BAKERSFIELD, California — Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series point leader M. K. Kanke secured his position to win his first touring championship of his celebrated career by driving to a convincing victory Saturday night in the “NTS, Inc. 125” at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. It was Kanke’s fourth win of 2009, following his wins at All-American Speedway in Roseville, The Bulling at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Madera Speedway. Kanke qualified the RPM Motorsports Chevrolet fourth in a series high 28-car field. Auggie Vidovich set fast time for the night at 18.150 (99.174 mph), but suffered a mechanical problem that did not allow him to start the 125 lap main event.
At the drop of the green to start the race, it was all Craig Raudman, pulling out to a sizable lead over Greg Voigt, Brennan Newberry and Kanke. On lap 20, Newberry moved into second, followed by Kanke. As the race went caution free, Newberry and Kanke began to slowly cut into Raudman’s lead. Newberry began to work on the Cottonwood, CA veteran and made the pass for the lead on lap 50, followed by Kanke a half lap later. Newberry maintained his lead over Kanke until lap 78 when Kanke moved past the Bakersfield teenager for the lead just before the first caution period of the race on lap 79 due to a single car spin by Kyle Gottula.
The second caution of the race fell on lap 88, when Jim Pettit II, the winner of the ‘Southwest Tour Race of Champions’ held earlier in the evening, and Keith Spangler made contact while battling for fifth, resulting in Pettit’s Moeller Brothers/Golden Gate Petroleum Chevy making a hard impact with the turn 2 wall.
On lap 94, Troy Ermish, the winner of the July 18th SRL event at Irwindale and Keith Spangler who was running sixth made contact resulting in Spangler impacting the backstretch wall. The red flag was put out as emergency crews assisted Spangler who had dropped his window net to show he was not injured.
On the lap 94 restart, the running order was Kanke, Voigt, Raudman, Newberry, Rip Michels, Mike Mendenhall, Josh Combs, Kevin Callahan, Jamie Dick, Jacob Gomes and Jason Gilbert in the top 11 positions and the only drivers on the lead lap.
On the run to the finish, Michels, the 2006 NASCAR Southwest Tour champion, was moving forward after the suffering a tight condition throughout the early stages of the race. On lap 108 Michels moved into third, by lap 112 he was second.
Time would run out for Michels, as Kanke proved too strong as he solidified his championship hopes by driving to a 2.939 second victory over Michels. Santee, CA driver Mendenhall continued his string of top three finishes by driving from his seventeenth starting position to third at the finish. Voigt held off Combs for fourth, Raudman, Newberry, Dick, Gilbert and Callahan completed the top ten. Gomes, Rex Lockwood, Ermish, John Wood and Scott Sanchez rounded out the top fifteen.
The Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series will finish its 2009 season at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 31st in the 154 lap “GoLiveStream.TV Championship Finale”.