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High schooler Rick earns dual wins in drags

Initial weekend at Madras dragstrip includes action in numerous categories

   Madras Dragstrip opened its season in style over the weekend. Racing occurred Saturday and Sunday at the eighth-mile track which is operating under new management.
   Matt Rich of Crook County High in Prineville highlighted Sunday's racing by winning both the Sportsman and High School divisions in his Dodge Dart.
   After nipping Michele Aichel of Bend in the High School finals, Rich was strongly tested by The Dalles' Chuck Zigler in the Sportsman final. Forced to come up with a good reaction time and an elapsed time near his estimate, Rich did.
   Based on which driver better estimates their time for the eighth-mile drag, without going faster, winning came down to hundredths of a second in most instances and thousandths in rarer cases.
   Rich came with .032 of a second of his 8.39 estimate with an 8.422 run in the Sportsman finals. But beating Zigler, who took 10.142 for a 10.10 estimate, in the Sportsman division did not come down to elapsed time for Rich. Instead, Zigler lost when he red-lighted on his start. Drivers can't start until 0.5 seconds after the last yellow lights on the start. Jumping the start, like Zigler did with his .487 reaction, triggers a red light.
   Doug Gray of Bend won the Pro division, Casey Depeel of Gladstone won the Junior division and Adam Depeel of Gladstone won the Junior dragster division to augment the Sunday action. Culver's Dan Freeman won the Super Pro.
   In the Super Bike finals Bend's Gary McMackin was just barely too fast in reacting, but his .49 time caused a red light and presented Ryan Waddell, also of Bend, victory.
   Gray benefited from keeping his speed just low enough. His 6.556 time was above a 6.55 estimate despite his .493 reaction time being fast enough to earn a red light. Fellow finalist Mike Donahue of The Dalles left the line even earlier, in .468, besides breaking out, by breaking his 6.77 estimate with a 6.738 time.
   There will be more racing at the Madras Dragstrip this weekend, including some specifically for compact cars.
   Times of the races, along with admission prices for both spectators and competitors is listed on the group's website at www.madrasdragstrip.com.