By Gary Thomas, L&J photography
Watsonville, CA – June 4, 2010…Defending Ocean 360 Sprint Car champion Tommy Tarlton has been one of the strongest performers in all of Northern California racing thus far in 2010 and on Friday night the Easton driver impressively asserted the fact that he’ll be tough to beat for the title once again this season by recording a clean sweep during the evening to score his second series win of the year.
Amazingly for Tarlton it marked the second time he has personally performed the feat in a little more than a month, as he also garnered a clean sweep with the Golden State Challenge 410 Series in Santa Maria on May 1. With the triumph the former Trophy Cup champ also became the first repeat winner in Ocean Sprints action this season.
“This has just been a really great year for us and a lot of it is due to this great team I have behind me,” said the current Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo point leader. “I almost didn’t come tonight because my grandma isn’t doing all that well so I have to dedicate this win to her. We also have a lot of great sponsors I want to thank and we’ll be looking forward to coming back here in a few weeks to try and get another win.”
With an invert six for the main event it put San Jose’s Matt Sargent and Clovis’ Peter Murphy on the front row and when the green flag came out it was Sargent carving his way into the lead. In search of his first ever Ocean Speedway 360 sprint car win Sargent did a great job over the early stages of the race to be in command of the strong 22-car field aboard his NBS Motorsports, Kaeding Performance No. 14 machine.
Arguably the best prepared surface so far this season for the Ocean Sprints at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds bullring made for some great racing right from the get go and when traffic came into play it made things heat up as Murphy looked to find a way by for the top-spot. With heavy lapped traffic ahead of the front runners it caused the top-four cars on the speedway to bunch up and on lap-eight Murphy was able to shoot by Sargent to put the Buster & Ziggy Enterprise, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 11 into the lead. Shortly after that Tarlton would then make his presence known and made the move by Cory Eliason to claim third, just prior to the first caution of the race on lap 12.
When the action got back underway Tarlton continued his march forward to rocket around Sargent and take second, with Eliason also following along one lap later for third. With Tarlton now in the runner-up spot he proceeded to hound good buddy Murphy for the lead and the pair would put on a terrific show lap after lap as traffic came into play yet again. Putting his Corporate America Lending, Tarlton & Son Inc. No. 21 sprinter at the top of the raceway Tarlton charged hard around the Ocean Speedway in an attempt to find a way by the Australian native.
Fighting it out for the lead among a gaggle of slower cars Tarlton was able to make an exciting move by charging to the high-side off turn four on lap 20 to slice ahead of Murphy and put himself in command of the race. Shortly before that Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson had also been making steady progress from his fourth row starting spot and had got to fourth with 19-laps down and then made the move by Eliason for third a lap later. After losing the lead Murphy didn’t give up and remained glued to Tarlton’s rear bumper with Larson also joining the fray, as it looked to be a tremendous three-way fight for the win in traffic with the race winding down.
Things would come to halt with just six-laps remaining however, when problems reared their ugly head in turn one for Larson as he had a great run on the leaders, but was forced to check up for a slower car, which resulted in him spinning sideways to a stop and bringing on the caution lights for the final time. It was a tough break for the 17-year-old driver of the Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill Casino No. 99x, who came into the night just six points behind Tarlton for the top-spot in the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo standings. When the green flag came back out Tarlton had no worries and was able to drive off and cross under the Ryan Riley checkered to pick up his first Ocean Speedway victory of 2010.
Finishing the main event in the second position and scoring his best result of the Ocean Sprint Car Series season was Murphy, who came into the night fourth in points and continued his solid year driving for car owners George Snyder and Junior Bowman. “It was a really good run for us tonight and I’m happy to see Tommy get another win because he’s always tough here and has had a great season,” said Murphy. “We definitely would have liked to be standing where he was though so we’re not totally satisfied with second, but it was a fun race tonight and this series is one of the toughest around out here.”
Crossing the stripe in third and looking very solid all night long once again to earn his best ever Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo finish was Eliason aboard the Advance Auto and Smog, MC Customs No. 00x mount. “We’re pretty happy to be up here on the front stretch again,” said the 18-year-old Eliason, who improved upon a fourth place finish from the most recent Ocean Sprints event at the track on May 14. “I want to congratulate Tommy and Peter because they did a great job tonight and I really tried to follow them late in the race to try and learn some things. The track was the best we’ve had this season so I also have to give props to the track prep crew.”
Having a strong run in the main event and moving up to second in the Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo standings was Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, who charged from 14th to fourth in his Al’s Roofing Supply, High Five Pizza No. 69, which was also good enough to make him the “Fully Charged presented by Sun Electric” hard-charger in the 30-lapper. Rounding out the top-10 in the feature were Pleasanton’s Brad Furr in the Ray Scheidts Electric No. 2, 15th starter Bud Kaeding in the Sala/Matherly Racing No. 19, the German Auto Body No. 5 of Morgan Hill’s Devon Ostheimer, Matt Sargent, the Keith Day Trucking No. 22 of Salinas’ Ronnie Day and Fremont’s Shane Golobic in the Country Builders Construction No. 121.
Winning the evening’s 12-lap b-main was Ostheimer with Tarlton, Larson and Furr capturing the three eight-lap heat races. Tarlton began the night by cutting a blistering 11.749 to record his third straight fast-time in Ocean Sprints competition. Full results from the sixth round of racing for the series are available at http://www.oceanspeedway.com
The Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo will now take a couple weeks off until returning to action on Friday June 25 at the Ocean Speedway with the first of four qualifier racers for the 50th running of the Johnny Key Classic, which will be held on Saturday August 28.