By Gary Thomas
Tulare, CA – May 14, 2011…Already a two-time winner of the Pombo/Sargent Classic in his career Easton, California’s Tommy Tarlton added his name to the prestigious list one more time on Saturday night, picking up an entertaining Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series feature event at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.
Tarlton was part of a back and forth battle with Sacramento’s Willie Croft early in the main event, before grabbing the lead for good halfway through and then cruising to his eighth career Golden State 410 Series win. It now puts him into a tie with Jason Statler and Bud Kaeding for 11th on the all-time list.
“It has been a long time since I won a 410 race in Tulare so this is just awesome,” said a jubilant Tarlton in victory lane. “It was a lot of fun out there tonight and I have to thank my family and my whole team, because they work so hard for me every week. The last couple races hadn’t gone exactly like we wanted, but this definitely makes it all better.”
The 30-lap Pombo/Sargent Classic main event began with KSE/Grant’s Fine Art Dash winner Jonathan Allard jumping into the lead with current KWS point leader Tim Kaeding hot on his heels. The first couple laps saw Kaeding try everything to get below Allard, but with three-circuits complete the complexion of the race changed. As the duo raced hard into the second corner Kaeding slid up and they touched wheels, sending both upside down to bring out a red flag.
Allard was unable to restart, but Kaeding got back out and would go on to finish 20th. When racing got back underway Tarlton assumed the lead and was able to beat Willie Croft into the first set of corners on the double-file restart. Croft had won the most recent KWS event in Marysville and stayed right with Tarlton though and on lap-five he was able to impressively charge around him to grab the lead.
The driver known as “Double Down” pulled away from the pack until the caution lights came on with 10-laps down for Bobby McMahan and Andy Gregg, who sat sideways in turns one and two. It set up another thrilling double-file restart that saw Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs make a great move to get under Tarlton and steal second. Tarlton wasn’t having anything of it however, as he rocketed to the high-side to get back around Suggs and re-assume the runner up spot off turn four.
The action started to intensify on lap 12 when Australian Ian Madsen charged around Suggs to claim third and was followed along by Campbell’s Brent Kaeding for fourth. At this point Tarlton had also found a nice groove in turns three and four and came hard after Croft for the lead. After a few exciting attempts to get by, “Tommy T” finally made it happen on lap 16 when he blasted to the outside and moved back by Croft to claim the top-spot as the crowd came to their feet.
Croft tried to stay with Tarlton, but his hopes came to an end on lap 21 when reported contact with the wall resulted in him suffering a flat tire to bring out a caution.
The final double-file restart of the night saw Campbell’s Brent Kaeding make his presence known, as he jumped past Madsen to take second and then pressure Tarlton for the lead. After a couple laps though Tarlton kicked it into overdrive and checked out from the pack to go on and cross the checkered flag for his third career Pombo/Sargent Classic triumph. It marked Tarlton’s first win in the event at the Thunderbowl, with his previous two wins coming at Kings Speedway.
Brent Kaeding ended the race in second to score his best finish of the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series season. The 11-time Pombo/Sargent Classic winner looked the best he has all season and will go into Santa Maria next week searching to break a winless drought with the 410 tour that dates back to July of 2009.
Finishing just behind Kaeding in third and scoring his best ever 410 finish at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway was Suggs. The 24-year-old looked solid all evening long, also scoring a dominating heat race win earlier in the program to make for a great points night.
Madsen capped a strong outing by finishing fourth in the main event during his first ever night at the Thunderbowl. The Aussi also began the evening by earning the Grant’s Fine Art fast time award. Rounding out the top-five and having another good run with the Golden State King of the West Sprints was Fresno’s Craig Stidham. Completing the top-10 were Campbell’s Bud Kaeding, Fremont’s Brent Bjork, Clovis’ Peter Murphy, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler and Stockton’s Brad Furr.
The PitStopUSA.com hard charger award went to Brent Bjork for his great movement from 21st to seventh in the feature.
Prior to the A-main Visalia’s Cory Eliason won a thrilling Last Chance Qualifier with Jonathan Allard leading every lap of the KSE Racing Products/Grant’s Fine Art Dash. The four 10-lap heat races held during the night were picked off by Jonathan Allard, Tim Kaeding, Tommy Tarlton and Evan Suggs. As noted the Grant’s Fine Art fast time award went to Ian Madsen who tripped the clocks at 13.684 seconds.
Next Saturday night May 21 the Golden State King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will head for the Santa Maria Speedway in Santa Maria, California. Also remember the previously scheduled event for next Sunday in Merced has been canceled, so KWS will be in action at just Santa Maria next weekend. To keep up with the latest happenings with the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series visit http://www.kwssprints.com or catch us on Facebook and Twitter.
Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series Results – Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway May 14, 2011 “Pombo/Sargent Classic”
Fast time: Ian Madsen 13.684
Heat 1: Jonathan Allard, Ian Madsen, Charlie Louden, Kenny Allen, Brent Bjork, Garrett Ishii, Billy Strange Jr.
Heat 2: Tim Kaeding, Willie Croft, Mike Faria, Andy Gregg, Rico Abreu, Dan Simpson, Danielle Simpson
Heat 3: Tommy Tarlton, Craig Stidham, Jason Statler, Peter Murphy, Cory Eliason, Brad Furr, Pat Harvey, Doug Gandy
Heat 4: Evan Suggs, Bobby McMahan, Brad Bumgarner, Brent Kaeding, Bud Kaeding, Mark Barroso, Eli Deshaies
Dash: Jonathan Allard, Tim Kaeding, Tommy Tarlton, Evan Suggs, Brent Kaeding, Willie Croft, Mike Faria, Ian Madsen
Last Chance Qualifier: Cory Eliason, Bud Kaeding, Brad Furr, Garrett Ishii, Brent Bjork, Rico Abreu, Danielle Simpson, Mark Barroso, Doug Gandy, Eli Deshaies, Dan Simpson, Pat Harvey, Billy Strange Jr.
A-main: Tommy Tarlton, Brent Kaeding, Evan Suggs, Ian Madsen, Craig Stidham, Bud Kaeding, Brent Bjork, Peter Murphy, Jason Statler, Brad Furr, Cory Eliason, Brad Bumgarner, Willie Croft, Charlie Louden, Rico Abreu, Bobby McMahan, Garrett Ishii, Kenny Allen, Andy Gregg, Tim Kaeding, Mike Faria, Jonathan Allard