“Melo’s Gas and Gear 151 presented by 51 FIFTY Energy Drink”admin
BAKERSFIELD, CA – The season opener is always filled with drama, but as the 2013 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series opener approached the drama was already at a high level. Madera Speedway had resurfaced the track, which lead to much uncertainty, a big group of rookie contenders and a big field created a lot of anticipation leading up to Saturday’s “Melo’s Gas and Gear 151 presented by 51 FIFTY Energy Drink”. But as the laps wound down in the 151 lap event, it was defending series champ Derek Thorn holding off 2012 championship runner up Jim Pettit II for the win.
“This car is phenomenal and it’s great to start off the season like this,” Thorn said after the race in the winner’s circle. “I was able to make a move early to get around him (Pettit) and that played a key in allowing me to set my pace.”
“He’s always competitive,” Thorn said of Pettit. “We raced against each other all of last year so we know each other’s driving styles pretty well.”
During qualifying, fifteen drivers qualified under the previous track record of 13.94 seconds set by Thorn in June of last year. After fourteen of twenty-five cars that qualified eclipsed Thorn’s record, Pettit was the final driver to qualify, and set the new mark of 13.482 seconds. Pettit drew a seven for the starting line up invert.
At the drop of the green it was M.K. Kanke into the lead followed closely by rookie contender Austin Barnes, Jacob Gomes, Ross Strmiska and Zane Lovelace. Pettit was sixth, Thorn seventh.
A lap nine caution due to Greg Voigt and Mike Mendenhall spinning down the front straight still had Kanke in the lead, Barnes in second, Gomes, Lovelace and Pettit up to fifth. Five laps later the second caution of the night flew for a spinning Michael Sandoval.
At lap 22 the caution was out for a stalled Bobby Hodges. The top five remained unchanged, with Thorn in sixth, followed by Jason Gilbert, Strmiska, Donny St. Ours and Eddie Secord in tenth.
Back to green the field ran nose to tail, with the top eight running single file, until a lap 34 move by Thorn on the outside of Pettit, for fifth. Thorn continued his march in the high groove where he arrived on Kanke’s bumper in second by lap 38, as the leader was reaching lapped traffic.
The caution flew on lap 39 for David Ross as his MAVTV #57 bellowed smoke from the rear end. The top five was Kanke, Thorn, Barnes, Pettit and Gomes.
On the restart, Pettit moved passed Barnes for third. Lovelace and Gomes were racing for position, and Strmiska and Eddie Secord were battling side by side for eighth. Pettit was pressuring Thorn for second, then Thorn made his move high on Kanke for the lead, followed closely by Pettit.
At the halfway point of the race, Thorn and Pettit were out front running nose to tail. Kanke maintained third, Strmiska was up to fourth, Keith Spangler was fifth, followed by; Lovelace, Gilbert, Brandon Loverock, Carlos Vieira, and Colby Potts in tenth.
On lap 92 Spangler, Lovelace and Dave Byrd were involved in a front straight away incident, which brought out the eighth caution of the race.
At lap 100 Pettit was right with Thorn up front, Mendenhall moved passed Vieira for fifth and Gilbert was pressuring Kanke for third. A few laps later Mendenhall was forced to pit with a flat tire.
With 25 to go the yellow was out again for oil from the #9 Ford of Justin Westmoreland.
Back to green, there were multiple battles within the top 10. With ten to go, Potts was up to fifth, Vieira sixth, Gomes seventh, Loverock then Ken Benhamou.
The leaders were working traffic as the laps wound down. At the checkers it was Thorn for his twelfth career SPEARS Southwest Tour Series win, he is now tied with Pettit for all-time SPEARS Southwest Tour Series victories.
Pettit crossed the line .644 seconds behind Thorn. Gilbert was third, followed by Kanke, Potts in fifth, Vieira sixth, Loverock seventh, Gomes eighth, Benhamou ninth, and Scott Sanchez tenth.
In the ‘SRL S2 Tour Series’ twin main events, Kenny Smith won the first 25-lap feature, and Trevor Huddleston was victorious in the second.
Donny St. Ours was declared the winner of the Legends of the Pacific/SRL Legends Tour main event, after Brent Scheidemantle did not pass post race inspection.
The next race for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is Saturday, April 6th at Stockton 99 Speedway.
|Pos||Start Pos||No.||Name||Laps||Diff||Gap||Best Tm||In Lap||Points||Total Tm||Comment|
|1||6||43||Derek Thorn||151||13.994||96||180||1:20:43.704||Running, $3,000|
|2||7||18||Jim Pettitt II||151||0.644||0.644||14.014||96||170||1:20:44.348||Running, $1,500|
|3||8||88||Jason Gilbert||151||9.873||9.229||14.199||4||165||1:20:53.577||Running, $1,250|
|4||1||33||M. K. Kanke||151||12.580||2.707||14.237||61||160||1:20:56.284||Running, $1,000|
|5||16||12||Colby Potts * YG||150||1 Lap||1 Lap||14.342||4||155||1:20:46.718||Running, $850|
|6||15||51||Carlos Vieira||150||1 Lap||6.200||14.415||27||150||1:20:52.918||Running, $650|
|7||13||25||Brandon Loverock *||150||1 Lap||5.699||14.256||55||146||1:20:58.617||Running, $575|
|8||3||16||Jacob Gomes YG||149||2 Laps||1 Lap||14.227||7||142||1:20:42.278||Running, $550|
|9||19||73||Ken Benhamou||149||2 Laps||2.601||14.406||27||138||1:20:44.879||Running, $525|
|10||21||24||Scott Sanchez||149||2 Laps||3.941||14.430||7||134||1:20:48.820||Running, $525|
|11||9||29||Greg Voigt||149||2 Laps||6.612||14.418||7||130||1:20:55.432||Running, $500|
|12||17||5||Michael Sandoval YG||148||3 Laps||1 Lap||14.520||7||127||1:20:45.486||Running, $500|
|13||11||89||Bobby Hodges * YG||148||3 Laps||19.047||14.277||13||124||1:21:04.533||Running, $500|
|14||24||75||Jeremy Doss * YG||147||4 Laps||1 Lap||14.604||6||121||1:20:52.826||Running, $500|
|15||22||10||Mike Mendenhall||144||7 Laps||3 Laps||14.462||12||118||1:20:47.244||Running, $500|
|16||5||46||Zane Lovelace||133||18 Laps||11 Laps||14.215||7||115||1:20:57.163||Running, $500|
|17||23||9||Justin Westmoreland||126||25 Laps||7 Laps||14.511||15||112||1:09:13.867||Rear End, $500|
|18||14||1||Donny St. Ours * YG||122||29 Laps||4 Laps||14.210||4||109||1:20:55.112||Running, $500|
|19||4||90||Ross Strmiska||109||42 Laps||13 Laps||14.230||53||106||1:02:28.907||Mechanical, $500|
|20||12||37||Keith Spangler||92||59 Laps||17 Laps||14.209||3||103||53:48.756||Accident, $500|
|21||25||0||Dave Byrd||89||62 Laps||3 Laps||14.513||5||100||54:01.154||Accident, $450|
|22||2||61||Austin Barnes * YG||68||83 Laps||21 Laps||14.168||6||97||1:20:49.524||Running, $450|
|23||10||84||Eddie Secord||65||86 Laps||3 Laps||14.255||13||94||46:00.989||Mechanical, $450|
|24||26||66||Jeff Bischofberger *||56||95 Laps||9 Laps||14.441||56||91||38:57.109||Mechanical, $450|
|25||18||57||David Ross||39||112 Laps||17 Laps||14.462||2||88||15:06.707||Engine, $450|
|26||20||22||Jonathon Gomez||27||124 Laps||12 Laps||14.372||7||85||34:56.639||Suspension, $450|
|DNS||0||19||Brandon White * YG||DNS||0||0||Practice Accident|
|DNS||0||94||Tom Haffer *||DNS||0||0||Engine Problems|