Byron Pleases Crowd As Terrell and Schank Jr. Add To Title Hopes
Cool temperatures and a smooth fast track met with approval on Jake’s Performance Hobbies Night at Petaluma Speedway Saturday Night and history was made as sophomore modified driver Michelle Byron became the first ever female winner in the Carr Racing Chassis IMCA Modified Division. The preliminary modified heat races were captured by veterans Michael Paul Sr. and Joel Myers. The 25-lap feature saw the dozen car field zoom into turn 1 with Paul Sr. gaining the initial advantage. Lap 3 saw point leader and defending champion Michael Paul Jr. leave the track with mechanical gremlins. On the restart Myers having one his best night of the year storm by Paul Sr. and pace the field. Moving to 3rd was Byron as the driver on the move from the back of the pack was Oreste Gonnella who shot from 11th to sixth. By lap 8 Paul Sr’s mount was stumbling and retired. Lap 10 saw the same thing occur to Myers. By the 11th circuit Byron found herself leading with Chris Sieweke shadowing closely. Gonnella at this point got to fourth with a couple of single car spin cautions keeping the field bunched. The anticipated restarts kept the full grandstand on the edge of their seats. The last 8 laps saw Byron expertly hit her marks and net her first career victory. Gonnella orchestrated a do-or-die last lap high side effort to steal second from Sieweke. Don Camili and Norman Boeck rounded out the top five.
The Pit Stop USA Winged 360’s saw 14 cars qualify with Sebastapol’s Geoff Ensign timing in quickest with a 13.170 effort. Chase Johnson and Zack Lynskey won the eight lap preliminary heat races. The 25-lap feature saw Ensign and point leader Bradley Terrell both anticipating the start from the front row and Ensign victorious into turn one. The lead was short lived as three cars were involved necessitating a red flag. Turning over was Jake Haulot, with Ivan Worden and Art McCarthy suffering damage. The restart caught Terrell with a motor stumble and saw him sink to third. The first three laps saw Ensign leading over Alissa Geving, then Terrell, and Johnson. With his potent V-8 now cleared up Terrell passed Geving and Ensign on consecutive laps. Lap 7 saw Trevor Schmid flip in turn three but exit his mount with no injuries. Lap 10 found Geving ease by Ensign for the runner-up spot and lap 13 saw Johnson pass Ensign for third. A lap 22 Marissa Pollizzi spin set up a three lap shoot-out. Terrell answered the late caution restart professionally and netted his second win of the year over Geving, Johnson, Ensign, and Shawn Arriaga.
The companion Pit Stop USA Spec Sprint Series saw 15 wingless competitors sign in and Sparky Howard netting fast time with a 14.890. Heat wins were captured by Terry Schank Jr., visiting Tim Barber, and Jason McIntosh. The main event saw Howard and McIntosh line up on the front row with Howard seeking his third straight victory. Schank Jr. who lined up fourth acted like he was shot out of a cannon and had the lead by the third turn of the first lap. Action was slowed on the 7th lap for the mother of all bicycles by Nick McMichael. Lap 8 saw McIntosh get into Howard as he washed up the track slightly. Lap 12 saw the yellow fly for a stalled Scott Dupont. Through the segments of green and cautions Geoff Ensign doing double duty from 12th starting was steadily displacing cars and saw him grab third by lap 14. For 17 laps it was Zack Lynskey hounding Schank Jr. through lapped traffic. On lap 18 Ensign made a risky move and got into Lynskey causing him to spin and collecting McIntosh. The seven lap sprint to the finish saw Dupont make a valiant charge from the back as Ensign trailed Schank Jr. by a scant half second at the finish. Third in a poised effort was Gentleman Jeff Lee, over Dupont and rookie of the year contender Bradley Clark.
The Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks Division saw championship contender’s Mike Learn and Steve Studebaker each capture heat wins and challenge each other all feature long. Lap 8 of the finale saw heavy contact eliminate Shane Brandon, Paul Hanley, and Larry Drew from action. The restart put the battling #46 and #11h side-by-side at the front of the pack. Shawn McCoy felt racy as he passed Gary Adams and Anthony Matthias to get to fourth. Brent Blackwood spun on lap 12 which closed the pack up for the stretch run to the finish. Good hard-nosed racing was to be witnessed as Learn earned his second feature win of the year over a closely hounding Studebaker, McCoy, Dean DeVolder, and Anthony Matthias.
The buzz-bomb Mini Stocks had 13 cars sign in and saw Eden McComick and John Clark chalk the heat race wins. The 20-lap feature saw the first 8 laps Pete Langley lead a fast freight train of: John Clark, Josh Williams, and John Veeninga. With a bold restart Clark made on outside pass of Langley stick and slowly inch away from the field. Lap 18 however saw another heartbreaking mechanical malfunction side line Clark and handed the win to Langley over Veeninga, Snazzy Duckworth, Williams, and Scott Nelson.
Petaluma Speedway will return to action this Saturday Night July 20th featuring the Pit Stop USA Winged 360’s, Carr Racing Chassis Modifieds, Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks, Larsen Racing Products Late Models, and Mini Stock Divisions. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.