From Gary Thomas
July 10, 2010…Showing a never give up attitude after losing the lead early in the race Oroville, California’s Sean Becker came back strong in the later stages and made the last lap count in the main event, getting by Placerville’s Andy Gregg to score an extremely entertaining victory with the Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series on Saturday night at the Santa Maria Speedway.
The victory for the driver known as the “Shark” was his first with the Golden State Challenge Series since 2007 and also marked his ninth career triumph with the tour, which moves him into a tie with Salinas, CA’s Ronnie Day for ninth on the all-time series win list.
“We got the lead there early on in traffic and then lost it and struggled for a bit so it was a great to come back and get the win on the final lap,” said Becker. “Andy Gregg had a real big lead there and I thought we were racing for second at one point, but then we kept creeping in closer and closer and when the white flag came out I knew we had a shot at it. I really have to thank Brian Sperry, the McMahan family and everyone that helps us out, because without all of them it wouldn’t be possible.”
The 30-lap main event started off with Becker getting the jump on the field, however, it was all for naught as young Sean McMahan got upside down wildly in turns three and four to bring out the red flag. The Elk Grove driver was done for the night but more importantly emerged from the car ok after the scary accident. On the ensuing restart pole sitter and dash winner Andy Gregg got the upper hand this time around and jumped out into the lead with Becker following along in suit.
A very fast racing surface was presented to competitors as drivers rocketed around the 1/3 mile clay oval in no time at all and proceeded to click off 30-laps straight after the initial slow down.
With leader Gregg getting into some lapped traffic Becker then pounced on the opportunity and charged to the lead with 10-circuits complete aboard the Brian Sperry Racing, Cherry St. Mini Storage No. 51 mount. Once in front the 2005 King of California tried to stretch the advantage, but just a few laps later he would also encounter some slower cars and Gregg returned the favor to put his machine back out front in impressive fashion.
After reclaiming the top spot Gregg pulled away to a sizeable lead at the helm of his Guts Racing, Dale Miller Plumbing No. 16x sprint car and looked to be well on way to scoring his first ever Golden State Challenge Series victory. With the laps winding down though Gregg then began fighting a push coming out of turn four and Becker took advantage to close back in and make it a race to the finish with about five-circuits left. The two-time and defending California Sprint Car Civil War Series champion cut into Gregg’s lead lap-after-lap and hounded his rear as the intensity level heated up in the battle for the lead with the race nearing its end.
With the white flag in the air Becker was all over the leader of the race and was able to charge hard to get to the inside and inch ahead in turn two as Gregg pushed off the exit of the corner. As the pair went side-by-side down the back stretch they got extremely close together appearing to make slight contact, resulting in Gregg getting sideways in the third corner and allowing Becker the chance to scoot away and drive off to cross the checkered flag for his first victory of the 2010 GSC season. It also made it a sweep of the weekend for Becker and the No. 51 team after also claiming the win at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway on Friday during a weekly 410 point race.
Taking advantage of Gregg getting sideways in the final corners was Visalia’s Cory Eliason, who got by to steal the runner up spot on the last lap to record his career best Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series finish. The 18-year-old driver of the Advance Auto & Smog, MC Customs No. 00x has been very impressive in his recent starts throughout Central California and once again put together a strong night of competition. Gregg crossed the stripe in third to tie his best ever series finish and although obviously disappointed in the outcome did a great job all night, also winning his heat race and the dash, while making the long haul from Placerville in an open trailer to be in action with the Golden State Challenge Series.
Crossing the stripe in fourth was Easton’s Tommy Tarlton, who picked up his ninth top-five finish in nine Golden State Challenge starts this season aboard the Corporate America Lending No. 21 and rounding out the top-five at the finish was Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson, who started from the fifth row at the helm of his Stadelhofer Construction No. 99 machine. Completing the top-10 in the blistering fast 30-lap feature were Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Penngrove’s Alissa Geving and Fremont’s Brent Bjork.
Andy Gregg captured the six-lap dash as well as the evening’s opening heat race with Evan Suggs winning the other 10-lap heat during the night. Tommy Tarlton opened the event by cutting an 11.985 in qualifying to record his second fast time of the GSC season.
A-main finish- Sean Becker, Cory Eliason, Andy Gregg, Tommy Tarlton, Kyle Larson, Brent Kaeding, Evan Suggs, Bobby McMahan, Alissa Geving, Brent Bjork, Mark Workentine, Matthew Davis, Brian Sperry, Lynn Anderson, Sean McMahan
The Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series will return to action next Saturday night July 17 at the Antioch Speedway in Antioch, California. For more information visit http://www.goldenstatechallengeseries.com