By Troy Hennig
CHICO, CA – October 1, 2011…It was a special night at the Silver Dollar Speedway on Saturday night. The Fall Nationals were being dedicated to Mike “CarWash” Avilla and earlier in the day a special barbeque was organized by his racing family to celebrate his life and times at sprint car races. However, what Mike would have really appreciated was the great 40-lap main event that showcased Shane Golobic and Tim Kaeding’s epic battle that wasn’t decided until the final lap. Kaeding and Golobic traded the lead the last five laps before Kaeding secured the lead coming down to receive the white flag. Kaeding went on to lead the final lap and collect the $5,000 winner payday. Golobic had a wonderful race and should be proud of his second place finish. Roger Crockett was also in the mix and pressured the top two all night. Crockett finished in the third spot. The hardest charger of the night was Johnny Herrera. The sprint car champion out of New Mexico started dead last in the 24th spot and raced his way to a fourth place finish. Bixby, OK driver Shane Stewart drove the Finley Farms #77 to a fifth place finish. A total of 57 winged 360 drivers competed on the final night of the Fall Nationals.
Golobic won the seven-lap dash tat earned him the right to start from the pole position of the main event. Golobic took advantage of his starting spot and led the majority of the 40 lap race. Kaeding started outside the front row and fell into the second spot. Only two early cautions halted this race. Justyn Cox had contact with another car that ultimately sidelined him from the rest of the race. Mason Moore did a bunny hop in turn four and caused another yellow. But that was it. From there on out the race went non-stop. Crockett passed Kaeding on lap six only to have Kaeding pass him back on lap eight. The two traded spots again on lap nine and Crockett was back in second.
During the early part of the race, Willie Croft was up in the second spot. Croft pulled off the track under a caution on lap two. He did not return. Because of his “hard luck,” he was awarded the Mike Avilla Hard Luck Award for the night. It was a bonus of around $900 for having bad luck. Thanks to all the people who donated money and made this a special race in Mike’s honor.
Golobic was up front leading. The track was wide and offered a top and bottom for the competitors. Crockett held down the second spot until lap 21 when Kaeding got around him again. This time Kaeding held down the spot. Now it was time to battle Golobic for the lead. The final half of the race had Golobic on the bottom and Kaeding around the top. Golobic made many smart, precious moves to get around some of the slower cars. The race really tightened on lap 32 when Kaeding rolled the top and passed Golobic. Give Golobic credit, he didn’t give up and passed Kaeding coming out of turn four. Yet, one lap later, Kaeding drove around Golobic on the high side and took the lead again. The final lap had Kaeding dive to the bottom of turn three and all but guaranteed the win. Kaeding roared off turn four and crossed the finish line barely ahead of Golobic. The margin of victory was 0.190.
Rounding out the top ten at the finish was Stephen Allard, who gave the Scott Russell #14r a great run tonight. Jonathan Allard brought the Morrie and Katie Williams #0 home in seventh. Last nights winner Kyle Larson was eighth and Auburn’s Andy Forsberg was ninth. Herman Klein rounded out the top ten.
With the win Kaeding is now the only four-time champion of the Fall Nationals. “Yeah, you know we always seem to be good at this race,” said Kaeding in victory lane. “I just wish this race was in September,” he said jokingly as he referred to his Gold Cup struggles over the years. “I just have to thank the fans for supporting sprint car racing. I love putting on a show for you fans and I hope you enjoyed yourself tonight.”
Andy Forsberg won the 12-lap B main event. Mike Henry won the C-Main. Trent Canales finished second in the C main and transferred to the back of the B-Main. Justyn Cox was the quickest in qualifying at a 12.122.
Travis Peery made it two for two at Chico. Perry bested a field of 13 modifieds that lined up for the 20-lap main event. “I heard Abouzeid was coming and he hit the white tire on the last lap trying to catch me,” said Perry. “I wish McDaniels and Papenhausen were here but it still feels good to win at this track. We had a great set-up and I appreciate all the help by my crew.” Perry took the lead from Ron Palombino and never looked back. Soon Mark Abouzeid was in the mix. Abouzeid, the track champion, kept pressuring Peery for the lead. Abouzeid had the right stuff tonight, yet, Peery had the preferred racing line. Peery was able to hold of Abouzeid. In fact, on lap 13 Abouzeid hit the white tire in turn three and it collapsed his front end. Abouzeid had no other choice but to pull his car into the infield. That moved Joel Myers into the second spot. Peery won followed by Myers. Mike Compton Jr. was the hard charger of the night and he finished in the third spot. Peery and Abouzeid won the two heat races.
BJ Martin won a shortened wingless spec sprint main event. The race was scheduled to go 20 laps. The officials had given the drivers a 15 minute time window to get the race completed. Unfortunately, the first attempt at a green flag start saw two drivers flip in turn one. To help the wingless drivers try and get their show in, the officials then decided to go single file on the next restart to get one lap in.
The drivers tried to get some green flag laps completed but it was just tough going for this division. Two cautions were needed before two laps had been completed. Once the 15 minutes time limit had come and gone with only 2 laps completed the officials allocated more time for the drivers. Twenty-six minutes into the race and after having to throw out the fifth caution on the track the next flag that waved was the checkered. It hindered what was a good battle up front. Braedon Enos had led the event for the first four laps but slipped up going into turn three and opened the door for Martin. Martin was able to sneak by on the bottom and take the lead. The next time by the final caution was needed and Martin was the winner. Enos was second and DJ Johnson was third.
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