Third 360 Sprint Car crown is a charm for Alissa Geving

After watching his talented young daughter, Alissa Geving, race to her third All-Pro Series 360 Sprint Car championship at Petaluma Speedway, it’s a good bet that former two-time champion, Gary Geving, is not all that surprised she would win more championships than he did. What does surprise him is that the recently turned 20-year-old did it so quickly.

 

And since she’s accomplished so much already it would be foolish to think she won’t surpass her father’s total of four overall championships before she’s through. As it is, the Geving’s are tops in combined sprint car championships at the Speedway, with five. The only other family to win multiple championships was Art McCarthy Jr., with two, and his son Adam, with one. Overall, Dirt Modified drivers Michael Paul and Michael Paul Jr. lead the family category with eight combined titles. It’s also notable that of the four multi-year sprint car champions only David Lindt Jr., with five, rank above Alissa.

 

Adding to the action-packed highlights Saturday night were Tommy Laliberte of San Jose, who notched his first 360 Sprint Car victory, Santa Rosa’s Terry Schank Jr. winning the Wingless Sprint Car feature, Petaluma driver Larry Drew’s first triumph since the late 1970’s in the to-close-to-call Super Stock division, and Mini Stock driver Keith Benson of Petaluma winning his first track championship.

 

Not to be overshadowed by Geving’s crowning achievement was Laliberte’s flawless performance from the front row of the 17-car, 25-lap winged 360 Sprint Car feature where Laliberte, with just 10 races under his belt, turned in “25 good laps” with Auburn’s Cole Wood hot on his tail. The wire-to-wire victory was Laliberte’s second at Petaluma Speedway, the first being his 2010 Hunt Magneto Spec Sprint Shootout conquest, which in his words doesn’t even come close to comparing with Saturday’s victory. “There’s a 180-degree difference in the two divisions,” noted Laliberte.

 

Front-row starter Wood ran second the entire distance. Third place went to fast qualifier Billy Butler of Sacramento, fourth place to the seventh-starting Geving, and fifth-place to 16th-starting Billy Aton of Benicia. 

 

Equally impressive was Schank’s Wingless Sprint Car victory that lifted the 2009 division champion into the All-Pro Series points lead with one race remaining. Schank trailed Bob Newberry by eight points entering the race, and Newberry was set to start the 25-lap event in the front row, but he jumped the start resulting in a setback penalty to the rear of the 20-car field. Schank moved up to the front row and never looked back as he stormed to his division-leading second win of the season.

 

Colton Slack of Brentwood grabbed second place from Shannon Newton of Elk Grove on Lap 9 and finished in that spot ahead of Newton, Gary Nelson Jr. of San Jose, and Arvo Backholm of Santa Rosa, who trails points leader Schank by 12 points and runner-up Newberry by just two points heading into the final race.

 

In the tight-fisted Super Stock division, where defending champion Steve Studebaker of Santa Rosa, and Petaluma’s Steve Dempsey have been virtually inseparable all season, with Studebaker prevailing three times and five-time winner Dempsey riding a three-race winning streak, it was former track champion Larry Drew, who won this division in the late-1970s when it was called Street Stock, that raised eyebrows.

 

With Studebaker and Dempsey dead-even in points at race time, it was Drew who came from the second row to take the lead over Michelle Byron, Dempsey, Gary Adams, and Studebaker. Dempsey took charge on Lap 9 but the unrelenting Drew stayed on his rear bumper until Lap 20 when he regained the lead. Drew took the checkered flag slightly more than one second ahead of Dempsey who was followed across the line by Studebaker, Byron, and Adams. With one race remaining, Dempsey leads Studebaker by two points in the standings.    

 

Last winter was a long one for Petaluma’s Keith Benson, who, despite five victories and six seconds, finished in second place, just two points shy of the 2010 track championship. But on Saturday night he erased all the bad memories of last year as he cruised to his fifth victory in seven races and captured his first All-Pro Mini Stock track championship.

 

Benson had the championship locked up as soon as the green flag dropped and appeared to be in no hurry as Kimberly Hartman led the initial six laps and Josh Williams led the next six tours before Benson took the lead for the final seven laps to notch his 10th career win in just his second full season of racing.

 

Adding track champion to his racing resume “really hasn’t sunk in yet” said Benson, who noted the Mini Stock’s can be more challenging in many ways than the other divisions. Afterwards he praised his crew-chief, David Wolf, and sponsors Rivertown Feed & Pet Country Store, and Frizelle-Enos Co., for his success this season.

 

360 SPRINT CARS

Fast time—Billy Butler 12.804.

Heat 1—Alissa Geving; Jeremy Burt; Butler; Cole Wood; Mike Monahan; Roberto Kirby; Ivan Worden; Brett Lay; Jim Beck.

Heat 2—Ryan Rusconi; Tommy Laliberte; Trent Canales; Chase Johnson; Camron Mendes; Billy Aton; Jake Haulot; Kenny Drew.

Main—Laliberte; Wood; Butler; Geving; Aton; Monahan; Kirby; Haulot; Burt; Johnson; Rusconi; Beck; Worden; Drew; Mendes; Canales; Lay.

 

WINGLESS SPRINT CARS

Fast time—Dan Gonderman 14.893.

Heat 1—Bob Newberry; Terry Schank Jr.; Marcus Hardina; Gary Nelson Jr.; Gonderman; Scotty Dupont; Rick Sharp; Zack Lynskey.

Heat 2—Colton Slack; Arvo Backholm; Trevor Schmid; Shannon Newton; Kyle Bakkie; Dan Payne.

Heat 3—Matthew Haulot; Joe Stornetta; Nick Larson; Bret Barney; Chris Magoon; Dustin Baxter; Klint Simpson.

Main—Schank; Slack; Nelson; Backholm; Newton; Stornetta; Larson; Haulot; Barney; Newberry; Dupont; Baxter; Schmid; Lynskey; Sharp; Hardina; Bakkie; Magoon; Gonderman; Payne.

 

SUPER STOCK

Heat 1—David Spriggs; Gary Adams; DW Drew; Rick Karnes; Shawn McCoy; Roger Miller; Anthony Matthias.

Heat 2—Steve Dempsey; Steve Studebaker; Larry Drew; Michelle Byron.

Main—L. Drew; Dempsey; Studebaker; Byron; Adams; DW Drew; McCoy; Miller; Spriggs; Matthias; Karnes.

 

MINI STOCK

Heat 1—Keith Benson; Josh Williams; John Veeninga; Kimberly Hartman; Snazzy Duckworth.

Main—Benson; Williams; Hartman; Veeninga; Mark Kramarsic; Duckworth DNS.