By Gary Thomas
Watsonville, CA – August 7, 2010…During much of the 2010 sprint car season in Northern and Central California few drivers have been more successful than Tommy Tarlton and on Saturday night at Ocean Speedway the Easton driver continued his strong campaign by racing to his second Golden State Challenge Series win of the year.
It marked Tarlton’s seventh career GSC win and was also his 10th top-five finish in 10 series starts this season behind the wheel of his Corporate America Lending, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 21 sprint car.
“We had a blast tonight and it feels really good to make it two in a row at this place,” said Tarlton, who won at Ocean Speedway the week before in the weekly Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo Series. “The last couple years we’ve won a lot of 360 races, but this is our second 410 win of the season and it always means a lot to come out here and do it with these guys.”
The penultimate main event of the season for the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series took some time to get going as stoppages on the first two attempts led to complete restarts, with outside front row starter Brad Furr of Pleasanton getting the jump on the first try and Tarlton getting the lead on the second one. When the field then came through turns three and four on the third try Furr charging into the top-spot, but got a little bit too much of an advantage and the yellow lights came back on, with Furr being called for a jumped start and being put back to row three.
With Furr being moved back it placed Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs on the outside of the front row and when the green flag waved again he would go side by side with Tarlton, before getting the advantage as the duo completed lap one. The 23-year-old driver was in search of his first career Golden State Challenge victory and fended off the relentless challenges of Tarlton in the early going aboard his Suggs Racing, Lucas Oil Products No. 33e. The pace of the race continued to be a slow one as yellows plagued the opening stages of the feature however, lap-eight would be the final stoppage as the final 22-laps were clicked off caution free.
Continuing to run out front Suggs had Tarlton breathing down his neck when racing got back underway and did a great job to hold off the current Ocean Speedway point leader, but a slower car on lap-14, coupled with a great run by Tarlton heading into turn three allowed the Easton driver to slice his way to the front. With Tarlton now in the top-spot current Golden State Challenge 410 Series point leader Kyle Larson began to kick it up a notch and on lap-16 would slip under Suggs to put the Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill Casino-Reno No. 99 into the runner up spot. With lapped traffic being in play at times Larson tried hard to come after Tarlton for the lead as both drivers searched all around the quarter-mile oval while picking their way through the slower cars.
As Larson looked for his sixth series win of the year Tarlton hit his marks with the race winding down and took the white flag just ahead of the 18-year-old, before fending off a final lap challenge to take the checkered and earn his fourth Ocean Speedway win of the year.
Larson crossed the stripe just behind Tarlton to record his fourth podium finish in the past five Golden State Challenge Series events and maintain his point lead heading into the season-finale on August 21 in Placerville. “I was trying really hard there to catch Tommy, but once I settled down a little I seemed to close back in on him and just ran out of laps,” said the Elk Grove driver, who will bring a nine-point lead into the finale. “Placerville is always a wild card and you never know what can happen there, but we’ll just hopefully stay close to Brent and bring home this title.”
Finishing the race in third and earning his second straight podium in Golden State Challenge Series competition was Suggs, who held off a late challenge from Campbell’s Brent Kaeding. “I’m a little disappointed to run third after leading so many laps, but at least we can roll the car into the trailer in one piece so we’ll take it,” said Suggs. “We’ve been running this new A.R.T. car and it’s really good so I’m confident we’ll get a win here really soon.”
Rounding out the top-five in the main event were Kaeding in the Al’s Roofing Supply, Williams Roofing No. 69 and Placerville’s Andy Gregg aboard the Team Guts Racing, Dale Miller Plumbing No. 16x. For Gregg it was his first top-five finish of the GSC season. Completing the top-10 were Grass Valley’s Jason Statler, Corralitos’ Jerry Bonnema, Penngrove’s Alissa Geving, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan and Furr.
The six-lap dash was captured by Tarlton with Statler, Suggs and Tarlton claiming the three 10-lap heat races. Andy Gregg began the evening by carving his way around the Ocean Speedway bullring in 11.719 seconds to earn his first fast time effort of the Golden State Challenge Series season. Full results can be found at http://www.oceanspeedway.com
Following a week off this coming weekend the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series will invade the Placerville Speedway for championship night on Saturday August 21.