By Gary Thomas
Watsonville, CA – August 30, 2010…Keeping up his domination since returning home the previous weekend San Jose, California’s Tim Kaeding withstood a relentless late-race charge from young Kyle Larson to score victory in the 50-lap Johnny Key Classic main event on Saturday night at Ocean Speedway and add his name to the prestigious winners list of the event.
It was Kaeding’s fourth win in as many starts over the last couple weekends and with lap money added in the former King of California brought home nearly $6,000 for his efforts behind the wheel of the DTR Transport Inc., Roth Motorsports No. 83jr. sprinter.
Along with grandfather Howard, father Brent and brother Bud, the soon to be 32-year-old now becomes the fourth Kaeding to win the Johnny Key Classic.
“I’m so excited right now I really don’t know what to say,” commented Kaeding after leaping from his car in celebration. “I’ve definitely wanted to get this race under my belt for a long time so I could join my grandpa, dad and brother on that list and to finally do that is pretty amazing feeling.”
An extremely large crowd on Saturday night witnessed former two-time Johnny Key Classic winner Brent Kaeding of Campbell grabbing the lead at the waving of the green flag in 50-lap feature. Over the first handful of laps it was ’98 Key winner Ronnie Day of Salinas applying heavy pressure to the rear bumper of Kaeding, as the two veteran drivers raced closely together for the top-spot.
With the front two fighting it out T. Kaeding then entered the picture and grabbed second from Day just prior to a caution on lap-eight. When the green lights flashed back on the “TK Express” then came roaring to the front by charging to the high-side and driving around “BK” to slice his way to the lead. Another yellow flag would wave on lap 12 and during it issues were apparent under the hood of the Al’s Roofing Supply No. 69, as a sour noise began to emit from B. Kaeding’s machine.
After going back green T. Kaeding proceeded to escape with the lead while B. Kaeding tried everything to maintain the runner up spot with a pack of fast cars coming after him on the very racy quarter-mile bullring. The 13-time King of California hung onto the spot until lap 16, when Easton’s Tommy Tarlton charged around to move into second. On that same lap Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson was also able to dispatch of “BK” to claim the third position aboard the Stadelhofer Construction No. 99x mount.
A mandatory stoppage then came at halfway and with 25-laps complete the top-five was comprised of T. Kaeding, Tarlton, Larson, B. Kaeding and Prunedale’s Justin Sanders.
During the stoppage teams could whatever they needed to try and make their cars better, with the most dramatic being an engine change performed by Brent Kaeding on the front stretch. A number of people joined in to help swap the engine, in what was an amazing site to behold and by the time cars pushed back off, everything was complete and the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame Member had a new Shaver power plant under the hood.
When the field was realigned Larson was put back three-spots for an incident earlier in the race, in which he had spun to a stop at the same time a red flag period had occurred. The penalty certainly did not faze the 2010 King of California however, as he put on an entertaining charge back to the front when the green flag was unveiled. The 18-year-old driver clawed his way past Day, B. Kaeding, Sanders and Tarlton in just seven-laps to jump into the runner up spot with the race playing on.
As T. Kaeding continued to sit out front he soon had to deal with the fast moving Larson and the talented youngster proceeded to hound “TK” for the lead, with him able to get to the inside on a number of occasions trying everything he had. Multiple stoppages over the remaining circuits slowed things down, but in between all of that the action remained fast and furious with multiple grooves still being seen around the speedway. With just under 10-laps left Larson stayed committed to the bottom-side with T. Kaeding remaining up high and the pair would put on a great show for the strong crowd on hand.
Doing everything he could to fend off Larson, “TK” took the white flag and looked for victory, but a yellow flag before the checkered brought on a green-white-checkered restart. The San Jose entrant didn’t let it slow him down though and when the green waved for the final time he checked out from the pack to tally his fifth triumph in his last five starts with the Ocean Sprint Cars presented by Taco Bravo.
“I was getting a little nervous there for a while since I could see Kyle poking his nose in there, because he’s always one of the toughest out here,” said T. Kaeding. “I just love running these bullrings in California and wish we had more of them across the country, because this is the best racing you’ll see. I have to thank Dennis and Teresa Roth, all our sponsors and my whole team, who have been doing a great job all year and I think it’s time to go have a beer with them,” he concluded with a smile.
Larson was able to hold off a strong last lap challenge from Tarlton to record a career best second place Johnny Key Classic finish, with Tarlton crossing the checkered in third at the helm of his Corporate America Lending No. 21. Campbell’s Bud Kaeding came from the sixth row to finish fourth behind the wheel of the Sala/Matherly Racing No. 19 and rounding out the top-five in the 50-lapper was Brent Kaeding. Completing the top-10 was 15th starter Jason Statler of Grass Valley, Sanders, Morgan Hill’s Devon Ostheimer, Stockton’s Brad Furr and Gilroy’s Ken Fredenburg.
The evening’s six-lap dash for cash was captured by Tommy Tarlton and the two 15-lap b-mains were picked off by Brad Furr and Bud Kaeding. Furr also began the night by setting fast-time out of the 25-cars trying to qualify for the 50th Johnny Key Classic. The former World of Outlaw regular carved his way around the Ocean Speedway quarter-mile in 11.728 seconds aboard the Ray Scheidts Electric No. 2 sprinter.
Full results from the 50th Johnny Key Classic are available at http://www.oceanspeedway.com
The Ocean Sprint Cars presented by Taco Bravo will now take a few weeks off before returning to action on Friday night September 24 for the second of two Ocean Sprints vs. Civil War Series events at the Ocean Speedway.