From Gary Thomas, Photo by Paul Trevino
Watsonville, CA – July 12, 2010…Coming off a pair of very successful shows last year the Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, California will play host to the first of two Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo vs. California Sprint Car Civil War Series events in 2010 this Friday night July 16.
Last season’s two co-sanctioned events between the 360 sprint car groups featured fields of 39 and 41 cars and were picked off by Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson and Sacramento’s Mike Henry respectively. This Friday’s exciting night of action will also mark the second of four qualifying races for the 50th running of the $5,000-to-win/$300-to-start Johnny Key Classic, after Larson claimed victory on June 25 and became the first entrant to lock into the event.
Following last year’s success Ocean Speedway promoter John Prentice is excited for Friday’s event, which should see nearly 40-cars on hand at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds quarter-mile. “We’re all looking forward to the Ocean Sprints vs. Civil War show this weekend and it should be every bit as good they were last year,” Prentice said. “Whenever you can bring two series’ together it’s going to be a great thing and we invite everyone to come on down and join us, because you won’t be disappointed.”
Going into Friday defending Ocean Sprint Car Series presented by Taco Bravo titlist Tommy Tarlton continues to sit atop the standings, but will be looking to rebound after a last lap accident relegated him to an 11th place finish during the most recent event. After that the Easton driver saw his lead cut to just 12-digits and this weekend will be searching to extend the advantage back out aboard his Corporate America Lending, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 21. The defending Johnny Key Classic champ will also be trying for his third win of the season to lock himself into this year’s running of the event.
On the strength of his victory last time out on June 25 Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson has moved up to second in the Ocean Sprint Cars presented by Taco Bravo standings and will be trying to make it back-to-back this Friday night, in an attempt to shorten the margin between himself and Tarlton at the top of the points. The 17-year-old driver of the Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill Resort-Spa-Casino-Reno No. 99x mount is the defending winner of the July ‘Ocean vs. Civil War event,’ with him setting fast-time last year and then capturing the main event after starting in the fourth row of the 30-lapper.
Third in the Ocean Sprints standings is Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, who will be looking to regroup after ignition issues left him with a 13th place finish in the main event on June 25 and has put him 20-points back of the lead going into Friday’s eighth race of the season. “BK” was running third in the feature when problems arose and caused him to slow on the final lap, which put a tough end to the night, as he looked to take advantage of Tarlton’s late race accident and close in on the lead aboard his Al’s Roofing Supply, Williams Roofing No. 69 machine.
Fan favorite Peter Murphy ranks fourth in the Ocean 360 Sprints standings and will be gunning for his first victory of the year at Ocean Speedway, after scoring a season-best finish of second on June 4 at the helm of his Buster & Ziggy Enterprise, Kiwi Transport No. 11 sprinter. Going into Friday the Australian native sits 37-markers back of the point lead in his first year driving for car owner’s Junior Bowman and George Snider.
Former King of California Ronnie Day of Salinas currently rounds out the top-five in the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo standings going into Friday and will also be searching for season win number one. During the event on June 25 Day had a strong run going, but was collected in the same late race incident as Tarlton and eventually finished 12th behind the wheel of his brothers’ Keith Day Trucking, El Camino Machine and Welding No. 22 sprint car.
This Friday’s race will also mark the seventh round of action for the California Sprint Car Civil War Series and coming into it the standings are extremely close with the top-five separated by only 16-markers.
Former four-time series champion Andy Forsberg goes into Friday as the point leader in his first season driving the Autism Awareness, Coors Light No. 47 sprinter owner by long time crew chief Brian Cannon. The Auburn driver has scored one victory this year on the Civil War tour, but a 12th place finish during the most recent event in Petaluma has allowed a number of drivers to close in on his lead. Forsberg was a winner at the Ocean Speedway on opening night of Trophy Cup in the year 2000 and another victory on Friday would certainly go a long way in preserving his place atop the standings.
The man that sits closest to Forsberg in the battle for the lead is Sacramento’s “Hang On” Herman Klein, who last season finished third in the California Sprint Car Civil War standings and has come back strong once again in 2010 aboard the Dale Wondergem owned Cost-U-Less No. 91 sprinter. The veteran driver opened up the Civil War season by winning his first series main event at the Placerville Speedway on March 20 and so far this year had tallied five top-10 finishes in the first six events of the campaign, including a third place finish on July 3 to place him just three-markers back of Forsberg.
Two-time and defending California Sprint Car Civil War Series champion Sean Becker of Oroville comes into the weekend ranking third in the standings, but is just six-digits out of the top-spot as he looks for a three-peat. “The Shark” has yet to win a main event this year with the series, but is coming off a very strong weekend that saw him claim a weekly 410 point show triumph in Chico, as well as a Golden State Challenge Series victory on Saturday in Santa Maria. This coming Saturday Becker will also be looking to capture his third straight win in the $5,000-to-win Mark Forni Classic in Placerville aboard the Scott Miller Racing, Robinson Engineering No. 2sb.
Going into Friday just eight-points out of the lead is Princeton’s Mason Moore, who has come back from an injury last season to put himself in position to bring home his first career California Sprint Car Civil War Series title. The 19-year-old driver of the Friends & Family Racing, Levin’s Auto Supply No. x1 sprinter has set a series leading two fast times so far this year and is coming off a fifth place effort during the most recent event on July 3. Moore is also fresh off a pair of runner up finishes last weekend in Chico and Placerville respectively and will make his second career Ocean Speedway start on Friday.
Rounding out the top-five in the standings is former two-time California Sprint Car Civil War Series champion Mike Henry of Sacramento, who will be looking to rebound following a tough ending to the event on July 3 in Petaluma. On that night Henry was leading the main event and was in position to possibly overtake the point lead, when he looped the car with just a handful of circuits remaining, which relegated him to a 19th place finish. Last season the veteran driver set fast time and led all 30-laps in the feature to score victory in the September Ocean vs. Civil War event aboard the Rudy & Bev Warrington No. 18.
Other possibilities for Friday night will include Fremont’s Shane Golobic, the most recent winner in Civil War competition at Petaluma on July 3 and hard charger at Ocean Speedway last time out on June 25, as well Chico’s Stephen Allard, Prunedale’s Justin Sanders, Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler, Placerville’s Andy Gregg, Visalia’s Cory Eliason and Steven Tiner, Gilroy’s Eric Rossi, Pleasanton’s Brad Furr, San Martin’s Craig Smith, Morgan Hills Devon Ostheimer and Ricky Wright Jr., San Jose’s Matt Sargent and more.
The front gate of the Ocean Speedway will open at 4:30pm this Friday night July 16 with hot laps at 5:45, qualifying around 6 and racing to follow. All seating will be general admission with adult tickets costing $16, children 6-12 $11 and kids five and under free. A family pack featuring two adults and two kids is available for $45 and seniors 65 and older with id will be $14. The Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, California.
Johnny Key Classic Qualifying Procedure:
Starting Friday June 25 and continuing thru August 20 drivers will pre-qualify for the 50th running of the Johnny Key Classic. This will be accomplished by taking the winner from June 25(Kyle Larson); July 16; July 30 & August 20 A-main main events and locking them into a starting spot for the Johnny Key Classic race.
After the first night of pre-qualifying if the winner of the next week event is the same, we will take the #2 finisher, until the final night of pre-qualifying. After August 20 the top two (2) DRIVERS in Ocean 360 Sprints presented by Taco Bravo Series points that have NOT secured a starting spot in the Key race will be included in the pre-qualified Key race line up.
For more information on the Ocean Sprint Cars presented by Taco Bravo log onto http://www.oceansprints.com and for more on the Ocean Speedway visit http://www.oceanspeedway.com