Justin Creech (left) and Sean Endsley (1/2) race closely off turn 2 in the Late Model feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Justin Creech (left) and Sean Endsley (1/2) race closely off turn 2 in the Late Model feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Frantic action marks Twin City night races

The action around Justin Creech’s battered dirt Late Model was frenetic in the fading daylight at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. The impact the car took to the metal barrier surrounding the track in the Late Model feature race was significant enough to require a new front bumper.

Luckily, the crucial suspension parts of the car were salvageable, and Creech realized the good news after inspecting the car with his guys.

“Oh yeah, we’ll be back out here (Saturday),” the veteran racer promised.

Creech had just stuffed his car into the backstretch wall on a late restart in the Late Models feature race, a 25-lap capper to another wild night of racing that 3/8-mile dirt oval, and the quick repair job by the group of friends helped ensure another night of racing for the No. 88 machine.

The season-ending weekend of night racing that began Friday provided a perfect opportunity for local race car drivers to prove their craft against the talents of out-of-town racers like Creech and his fellow Matanuska-Susitna valleys kin.

During a summer of low car counts that have seen the Late Model class dropped many weekends, the big, powerful cars got to do their thing on the dirt on an action-packed night of racing.

In the end, Palmer’s Mike Braddock stole the show with a clean three-race sweep of the Late Model class, holding off local drivers Al Ulman in the No. 74 and Sean Endsley in the No. 1/2 machines.

Competing in his fifth year of Late Model racing, Braddock said he had to deal with challenging track conditions all night, as an ever-changing dirt track went from dusty to muddy all night.

“With dirt it’s not as consistent as asphalt,” Braddock said. “The car has to be more adaptable. We had a good car.”

Braddock controlled the field from the front in the first heat and feature races, but the second heat saw him come from the back to win. Braddock made the pass with a move around Endsley as the two raced to the white flag with a lap and a half to go. The move paid off after more than five laps of trying to pass Endsley.

Endsley also raced in the A-Stock class Friday night in the car owned by his father, Chris. The elder Endsley won the first two heats, but Sean ended up taking the A-Stock feature despite a run-in with the lapped car of Mady Stichal.

After taking a solo spinout in the opening laps of the feature, Endsley flaunted his speed out front while leading, but with nine laps to go, Endsley rear-ended the No. 95 of Stichal, who moved high up the track the same time Endsley did.

Endsley hung on to win comfortably over the No. 2 of Keith Jones.

In the Late Model division, Braddock led flag to flag in the first heat of the day as competitors behind him had to choke their way through a dust storm as a dry track led to clouds of suffocating dust that left only the race leader in clean air. The dry conditions left many drivers racing almost blindly through the thick dust.

Creech had collided earlier with the No. 47 of Jason Doyle as the two raced into turn 3, and the contact cut down Creech’s left rear tire.

Quick work by his crew of mechanics meant Creech was able to get back out on track before the green flag waved again, keeping him on the lead lap.

However, the new left rear tire didn’t see much time, as Creech took the green flag in last place and slid wide exiting turn 2, smacking the outside barrier, which sent his car headfirst into the metal wall.

“I got too high and got to the edge of that fluff,” Creech explained.

With a crumpled front end, Creech still managed to shoo away track workers and limp the No. 88 back into the pits.

A two-time track champion at Palmer’s Alaska Raceway Park, the 42-year-old Creech said this weekend was his first in a dirt Late Model. Creech said he has raced all types of cars on both pavement and dirt, but the Late Models on dirt was a new experience.

“They drive totally different,” he said. “The rear end is hard to manage, and I’m new to the setups.”

The dusty conditions early in the night gave Creech a nice introduction to the discipline.

It only got worse for the Legends class, which got their first heat started before the water truck could wet the dirt surface down.

Bryan Barber took two out of three Legends wins, including the feature, in his traditional No. 88 machine. Barber said the biggest challenge he battled all night was gear problems, as his car repeatedly shifted into third gear when he needed fifth.

Barber said he was able to make the pass in the feature race while dealing with the issue.

“I made that pass as I was downshifting,” he said.

The only race Barber didn’t win was the second heat, when he started last in the 10-lap inverted field. Barber showed speed throughout the dash, but was held up by slower traffic on several occasions.

“Everyone was making mistakes in front of me,” Barber explained. “They kept hitting me, and I struggled with it.”

In a two-lap dash to decide heat two, a battle for the lead between David Kusmider in the No. 55 and Aaron Creech in the No. 4 went sour as Kusmider attempted the pass in turn 1, only to slam on the brakes when Creech threw a block, causing the field to stack up and Barber to spin out on the backstretch.

In the 20-lap Legends feature, Barber was taken out by Creech on the first lap battling for the lead, but the No. 88 suffered minimal damage and Barber rallied to take the lead with a nifty pass on the outside of Kusmider on the backstretch with 12 laps to go.

Aaron Creech (4) spins out in the Legends feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Aaron Creech (4) spins out in the Legends feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Race leader Sean Endsley (1/2) rear ends the lapped car of Mady Stichal in the A-Stock feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Race leader Sean Endsley (1/2) rear ends the lapped car of Mady Stichal in the A-Stock feature race Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Jon Jenson (left) and Jason Doyle spin out while racing for the lead Friday night in a Late Model heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Jon Jenson (left) and Jason Doyle spin out while racing for the lead Friday night in a Late Model heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

John Clemmons, Chris Endsley and Bridgette Attleson go three abreast into turn 1 Friday night in an A-Stock heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

John Clemmons, Chris Endsley and Bridgette Attleson go three abreast into turn 1 Friday night in an A-Stock heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Aaron Creech (4) spins out Friday night in a Legends heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

Aaron Creech (4) spins out Friday night in a Legends heat race at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of Legends cars slide through a dusty turn Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

The field of Legends cars slide through a dusty turn Friday night at Twin City Raceway in Kenai. (Photo by Joey Klecka/Peninsula Clarion)

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