By: Gary Jacob, Josh Williams and Ron Rodda|
Where: Bakersfield, CA
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Bakersfield, CA -- Rebounding from a crash the previous night in Tulare, Jason Meyers from Fresno drove underneath Jason Statler exiting turn 4 on lap 18 and won the 40 lap Thanksgiving Classic for winged 410 sprint cars promoted at Bakersfield Speedway by Jim Smith. The victory paid $10,000 and Statler ran second in the yellow flag free race. The teams fought extreme dry slick track conditions on the 1/3 mile clay oval and everyone was hugging the bottom groove. Statler and Peter Murphy held the front row at the start and Murphy finished third ahead of Brent Kaeding and WoO racer Joey Saldana. A breakdown in communication between the scorers and the flagman saw the scheduled 30 lap California Lightning Sprint feature go nearly 40 rounds with Ontario’s Keith Janca picking off his first career win. Central California’s Doug Hunting ran second ahead of Darren Hagen and Gary Sexton.
The 410 sprint car turnout was 30 cars and Iowa’s Dennis Moore Jr paced time trials with a 11.801 lap that just nipped the 11.804 turned in by WoO star Danny Lasoski. Tim Kaeding was third quick at 11.976 and Saldana was the final 11 second qualifier at 11.993. Time trial expert Blake Robertson ranked fifth with his 12.106 effort. The heat action used invert 6 starts and each of the four heat advanced the top four finishers into the 40 lap A Main. Kevin Pylant won heat 1 ahead of Danny Faria Jr and Moore. Invaders Lasoski and Statler were 1-2 in heat 2 ahead of Washington’s Jason Solwold. The third heat was a Kaeding affair with Brent winning ahead of son Tim with Murphy third. Canada’s Tony Lutar won heat 4 ahead of Davey Key and Meyers. The final 6 A Main slots were determined in the B Main with Saldana winning ahead of Mike Faria, Robertson, Brian Coelho, Chad Riolo and Andy Forsberg.
The 40 lap feature with 22 starters had an 8 car inversion that put Murphy and Statler on the front row. Statler jumped out front with Meyers quickly dropping to the bottom groove from his 4th starting spot to claim second. Murphy settled into third ahead of B Kaeding and T Kaeding. Moore used a rare outside pass in turn 4 to take fifth early in the race. T Kaeding reclaimed the spot one lap later only to get passed on the outside by Saldana. That proved to be the final outside groove pass among the leaders. Both Moore and T Kaeding tried to make an outside line work, but lost spots in the process. There was only one position change in the top five over the final 35 rounds. That was Meyers move into the lead when Statler ventured slightly off the bottom groove on lap 18. Murphy ran third ahead of B Kaeding, Saldana, Lasoski, Robertson, Moore, T Kaeding and M Faria.
This end of the season race is always very popular with the California Lightning Sprints as the 36 car turnout included drivers from both ends of California and a few out of state teams. Northern California’s Don VanDyke was quickest at 13.394. They used a five heat format with each advancing just the top 3 into their A Main. VanDyke won the first heat ahead of Brent Sexton and G Sexton. Bakersfield’s own Wink Schweitzer won the 2nd heat ahead of Ryan Silva and Hunting. Utah’s Brady Swertfeger won the 3rd heat with Shannon Adams second ahead of Gary Carlton. Scott Kinney came from the 2nd row to win heat 4 over Darren Hagen and Paul Townsend. Janca previewed his feature win with a victory in the fifth heat ahead of Jesse Dean and Karl Benefeil. Washington’s Jason Bloodgood flipped in the heat action. The B Main moved the top five into the scheduled 30 lap A Main and Visalia’s Greg Bragg won ahead of Mike Barnette, Adam Tjelmeland, Sam Corso and Lopez. In previous years, B Sexton has had success in these Thanksgiving weekend specials, but his car wouldn’t fire at the start of tonight’s A Main. Janca took an early lead ahead of VanDyke, but VanDyke retired on the 2nd lap. Hagen moved into second ahead of Hunting. Silva leaped from 10th starting to fourth in just 2 laps. Once the leaders hitted lapped traffic, Hagen began to pressure leader Janca. Contact between the two leaders sent Janca into the front wall and Hagen emerged with the lead. G Sexton got by Silva for fourth and the only caution of the race came on lap 22 when several cars tangled on the backstretch. During the caution, Hagen was set back to third for rough driving in the front stretch incident. Janca regained the lead and actually ran away from the field over the final rounds of the extended race. Bragg came from the 8th row to take fifth on lap 25. The excited Janca won ahead of Hunting, Hagen, G Sexton, Bragg, Schweitzer, Silva, Swertfeger, Carlton and Townsend.
Summary Lightning Sprint Fast Time-Don VanDyke 13.394 Heat 1-Don Van Dyke, Brent Sexton, Gary Sexton. Heat 2-Wink Schweitzer, Ryan Silva, Doug Hunting. Heat 3-Brady Swertfeger, Shannon Adams, Gary Carlton. Heat 4-Scott Kinney, Darren Hagen, Paul Townsend. Heat 5-Keith Janca, Jesse Dean, Karl Benefeil. B Main-Greg Bragg, Mike Barnette, Adam Tjelmeland, Sam Corso, Lonnie Lopez. A Main-Janca, Hunting, Hagen, G Sexton, Bragg, Schweitzer, Silva, Swertfeger, Carlton, Townsend, Barnette, Adams, Corso, Benefeil, Dean, Tyler Franklin, Kinney, Lopez, Tjelmeland, VanDyke. Winged 410 Sprint Car Fast Time-Dennis Moore Jr 11.801 Heat 1-Kevin Pylant, Danny Faria Jr, Moore, Stan Yockey, Blake Robertson. Heat 2-Danny Lasoski, Jason Statler, Jason Solwold, Robby Tarlton, Mike Faria. Heat 3-Brent Kaeding, Tim Kaeding, Peter Murphy, Roger Crockett, Chad Riolo. Heat 4-Tony Lutar, Davey Key, Jason Meyers, Jason York, Joey Saldana. B Main-Saldana, M Faria, Robertson, Brian Coelho, Riolo, Andy Forsberg, Mike Dunham, Mike Quigley, Tony Sousa, Ricci Faria, Steve Cushman, Greg Sherman. A Main-Meyers, Statler, Murphy, B Kaeding, Saldana, Lasoski, Robertson, Moore, T Kaeding, M Faria, Solwold, Coelho, Tarlton, Pylant, Yockey, D Faria Jr.
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