BAKERSFIELD, California — As the checkered flag fell on the final race of the 2009 Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series, M.K. Kanke and his RPM Motor Sports team were right where they were after the season’s opening race at Roseville’s All-American Speedway, the winner’s circle. Kanke’s season opening win at Roseville, backed up by his win at The Bullring on May 3rd put him in the point lead. That lead he never relinquished as he went on to win his first career touring series championship and was presented the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series Championship Cup at the conclusion of Saturday night’s “GoLiveStream.TV 154” at The Bullring.
“This is a great series and I couldn’t be prouder than to win this championship for Dan and Kathy (Nikolai) and the whole team…they gave me a great car all year and made my job easy.” Kanke commented during the championship presentation. “This series has great competitors and it’s a real challenge to compete against these teams, but our guys provided me with a great car for every race all year.” Kanke concluded.
On the year, Kanke scored an average of 49.5 points per race out of a possible maximum of 55, of the nine races counted toward his championship title, Kanke averaged a 2.4 finish position.
After years of go-kart competition and three years of driving NASCAR Late Models at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, twenty-one year old Kevin Callahan of Bakersfield won the 2009 Victory Circle Chassis SRL Rookie-of-the-Year title. Back-to-back second place finishes at Madera and Irwindale on July 4th and 18th propelled Callahan into the Rookie-of-the-Year lead to stay for the remainder of the 2009 season.
“Bob Corsaro gave us the opportunity to drive his car this year…I have to give Bob, my family, our sponsors and the guys a big thanks for everything this year.” stated Callahan. “We built a great team of guys around Bob’s equipment and Mark Reynolds as crew chief…we performed much better than we expected in our rookie season…I also want to thank Victory Circle for their support of the SRL Rookie-of-the-Year award.”
Josh Combs, the 2008 SRL Rookie-of-the-Year won his first career SRL main event in a controversial finish when contact on lap 145 between his #7 Ford and then leader David Mayhew resulted in Mayhew spinning and Combs driving to victory in the “GoLiveStream.TV 154”.
After setting a new track record in qualifying, Combs drew an eight car invert during the pre-race on-track autograph session to put Ellensburg, WA driver Travis Bennett on the pole for the start of the “GoLiveStream.TV 154”.
At the drop of the green, Bennett and outside front row starter Troy Ermish battled for the lead until Bennett solidly took the lead on lap 3. Bennett set the fastest lap of the race on lap 5 (14.946 seconds), he continued to lead at lap 25, followed by Ermish, Jonathon Gomez, last year’s race winner “Bear” Rzesnowiecky, Craig Raudman, Brennan Newberry and Brandon Riehl of Boring, OR.
On lap 45, Bennett’s engine expired in his Bowman’s Electro Painting/Northwest Auto Sales Chevrolet handing the lead to Ermish, now followed by Gomez, Raudman, Rzesnowiecky, Newberry, Combs and Kanke.
As the competition yellow was displayed on lap 77 for a refueling stop, the top 10 where as follows; Ermish, Raudman, Gomez, Rzesnowiecky, Combs, Kanke, Mayhew, Newberry, Kevin Callahan and Jim Pettit II.
The top 10 changed dramatically on lap 82 when contact between Mayhew and Kanke resulted in Kanke spinning into the path of Greg Voigt and Newberry, ending the night for all three drivers.
On lap 90, Raudman dropped off the pace with engine trouble, handing second place back to Gomez, who was making his first career SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series start. Raudman retired from the race two laps later.
Ermish lead the race until lap 118 when Gomez took over, one lap later Mayhew moved into second followed by Ermish, Combs and Jacob Gomes.
On lap 122, the sixteen year old Gomes moved passed Ermish, who was suffering from brake trouble, for fourth position.
After a lap 141 restart, Mayhew put his nose under Gomez to wrestle the position away from the Twin Falls, Idaho driver to take the lead on lap 143, on lap 144 Combs moved into second, the caution came out shortly thereafter.
On the lap 145 restart, Combs put his nose below Mayhew in the center of turns 1 and 2, resulting in contact causing Mayhew to spin.
On the lap 146 restart, it was Combs, Gomez, Gomes, Pettit and Byrd as the laps wound down to the finish.
At the checkers, it was Combs for his first career Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series win, Gomez second, Gomes third, Mayhew crossing the line fourth, but was later disqualified for his actions on the cool down laps when he ran into race winner Combs. Pettit was officially in fourth, followed by Byrd, Jason Gilbert, Mike Mendenhall, Ermish, Justin Westmoreland and Rzesnowiecky rounding out the top ten.
Combs was joined in the winner’s circle by 2009 series champion Kanke and Victory Circle Rookie-of-the-Year, Kevin Callahan. “This was a great way to close the year…I didn’t mean to get into him, we’ll have to see what happened on the tape…Joiner Motorsports, they’re awesome and thanks to my family.” Combs stated during the winner’s presentation.
The 2009 Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series Championship Awards Banquet will be held Saturday afternoon, November 21st at the famous Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.
|Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series|
|1 8 7 Josh Combs MUD-Racing.Net, Country Bear Ford 154 50 $4,000.00 Running|
2 5 22 Jonathon Gomez Century Boatland, Heritage Cattle Co. Chevrolet 154 48 $1,200.00 Running
3 14 16 Jake Gomes Del Osso Family Farm – Pumkinmaze.com Chevrolet 154 46 $1,000.00 Running
4 17 03 Jim Pettit II Golden Gate Petroleum, Moeller Brothers Chevrolet 154 44 $750.00 Running
5 22 04 Dave Byrd Parenting123.info
Chevrolet 154 42 $650.00 Running
6 21 44 Jason Gilbert Gilbert Motorsports, H.U.R. Performance Engines Chevrolet 154 40 $600.00 Running
7 18 10 Mike Mendenhall Racing in Memory of Chris Trickle Chevrolet 154 38 $600.00 Running
8 2 3 Troy Ermish Daybreak Metro Repo Co. Chevrolet 154 36 $600.00 Running
9 20 9 Justin Westmoreland 3M Automotive Aftermarkets Ford 154 34 $525.00 Running
10 7 95 “Bear” Rzesnowiecky Universal Automotive
Machine Chevrolet 153 32 $525.00 Running
11 13 54 Joe Farre’ Sigma Engineering Solutions Chevrolet 153 30 $500.00 Running
12 25 27 Greg Potts Nascimento Motorsports Chevrolet 153 28 $500.00 Running
13 28 24 Scott Sanchez* Diablo Marketing Group, Del Sol Prod. Chevrolet 149 26 $600.00 Running
14 26 38 Jon Wood Cook’s Collision, Willow Creek Stables Chevrolet 133 24 $600.00 Running
15 24 14 Rex Lockwood Prime Time Racing Chevrolet 128 22 $600.00 Running
16 10 28 Kevin Callahan * Bedrosian’s Tile, Guimarra Vineyards Ford 107 20 $600.00 Engine
17 6 2 Craig Raudman Approved Memory, Performance Electrical Chevrolet 92 18 $600.00 Engine
18 3 09 Brennan Newberry Excel Equipment, NTS Motorsports Chevrolet 85 16 $600.00 Accident
19 4 4 Greg Voigt Auto-Pro Racing Engines, JN Designs Chevrolet 82 14 $600.00 Accident
20 11 33 M.K. Kanke Sims Trucking, RPM-PSI Motorsports Chevrolet 81 14 $600.00 Accident
21 16 88 Jamie Dick Viva Auto Group Chevrolet 75 12 $600.00 Mechanical
22 12 36 Kevin Vernon Vernon Enterprises, Jim’s Towing Chevrolet 55 12 $600.00 Mechanical
23 1 52 Travis Bennett Bowman’s Electro Painting, Northwest Auto Sales Chevrolet 46 12 $450.00 Engine
24 27 45 Gail Chase Kadee Installation, Jackson Race Cars Chevrolet 46 12 $600.00 Mechanical
25 15 69 Brandon Riehl Darrell’s Economy Muffler Chevrolet 43 12 $450.00 Over Heating
26 23 6 Shawn Calderwood MP Environmental Services Chevrolet 39 12 $450.00 Mechanical
27 19 84 Eddie Secord Carpenter Tech Engineering Chevrolet 24 12 $600.00 Mechanical
DQ* 17 David Mayhew MMI Services, Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet
* Due to actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing after race had concluded.
Race Leaders: Travis Bennett 1-45, Troy Ermish 46-117, Jonathon Gomez 118-142, David Mayhew 143-144, Josh Combs 145-154
Lead Changes: 5
Winning Margin: 1.509 seconds
Fastest Lap of Race: Travis Bennett 14.946 seconds on lap 5
Time of Race: 1 hour 17 minutes 44 seconds
Fast Qualifier: Josh Combs 14.651 seconds (Track Record)
Five Star Race Bodies Hard Charger Award: Dave Byrd
Ron’s Rear Ends Hard Luck Award: Eddie Secord
Top Victory Circle Rookie-of-the-Year Contender: Kevin Callahan