Hansen popped from her car screaming in excitement as she pulled next to Damitz in victory lane. Asked what it felt like to score a victory in the division dominated by veterans like Damitz, she was speechless, and simply held up two trembling hands.
Damitz rushed to congratulate her.
“You drove a great race,” Damitz said.
“I could hear you trying to pass me,” Hansen replied. “I was trying hard not to mess up. I knew eventually you would be right there.”
Last week’s winner, Jim Freethy of Danville, finished third, followed by another division winner, veteran Mike Gustafson of Concord. Early leader Ken Rhoades of El Sobrante pulled off with broken rear suspension midway through the race. Fred Ryland of Brentwood, a top runner, was eliminated in a first-lap, first-turn pileup.
Dan Gonderman freshened the engine in his All Star Wingless Sprint Car last week. It made a big difference on Saturday night, as he was untouchable in the main event. The hometown hero and current Wingless Sprint Car division point leader garnered his fourth victory this season.
“I stuck with the middle (groove),” Gonderman told second-place-finisher Roy Fisher, a friend and competitor for many seasons. Fisher put in a spectacular effort as he tried a lower line to catch Gonderman. They finished a car length apart.
“He (Gonderman) is tough,” Fisher said in victory lane. “All I can say is that I tried real hard. I gave it my all.”
American River College student Nick Viscussi of Vacaville applied everything he learned in automotive technology in building his Hobby Stock to win his first race ever.
“Four years in go-karts, four years in stock car racing, and it finally happened,” Viscussi said. “I built this car from scratch. How do I feel? Blessed by God, happy, excited, relieved. My dad and I worked so hard, so long at it.”
Cole Oreta of Vacaville was flying as he moved into second behind Viscussi. Brad Myers, with fiancé and co-pilot Melissa Hansen, fresh from her Late Model win, finished third.
In the Mini Trux division, veteran driver “Rocket” Ray Bunn of San Jose won in a veteran truck. He battled Jon Haney of Brentwood to the finish line. “Things are always better when you win,” Bunn laughed. “I made some adjustments after finishing second last week. This truck’s been with me a long time – since I raced on pavement back in 2001.”
After racing his truck at the old Altamont Speedway, Bunn converted the vehicle for racing on Antioch Speedway’s clay.
It was both a sad and happy occasion for Dwarf Car winner Tony Carmignani of Alameda. Carmignani lost his son, Anthony, just two weeks earlier. “I had him on my side tonight,” a tearful Carmignani said in victory lane. “This one’s for him.”
Second-place finisher Nick Squatritto of San Jose gave Carmignani a long, silent hug.
– Contributed by Mike Adaskaveg