By Gary Thomas
Chico, CA – September 13, 2010…Returning to his home track of Silver Dollar Speedway this past weekend Chico, California’s Jonathan Allard gunned to extend his recent string of strong runs at the Gold Cup Race of Champions and proceeded to highlight the event by scoring a runner up finish on opening night, before coming home ninth in Saturday’s finale.
Allard’s second place effort during Thursday’s opener came after starting from the 13th position and marked his best finish of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series season behind the wheel of the Williams Motorsports, Red Line Oil, Karsten Homes No. 0 machine.
“The opening night run was a real good one for us and it was pretty cool to get a runner up finish to Sammy Swindell in my home town,” commented Allard, who also finished second on the opening night of Gold Cup in 2008. “We got a couple of good breaks in the main event and the car was really fast so I have to give thanks to all my crew and I was happy to get on the podium for them.”
Coming out second in the qualifying order on Thursday evening Allard cut the sixth fastest lap of the 50-cars that took times and backed that up with a fourth place finish in his heat race to transfer into the feature. Starting from 13th on the grid the former two-time King of California had his work cut out for him, but made some precise moves and avoided a couple of wrecks to move up to seventh within the first two-laps.
Following a few slow-downs early on, things got into more of a flow and Allard began to pick his way forward by making it into the top-five on lap-six, getting by Jason Meyers. A couple circuits after that he was then able to move ahead of Jason Sides to claim fourth, before jumping by Brad Sweet to snag third the next lap. Once in third the action got intense as lapped traffic caused the leaders to bunch up and make it a four-car fight for the top-spot.
While leaders Jac Haudenschild and Sammy Swindell were racing each other extremely hard for the point, Allard sat back in third hoping to get an opportunity to pounce as slower cars made it very interesting up front. With the feature winding down things turned sour for leader Haudenschild when he got upside down in turn four. It bumped Allard up to second for the restart and he would maintain the spot over the final few laps to finish behind winner Swindell and ahead of Sweet.
“When I got up into third I saw Haud and Sammy racing each other really hard for the lead and was thinking I might get a shot at them a time or two,” said Allard. “I just kind of stumbled on that last restart and let Sammy get away and I couldn’t do anything with him. I also knew I had to hit my marks though to hold off Brad Sweet those last few laps, because he’s always really fast here too.”
The former Silver Dollar Speedway track champion returned to competition on Friday and put together another solid night of racing, which saw him qualify 15th fastest overall, finish second in his heat race and seventh in the dash to put him in the fourth row for the 30-lap feature. With one of the best surfaces all season at the quarter-mile bullring Allard fought amongst a number of drivers throughout the main event and at the checkered flag tallied a sixth place finish.
Coming back on Saturday Allard found himself sitting fourth in the overall Gold Cup points and it put him in the second row for the $50,000-to-win finale, starting alongside Kasey Kahne Racing’s Paul McMahan. Over the early going in the 40-lapper he settled into line fourth, until losing a spot to defending Gold Cup winner Joey Saldana on lap 13.
“JA” then began to battle it out with Jason Sides and Donny Schatz, before contact was made between he and the four-time WOO champ while racing down the back stretch. It resulted in Allard spinning off the surface with 22-laps down and bringing out a yellow flag, forcing him to the rear of the field. After going back green he started to work his way back forward and sliced through the pack to return to the top-10 on lap 31, with him eventually finishing in the ninth spot, following a late pass of Sammy Swindell.
“We definitely aren’t happy with finishing ninth, but with having to go to the rear midway through the race we’ll take a top-10,” Allard commented. “When you start that far up front you definitely want to finish up there, but me and Donny just got to racing really hard and ran out of room and that was all she wrote. We had a great weekend for the most part and we’ll just try to finish out the season as strong as possible the last couple months.”
More news and info on Chico’s Jonathan Allard can be found at http://www.allardmotorsports.com