By Gary Thomas
Calistoga, CA – May 29, 2011…Current Golden State King of the West Sprint Car point leader Tim Kaeding of San Jose was able to add to his advantage in the series standings on Sunday night, racing to his third victory of the season in the annual Salute to Walt Ross at the famed Calistoga Speedway.
Kaeding’s win came during a curfew shortened race, as the 11pm state mandated curfew forced the feature to a conclusion with 13-laps down. An excessive amount of reds and yellows were seen in the main event, which took multiple attempts to get a lap completed at the start.
“We’ve been having a pretty good season and I have to thank Dennis & Teresa Roth, ‘Bonzai’ Bruns, Todd Ventura and this whole team,” Kaeding said in victory lane. “We’re fortunate to be standing up here right now, because Kyle Larson was coming fast and I was doing everything I could to hold him back.”
The scheduled 25-lap feature began with Kaeding and Australian traveler Ian Madsen racing wheel to wheel for the lead of the race, but the first three attempts saw various issues bring things to a halt. The biggest of which was a red flag period that saw Jeff Griffin, Mark Barroso, Kenny Allen and Brent Bjork come together on the front stretch. All drivers were thankfully okay, but Griffin’s night came to an end with damage too severe to continue on.
The fourth attempted start turned out to be successful and Madsen charged to the front of the field with the rest of the pack trying to get settled into a groove. Kaeding kept Madsen in his sights and stalked the No. 28 sprinter for the first few laps, before slicing his way past to grab the lead in turn three with five-laps complete. Just after that the red lights would come on once again, this time for Andy Gregg who got upside down in the third and fourth corners.
Gregg was luckily okay and on the restart Kaeding assumed command of the race, but the action behind him started to heat up among the top-five. Just as soon as that happened though, the red flag would come out again on lap-seven for St. Helena’s Rico Abreu, who was making his first career 410 start and initial start at the Calistoga Speedway. Abreu’s night came to an end, but was after a very impressive debut at the half-mile for the 19-year-old.
After getting everything cleared away racing resumed and the intensity level seemed to pick up even more, as Madsen, Elk Grove’s Kyle Larson, Chico’s Jonathan Allard and Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs put on a great show fighting for positions two through five. Allard in particular was rocketing into the corners trying to make up ground, but lap 10 would spell disaster for the two-time Golden State champ, when he got upside down in turns three and four. Allard was alright, but it left him with a 17th place finish in the final rundown.
With curfew looming ahead the ensuing restart would be the final one of the night and Larson turned up the heat by racing past Madsen to take over the runner up position. The reigning Golden State 410 champ then closed in quickly on Kaeding for the lead of the race and was all over the Roth Motorsports No. 83, but a yellow flag on lap 13 for Brad Furr brought out the checkered flag, as the 11pm curfew had been reached.
At the finish it was “TK” bringing home the win, with Larson finishing second in the Stadelhofer Construction No. 99 and Madsen rounding out the podium aboard the Grenade Gloves No. 28 mount. It marked Larson’s best finish of the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series season.
“We were definitley faster the last few laps and just wish we could have finished the race, because I think we could have won this thing,” said Larson. “It’s dissapointing to have it end like that, but I want to thank all my sponsors for supporting me and can’t thank them enough, especially Rich Stadelhofer who lives here in Calistoga.”
For Madsen it was a very strong night that also marked the very first time he had ever competed at the Calistoga Speedway. Madsen’s only other KWS start saw him finish fourth at the Tulare Thunderbowl two weeks ago.
“It’s been a great few races in California so far and this was a pretty good night for us,” commented Madsen after the race. “This King of the West deal has something really good going on so I just hope everyone out there supports it and we’ll see you all in a couple weeks.”
Completing the top-10 in the main event were Evan Suggs, White Rock, British Columbia’s Toni Lutar, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Sacramento’s Willie Croft, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler and Everett, Washington’s Jayme Barnes. Barnes was also the winner of the PitStopUSA.com hard charger award coming from 19th to 10th.
The evening’s Last Chance Qualifier was picked off by Stockton’s Brad Furr and the six-lap KSE Racing Products/ Grant’s Fine Art Dash was captured by Tim Kaeding. Claiming wins in the four eight-lap heats were Kyle Larson, Tim Kaeding, Evan Suggs and Ian Madsen. Jonathan Allard began the night by winning the Grant’s Fine Art fast time award with a lap of 17.469 around the half-mile.
Remember next Saturday’s previously scheduled event at the Giant Chevrolet Kings Speedway has been canceled, so the next race for the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series will be Friday June 10th’s Tribute to Gary Patterson/ Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway.
The tour will then head to the Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, Oregon on Saturday June 11. Also keep in mind that the June 13 date at Cottage Grove Speedway will be a non-point event. More info on the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series can be found at http://www.kwssprints.com