From Ben Deatherage
TUCSON, Az. (February 4, 2017) — Sprint Car racing made its return to Wildcat Raceway for the first round of the 2017 Wildcat Winter Series. Three classes would fill the pit area featuring Winged 360 Sprints, Micro Sprints, and the Lucas Oil POWRi WAR Sprints-Wildcat Region. Thirty-nine cars would make the journey from the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and Indiana.
In the Winged 360 feature, Alex Pettas would beat Rick Ziehl at the line on the opening lap to get the race underway. The lead would be shortly lived for the Tempe pilot, of Pettas, as Ziehl would beat him into the corner. Ziehl, from Las Cruces, New Mexico, would pace the field for some time before being challenged by Johnny Herrera.
Herrera, in the J.T. Imperial owned entry, got by Ziehl at the line on lap five to become the third different leader. The only thing to slow down the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma driver would be two cautions periods on lap five and lap nine. Each ensuing restart he would manage to maintain the position and would go on to pick up the victory.
Rick Ziehl finished second over Alamogordo, New Mexico’s Lorne Wofford in third. The rest of the top five consisted of fourth finishing Josh Shipley, from Youngtown in the Alan and Kaylene Verville owned machine, as well as Alex Pettas in fifth. Rick Ziehl and Lorne Wofford were the heat race winners.
Last but not least were the Lucas Oil POWRi WAR Sprints-Wildcat Region. Yuma hot shoe Mike Martin took full advantage of his pole starting position and grabbed the initial lead only to crash down the back straightaway and get upside down. This would hand over the lead to Brady Short of Bedford, Indiana in the Reinbold-Underwood Racing entry.
Short would continue to hold onto the coveted position before getting passed by Tempe’s Stevie Sussex on lap eleven. Unfortunately for Sussex, he would get collected with a lapped car on lap fifteen. This would give the lead back to Brady Short.
On lap eighteen Short and R.J. Johnson would find themselves battling hard for the win. Johnson would throw a slider on Short only for the two to make contact in turn two and nearly collecting one another. Both drivers would keep going, with Johnson as the new leader, but a caution would come out before another lap was completed resulting in Short retaining the lead yet again.
On the final green-white-checkered restart R.J. Johnson took to the top shelf and motored his way around Brady Short to reclaim the lead. Johnson managed to create a fair amount of distance and cruised on to the win. It would be a huge win for Johnson as well as for car owner Matt Lundy.
Brady Short was a respectable second while Stevie Sussex worked his way back up to third. The balance of the top five would feature Gilbert’s Andrew Reinbold in fourth and Charles Davis Jr., of Buckeye, in fifth. Stevie Sussex and R.J. Johnson were both victorious in heat race action.
Wildcat Raceway will return for the second and third rounds of the 2017 Wildcat Winter Series on Friday, February 17th and Saturday the 18th. Both races will be night shows and are expected to get underway around 6:00 PM. For more information be sure and log on to www.wildcatracewayaz.com or follow them on Facebook.
Wildcat Winter Series Race #1
Saturday February 4th, 2017
360 Sprint Car Feature: 1. 75X-Johnny Herrera; 2. 20Z-Rick Ziehl; 3. 18-Lorne Wofford; 4. 01-Josh Shipley; 5. 2-Alex Pettas; 6. 12-James Mosher; 7. 74-Colton Hardy; 8. 99-Rachael Aragon; 9. 22-Jesse Barber; 10. 19-Wes Wofford; 11. 33-Steve Cushman; 12. 57-Steve Stone; 13. 33T-Rick Eckert; 14. 55-T.K. Lindell
Lucas Oil POWRi WAR Series-Wildcat Region Feature: 1. 98-R.J. Johnson; 2. 19S-Brady Short; 3. 21AZ-Stevie Sussex; 4. 19-Andy Reinbold; 5. 50-Charles Davis Jr.; 6. 20-Shon Deskins; 7. 20Z-Rick Ziehl; 8. 5M-Matt Lundy; 9. 25AZ-Rick Shuman; 10. 7K-Bruce St. James; 11. 14-Cody Sickles; 12. 16-Mike Martin; DNS 75X-Johnny Herrera