By Gary Thomas, Steve Lamothe photo
Placerville, CA – August 21, 2010…Entering the final night of the Golden State Challenge Series season on Saturday with a nine-point lead in the standings Elk Grove, California’s Kyle Larson put together a smooth and consistent 30-laps of racing in the main event and drove to a fourth place finish at the conclusion to wrap up his very first King of California title.
By winning the championship the 18-year-old becomes the youngest driver to ever claim the Golden State Challenge title in the 25-year history of the series and finished the season with five A-main victories, 17 top-five finishes, 21 top-10’s and six heat race triumphs aboard the Stadelhofer Construction, Peppermill-Resort-Spa-Casino-Reno No. 99.
“It feels great to bring home this title and I have to give a big thanks to Rich Stadelhofer, my whole crew and all our sponsors for supporting us this year,” said Larson. “We’ve had a great season overall and it has been a lot of fun so far and hopefully we can continue it the rest of the year. To win a title racing against a guy like Brent Kaeding, who is a legend out here and also my car owner is pretty cool and I couldn’t be more excited to be standing up here right now.”
A rather rough and tumble 30-laps of competition was seen on Saturday during the season finale for GSC at the Placerville Speedway and in the end it was San Jose’s Tim Kaeding, who ended up making the move by Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs with just three-laps left in the race to score his sixth series victory of the year.
When the green lights came on in the feature it was Suggs shooting into the lead, but exiting turn two he experienced a monster bicycle and then a huge wheelie, which allowed Oroville’s Sean Becker the chance to sneak under for the top-spot. It was all for naught however, as the red flag waved for second place in points Brent Kaeding of Campbell, who had tipped over in turns three and four.
On the ensuing restart Suggs once again jumped out in front and led the field across the line to complete the opening circuit, prior to a caution for Vancouver, Washington’s Zach Zimmerly. When racing got back underway things got into a flow with a number of green flag laps being run and the man on the move was T. Kaeding, as the former GSC champ made his way around Auburn’s Andy Forsberg, Larson and Becker to take second by lap 11.
As “TK” tried to close in on the lead things began to come to a near crawl just after the midway point of the race when a number of red flag periods cropped up with multiple cars getting upside down during the final 10-laps. For the many restarts Suggs remained committed to the bottom line while T. Kaeding tried to give it everything he had up on the high-scary side of the high-banked quarter-mile. With Suggs in search of his first ever Golden State Challenge Series victory he looked to hit his marks on the tight bullring, but on lap 27 “TK” was able to thread the needle off turn four and rocket into the top-spot in exciting fashion.
Once in front the San Jose wheel-man had no problems and charged off to score his 48th career Golden State Challenge 410 Sprint Car Series win. His sixth victory of the season was also the most of any driver with GSC this year and came in just 10 overall starts. “We just love racing at this place and I hope you fans enjoyed that one because it was a lot of fun,” said the driver of the Roth Motorsports, DTR Transport Inc. No. 83. “I have to thank Dennis and Teresa Roth, my whole team and also want to give congrats to Kyle Larson for winning the championship.”
Making a strong move up high off the final corner and just nipping Suggs at the line to score second was Becker aboard the Brian Sperry Racing, Cherry Street Mini Storage No. 51 sprinter. The solid finish continued the impressive results seen from the “Shark” and the 51 team over the last month. “We love running with GSC and it’s great to get back up here on the podium tonight,” said Becker. “This whole team has really come together and it’s given me a lot of confidence behind the wheel so hopefully we can keep this momentum rolling with Gold Cup coming up fast.”
Suggs crossed the stripe in third to mark his third consecutive podium effort to complete the Golden State Challenge Series season at the helm of his Suggs Racing, HoservilleCA No. 33e mount. The 23-year-old also ends the season third in the final series standings to tally his career best GSC point finish. “It’s disappointing to lose the race with just a few laps to go, but Tim and Sean are two of the best out here so being up here with them is nice, even though we wanted to get a win bad,” said Suggs. “We’ve been doing really well lately though so it’s been a good way to end the season.”
Finishing in fourth was Larson, who had actually passed Becker for third on one of the late-race restarts, but was forced to go back behind due to a red flag on that same lap. The youngster officially captured the Golden State Challenge Series title by just 15-points over Campbell’s Brent Kaeding. Completing the top-five in the feature was current Placerville Speedway 360 point leader Andy Forsberg of Auburn at the helm of the A&A Motorsports, Red Line Oil No. 92.
Rounding out the top-10 in the final Golden State Challenge Series main event of the season were Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Sacramento’s Billy Strange, Placerville’s Andy Gregg, Chico’s Jonathan Allard and Penngrove’s Alissa Geving.
The evening’s 12-lap b-main was won by Andy Gregg with three 10-lap heat races being held and captured by Chico’s Kenny Allen, Bobby McMahan and Brent Kaeding. Evan Suggs claimed victory in the night’s dash and also began the event by setting his fourth fast time of the GSC season by ripping off a 10.114 around the quarter-mile clay oval. Full results from the night can be found at http://www.goldenstatechallengeseries.com