The North State Modified Series celebrated the richest event in its nine year history at Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka Saturday night. The “Dale Baldwin Challenge”, presented by McMurray and Sons Roofing, Mark & Sharon Baldwin, Doyce Eaton and Ray Elliott saw some of the heaviest hitters in the modified ranks travel to this prestigious event in hopes of taking home a part of the $20,500 purse payout.
It was the O’Reilly Auto Parts Night at the Races, and it was Darrin Knight of Kelseyville who brought his car out of retirement, borrowed a motor from fellow competitor Ian Elliott of Lakeport, took the lead away from Simi Tour of Potter Valley on a lap 23 restart, and stayed out in front the remainder of the 60 laps to win $4000 and all the bragging rights that come with a win at an event of this caliber.
Elliott turned the fastest lap of the night at 16.309 seconds. Knight was second fastest at 16.518 and Charlie Collins of Lakeport clocked in third with 16.524. Elliott drew the number eight chip for the invert placing Tour and Keith Bloom in the front row for the start.
When the green flag fell, the pack charged hard into turn one with Bloom getting loose and making slight contact with Brandon White. All cars continued, but it gave Tour the opportunity he needed to charge out in front and lead the first third of the race. Both White and Knight gained ground as Bloom was trapped in the outside lane and lost positions.
Defending NSMS champ Scott Winters was on the move, passing Cole Brown on lap nine and drove under Sammy Nuno the following round. Meanwhile Tour was putting a healthy distance between his car and the rest of the pack. Knight caught and passed second place White on lap 21. Two rounds later Richie Pott’s car broke loose and slapped the turn three concrete hard, ending his run. At the same time Elliott, while running in eighth, pitted for repairs.
The double-file restart saw Knight pull ahead of Tour to assume the lead. The battle for second waged between Tour and White, with White inching under Tour several times, but could not get it done. Meanwhile the fans were watching Elliott come back through the pack, and by lap 42 he was back running in fourth spot.
With no other yellows to slow the action, Knight sailed to a convincing victory followed by Tour, Winters, Elliott, Charlie Collins, White, Nuno, Brown, Bloom, DeRosier, Cobb and Mosher.
Mark and Sharon Baldwin, along with Dave McMurray II & III, presented the $4000 check and Dale Baldwin Challenge trophy to Knight in front of the near-packed house.
Potts got $250 and the Doyce Eaton Hard Luck trophy for his troubles in the main, and Elliott earned the Ray Elliott Hard Charger Award for making a come-back run after pitting on lap 23. The Naake Suspension certificate went to Tour.
Major sponsors of this race were Mark & Sharon Baldwin, McMurray & Sons Roofing, Ray Elliott and Doyce Eaton. Associate and contingency sponsors were Anderson Logging of Fort Bragg , Scribner Plastics, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Frank’s Radios, Hoosier Tire West, Sunoco Race Fuels and Naake Suspension.
The 2022 NSMS Tribute Tour concludes on October 7-8 at Shasta Speedway in Anderson. The seventh running of the “Lloyd Burton Against the Wind Modified Challenge” will be the final race of the season for the North State Modified Series.
Photos by Liz Larson