Racers and race fans flocked to Twin Cities Raceway on Friday for the annual night races.
The evening of racing at the dirt track featured six different classes and drew racers from most parts of the state that connect to Kenai via road. There were so many Sprint cars and A-Stock cars that they had to be split up into two groups for the heat races. In all, 53 cars were registered to race Friday.
"What a night," said John McDonald, a Sprint car driver from Houston. "There were a lot of cars here and a lot of Sprint cars here. I think there were only two Kenai Sprint cars. They came from all over - Fairbanks, Wasilla, Houston."
The night's special charm comes from the ability to race under the lights. Racing under those lights most likely cost McDonald a victory in the Main Event.
McDonald and his Carlile Transportation Systems Inc. car dominated Heat 1 and Heat 2 in his group. He also was leading the Main Event with two laps to go when he lost control of his car in Turn 2.
McDonald said the track was in good shape, and he gave kudos to the Kenai Peninsula Racing Lions - Circle Track Division for working to improve the track. He said the track got especially nice after the sun went down and the air got moist.
The one problem is there are a few holes in the track. McDonald said he thought he had most of them plotted out, but darkness caused him to miss a pivotal hole in Turn 2.
That put Brad Bailey, of the Hostile Racing Team sponsored by Brice Equipment Rentals, in prime position to record the biggest win of his racing career.
The Main Event turned into a race of attrition, with McDonald's spin causing the last of four cautions in the race.
Bailey started in fifth place and carefully picked his way through the wreckage until McDonald's spin-out gave him the lead on the restart with two laps to go.
McDonald showed just how good his car was on this night by working from last place to second place after the restart. But he could not pass Bailey before the checkered flag.
"It was awesome," said Bailey, who is from Anderson. "This is the second-most cars I've ever raced against."
Bailey said the key to his victory was avoiding a midrace wreck caused when Leroy Perfect spun out in Turn 2.
"I almost got caught up in that one," he said. "Racing in these black cars doesn't work very well at night. I think I might put some strips on my car for tomorrow."
Despite the spin-out, McDonald had no complaints after the race.
"This was just good, clean fun," he said. "Everybody got together and had a good time."
Wasilla's John Clemmons agrees with that. Clemmons came to Kenai on a shoestring budget and ended up winning both of his group heats before taking the A-Stock Main Event.
A blown engine cost Clemmons a season title at the racetrack at Willow this season. His girlfriend, Brenda Clemmons, won the season title at the track in the Hobby class.
John Clemmons wanted to race in Kenai so bad that he took the engine out of his girlfriend's car, put it in his car, then drove to Kenai. One problem. By the time he got here, he had no money to pay his entry fee.
Enter Jeff Bettis Used Cars and Pro Tow.
The sponsor stepped up to pay the fee and get Clemmons into the race, and the rest is history.
"The key to the win was teamwork," Clemmons said. "Because of the financial thing, and because my motor blew up and it took money to get the engine out of her car. It's all teamwork."
The Mini-Stock Main Event went to Andy Schwochert, after his brother Alex Schwochert won Heat 1 and Heat 2. Richard McGahan dominated B-Stock racing, winning both heats and the Main Event. After Joey Essex and Frank Soares split the Late Model heats, Essex got the better of Soares in the Main Event. Finally, Mike Thomas won both of the Legends heats. There was no Legends Main Event on Friday due to time constraints.
The Legends Main Event was due to be held Saturday. Saturday races were still going on as the Clarion went to press. Results will be printed when they are available.
Twin Cities Raceway Night Races
Group 1 Heat 1 - 1. John Clemmons; 2. Steve McElroy; 3. Eric Wittner; 4. Jon Jensen; 5. Candice Detjens; 6. Steve Moretti; 7. Dean Devaney.
Group 2 Heat 1 - 1. Damien LaMountain; 2. Jake Savely; 3. Jimmie Hale; 4. Dustin Bass; 5. Jamie Chilton; 6. Tim Detjens; 7. Craig Ramm.
Group 1 Heat 2 - 1. John Clemmons; 2. Eric Wittner; 3. Jon Jensen; 4. Steve Moretti; 5. Candice Detjens; 6. Dean Devaney; 7. Steve McElroy.
Group 2 Heat 2 - 1. Damien LaMountain; 2. Jake Savely; 3. Dustin Bass; 4. Jimmie Hale; 5. Tim Detjens; 6. Jamie Chilton.
Main Event - 1. John Clemmons; 2. Jake Savely; 3. Damien LaMountain; 4. Steve Moretti; 5. Dean Devaney; 6. Jamie Chilton; 7. Jimmie Hale; 8. Tim Detjens; 9. Candice Detjens; 10. Dustin Bass; 11. Eric Wittner; 12. Jon Jensen; 13. Steve McElroy; 14. Craig Ramm.
Heat 1 - 1. Alex Schwochert; 2. Andy Schwochert; 3. Todd Charlesworth; 4. Andy Kircher; 5. Bill Williams; 6. Gene Pool; 7. Carl Liebes.
Heat 2 - 1. Alex Schwochert; 2. Todd Charlesworth; 3. Andy Kircher; 4. Andy Schwochert; 5. Bill Williams; 6. Carl Liebes; 7. Gene Pool.
Main Event - 1. Andy Schwochert; 2. Todd Charlesworth; 3. Bill Williams; 4. Alex Schwochert; 5. Andy Kircher; 6. Carl Liebes; 7. Gene Pool.
Heat 1 - 1. Richard McGahan; 2. Jake Savely; 3. Guy Hamilton; 4. Steve Hust; 5. Ken Carlock; 6. Garrett Collins; 7. Jarred Nisson.
Heat 2 - 1. Richard McGahan; 2. Guy Hamilton; 3. Ken Carlock; 4. Jake Savely.
Main Event - 1. Richard McGahan; 2. Ken Carlock; 3. Guy Hamilton; 4. Jake Savely; 5. Steve Hust; 6. Jarred Nisson; 7. Garrett Collins.
Heat 1 - 1. Frank Soares; 2. Joey Essex; 3. Shawn Hutchings; 4. Roy Morris; 5. Joey Essex.
Heat 2 - 1. Joey Essex; 2. Frank Soares; 3. Shawn Hutchings; 4. Mike Devaney; 5. Roy Morris.
Main Event - 1. Joey Essex; 2. Frank Soares; 3. Mike Devaney; 4. Roy Morris; 5. Shawn Hutchings.
Group 1 Heat 1 - 1. John McDonald; 2. Leroy Perfect; 3. Justin Martin; 4. Joe Beck; 5. Brad Bailey; 6. Bob Erganem; 7. Aaron Creech.
Group 2 Heat 1 - 1. Tyler McDonald; 2. Jackie McGahan; 3. Kevin Vanhout; 4. Logan McDonald; 5. Willie Creech; 6. Justin Creech; 7. Cody McGahan.
Group 1 Heat 2 - 1. John McDonald; 2. Brad Bailey; 3. Leroy Perfect; 4. Bob Erganem; 5. Joe Beck; 6. Justin Martin.
Group 2 Heat 2 - 1. Tyler McDonald; 2. Jackie McGahan; 3. Logan McDonald; 4. Kevin Vanhout; 5. Cody McGahan; 6. Willie Creech; 7. Justin Creech.
Main Event - 1. Brad Bailey; 2. John McDonald; 3. Kevin Vanhout; 4. Leroy Perfect; 5. Logan McDonald; 6. Jackie McGahan; 7. Justin Martin; 8. Joe Beck; 9. Tyler McDonald; 10. Cody McGahan; 11. Justin Creech; 12. Bob Erganem; 13. Willie Creech; 14. Aaron Creech.
Heat 1 - 1. Mike Thomas; 2. Chris Hawley; 3. David Kusmider; 4. Bryan Barber; 5. Chelsea McDonald; 6. Mike Braddock; 7. John Byrd.
Heat 2 - 1. Mike Thomas; 2. Bryan Barber; 3. John Byrd; 4. Chris Hawley; 5. David Kusmider; 6. Chelsea McDonald; 7. Mike Braddock.
Main Event - Did not happen due to time constraints.