WILTON, California — Saturday night in Las Vegas was a night of incredible racing and celebrations for a veteran who won The Flashco SRL 2008 championship, a new rookie of the year and an even younger Las Vegas native who wowed his hometown fans with a terrific display of driving.
Prunedale, Ca’s Jim Pettit II in his #03 Top of the Hill Performance Ford won his third touring series and first SRL Southwest Tour Series Championship Saturday at the Bullring with another display of amazing driving. With his strong showing Pettit was able hold off Cottonwood, CA’s Craig Raudman who came into the final event of the season just 39 points behind. “I am so proud of my awesome team. We have been consistent all year and that’s what enabled us to get the championship”, said a very satisfied Pettit as he signed autographs for fans in the pits.
Josh Combs in his #7 Mudracing.net Ford wrapped up a very impressive rookie campaign and was able to finish ahead of rookie of the year contenders Justin Westmoreland and Joe Farre’ to capture the 2008 Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the year award. “Winning the SRL rookie of the year is a great start. We had a couple bad breaks this year but were still able to capture this award”, said Combs. “We hope to learn from our experiences this year and make a run at next year’s championship”, continued Combs. As a prize for winning this award, Combs will receive a new chassis from Victory Circle Chassis.
And as if that weren’t enough for the great Bullring crowd, the night’s main event was a tremendous display of quality racing between SRL regulars and some new drivers who wanted to experience the thrill of going up against the best drivers in the west. The night’s main event was won by Las Vegas’ own “Bear” Rzesnowiecky in his #95 Jackson Racing Chevrolet who earned it with an impressive performance holding off the best of the SRL regulars.
Rzesnowiecky took the lead on lap 34 when race leader Jim Pettit made contact with the second-place car of Dan Holtz in the #23 Go Live Stream.TV Ford causing Pettit and Holtz to go high in turn 2 to avoid causing a major accident. Rzesnowiecky, who had worked his way up to third, took advantage of the situation and slipped beneath both cars to claim the lead.
That was the first of two challenges for Pettit. His experience and talent allowed him to save his car from any damage and from there you knew he wasn’t through. Pettit worked his way back through the field and was able to get by Rzesnowiecky on lap 51 and recapture the lead.
Then on lap 59 just as the young sixteen year old Rzesnowiecky drove beneath Pettit in turn 4 to take the lead, his pass was negated as the caution flag flew because of a four-car accident in turn 2. In a tightly bunched pack the #4 Auto-Pro Racing Engines Chevrolet of Greg Voigt appeared to get loose and the 10 spun and then the #1 of 2007 SRL champion Dave Byrd ended up literally on top of Voigt. Amazingly all three vehicles were able drive away from the accident under their own power including the #4 car after being on the bottom of the pile. Officials put the red out and froze the field until the cars involved were cleared. Then the track was back to yellow and things up front got interesting.
Pettit had to pit under the caution due to a flat tire and Rzesnowiecky found himself back in the lead. Pettit’s crew got his tire changed and he was able to join the rear of the field before the green flag. From that point, all the fans at the Bullring could see that Pettit was on a mission as he began his charge toward the front.
While Pettit was working his way back through the field for the second time, young Rzesnowiecky had shown how comfortable he was on his home track by building up a large lead on Dan Holtz and the #88 Chevrolet of Jamie Dick. By lap 80, Rzesnowiecky enjoyed a full-straightaway lead on the second place car. So the last 20 laps came down to whether Pettit had enough time to get by the field and make a final push and would Rzesnowiecky continue his flawless driving around the Bullring. Pettit continued to move through the field like a driver possessed but in the end there were not enough laps as his unbelievable 2nd charge through the field fell short with a second place finish. Bear Rzesnowiecky had shown that although young, on this night he had what it takes to run with the big boys of the SRL.
In the winners circle with all his hometown fans cheering him on, Rzesnowiecky was ecstatic about his victory. “It was great to race with the best drivers in the west and to win versus the veteran SRL drivers is unbelievable as I have grown up admiring many of them”, said Rzesnowiecky.
Bakersfield’s Eric Richardson in his #44 Short Track Enterprises Chevrolet was able to overtake Troy Ermish in his 510 Parts Outlet #38 Pontiac and the rest of the dash field to win the Performance Electric Trophy Dash. Race winner Rzesnowiecky was also the Mid-Valley Iron and Metals Hard Charger coming from a 15th place starting position to get the win. Troy Ermish was the races Ron’s Rear Ends Hard Luck Award recipient with engine problems had him out of the race at after only 25 laps.
“What a great way to finish off the season! The Las Vegas Bullring put on a fantastic show with the USAC Sprints, the SMRA Supermodifieds and our Flashco SRL Touring cars”, said SRL executive director Steve Fensler. “We would like to thank the Bullring for including our championship race as the title event. Mike Stafford and his team are the best”, continued Fensler.
The Flashco SRL Southwest Tour Series will be holding its annual awards banquet on Saturday, December 6th at the Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, CA
About the FLASHCO SRL Southwest Tour Series:
Celebrating its eighth season in 2008, the FLASHCO SRL Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. The series utilizes cars based on the former NASCAR Elite Division Series rulebook.
For more information contact the FLASHCO SRL Southwest Tour Series offices at 916-687-7284 or go to www.srllatemodels.com
About Flashco, Inc. – Contractor Supply and Equipment Rental Company:
Flashco, Inc. is a privately owned company based in Bakersfield, California. For over three decades Flashco has been an industry leader in traffic control and safety, and the equipment rental company of choice for the Central Valley. www.flashcoinc.com
|SRL Southwest Tour|
|1. 95 “Bear” Rzesnowiecky |
2. 03 Jim Pettit
3. 23 Dan Holtz
4. 88 Jamie Dick
5. 37 Keith Spangler
6. 4 Greg Voigt
7. 7 Josh Combs*
8. 44 Eric Richardson
9. 17 Darryl Lamoure
10. 2 Craig Raudman
11. 54 Joe Farre’*
12. 84 Eddie Secord
13. 28 Nick Williams
14. 48 Mike Lay*
15. 9 Justin Westmoreland*
16. 10 Mike Mendenhall
17. 1 Dave Byrd
18. 09 Brennan Newberry
19. 54x Mike Obrist
20. 38 Troy Ermish