By BZ ZELLER
It was Win, Place and Show for the top local contingents in the Casey Diemert Classic Saturday night at the Douglas County Speedway.
Fan favorite Rick Brown, a former mentor to Diemert, captured the American Speed Association/Northwest Sprintcar Racing Association Main Event. NSRA points leader and 2008 champion, Matt Hein finished second and 2007 champ Andy Alberding was third.
The annual Classic is named in tribute to the late Casey Diemert, a Roseburg High graduate and former DCS champ who was killed in a 1999 practice session at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.
Brown, who was fifth fastest of the 16 entries during the time trials, started on the outside in the second row of the starting grid. The 5-time NSRA champ shadowed Craig Deaver, Sumner, Wash., for the first 24 laps before he was able to dart inside and snare the lead on the backstretch. Hein raced tight behind Brown and made the pass underneath Deaver a moment later.
Hein, the fast time winner with a lap of 12.614 seconds, spent the final 16 circuits looking for an opening to switch places with Brown. But the savvy veteran found the checkered flag before the 2006 Roseburg High grad could pass him.
“I’m just glad I had enough to hold off the boys (Hein and Alberding),” Brown said. “It was a great, safe race.”
As Brown hoisted the trophy in the air, with a crackled voice he announced, “this one’s for Casey.”
Hein began the 40-Lap feature outside of Alberding on the fourth row. His finish behind Brown maintained his season points lead and his quest to repeat as NSRA champ.
“I was hoping there was going to be an opening as we went through slower traffic to pass him (Brown), but it just didn’t happen,” Hein said. “I’m happy with second place tonight.”
Deaver, who started in the front row, held on for fourth and Cory Lockwood finished fifth. Todd Coleman, Lynwood,Wash., won the first Heat and Hein easily won the second Heat. Greg Ochs, Coleville, Wash., won the B Dash and Jeff Montgomery, Victoria, B.C., Canada, won the A Heat. Brown won the special Casey’s Dash.
Oakland’s Bob Vancil won the 22-car Hornet Main. Vancil denied David Beals’ attempt to repeat as back-to-back Main winner. Beals was second, followed by Monte Cox Jr., Daniel Butterfield and Rebecca Lane in third through fifth respectively.
Butterfield, Robert Jarvis and Cody Rasmussen all won Heats. Beals clocked the best time, 20.360.
Willie Thompson, Salem, led every lap of the ASA/Modified Main. Kris Nace, Glendale, and Dean, Roseburg were second and third. Nace, who swept the Dash, Heat and Main last time out, won the Dash and Heat Saturday before narrowly running his win streak to six. Tom Elam, Powers, won the fast time, 15.546.
Rob Mueller and Mike Batman each continued to pace their respective race classes.
Mueller led the 14-car Mini Stock field to another Main victory. The race was halted briefly when Roseburg’s Dale Roth, who was running second, had his throttle stuck. Roth’s car crashed off the wall near the pit entrance and suffered front end damage. Roth, however, was able to walk away from the scene.
Batman topped the Old Time Racers of Oregon field in his Main. Tim Jennings, Winston, finished second in the Main and won the Dash. Batman added the Heat and fast time, 17.548, to his Main win.
Dale Yarbrough, Sutherlin, won the Mini Fast Heat and Israel Curdy, Grants Pass, won the first Heat. Jason Gotz, Damascus, won the Dash. Behind fast qualifier Mueller, 18.117, in the Main was Steven McMahon, Robert McMahon, Gotz, and Dena James respectively.
John Cornilsen won the J-Car Main and Brad McMaster won the classes’ Dash and Heat. Tim Thorp finished second in the Main.
Racing resumes June 27 at the Douglas County Speedway featuring the Jobe’s Hot Rod Shop Eve of Destruction 3 plus fireworks. On the race card is the annual trailer race, the steel wall crash, gauntlet, ASA Modifieds, Mini Stocks, Super Stocks, Street Stocks, Hornets.(Photo by BZ Zeller: Matt Hein (98) and Ray Douglas (4) at the 2009 Casey Diemert Classic at the Douglas County Speedway)