From Gary Thomas
Tulare, CA — (April 12, 2014) — Easton’s Tommy Tarlton set out the goal this year to try his hand at the California Triple Crown title offered by Prentice Motorsports Group & on Saturday night at the Merle Stone Chevrolet Thunderbowl Raceway he kicked off the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series season in stellar fashion, by claiming victory in the 30 lap Spring Thunder Nationals presented by KRC.
For Tarlton it marked his 10th career Golden State/ King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series victory, which gives him sole possession of ninth on the all-time win list. The win came aboard the always potent Paul Baines wrenched Elite Landscape Construction/ Tarlton & Son Inc./ Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 21 machine.
“Wow to say this feels good would be an understatement,” said an exuberated Tarlton on the front stretch. “Winning these King of the West 410 races out here are never easy, so when you can get one under your belt it’s a big deal. I can’t thank Paul Baines, my dad Tom and my whole team enough for giving me a great car. We have some big goals this year and I have a lot of confidence that we can accomplish some great things.”
The 30-lap Spring Thunder Nationals main event came to the line with defending King of the West champion Kyle Hirst and Tarlton on the front row. When flagman Willie Williams waved the green flag it was Tarlton jumping out in front, but things early on got off to a slow start as cautions plagued the flow of the race. Fast qualifier Willie Croft proved to be one of Tarlton’s biggest challengers over the course of the race as he battled for the lead at times and looked very solid all night long.
As the race wore on and some green flag laps were finally ticked off Tarlton worked traffic well, as the rest of the field navigated their way around the tricky and treacherous Thunderbowl Raceway one-third mile oval. Croft continued to try and keep pace with the fast moving Tarlton, but would lose air pressure in his right rear tire during a late race yellow flag period, which hampered his chances at making one final charge. Hirst would move by Croft following the restart and give his best at tracking down Tarlton for the lead, but the Easton driver was not to be denied and took the checkered by 1.921 seconds for victory.
For Hirst his runner up effort was a solid start to his bid at making it back-to-back titles with the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series aboard the Roth Motorsports/ HR Livestock/ Roth Enterprises No. 83jr mount. “It was a good run for us tonight and we would have liked to win of course, but we’ll take a second right out of the box,” commented the reigning champ. “The race took awhile to get going there, but we had some good battles at times. I really have to thank Dennis & Teresa Roth and the whole Roth Motorsports team for giving me the opportunity to drive this car and we’ll now go try to get a win next week at Placerville.”
Campbell’s Bud Kaeding had a back and forth main event, but charged forward at the end to complete the podium at the helm of the Williams Motorsports/ BZE/ Alviso Rock No. 0 sprinter. The three-time USAC Silver Crown has been very so fast so far this season in his new ride and will surely be one of the drivers to beat for the championship. “That was a pretty wild one there for a bit and I’m happy to be standing up here on the podium,” Kaeding said. “We had that open red and talked some things over and I think it definitely helped us move forward after that restart. I’m excited about this season and working with Ashley Smith and the Williams Motorsports guys.”
Fresno’s Dominic Scelzi won out in a side-by-side battle for fourth over Croft at the line, which was very impressive considering the fact that the youngster had to go to the rear of the field at one point during the 30-lap contest after stopping early on. Thus far in his early career Scelzi has certainly shown that he can persevere throughout the night and routinely carves his way forward in the main event. Although not what he was hoping for after running close to the lead during a majority of the feature, Croft’s fifth place finish capped a successful season-opener for the Sacramento driver. Last year’s third place finisher in the KWS points also set fast time, ran second in his heat and fourth in the dash.
Princeton’s Mason Moore had a great run in the main event to earn the hard charger award, coming from 22nd to sixth, after earning the final transfer spot out of the Last Chance Showdown. Oroville’s Sean Becker finished seventh in the feature after battling his way up into the top-five at one point. Fremont’s Shane Golobic, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler and Hanford’s DJ Netto rounded out the top-10 in the main event.
The 12-lap Last Chance Showdown was claimed by Lake Steven’s, Washington’s Austen Wheatley, with the six-lap Dash as noted won by Kyle Hirst. The four 10-lap heat races were picked off by Bud Kaeding, Tommy Tarlton, Jason Statler and Shane Golobic. Willie Croft toured the one-third mile clay in 13.263 seconds to set fast time in the 31-car field at the beginning of the evening. Full results can be found online at http://www.kwssprints.com/
The night’s action got started with a special ceremony involving Sydney, Australia native Peter Murphy that saw him make his final lap in a sprint car just prior to the National Anthem, which was sung by his 12-year-old son Tyler. Murphy was injured during the King of the West event last July in Antioch and it was announced last night that he would be retiring from the sport as a driver. He was also awarded with a plaque from the track for being one of the biggest ambassadors that we’ve had in sprint car racing.
The Spring Thunder Nationals presented by KRC Safety Company in Tulare was filmed by MAVTV American Real and can be seen the second week in June.
Up next for the King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series presented by WFO Apparel will be the “Hoosier Tires Gold Country Shootout” at the always action packed Placerville Speedway. The front gate will open at 5pm with qualifying scheduled for 6:30pm. An early arrival is always recommended for Placerville, with the grandstands always filling up at the high-banked red clay bullring. The event will also be filmed by MAVTV American Real for showing in June. More info on the track can be found at http://www.