a car he borrowed from Sciarroni, was sixth, followed by Eldridge, Keith Mikaelson, Herbold and Bud Tackett.
Miller won the trophy dash, followed by Nevers, Hopkinson Jr. and Eldridge. SanFilippo won the first heat and Worley won the second.
Carson City’s Rocky Boice Jr. remained out front in the hobby stock class when he ran away with his seventh main event victory of the season.
Rick Garmann and Mike Fuller were battling for the lead when they came together going into turn 1 on the 13th lap. Garmann hit the fence, Fuller spun into the infield, and Boice surged into the lead as the yellow flag came out.
Boice made the best of his opportunity and was virtually unchallenged the rest of the way in the 25-lap race.
Matt Collier of Carson City finished second, followed by Chris Anderson, Brett Clampitt and Allan Hunter to round out the top five. Kris Pfalmer finished sixth, followed by Fuller, Chris Betz, Christine Droege, Don Hill, Bill Gould, Ed Sykes, Geoff Moore, Randy Reid, Garmann and Rick Smith. Collier won the trophy dash. Gould won the first heat and Hill won the second.
Fernley’s John Burritt was dominant on his way to victory in the 25-lap Legends main event, reversing a close finish in the trophy dash in which he finished second behind Jim Klopp.
Klopp recovered from a collision with Jack Randall on lap 11 — which brought out the yellow flag. Klopp came back and reeled in second place on the final lap when he passed Denny Hadler Jr., who will be a senior at Galena High School this year. Klopp was bidding for a sweep after winning the trophy dash and the second heat race.
Hadler finished third, Bob Cose fourth and Bill Brown was fifth. Estes finished sixth, followed by Mark Tompkins, Richard Wirtz and Randall.
Randall held off Tompkins to win the first heat race.
The late models will be on center stage this coming Saturday when they run the 100-lap Tribute to America 100 Celebrity/Charity Race. The main gates open at 4 p.m., hot laps begin at 2 p.m., qualifying at 5 and racing at 7.