Slack, Gonnella, Ensign Have the 'Know How' on NAPA Night
~~PETALUMA, CA, June 7— Warm sunny conditions saw Petaluma Speedway feature a heavy cushion on NAPA Auto Parts Night. Rapid Herman Klein wheeling the Josh Bates Sport Clips #42 started the night off with a fast time effort of 13.248 in the Pit Stop USA Winged 360 Division. Grass Valley’s Jeremy Burt and Oakley’s Chris Magoon captured the 8-lap preliminary heats. The 25-lap feature witnessed Burt and Joe Stornetta lead the 14-car field to the green. Burt held the initial advantage as eyes focused on Geoff Ensign as he catapulted from 8th starting spot to third on the opening circuit. Ensign then maneuvered smartly around Stornetta and Burt for the lead on lap three. Also making up spots was Klein who started 6th but took over third on the fourth lap, and the runner-up position on the fifth. On the 9th stanza visiting Jeremy Phillips flopped over on his side after brief contact. The final 16 laps were run non-stop as Ensign continued his early season domination by winning his 5th feature in a row over Klein, an emotionally charged Stornetta was third in the Mary Lee Lathrop Special, fourth was consistent Jake Haulot, with Burt rounded out the top five.
For the second week in a row Colton Slack out-paced the 18-car Pit Stop USA Spec Sprint field with a swift 15.075. The trio of heat races were garnered by Slack, Shane Myhre, and veteran Sparky Howard. The 25-lap finale saw Howard jump to the early lead from his pole starting spot. Klint Simpson in only his second start of the season passed four cars riding the rim to gain second by the third lap. Simultaneously Slack passed Howard to assume the point. A pair of Cody Spencer spins eliminated the Finkenbinder #3F on lap 13. Back to green saw Jason McIntosh start one of his patented marches through the pack as he entered the top five on lap 14. Four laps later the equally patented disappointment reared its head as the #33 McIntosh entry pulled up lame. The final five laps saw Terry Schank Jr. initiate his customary late race charge. It was smooth sailing to the checkers for Slack as he claimed the rare sweep of quick time, heat race, and feature triumphs. Second was an impressive Simpson over Gary Nelson Jr., Howard, and Schank.
The Carr Racing Chassis IMCA Modified’s put on a fantastic performance as Brian Azevedo and defending track champion Oreste Gonnella copped the heats. Michelle Byron blasted away from the pack to lead the first three rotations. Quick Nick DeCarlo, winner of the first three modified events this season overtook Byron on lap four. Gonnella started fifth and methodically laced his way to third on lap eight. A nice battle between Byron and fiancé Michael Paul Jr. developed in the ensuing three circuits. On a lap 11 restart Paul Jr. orchestrated a monster move to second. Gonnella paid the favor back on lap 14. Through all the dicing DeCarlo had built an almost 1/3 of a lap lead until heavy, three-wide traffic stalled his progress. Gonnella acting like the hound to DeCarlo’s hare capitalized and went wide and high to augur past Quick Nick for the lead on lap 17 splitting a pair of lapped cars in the process. Now DeCarlo had to deal with a rapidly resuscitated Paul Jr. In a drag race to the finish it was Gonnella by a tenth of a second over DeCarlo, Paul Jr., Byron, and Azevedo.
The Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks saw championship contenders Steve Studebaker and Brent Blackwood triumph in heat race action. In their 25-lap contest it was “Fireball” Larry Drew establishing himself as the early leader. Nathan Schleth lost a wheel on the second lap as Matt While passed Drew on the third lap as action resumed. A pair of Roger Miller spins further stalled competition. Gary Adams wheeled his new #00 to second from ninth starting by the sixth lap. A great battle between Blackwood, Studebaker, and Adams ensued over the next dozen laps, as all three made their way past Drew. Hitting his marks and extending his lead was While as the excited sophomore sensation captured his first ever feature win in dominating fashion. Chasing While was: Blackwood, Adams, Studebaker, and Drew.
The Jake’s Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks saw and exciting fender rubbing battle between Eden McCormick and Pete Langley as the par traded the top two spots three times over the course of the 20-lapper. Langley made what was thought to be the final lap winning pass only to see both of the top finishers fail post-race tech. This vaulted first time competitor Darien Balestrini in the familiar Josh Williams #5 entry into victory lane over Snazzy Duckworth, Jake Fernandes, and Danny Naron.
Petaluma Speedway returns to action Saturday Night, June 14th for O’Reilly Auto Parts Night featuring the: Pit Stop USA Winged 360’s, Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets, and the Larsen Racing Products Dwarf Car Western States Regional hosted by South Bay Dwarfs. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.