Fall Nationals Final Thoughts - by Troy Hennig

I attended and announced over 50 races this year. By far, no other race
I witnessed this year provided as exciting as a finish we were treated
to on Saturday night at the Pacific Sprint Fall Nationals. Many thanks
to JPM and the hard work by the track prep crew. The drivers were given
a great track and it provided a memorable finish.

It was great being an Oakland Raider fan seeing Jeremy Newberry,
starting center for the Raiders, in attendance at the Fall Nationals on
an off weekend from football. Newberry sponsors Adam McCarthy's #4
sprint car. Newberry was enjoying the pit truck concession food and
ordered a nacho with chili when I rolled up and introduced myself. He
could not of been more cordial to a snoopy track announcer with probing
questions about racing, but more importantly the Raiders. He races dirt
modifieds and said he drove 10 to 12 times this year. He actually raced
at Chico in March during the Silver Cup. He talked about his passion for
racing and added that he loved watching the races at Chico. On Saturday,
Newberry was going to a local famous Chico sports hang out called the
Graduate to watch some college football and part take in the college
“Chico” atmosphere. Unfortunately, Adam crashed hard in the E main event
while leading. He said in his ten year stint being in the NFL, this
year's Oakland Raider staff was the best he had been involved with. He
was really optimistic with Dante Culpepper future as the teams leader
going into their next game. When asked about the “bush league” time out
in Denver and ensuing missed field goal he responded by saying that is
was a tough kick and the team was not upset with the missed second
attempt. “That was a tough kick,” said Newberry.

Even though things did not end the way Shane Stewart and Pail Silva
wanted on Saturday night, I have to thank them for participating in this
year's Fall Nationals. Without them, the race might have been a Tim
Kaeding run away. With Stewart in attendance, he brought a new vibe to
the event and on behalf of the staff and race fans I want to thank them
for providing an incredible race, one that will be talked about all
winter long.

Tim Kaeding continues to amaze us. Any other driver does not get to
Stewart like Kaeding did on the final turn of the race. To his credit he
did give Stewart room to get back on the speedway and set up the
dramatic finish. It was a bummer to see Stewart not cross the line but I
feel if the roles were reversed, Kaeding might have been the one spun
off turn four. What we witnessed was two professional sprint car driving
not giving an inch and not letting off the accelerator. They both knew
what was on the line and neither wanted the other to win. This is how
legends are made.

After the races I went down to congratulate Kaeding. When he saw me the
first response was, “Why isn't that go kart track staying open later?”
He was referring to a go-kart track that was set up inside the Silver
Dollar Pavilion. He had just won the most exciting race of the year and
he wanted to race karts. The kart track also has an 11 pm curfew because
of local neighbor concerns with noise. When I informed him of the reason
he said, “If I were the fairgrounds I would let that guy stay open later
because the partying noise we are going to do tonight will be a lot
louder than the squelching of them tires.” He also added that him and
Stewart talked about the finish and everything seemed fine. Tim stated
they were smiling and everything was cool.

If it wasn't for the amazing finish of the 40-lap main event, the real
story might have been Mason Moore. The 16-year old product from
Princeton showed everyone on Saturday night that he will be a force to
reckon with in 2008. He started sixth in the C main event. Moore won the
race and transferred into the B main. Moore started 17^th and in 20 laps
moved into the fourth place. He earned the final transfer into the main
event. Starting last in a star studded main event usually does not fall
into a desirable situation. However, Moore calmly drove through the
field and finished in the eleventh spot. His totals for the night, 75
laps of racing. Three different main events. 33 cars passed.

Andy Forsberg might be the ultimate weekend warrior. Of the 91 drivers
who entered the Fall Nationals, he earned the most points during the two
preliminary nights. After Thursday nights race, he drove back to his
hometown of Auburn, roughly about a 90 mile drive. On Friday morning, it
was an early alarm setting as he went to work as usual. For the next 12
hours he worked in his cabinet shop. On Saturday, he arose early again
and worked until noon. Then he left to attend his step-daughters soccer
game. Now one would think starting from the pole of the biggest race of
the 360 year at Chico would require some “me” time. But Forsberg then
got in the truck and drove up to Chico, arriving around 6 pm. He went on
to finish third and was informed that his impromptu bachelor party
hummer stretch limo was ready to take him out on the town. His response
when asked if he was ready to have some fun. “ Damn it Hennig, I didn't
bring a change of clothes, I have no deodorant and I stink.” For the
record, I was not involved in the party bus and I am eagerly waiting to
call the participating people and find out how the night went.

Colby Weisz is called the iceman by his peers for his cool driving style
and quiet focused demeanor off the track. But of all the drivers this
weekend he might of impressed me the most. Colby has never felt
comfortable in the lime light in my opinion and maybe that is why when
we think of the top Northern California sprint car drivers of the last
ten years, his name might not even be brought up. But when you look at
the championships, the wins and his solid finishes, he needs to be
included in the mix. For the most part, Colby has stuck to the 360
ranks, and usually that stigma means you are not as good as the 410
drivers. But in my book, Weisz would be a top driver on the Golden State
trail. However, with his work schedule, he works for the County of
Auburn, it probably would not allow him the chance to do so. But I am
thankful for what Colby brings to the race track and enjoy him, his
family and the way he conducts himself around the track.

I felt for the Kaeding family this weekend. The loss of Brent's mom, Bud
and Tim's grandma, Howard's wife, put a damper on the weekend. Brent is
the all-time main event winner at Chico and he was missed. Tim dedicated
the win to her in victory lane and got caught up with emotion. Tear's
and a choked up voice ended his interview with Gary Thomas too soon. Bud
was just as impressive, finishing fourth after starting tenth. It
amazing how much a family from San Jose area has had such a big impact
at a dirt race track in Chico, about three hours way. I respect and care
greatly for that family.

The young talent seems to re-emerged in sprint car racing. It seemed for
a few years there was a point when each year one or two young driver
emerged and showed promise. But this year, and take the B main event for
example. The top five are all teenagers, or 20-somethings who graduated
from the Outlaw Kart Series. Brett Miller, Brett Rollag, Kyle Hirst,
Mason Moore and Robbie Whitchurch. Add Kyle Larson, ninth in the main
event, James Sweeney, 23^rd in the main, and Shane Golobic, 10^th in the
B main. The future is littered with bright young guns in Northern

Richard Bailey turned many heads when on Friday night timed in as fast
qualifier. He only had to survive 54 other drivers. You see, he was the
first one out and yes, his time stood. He finished last in the Saturday
night main event, but it was still a great weekend for another young
driver. He made the show.

Props to the fans at the races. On Saturday night the stands were
packed. The balloon man brought 150 of those high rising balloons and
after the B main he had most of the grandstand covered with balloons.
During the 4-wide salute, it was perfect timing with the cars on the
front stretch and colorful balloons in the air. The finish of the race
left the crowd standing and emotionally involved with the race.

My top six most unappreciated but solid drivers at his year's Fall
. The drivers who quietly go about their ways and produce big
time but don't seem to have a big fan following outside their inner
circle of family and friends...

My top six performers of the week at the Fall Nationals

Favorite quotes:

Tim Kaeding - “This is why sprint car racing is the most exciting sport
in America.”

Andy Forsberg - “That is why I am a professional cabinet finisher and
they are professional race car drivers” when asked about the Kaeding
Stewart showdown.

Colby Weisz - “Losing to TK at Chico is not a bad thing.”

After the races a fan came to the booth and said, “thank you for
allowing some quiet time for us fans to talk during breaks in the racing
and for also not being a radio DJ and blasting music all night.”

Not on the radar: A Saturday afternoon wiffle ball game played in the
grass area behind the turn one bleachers at the Silver Dollar Speedway.
It featured the good guys, Myself and teammate Brad Sweet, against the
bad guys, Lee Watson – notable crew chief mechanic and owner of Watson's
Carbon Fiber , and Kyle Main, co-owner of the Fisher/Main Motorsports
#35m that Sean Becker drivers. In the end, the bad guys prevailed as
Watson belted a three-run, walk off homer in the bottom of the ninth to
win the game off a frustrated Brad Sweet on the mound.

Thanks to Gary Thomas, “Mr. Sprint Car Information Man,” and Andrew
Kunas, representing the NSCS all weekend long. Both were in the
announcing booth and both added great facts and stats that make my job a
lot easier....