PETALUMA, CA, April 28—With the laps winding down and the intensity rising in Saturday night’s California Civil War Series main event at Petaluma Speedway all eyes were on race leader Brett Rollag of Rohnert Park and his closest challenger Kyle Hirst of Elk Grove. Rollag had been in command since the start but as race fans know when the leader gets into lapped traffic near the end of a race there’s often more pressure on him than on the second place car.
With Hirst tracking him like a laser guided missile, Rollag avoided trouble by deftly maneuvering through traffic until the race ended abruptly because of a crash behind the frontrunners one lap short of its scheduled 30 laps to earn the “Rohnert Park Express” his first ever Civil War feature win.
“I’m worn out, that was a grueling effort,” said Rollag, after outlasting Hirst and a stellar field of 22 of Northern California’s best Sprint Car drivers. The victory topped a personal best of two previous second place finishes in Civil War competition for the 24-year-old Rohnert Park driver.
“He did a great job,” said runner-up Hirst. “I was hoping he’d bobble. I was there to pounce if he did.”
Thirty-four Sprint Cars answered the call for what turned out to be the first race of the season for the winged Hoosier Tire California Civil War 360 Sprint Car Series that competes at seven Northern California dirt tracks in 2012 and returns for race dates at Petaluma Speedway in July and September.
Fast-qualifier Herman Klein (13.080) of Sacramento, a fifth place finisher in his heat, had to fight his way back to the feature through the B-main, which he did in lightening fashion by leading the 17-car B-main field the entire 12-lap distance and clocking a sizzling 12.599-second lap around Petaluma’s three-eighths-mile clay oval. Transferring to the feature race from the B-main along with Klein were Cole Wood, Sean Becker, Adam McCarthy, Trent Canales, and Koen Shaw.
Several crashes at the start of the A-main, proved disappointing for second-fast qualifier Billy Butler of Sacramento and Shawn Wright of Lodi, whose night ended just after the green flag dropped. When the race finally got rolling Rollag jumped ahead of Stephen Allard, pole-sitter Richard Bailey and Hirst. Hirst took third place on Lap 11 and grabbed the second spot on Lap 21 as Rollag set the pace.
Green flag racing was the order of the night as just two caution flags, on Laps 3 and 12, interrupted the flow until Lap 29 when defending Civil War Series champion Andy Forsberg, who started 10th and was running fourth when a steering mechanism broke sending his car into he wall and terminating the event.
Following in order behind Rollag and Hirst were third place finisher Bailey, followed by Klein, Justin Sanders, Allard, Chase Johnson, 13th starting Sean Becker, Colby Wiesz, and Greg DeCaires.
Heat race victories went to Hirst, DeCaires, David Lindt Jr., and Jeremy Burt.
In the accompanying PitStopUSA.com Wingless Sprint Car Series, Napa driver Joe Stornetta, who captured his first ever feature race win just a week ago, continued his hot streak with a repeat win in the 20-lap wingless feature.
The 17-year-old fourth-generation driver grabbed the lead from Scotty Dupont on Lap 2 and never looked back as Nick Larsen, heat winner Zack Lynskey, Dupont and fast-qualifier and heat winner Scott Hall gave chase. Rounding out the finish were Bob Newberry, Marcus Hardina, Bill Cornwell, Trevor Schmid, and in her first time in a wingless sprint car, Alissa Geving.
“My confidence really shot up after that first win,” noted Stornetta, who leads the point standings after his pair a victories and a third place finish in three races this season. Hall has three fifth-place finishes in three races.
Results for April 28
CIVIL WAR SERIES
360 SPRINT CARS
Fast time—Herman Klein 13.080.
Heat 1—David Lindt Jr.; Shawn Wright; Mason Moore; Brett Rollag; Klein; Garry Burdick; Cole Wood; Geoff Ensign; Jimmy Steward.
Heat 2—Greg DeCaires; Justin Sanders; Billy Butler; Richard Bailey; Jim Richardson; Jake Haulot; Adrien Betournay; Adam McCarthy.
Heat 3—Jeremy Burt; Bradley Terrell; Colby Weisz; Chase Johnson; Kirk Simpson; Trent Canales; Kenny Drew; Mark Beck.
Heat 4—Kyle Hirst; Robert Stice; Andy Forsberg; Stephen Allard; Sean Becker; Matthew Haulot; Koen Shaw; Jason Toft.
B-Main—Klein; Wood; Becker; McCarthy; Canales; Shaw; Richardson; Ensign; M. Haulot; Burdick; Steward; Simpson; J. Haulot; Toft; Drew; Betournay; Beck.
A Main—Rollag; Hirst; Bailey; Klein; Sanders; Allard; Johnson; Becker; Weisz; DeCaires; Lindt; Terrell; Burt; Forsberg; Stice; Canales; Shaw; McCarthy; Wood; Moore; Wright; Butler.
WINGLESS SPRINT CARS
Fast time—Scott Hall 15.225.
Heat 1—Hall; Scotty Dupont; Bob Newberry; Bill Cornwell; Trevor Schmid.
Heat 2—Zack Lynskey; Joe Stornetta; Nick Larsen; Alissa Geving; Marcus Hardina.
Main—Stornetta; Larsen; Lynskey; Dupont; Hall; Newberry; Hardina; Cornwell; Schmid; Geving.