Speedway winning streaks stay alive

 

Next to winning a race or capturing a track championship one of the most difficult obstacles in racing is to mount a multi-race winning streak, which has no formula available other than rigorous preparation and a solid dose of good luck. Currently, there are two red-hot drivers at Petaluma Speedway riding the crest of notable winning streaks, Mike Learn, who has won four consecutive main events in the Lumberjack Restaurants Super Stock division, and Geoff Ensign, a three-peat feature winner in the Pit Stop USA Wingless Sprint Cars.

 Veteran driver Learn, in his first year as a Super Stock competitor, has been enjoying a dream season since the green flag first dropped in April. The Petaluma resident won the first three feature races then “slipped” to second a place finish before starting a new streak that stretched to four straight following his toughest test of the season on Saturday night.

Learn had his work cut out for him in his quest to extend his winning streak to four as another Petaluma driver, “Cannonball” David Spriggs, launched out of the front row with perfection and led the 13-car contingent for 13 thrilling laps with Learn in hot pursuit until Spriggs’s  only miscue of the race, a slight push in Turn 3, allowed Learn the room he needed to get underneath the race leader and take charge.

As he has all season, Learn drove flawlessly over the final 10 laps in route to his seventh triumph in eight races with “I had a blast” Spriggs finishing second for the third time this year. Anthony Matthias, who took third place away from Michelle Byron on Lap 12 then had his hands full holding her off the rest of the way, finished just .011 seconds ahead of the fourth finishing distaff driver. Ninth-starting Steve Studebaker finished fifth.   

Learn’s four-race victory streak ties the division’s second-longest mark, reached twice in 2005 by Mikol Westling and again in 2006 by Woody Woodward. The record is six straight, established in 2007 by Dean DeVolder.

An old sage reportedly once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” That’s what Zack Lynskey did on Lap 13 while leading the wingless sprint car feature and that’s what runner-up Geoff Ensign also did. In their case the “fork” was actually a soon-to-be-lapped car the frontrunners came upon in the middle of the track. Lynskey chose to go around the lapper while Ensign picked the shorter route and dived to the bottom, as did third-running Joe Stornetta, and both of them emerged in front of Lynskey.

While there was no holding back the speedy Ensign as he charged towards the checkered flag, Stornetta and Lynskey battled down to the wire before Lynskey nipped the division’s points leader by .024 seconds to claim second place. Stornetta, Sparky Howard, and fast qualifier Terry Schank Jr. rounded out the top five.

A tremendous racing dual between Santa Rosa driver Anthony Restad and Petaluma’s Nick Perivolaris added spark to the powerful Late Model division’s 25-lap feature despite a disappointing seven-entry car count.

Restad, who was gunning for his second straight victory, was in top form as he shot into the lead from the front row with second row starter Perivolaris on his tail determined to catch him. The two combatants were nearly inseparable for the initial seven laps until Perivolaris, in his first appearance of the season, attempted to get underneath Restad as they charged into Turn 1 on Lap 8. Momentum carried Perivolaris’ car into the side of Restad’s and the two briefly scraped together before Perivolaris came away with the lead.

With the all-out precision that only the Late Models provide, Perivolaris and Restad stood on the gas for the next 13 laps as Restad steadfastly attempted to catch and pass the race leader. On the 20th circuit, Restad nearly pulled even with Perivolaris in Turn 3 and the two warriors again bumped side panels which sent Perivolaris towards the infield. He recovered in time to retain the lead and on the next lap Restad came to a stop and departed the race.

Following Perivolaris’ first victory since 2009 there was a bit of finger pointing as to what triggered the earlier paint scraping with Restad feeling that he was carelessly bumped. Perivolaris dismissed any suggestion that he deliberately shoved Restad towards the crash wall by explaining, “It was a very fast track and we all were doing the best we could.”

Rounding out the finish behind Perivolaris’ 10th career victory was runner-up Jeff Decker, followed by Steve Johnson, Richard Papenhausen, Restad, heat winner John Silva, and Rod Arnold.

In the Carr Racing Chassis Dirt Modifieds double-duty driver Richard Papenhausen unseated race leader Oreste Gonella on Lap 13 and from that point on the race became a two-car battle that weaved through lapped traffic to the finish with Papenhausen prevailing for his division-leading fourth victory of the season. Michael Paul Jr. finished third, more than 12 seconds behind the winner, with Tommy Bottini and Chris Sieweke rounding out the finish.

Brian Corso paced an 11-car contingent of Bay Cities Racing Association Midget Lites with a dominating and impressive flag-to-flag victory for his first victory of the 2012 campaign. Joey Hoover placed second, Craig Dillard was third, Dakota Albright fourth, and Ric Johnson fifth.

Results for July 14

WINGLESS SPRINT CARS

Fast time—Terry Schank Jr. 15.391.

Heat 1—Schank; Joe Stornetta; Dustin Baxter; Scott Hall; Scotty Dupont; Bill Cornwell; Bill Hopper.

Heat 2—Zack Lynskey; Sparky Howard; Geoff Ensign; Klint Simpson; Trevor Schmid; Bret Barney.

Main—Ensign; Lynskey; Stornetta; Howard; Schank; Baxter; Simpson; Hall; Cornwell; Schmid; Dupont; Barney; Hopper.

LATE MODELS

Heat 1—John Silva; Steve Johnson; Nick Perivolaris; Jeff Decker; Anthony Restad; Rod Arnold; Richard Papenhausen.

Main—Perivolaris; Decker; Johnson; Papenhausen; Restad; Silva; Arnold.

DIRT MODIFIED

Heat 1—Chris Sieweke; Joel Myers; Oreste Gonella; Tommy Bottini; Paul Anderson.

Heat 2—Michael Paul Jr.; Richard Papenhausen; Norman Beck; David Lindt II; Chris Compton.

Main—Papenhausen; Gonella; Paul; Bottini; Sieweke; Compton; Lindt; Anderson; Myers; Beck.

SUPER STOCK

Heat 1—Mike Learn; David Spriggs; Anthony Matthias; Paul Hanley; Steve Studebaker; Shawn McCoy; Shane Brandon.

Heat 2—Gary Adams; Michael Drew; Michelle Byron; Nathan Schleth; Trevor Brady; Roger Miller.

Main—Learn; Spriggs; Matthias; Byron; Studebaker; McCoy; Drew; Brady; Adams; Schleth; Miller; Brandon; Hanley.

BCRA MIDGET LITES

Heat 1—Craig  Holsted; Craig Dillard; Ric Johnson; Rick Soto; Richie Hoover; Marcus Smith.

Heat 2—Scott Kinney; Brian Corso; Joey Hoover; Dakota Albright; Howard West.

Main—Corso; J. Hoover; Dillard; Albright; Johnson; Holsted; West; Soto; Kinney; Roy Moody; Smith. R. Hoover DNS.