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Championship Night Filled with Excitement and Thrills

Spooky costumes, enduro crazies and championship racing was the name of the game Saturday at Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway. Halloween Bash for cash and candy began with a Trunk or Treat for racegoers of all ages during the traditional drivers meet and greet. The candy was sweet and plentiful followed by the first competition of the night, the Halloween Costume contest. $1,000 in prize money was awarded in four age divisions with the grand prize of $500 going to the adult winner who was scary-spooky in a beast costume right out of a Star Wars movie. The candy flowed all night as did the racing with season points championships awarded in six weekly series divisions.

First on the track were the Bombers, a dozen cars for twenty laps! Cornell Williams came into the night the points leader by 28 over Brian Gooden. Williams just needed to stay out of trouble to claim the season title and he did just that with a second place finish to Sam Pacitti. Pacitti had the No.22 car humming all 20 laps building as much as a four second lead enroute to the pink checkered flag, another reminder October is breast cancer awareness month and we raise that awareness at Carteret Speedway by dropping the pink checkered every race this month. Pacitti the Bomber race winner but Williams the season points champion with 85 total points. Brian Gooden was second on the season with 57 points after finishing third in Saturday’s race.

The Junior Mini Cups crowned Colby Gurganus the season points champion but Saturday the spotlight fell on Anthony Ventresca! Ventresca, who has three second place finishes this year, motored to his first career victory topping Michael Bivens and Phipps Strickland at the finish. The always quiet Ventresca would later say about his first ever win, “It was fun.” The ten points for the win gave Ventresca 94 on the year seven shy of season champion Gurganus, who didn’t race Saturday while Bivens was third on the season totaling 90 points.

As expected Tyler Smith wrapped up the Street Stock season Championship with a victory in the Halloween Bash finale. Smith, the points leader coming into Saturday’s race, led wire to wire avoiding the battle for second between Dennis Woerhle (28) and John Sharp (9). Halfway through the 25 lap event Sharp and Woerhle made contact battling for second place. The incident sent Woehrle to the pits. He was able to return but the car was never the same and Woehrle was reduced to running laps for points. Meantime, as Smith maintained his lead, James Wells (73) pushed into second on the restart following the Woehrle-Sharp incident and that was the podium, Smith, Wells and Sharp!

The UCAR weekly series was next on the track and Dustin Jolley continued his run to a season title with his fifth win in 11 races of 2022. Jolley went 20-laps wire to wire with Robert Trent 2nd and Kason Howe 3rd. When you add in Jolley’s four second place finishes this year he totals 92 season points for a well deserved and dominating season championship.

We took a break from our weekly series championship races to enjoy the Southern Ground Pounder traveling series and a 25 lap showdown featuring a dozen cars. These classic racing machines unleashed their power on Carteret Speedway and an appreciative crowd of fans who were treated to a competitive race. Barry Dalton (05) and Donald Brace (2) set the early pace and by lap 10 they were in a dogfight! Brace went for the lead on lap 13 and spun out coming down the front stretch ending his bid for victory. The resultant yellow changed the nature of the race as Christopher Werner (90) took control, even surviving a three lap sprint to the finish following a yellow restart on lap 22, enroute to a hard fought victory. Dennis Werner in the 5 car and Barry Dalton in the 05 also made the podium.

The spotlight then returned to the Mini Stocks and the weekly series championships as Neil Mason tried to end the season in style. His 64 season points coming into Saturday was 31 better than Steve Sullivan in second so the title was technically his but a win Saturday would be the exclamation to a dominating season. Enter one Travis Miller in the 99 car! Miller was a late show but came to play Saturday and gave Mason everything he could handle. Mason and Miller put on a two car show and on Halloween Bash night we had a battle of the M and M’s! Miller took the lead over Mason on lap 5 but by lap 22 of 25 they were side by side and the battle was on. Mason made his move and with a final pass on lap 24 took the checkered flag and wrapped up a season championship with a huge win. The finish was Mason, Miller and Steve Sullivan who finished the season second overall.

Of all the weekly series competitions the Legends Division was the tightest points race coming into Saturday. Brenton Irving with 78, Scotty Benford 73 and DJ Murphy 70 and all three would race. In practice however, Benford found the wall in turn three and spent the rest of the night fixing the damage. Even a sledge hammer was called into use! The result was a start for Benford but an early exit with a spin on lap 2. The set up just wasn’t there and it would not be Benford’s night to shine. Irving in the B1, Charlie Beals in the 5 and Maddog Murphy in the 13 would duel to the finish. Halfway through Beals was in the lead and he would not be caught as Irving was relegated to second and Murphy took third. Nonetheless, Irving gained another 9 points and finished the season with 87, more than enough to capture the overall points championship for 2022.

What better way to end a Halloween Bash night than with the ever exciting Enduro. Sixty laps of mayhem on the track. Barriers, bales of hay, tires and more are placed on the track to impede the drivers every move. Even water is added to the track to make things interesting. The key to an Enduro is simply to survive because the other cars are not necessarily the driver's biggest concern. David Fulk in the 95 set the early pace and after thirty laps was the race leader.

Now the barriers and other obstacles are reset on the track and now for the final 30 laps the race is run backwards. Right turns not left turns rule the remainder of the race.

Earlier in the night Sam Pacitti won the Bomber race and now he was looking for a double-double! Pacitti jumped to the front and as best as you can in an Enduro, avoided the craziness and raced to victory. Barriers flying, tires rolling and hay bales spread out like a cattle feed, Pacitti guided his 22 through the debris and to the checkered flag, dropping the curtain on a wild and crazy Halloween Bash at Carteret County Speedway.

This Saturday October 29 it gets even better with the Madhouse at the Beach as the drivers from Bowman Gray take over America’s Nicest Short Track at 6pm.

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