MADERA, Ca — While the fireworks display in the sky was definetly something to marvel at, it was the incredible racing that lit up the Madera Speedway">Madera Speedway’s track Saturday night, June 30, 2012 in the Firecracker 125 featuring the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series presented by Motor Racing Outreach along with the Legends of the Pacific, LunkerDaddy Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Toyota Sedans, MSTs and 4-Bangers.
"This win makes it a sweet comeback."— Jim Pettit II
Just like the end of the fireworks show, the grand finale of the night on the Speedway’s newly paved track left fans in amazement as SRL driver Jim Pettit II of Prunedale won the 125-lap main in a race that saw the lead change hands twice in the final 10 laps.
It was the first time since April 21 that Pettit and the SRL tour series raced at the Madera Speedway. In his previous race at the “Fastest 1/3 Mile in the West”, Pettit came in second to Frazier Park’s M.K. Kanke after leading most of the latter part of the 22-car race.
“I was leading the last race with four laps to go and the right rear went away that costs us the race,” Pettit said in the winner’s circle. “This win makes it a sweet comeback.”
This time it was points leader and fast time track record holder Derek Thorn of Bakersfield that was the recipient of ill-timed luck as he took the lead with less than six laps remaining before getting caught in lapped traffic that allowed Pettit a chance to reclaim the lead.
“It was just lapped traffic that got us,” Thorn said. “That’s all it was. I’ve won races before where I was in Jim’s shoes, where I got the first place guy over lapped traffic. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”
Thorn broke his previous Madera track qualifying record of 14.009 set back on April 21 with an impressive new time of 13.942. He clearly needed every second of that as other cars appeared to be just as quick including Bakersfield’s Dallas Montes (13.984), Colton’s David Ross (13.988) and Manteca’s Jacob Gomes (14.004), who all passed Thorn’s original record.
“I think we should’ve won tonight, we definitely had the best car,” Thorn said. “We’ve won two out of five races and the first two races we had mechanical problems but the last two races have been flawless. It was just the perfect storm for us to lose the race at the end. Our car was absolutely phenomenal but it wasn’t ours to win this weekend.”
Kanke, who finished third overall, led for the first 25 laps but was closely challenged by Pettit. On Lap 26, it was Pettit that took the lead and, despite eight restarts, held it until lap 119.
Thorn, who started in the ninth position and didn’t reach the top three until Lap 102, took the lead with six laps to go.
From there, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of Pettit’s previous race at the Madera Speedway in which he suffered a heart-breaking second place finish that costs him the $3,000 grand prize.
Though he caught a bad break in his previous race, Pettit was a recipient of good fortune this time around.
“I’m a firm believer in karma,” he said. “If you do things right and to the best of your ability, good things will happen for you and I believe that happened tonight for us.”
With three laps to go, Thorn was momentarily stalled by cars in the back of the race which allowed Pettit to push forward on the way to the checked flag.
“He (Thorn) got a late run and was definitely better than us at the end but I knew once he got into lapped traffic it played into our favor,” Pettit said. “I went in high and I was able to get through.”
Thorn, who’s won two SRL races this season including his latest win in Stockon on June 9, finished second.
“It’s heartbreaking for us, we have a car good enough to win,” he said. “We had to start pretty far back in the field but we were fortunate enough to avoid a lot of accidents that were around us and we were also on the unlucky side of things that quite didn’t go our way but, needless to say, we made it in the two top with 10 laps to go and we got on the leader with five to go but just lapped traffic got in the way there.”
Pettit, who’s the defending series champion and third in points this year, picked up his first win of the season.
“I still felt that we had the best car,” Pettit said. “I’m not making excuses but it’s a new car and only the fifth time we’ve been in a race with it. So it’s a complete different car than what we are used to. We still got to work on it to make the right rear lift because that’s basically what happened at the end. The right rear went away again but this time it just went away with five laps to go and that’s how he got by me.”
Like the SRL race, the Legends of the Pacific saw the leader change with 10 laps left to go as Jeremy Wood won the 35-lap main.
Wood didn’t take the lead until Lap 25 after he passed Robby Czub, who finished second in the race while Darren Amadon took third in the 26-car field.
Johnathan St. Ours, who won the previous race on April 21, led for the first nine laps before Czub bolted out to the lead on the Lap 10 restart.
From there, Czub led before Wood passed him on Lap 25 to get into lead.
Despite three restarts in the final 10 laps, Wood was able to maintain his lead all the way to the finish line.
“We had great forward bite and on the short run, my car was definitely good,” Wood said. “Our last race here, we were fast all weekend but the track rubbered up. We got real tight and we didn’t have any forward bite. All day yesterday, we worked on coming off the corner hard and that’s what I had to do in this race.”
It was an completely successful day for Wood, who also had the top qualifying time of 15.947.
“I love coming out here to Madera, it’s always a great time and they put on a great show,” he said. “They did such a great job of repaving the surface and the track is so smooth now compared to how it used to be. Just the fact that the surface itself is so improved makes for much better racing.”
To add to the competitiveness, Cale Kanke, Buddy Sheperd and Racin Vernon each won an eight-lap Legends heat race.
Prior to the Legends main, there were two driver’s that had to duke it out for a win in the Hobby Stocks division.
It was Nick Silva that edged out Ryan Hart in the 30-lap main. Richard Herzog, who was the last main winner on June 16, came in third place.
Hart, who’s had five runner-up spots this season, seemed bound to get his win as he got out to a fast start and spearheaded the race for the first 20 laps with Herzog and fast time qualifier Frank Mazzei (18.206) tussling for second.
Silva, who got tied up with Shelden Cooper’s car in the beginning of the race, battled all the way back and caught up to Hart with five laps left in the race.
On Lap 21, Silva took the lead and held off Hart in the final lap to pull out the comeback win.
“We had that incident early when the car got spun but to come from the back again and get my first win of 2012 feels really great,” Silva said. “I can’t thank all my sponsors, fans and crew enough.”
Silva, who raced on Chowchilla’s dirt track last season, made his first jump to asphalt racing this season.
“We had to go through and clean all the mud off of it, that was the first thing,” Silva said. “There was a lot of mud tucked up underneath and I got some help from other guys that have run pavement with these type of cars before. It was just getting the right setup like the springs in the car and right tire pressure for it. We came out early in the season with a completely dirt setup on the car and came in third in the main. So then we decided to work on the car and actually set it up for the pavement and it seemed to work really well.”
Just like the Hobby Stocks, the 4-Bangers also had a battle for first in its 15-lap main with Tyler Johnson claiming the race.
Johnson ran his win streak to five while Mitch Pasquale, who won the second race of the season, took second in his return.
“Today was a really good win to earn,” Johnson said. “Just to have a slightly larger field than before was a lot more fun and a better race. It looked like it was a good show for the fans. I was just glad to come out on top.”
Johnson, who had the fast qualifying time, hasn’t missed a race all season and is in the running for the championship.
“Just had to be consistent and smooth, stay up front and know where to be at the right time,” Johnson said of his winning streak. “With my experience, I’ve learned it’s not always to be the fastest car out there, it’s the most consistent. If you’re going to run a 19.7 then run a 20-second lap, you’re not going beat someone that runs 19.8 two laps in the row.”
Two driver’s that picked up their third main wins of the third season were Tony Schmitz in the LunkerDaddy Late Models division and Jarred Tickel in the Toyota Sedans class.
Schmitz won the 30-lap main while Ray Mayer took second and last week’s winner Aaron Mullins finished third.
Tickel won the 20-lap main while Del McIntosh finished second in front of top qualifier Bud Tickel, who was coming off a June 16 victory.
John McCollum Sr. earned his first victory of the season while his son, John, took second while Kevin Thompson’s winning streak ended at four.
The Madera Speedway returns to action Saturday, July 7, 2012 on Pacific Mobile Night as the local classes compete featuring the LunkerDaddy Late Models, Hobby Stocks, Toyota Sedans, MSTs and 4-Bangers.
SRL — 125 Laps
Donny St. Ours
Legends — 35
Johnathan St. Ours
Tony Mangini">Tony Mangini
LunkerDaddy Late Model — 30 Laps
Hobby Stock — 25 Laps
Larry Pasquale Jr.
Toyota Sedans — 20 Laps
Donnie Large Jr.
MST — 15
John McCollum Sr.
John McCollum Jr.
Heat Race — 8 Laps
Legends — Heat 1
Legends — Heat 2
Johnathan St. Ours
Legends — Heat 3
Qualifying — 2 Laps
Derek Thorn 13.942
Dallas Montes 13.984
David Ross 13.988
Greg Voigt 14.004
Jacob Gomes 14.012
Jim Pettit II 14.027
Dave Byrd 14.057
Zane Lovelace 14.076
M.K. Kanke 14.092
Donny St. Ours 14.133
Jason Gilbert 14.135
Carlos Vieira 14.161
Ross Strmiska 14.189
Justin Westmoreland 14.191
Jared Vorse 14.202
Colby Potts 14.235
Michael Sandoval 14.290
Kenny Smith 14.344
Keith Spangler 14.351
Ken Benhamou 14.399
Jeff Oleen 14.427
Tim Smith 14.441
Jeremy Wood 15.947
Ryan Carsdale 16.106
Darren Amadon 16.126
Danny Allen 16.204
Zane Smith 16.212
James Bickford 16.226
Logan Zampa 16.271
Cale Kanke 16.277
Johnathan St. Ours 16.280
Robby Czub 16.310
Tony Mangini 16.350
Lacie Price 16.402
Christian McGhee 16.432
Blaine Perkins 16.471
Parker Malone 16.478
Dylan Albiani 16.480
Buddy Sheperd 14.498
Ricky Schlick 16.513
Brandon Weaver 16.518
Michael Womack 16.566
Mike Lovas 16.672
Keith Clement 16.881
Brian Mallin 16.951
Bob Kuebler 17.125
Racin Vernon 17.153
Joe Leduc 17.236
Frank Mazzei 18.206
Nick Silva 18.249
Richard Herzog 18.389
Shelden Cooper 18.663
Ryan Hart 18.673
Don Selsor 18.864
Howard Holden 19.589
Larry Pasquale Jr. 19.971
John McCollum Jr. 16.813
Kevin Thompson 16.821
John McCollum Sr. 17.183
Bud Tickel 17.856
Jarred Tickel 17.911
Del McIntosh 18.042
Donnie Large Jr. 18.214
Don Davey 18.219
Kyle Fortney 18.292
Tim Curtis 18.661
Tyler Johnson 19.506
Mitch Pasquale 19.565
Nastasia Dodd 19.743
Brandon Wenzel 20.133