By Gary Thomas
Tulare, CA – May 19, 2010…The Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway will be the site of the second ever visit outside of Watsonville for the Ocean 360 Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo, as many of the top winged sprint car drivers in California will be on hand at the always exciting 1/3 mile clay oval this Saturday night.
This weekend’s event at the Tulare County Fairgrounds based track will be the fifth round of racing for the series this season, which has seen strong car counts featuring deep fields during each event thus far in 2010. In the initial four races a different winner has been seen each time, with young Kyle Larson becoming the fourth different victor of the year last Friday at Ocean Speedway.
Coming into Saturday the top-five drivers in the points are separated by only eight-markers with defending Ocean Sprint Car Series champion Tommy Tarlton sitting atop the standings aboard his Corporate America Lending, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 21 mount. The Easton wheel-man last Friday was running near the front of the field when he suffered a flat tire, which forced him to the rear of the pack where he would eventually charge all the way back to fifth by the finish. Tarlton captured victory with the Ocean Sprints in Santa Maria on April 30 and will look for number two on Saturday at the Thunderbowl.
Currently second in points and just one-digit back of the lead is Campbell’s Bud Kaeding, who isn’t expected to be in action at Tulare, as he’ll be in Iowa competing with the USAC Silver Crown Series. The 30-year-old veteran also sits second in the Silver Crown standings as he searches to become the first driver to win the series title on four different occasions.
Going into the weekend tied for third in the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo standings and just seven back of Tarlton are Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson and Gilroy’s Eric Rossi.
With his victory last Friday night it moved Larson all the way from sixth in the points to be in position to make up even more ground on Tarlton this weekend aboard his Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill Casino No. 99. The 17-year-old also claimed a win at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway on April 10 with the GSC 40 Sprints and will be searching for his second triumph of the year at the track on Saturday. Larson also goes into this weekend sitting just one-point back of the lead in the GSC standings with the series in action at nearby Giant Chevrolet Speedway in Hanford Friday.
Rossi has had a solid start to the Ocean Sprints season, as he makes his return to racing in 2010 behind the wheel of the Team RCR, Chase Wood Racing No. 4r sprinter. The veteran driver scored a Golden State Challenge victory at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway in 2001, at the time driving the Family Auto Service No. 98x machine.
Former two-time Ocean Sprint Car Series titlist Brent Kaeding of Campbell rounds out the top-five in the standings coming into the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway on Saturday. “BK” tallied his best series finish of third during the season-opener on April 16 at the helm of his Al’s Roofing Supply, High Five Pizza No. 69 and this weekend will be gunning for his first Ocean Sprints victory since April 3 of 2009. Last year Kaeding ended the season second in the standings, finishing just 12-points shy of the title.
Seventeen-year-old Justin Sanders goes into Saturday sitting sixth in the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo standings aboard his North County Plastering, STS Trucking No. 17 sprint car. Just two Friday’s ago the Prunedale driver raced to his second career Ocean Sprints victory and will look to rebound this weekend, after a flip while running in the top-five during the feature last week ended his night prematurely.
Australian native and current Clovis resident Peter Murphy ranks seventh in the Ocean Sprint Car points driving for car owner’s Junior Bowman and George Snyder in the Buster & Ziggy Enterprise No. 11 machine. Murphy has put together a fairly consistent start to the year and scored his best finish of the Ocean Sprints season on April 30, when he brought home a third place result at the Santa Maria Speedway.
2006 Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway champion Ronnie Day of Salinas sits eighth in the points coming into the weekend, in what his first season driving for brother Keith Day in the El Camino Machine & Welding, Agri-Trade School No. 22. Day is no stranger to the 1/3 mile clay oval and has always gotten around the Thunderbowl well, which includes a number of strong runs with multiple sanctioning bodies at the track through the years. The former King of California finished runner-up with the Ocean Sprints on April 30 in Santa Maria.
Looking to rebound following a flip in the main event last week will be Morgan Hill’s Devon Ostheimer, who comes into Saturday sitting ninth in the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo standings. The driver of the MDR Machine, Passama Motorsports No. 5 is just a few weeks removed from his career best Ocean Sprints finish of seventh in Santa Maria. Completing the top-10 in points going into Tulare is Gilroy’s Kurt Nelson, who scored a season-best finish of ninth on May 7 at Ocean Speedway aboard his Taco Bravo Racing, Babe’s Lightning and Muffler No. 72w.
Other possibilities for this Saturday night will include San Jose’s Tim Kaeding, Chico’s Jonathan Allard, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler, Visalia’s Cory Eliason, Vancouver, Washington’s Zach Zimmerly, Pleasanton’s Brad Furr, Morgan Hill’s Ricky Wright Jr., Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox, Caruther’s Garrett Ishii, Corralitos’ Jerry Bonnema, Fresno’s Anthony Simone and more.
Also on hand for the night will be the dirt modifieds and west coast street stocks. Chowchilla’s Alex Stanford will be looking to continue his strong start to the year and make it four in a row in the dirt modified division at the Tulare Thunderbowl.
The front gate will open at 5pm this Saturday night May 22 with qualifying scheduled for around 6 and racing at 7. Reserved grandstand tickets will cost just $15 with general admission bleacher seats costing only $12, making it a very economical evening. For more info please log onto http://www.thunderbowlraceway.com or call (559) 688-0909.
For results, point standings, history and much more on the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo please visit http://www.oceansprints.com
The Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway is located at the Tulare County Fairgrounds on the corner of Bardsley and K Streets in Tulare.
Coming up- The Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway will feature the Salute to Indy next Sunday night May 30 with the USAC/CRA Wingless 410 Sprint Cars in action. The Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo will take next week off, before resuming back up at the Ocean Speedway in Watsonville on Friday night June 4.