U-Car driver finishes first race with heavy heart
Marshall places 17th competing for friend, who remains in coma
BY ANDEE SEARS
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER
Published Saturday, August 23, 2008

FRIDAY - August 22, 2008
SOUTHSIDE SPEEDWAY
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Last night, driving in place of his best friend in the first real race of his life, Jason Marshall found out how hard racing can be.

"It's not hard to drive," Marshall said. "It's just hard to not hit nobody. Hard to stay off of people." Marshall drove the Dodge Shadow he and Michael Hall spent all spring break working on. Hall ran that thing into seventh in the U-Car standings this season while Marshall watched from the pits.

"He made it look easy," Marshall said. "He made it look real easy."

Nothing is easy for Hall right now. The 16-year-old remains in an induced coma after a minibike accident almost two weeks ago. His father, also named Michael Hall, has lost all sense of time in the days since a neighbor ran into the house at 2 a.m.

"It's the worst week of my life," he said. "And yet -- quite possibly -- could be the best. It's been two weeks and it seems like two years -- and two days. I can't tell whether it's been a long time or a short time."

Hall is a lifelong competitor from a family of racers. His grandfather raced in NASCAR in the 1950s. His father did all the custom painting for Cup driver Denny Hamlin before he left the local circuit. Marshall hadn't raced anything bigger than a bicycle before last night. He'd only ever worn the red firesuit and thin-soled shoes once before. But the shy red-headed kid wanted to drive the black and white 911 car for his best friend.

It took less than a lap for him to find trouble, spinning out of the first turn and collecting Joshua Thomas in the 72 car. The 72 caught him a few laps later. A 20-lap U-Car race usually takes about 15 minutes. Last night, it took 50 minutes with more than seven cautions and Marshall involved in at least three of them.

"Everyone's had a first race," Michael Hall's father said.

He expects his son will wake up sometime today. They won't talk about the car, the new dings on it when Marshall drove it onto the trailer. Cars are easier to fix than young bodies, and sometimes just finishing, even 17th, is a real act of courage.

"I knew I was going to finish," Marshall said.

Mike Chapman rode the rumble strip from 13th to first in the first 20-lap U-Car race. Donnie Newman won his fifth Grand Stock race of the season in the No. 69 car with the names of everyone on his crew stenciled on the back.

Late Model Points leader Shayne Lockhart won the second of the two 50-lap events to maintain his lead over teammate Chris Dodson. Billy Morris blew into first place from fourth in the first three laps of the earlier race and never was seriously challenged.


Contact Andee Sears at (804) 649-6210 or asears@timesdispatch.com

RESULTS

U-Car 20 (first race): 1. Michael Chapman; 2. Renno Marchetti IV; 3. Frank Silva; 4. George Dickson; 5. Lauren Edgerton; 6. Daniel Thomas; 7. Sean Ryan; 8. Billy Enroughty; 9. Lindsay Bryant; 10. Lee Bradbury; 11. Charlie Simons; 12. Michael Harper; 13. Butch Mixell; 14. Jody Young; 15. Mike Shifflett; 16. David Kerns; 17. Corey Lawrence; 18. David Gonce; 19. Amy Clingenpeel; 20. Tony Mills; 21. Mike Cooke; 22. Chris Farmer; 23. Kevin Wilson; 24. Mark Richards; 25. Sam Hunt; 26. Joshua Thomas; 27. Jordan Bell.

U-Car 20 (second race): 1. Charlie Simons; 2. Jody Young; 3. Frank Silva; 4. Renno Marchetti; 5. Daniel Thomas; 6. Lindsay Bryant; 7. George Dickson; 8. Lee Bradbury; 9. Lauren Edgerton; 10. Mike Shifflett; 11. Michael Harper; 12. Corey Lawrence; 13. Tony Mills; 14. Butch Mixell; 15. Chris Farmer; 16. David Gonce; 17. Jason Marshall; 18. Ronnie Martin; 19. Mark Richards; 20. Sam Hunt; 21. Billy Enroughty; 22. Joshua Tomas; 23. David Kerns; 24. Sean Ryan; 25. Kevin Wilson; 26. Michael Chapman

Late Model 50 (first race): 1. Billy Morris; 2. Roy Hendrick; 3. Chris Hopkins; 4. Chris Dodson; 5. Shayne Lockhart; 6. Shannon Marano; 7. Greg Fernandez; 8. Wayne McGee; 9. Rob Jenkins; 10. Russ Ellis; 11. Chris Johnson; 12. Jeff Oakley; 13. Brandon Hendrick; 14. Jason Pittman; 15. Brad Davis; 16. Alan Purser; 17. David Mooney; 18. Bugs Hairfield.

Late Model 50 (second race): 1. Shayne Lockhart; 2. Chris Dodson; 3. Roy Hendrick; 4. Billy Morris; 5. Chris Hopkins; 6. Greg Fernandez; 7. Russ Ellis; 8. Rob Jenkins; 9. Buds Hairfield; 10. Wayne McGee; 11. Chris Johnson; 12. Jeff Oakley; 13. Shannon Marano; 14. Brad Davis; 15. Brandon Hendrick; 16. Jason Pittman; 17. David Mooney; 18. Alan Purser.

Grand Stock 30: 1. Donnie Newman; 2. Michael Moore; 3. Daniel Shelton; 4. Brian Myslivy; 5. Chris Hott; 6. Jamie Neely; 7. Bradley Vaught; 8. Joey Bryant; 9. Bill Nixon; 10. Todd Ruggles; 11. Donnie Johnson; 12. Shawn Hopkins; 13. Justin Brown; 14. Mike Cole; 15. James Freeman; 16. Woody Ellington; 17. Fred Key; 18. Cory Willoughby.