By Steven Blakesley
WATSONVILLE, CALIFORNIA (July 30, 2011) – Easton’s Tommy Tarlton scored a birth in the 51st Johnny Key Classic and seized the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo points lead with a strong victory on Friday night at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville. The win is Tarlton’s second Ocean Sprints win but first at Ocean Speedway this year.
Tarlton now leads Salinas’ Ronnie Day by three points as the series heads into its most important stretch. Just one more race remains before the Key on August 27.
Rookie Rico Abreu continued his sensational rookie season by leading the feature from the outside pole. Polesitter Justin Sanders was relegated to starting third after jumping the initial start and getting penalized by track officials.
Tarlton ran second ahead of Fremont’s Shane Golobic as lapped traffic became a factor by lap seven. Tarlton and Abreu diced three-wide with lapped cars in a thrilling show before the caution came out on lap eight for Golobic crashing with lapped car James Bondurant. Both cars were done for the night.
On the restart, Abreu and Tarlton continued their torrid battle before Tarlton finally took over the lead in traffic on lap 15. The caution came out immediately following the lead change with Nick Ringo III spinning in turn two and Kurt Nelson loosing a side board from his top wing.
Tarlton had a strong restart while back in fifth place “Cowboy” Craig Smith was busy defending a challenge from Day. Day continued to look high and low on Smith before the yellow flag came out for new track recorder holder Evan Suggs spinning along with Orval Zane Burke, Jr.
Day leapt forward on the restart to challenge Smith. The side-by-side duel ended one lap later when Smith spun in turn two for a yellow flag. With four laps to go, Tarlton pulled away from Abreu on the restart while Day passed Sanders for third.
The last caution of the race came out on lap 28 and set up a two lap shootout between Tarlton, Abreu, and Day. Tarlton again had an impressive restart to take the #21 Tachi Palace / Corporate America Lending car to the win with Abreu beating out Day for second. Sanders and Nick Rescino, Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.
Eric Humphries came from 20th to finish 11th picking up the DDNi Hard Charger Award. The Ray Scheidt’s Electric Fast-Time Award went to Evan Suggs who broke his own track record with an 11.463 second lap.
Tarlton leads Day by three points with the next Johnny Key Classic qualifier set for Friday August 19. The Ocean Speedway continues with great sprint car action this Friday night as the Golden State King of the West will be in town.
Laps are currently for sale for the Johnny Key Classic with interested parties urged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org Laps are $50 each to be paid out to the top-three cars each lap.
For more information on the Ocean Sprint Cars presented by Taco Bravo log onto http://www.oceansprints.com and for more on the Ocean Speedway visit http://www.oceanspeedway.com