From Lonnie Wheatley
TULARE, Cal. (February 9, 2011) – Tim Kaeding successfully defended his California turf from the invading Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National forces by racing to victory lane in Wednesday night’s season-opening 30-lap main event atop the 1/3-mile Thunderbowl Raceway clay oval.
The San Jose shoe battled past four-time series champion Gary Wright for the lead on the 13th round and then held off a late charge from past ASCS Northwest titlist Roger Crockett to secure his second career ASCS National feature win aboard the Roth Motorsports No. 83 entry.
“It’s great racing with Gary (Wright) and these guys,” Kaeding commented after the inaugural Lucas Oil ASCS National event contested in the state of California. “When we go to their territory, they beat up on us. When they come out here, we’re gonna beat up on them.”
And, doing so at one of his favorite tracks made the $6,000 victory that much sweeter. “This is my playground and if anybody’s gonna beat me, they better get up on the fence and do it.”
Gridding the feature field third, Kaeding battled past fellow second row starter Steven Tiner for second on the fifth round and then reeled in front row outside starter Wright to race into the lead entering turn one on the 13th circuit.
After Tiner spun from contention on the 14th round, clipping a charging Shane Stewart in the process, Crockett was third and made quick work of Wright for second on the ensuing restart as he turned up the heat on Kaeding for the top spot aboard the Omlid & Swinney Fire Protection & Security No. 11.
With Kaeding railing about the topside of the oval, Crockett stayed within a couple of car-lengths as traffic played a factor until a final caution flew after 21 laps for Dustin Morgan’s turn four spin.
“We were faster than him, we were real close but I think we were a little bit better,” Crockett explained. “A lapped car spun, I let off the gas and that put a lapped car between us on the restart and I lost a half straightaway at that point.”
Oregon’s Crockett closed the gap as Kaeding reached the tail of the field two laps shy of the checkered flag. But, with Kaeding flawless in traffic, Crockett ran out of laps and settled for runner-up honors.
Kaeding explained of the final circuits that, “We got a little free towards the end, and I knew Roger was coming and Shane was coming there. I just had to keep telling myself be patient, don’t do anything stupid, don’t hit the fence.”
Behind the lead duo, Shane Stewart and Kyle Larson both completed dazzling drives from deep in the field to finish third and fourth, respectively, with Fresno’s Tommy Tarlton rounding out the top five.
Stewart, the 2009 Lucas Oil ASCS National champion, raced from eight rows deep in the 16th starting position, while 2010 King of California Larson rallied from 21st after early gremlins put him behind the eight ball.
By the final third of the race, Stewart and Larson were dicing for the show position with Stewart making the decisive move on the 25th lap to secure the show position aboard Paul Silva’s Rockstar Energy Drink No. 57 A.R.T. And, he did it with a badly-damaged left rear wheel from the skirmish with a spinning Steven Tiner on the 14th lap.
“There was cars going everywhere there for a minute and I wasn’t sure if the 94 was gonna stop or not,” Stewart explained. “He just came up a little bit and I just hit him.”
Stewart continued, “I was just lucky to finish. That’s what it’s all about, you have to finish these races to have a championship. You can’t start 16th and run third every night and we know that, I just have to do a little better in my heat races.”
Larson climbed 17 positions for a career best Lucas Oil ASCS National finish of fourth aboard the JJR/Finley Farms No. 41, with ninth-starter Tarlton fifth after running as high as third at the midway point.
Wright slipped to sixth at the stripe in the Cooper/Sperry No. 51, with Bud Kaeding crossing the stripe seventh. After a convincing “B” Main win, 15-year-old Washington shoe Trey Starks raced from 17th to a Lucas Oil ASCS National career-best finish of eighth.
Johnny Herrera survived a quick 360-degree mid-race spin exiting turn four to claim ninth, with 2010 Lucas Oil Sprint Car points runner-up Brady Bacon advancing a handful of positions to complete the top ten.
After the initial attempt to start the feature was waved off, eighth-starter Mason Moore slowed with terminal engine issues. The red flag flew after one lap when 12th-starter Craig Stidham flipped in turn four, with the caution flying again one round later when pole starter Nicole Miller looped it in the same turn.
Crockett, Tiner, Wright and Tim Kaeding topped heat race action for the 32-car opening night field, with Starks winning the “B” Main.
Mike Faria became the first flip victim of the 2011 Lucas Oil Sprint Car season when he turned over in turn four in the night’s third heat race.
Zach Chappell’s evening ended before it ever got started, as the 2001 series champion scratched for the night after engine problems arose in hot laps.
The Lucas Oil ASCS presented by K&N Filters National series wraps up its California debut with a Saturday night tilt at Hanford’s Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters
Thunderbowl Speedway – Tulare, CA
Heat Races (Top 16 in Passing Points to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):
Heat One (8 Laps): 1. 11-Roger Crockett, 2. 21-Bud Kaeding, 3. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 4. 57-Shane Stewart, 5. 23-Seth Bergman, 6. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 7. 2L-Logan Forler, 8. 41-Kyle Larson.
Heat Two (8 Laps): 1. 94-Steven Tiner, 2. 21T-Tommy Tarlton, 3. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 4. 99-Brady Bacon, 5. 55-Trey Starks 6. 2-Dustin Morgan, 7. 24-Justin Carver. DNS: 28-Jeff Swindell.
Heat Three (8 Laps): 1. 51-Gary Wright, 2. 5h-Mason Moore, 3. 3c-Craig Stidham, 4. 53-Andy Gregg, 5. 98-Chris Masters, 6. 21a-Randy Price, 7. 4F-Mike Faria. DNS: 92-Andy Forsberg.
Heat Four (8 Laps): 1. 83-Tim Kaeding, 2. 14s-Kyle Hirst, 3. 88-Tim Crawley, 4. 20-Nicole Miller, 5. 29-Willie Croft, 6. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 7. 3-R.C. Smith. DNS: 0-Zach Chappell.
“B” Main (Top 6 Advance to “A” Main):
“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 55-Trey Starks, 2. 29-Willie Croft, 3. 2-Dustin Morgan, 4. 23-Seth Bergman, 5. 41-Kyle Larson, 6. 28-Jeff Swindell, 7. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel, 9. 2L-Logan Forler, 10. 21a-Randy Price, 11. 92-Andy Forsberg, 12. 98-Chris Masters. DNS: 4F-Mike Faria, 24-Justin Carver, 3-R.C. Smith, 0-Zach Chappell.
Thunderbowl Raceway “A” Main:
“A” Feature (30 Laps): 1. 83-Tim Kaeding, 2. 11-Roger Crockett, 3. 57-Shane Stewart, 4. 41-Kyle Larson, 5. 21T-Tommy Tarlton, 6. 51-Gary Wright, 7. 21-Bud Kaeding, 8. 55-Trey Starks, 9. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 10. 99-Brady Bacon, 11. 23-Seth Bergman, 12. 94-Steven Tiner, 13. 2-Dustin Morgan, 14. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 15. 14s-Kyle Hirst, 16. 88-Tim Crawley, 17. 94z-Zach Zimmerly, 18. 53-Andy Gregg, 19. 20-Nicole Miller, 20. 28-Jeff Swindell, 21. 29-Willie Croft, 22. 3c-Craig Stidham, 23. 5h-Mason Moore.
Lap Leaders: Gary Wright 1-12, Tim Kaeding 13-30.
Note: Tony Bruce, Jr., utilized a provisional based upon 2010 final points to start the main event.
Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars presented by K&N Filters Points (Top 15): 1. Tim Kaeding 150, 2. Roger Crockett 142, 3. Shane Stewart 135, 4. Kyle Larson 130, 5. Tommy Tarlton 125, 6. Gary Wright 122, 7. Bud Kaeding 119, 8. Trey Starks 116, 9. Johnny Herrera 113, 10. Brady Bacon 110, 11. Seth Bergman 108, 12. Steven Tiner 106, 13. Dustin Morgan 104, 14. Tony Bruce, Jr. 102, 15. Kyle Hirst 100.