The crowd of fans that attended the event got to see some fast, hard-fought racing on a very special night. That's when the oval opened as a member of the Whelen All-American Series and became Nevada's first dirt track sanctioned by NASCAR.
Topping the show was the Modified feature that featured a run away victory for a Spanish Springs driver and some epic battles for positions.
"It was a little battle there at the beginning of the race for the lead," Randy McGraw said after winning the race. "We kind of picked our way through, fount the way to the front, then held on for the win. The track was awesome and it's my first time racing so I really need to thank my crew for putting this all together for me."
It took two attempts to get the race started after contact spun Tom Purcell after the first start. When the green waved again Shawn Natensetedt led with Purcell and the pack in hot pursuit.
Only two cautions slowed the pace so the race was a flurry of high-speed action.
By lap 8 McGraw had worked his way to third and set his sights on Purcell after a restart. After taking second he ran down the leader and used a hip check to take the point after an inside pass in Turn 3.
From that point, it was a runaway for McGraw. However, in back of him some epic battles for position were developing.
One was for second when Robert Miller caught and challenged Natenstedt for second. Further back Jake Holland and Jay Sears were disputing fourth while Travis Petersen and Don Childs were having a spirited battle of their own.
While McGraw went unchallenged for the victory, the runner-up spot was in doubt right up the checkered flag when Natenstedt just beat Miller for the spot. They were followed by fourth and fifth place Holland and Sears.
The Pro Stock feature had an odd start when two drivers, just to get staring point began the race in Hobby Stock cars. After taking the green they then exited the track and let the faster cars have it to themselves.
Up front, Jesse "The Rocket" Gonzalez used his pole position to jump into the lead and take off. Behind him Al Goss was determined to make a race of it and set off in hot pursuit.
Around and around they went with Goss sometimes catching Gonzalez when lap traffic slowed both leaders.
Asked about the lappers winner Gonzalez said, "It was a handful because I wasn't sure where they were going and had problems with a couple of them. Since I didn't know where second was or how close they were and couldn't see my spotter so I just had to go."
One of the most entertaining sights during the race was Joe Specchio's racer as it almost appeared the car was going to roll over in the turns. Despite this the former pro stock champion held on and completed the race.
In the final laps, Gonzalez was able to cut through a group of slower cars while Goss had a harder time of it. At the checkered flag there was a significant gap between their cars.
The car was excellent tonight and way better than it's been in a long time," Gonzalez said back in the pits. "But the track has a lot to do with that too because it got so much traction tonight and it's fairly smooth. When it's fast like this, everybody's a hero but it was great, and probably the best I've ever seen it.
Then he gave special thanks to Kenny from A&G Salvage, who paid for his license (All drivers had to have a NASCAR license.) and sponsors Integrity Pest Management, COD Garage, Trick Up Trucks and Eternal Image as well as his brother Malen.
Biggest field of the night was in the Hobby Stock division as it took three heat races to set the final grid. And it turned out to be a battle between a veteran and one of the division's young lions.
Right at the start Carl Barlow grabbed the point only to be challenged and finally passed by Royce Goetz. From that point it was a two-driver duel for the lead as they ripped around the track.
Three cautions slowed the race but every time Goetz seemed to have the advantage over veteran Barlow. In the final laps Goetz pulled away while Barlow, who as able to hold on to second, fell into the clutches of eventual third place Dwight Bolton.
Back in the pits Goetz said, "That race was fun, I loved it but I knew that Carl (Barlow) was there. Every once in a while I'd drive up high so I could see where he was. But as the race went on, the car just got better so I guess we had our setup on today."
Then he thanks his sponsors Auto, Marine, Machine, Gilson's Auto Body and Ed's Dog House and Sports, all from Carson City, and Silver City Auto Body.
The heartbreak of the night came in the Pure Stock Mini feature. Starting from the back 14-year-old Travis Barr, in only his second race in a car, worked his way from the back to apparently win the race.
However, in post-race inspection it was found he had the wrong tires on his car so he was dropped to third and Justin Schilling was declared the winner.
Early in the evening at the driver's meeting, Bob Duvall from NASCAR addressed the competitors as did owner Rich Cable and promoter J.N. Hodges. Their remarks were positive. They asked the drivers to show respect for each other and thanked them for showing up.
Then, before the heat races began, everyone got into their racecars and drove to the front straight for the pre-race ceremonies.
Part of the ceremony was to honor those fallen competitors and helpers that have either competed or been part of the track since it originally opened in 1998. The role of honor included Alan Boles, Mike Cohen, Wally Looney, Dow Lazenby Sr., Mike McNeff, Bill Ramthum, Wayne Richards, Roger Stark and O'Dette Higner.
After the final race had been checkered, track owner Cable said, "It was absolutely awesome for an opening night. The crowd was terrific, and considering the rain, I was a little concerned, nervous and boy the people turned out and supported the track. I couldn't have asked for anything better, especially with the conditions of the day."
Now the track goes dark until it's next NASCAR event on Saturday, May 14, which is a double points night.
•Earlier in the afternoon three classes competed at the Lovelock Speedway. Unfortunately the Outlaw Kart winner's name wasn't listed on the results but Jeff Macedo won the 360 Sprint Car main and Lance Roberts was the Hobby Stock victor.
OTHER RACING NEWS
•In last week's results there was an error in the Hobby Stock finish. The fourth place driver was actually heat winner Rocky Goetz.
•This coming weekend there is something for almost any race fan in our area.
The weekend celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Comstock Classic as the Virginia City Grand Prix takes over this historic mining town. Around 10 a.m. Saturday the big race begins and once again the Pros will start up front followed by the Amateurs.
Sunday's event also beginning around 10 a.m., is one hour shorter and features the Novice, Bomber, Women and Vintage bikes as they tackle the same course.
Top Gun Raceway also features a two-day show, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, as the straight-line racers compete in the third and fourth round of the Junior Dragster and ET Summit programs.
Two oval tracks are also in action with both programs beginning at 6 p.m. as Rattlesnake Raceway in Fallon hosts a show featuring all the classes plus a demolition derby. Down in the Feather River country the American Valley kicks off its season with a show starring the Pro Stocks, IMCA Modifieds, Mini Stocks and the DART Dwarf Cars.
•While NASCAR's Sprint Cup series took its traditional Easter break, both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series were at the Nashville Speedway for two evening races.
In Friday's truck race, Kyle Busch won from the pole, while Brendan Gaughan ended up 17th. In Saturday's Nationwide event Busch finished second.
•Reno-Fernley Raceway - April 23
Pure Stock Mini:
Heat Winner - Kevin Reuter
Main (10 Laps) - 1. Kevin Reuter, 2. Justin Schilling, 3. Travis Barr
Heat Winners - #1 Vukie Wilson Jr., #2 Billy Wilson
Main (15 Laps) - 1. Vukie Wilson Jr., 2. Bobby Niles, 3. Leroy Kay, 4. Race Wilson, 5. Glen Sciarani
Heat Winnere - #1 Carl Barlow, #2 Royce Goetz, #3 Jacob Baker
Main (20 Laps) - 1. Royce Goetz, 2. Carl Barlow, 3. Dwight Bolton, 4. Jacob Baker, 5. David Partelow
Heat Winners - #1 Jesse Gonzalez, #2 Jack Randall
Main (25 Laps) - 1. Jesse "The Rocket," Gonzalez, 2. Al Goss, 3. Robby Grace, 4. Joe Specchio, 5. Ed Goss
Heat Winners: #1 Shawn Natensetedt, #2 Tom Purcell
Main (30 Laps) - 1. Randy McGraw, 2. Shawn Natenstedt, 3. Robert Miller, 4. Jake Holland, 5. Jay Sears
•Lovelock Speedway - April 23
Heat Winners - #1 Danner Barrick, #2 unlisted
Main (15 Laps) - 1. #18, 2. #42, 3. Danner Barrick, 4. Katie Sample, 5. Angelica Lopez
Heat Winner - Galen Reese
Main (20 Laps) - 1. Jeffrey Macedo, 2. Galen Reese, 3. Bob Cooney, 4. Aaron Gustin, 5. Larry Oliviera
Heat Winner - Lance Roberts
Main (20 Laps) - 1. Lance Roberts, 2. Audie Peterson, 3. John Wright, 4. Kevin Libbee, 5. Cody Gibson