As one of the best young racers at Petaluma Speedway, Geoff Ensign seems to possess a competitive drive that steadfastly refuses to settle for second best, he wants to win. That drive, and a seat in a top-notch wingless sprint car, was on display Saturday night as the 22-year-old Sebastopol driver topped a stellar 21-car field that combined the best of the Speedway’s Pit Stop USA Wingless Sprint Cars together with the traveling Joe Hunt Magnetos Wingless Shootout Series.
The victory was Ensign’s third straight on the Petaluma clay, the first two coming in the winged 360 Sprint Cars, and the latest in the perfectly set up wingless entry owned by Jim and Annette Van Lare.
Also brandishing wide smiles of victory were Anthony Restad, who put a stop to Jeff Decker’s three-race Late Model division winning streak, Chris Sieweke, who captured his first-ever Joe Carr Chassis Dirt Modified victory, and points leaders Mike Learn, who won for the fifth time in six races in the Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks and Keith Benson, whose third straight triumph lifted him to the top the BPT Carburetors Mini Stock point standings.
Leading every lap of the 25-lap race from his front row start, Ensign, who stayed close to the bottom of the smooth dry-slick track all race, was not seriously challenged. A run of 18 green flag laps kept the action flowing as Scott Hall and Terry Schank Jr., gave chase. Schank, who leads the Joe Hunt point standings, grabbed second place from Hall, (who is ranked second in both series’ standings) on Lap 17 but was unable to close in on Ensign. A yellow flag three laps from the finish narrowed the gap but Ensign proved to be flawless in beating reigning Petaluma Speedway champion Schank to the checkered flag by .516 seconds.
“Lapped traffic worried me a little at the end, but we made it happen,” said Ensign after his fifth career wingless victory.
Hall finished third, eighth-starting Kody Smith was fourth, and ninth-starting Devon Ostheimer was fifth, followed by Zack Lynskey, Angelique Bell, 16th-starting Bret Barney, Sparky Howard, and 17th-starting Klint Simpson.
In the Late Models Decker began the night by winning his fourth straight heat race and was looking to match that victory total in the 25-lap feature where he started on the pole next to fellow heat winner Richard Papenhausen. Fast- qualifier Restad, of Santa Rosa, got underneath Papenhausen on Lap 5 to move up to second place behind Morgan Hill’s Decker, who was enjoying a sizable lead until a Lap 18 yellow flag evaporated the advantage.
On the 20th circuit, Restad went low in Turn 4 to grab a slight edge over Decker. The two combatants surged back and fourth several times before Restad emerged the leader. Restad swept across the finish line less than one second ahead of Decker to claim his seventh career victory and first of the season.
“I thought I had enough room to get by him, I had one shot to do it and I was glad to get by him cleanly, I didn’t want to hit him,” said Restad, who moved up a notch, to second place in the point standings, behind Decker. Third place went to Papenhausen ahead of John Silva, James Edens, Steve Johnson, Dean DeVolder, and Paul Guglielmoni.
First-time victories are always memorable especially when they come from the fifth row starting spot like Chris Sieweke’s in the Dirt Modified feature. A five-year veteran whose previous best was a pair of second place finishes, Sieweke received a slight boost when a first lap crash sidelined both Brian Azevedo and Joel Myers for the night and again on Lap 5 when race leader, and three-time feature winner this season, Richard Papenhausen encountered mechanical problems, lifting Sieweke into second place behind race leader and division points leader Oreste Gonella.
Gonella was leading Sieweke, Joe Carr, Michael Paul Jr., and David Lindt II until Lap 11 when Sieweke got under Gonella on the back straight and emerged the leader. Carr passed Gonella on the following lap and for the next 13 tours Sieweke, who was gunning for his first victory, was faced with holding off the Carr, the Dirt Modified division’s all-time victory leader with 57 wins. Sieweke proved he was up for the challenge as he outlasted Carr, Gonella, Paul, Lindt, and Paul Anderson to post the victory.
Sixteen Super Stocks lined up for the scheduled 25-lap feature but a series of collisions, mishaps, and spin-outs that caused numerous delays reduced the event to just 14 laps, all of which were led by division points leader Mike Learn.
The race was delayed four times in the first six laps and was finally curtailed because of time restraints when a fifth yellow flag flew on Lap 14 with Learn holding a big lead over Steve Studebaker, Shawn McCoy, Tim Haskins, and Anthony Matthias.
Studebaker, who’s valiantly trying to keep up with the red-hot Learn in the point standings, was for the third straight race faced with coming from deep in the field. This week, he managed to avoid the carnage on the track and climb from 14th starting to finish second. For “Ironman” McCoy it was his best finish in 28 starts, and for Matthias, his first top-five finish of the season.
In the Mini Stock feature Keith Benson led every lap to notch his third straight victory and fourth of the season with a narrow victory over his chief rival John Veeninga. Just four cars were left running at the finish with third place going to John Clark and fourth place to Kimberly Ramirez.
Results for June 9
WINGLESS SPRINT CARS
Fast time—Trevor Schmid 15.571.
Heat 1—Sparky Howard; Devon Osteimer; Angelique Bell; Zack Lynskey; Schmid; Scotty Dupont; Dustin Baxter.
Heat 2—Joe Stornetta; Terry Schnak Jr.; Rowdy McClenon; Bill Cornwell; Bret Barney; Michael Bakkie; Klint Simpson.
Heat 3—Geoff Ensign; Gary Paulson; Scott Hall; Kody Smith; Travis Moore; Kyle Bakkie.
Main—Ensign; Schank; Hall; Smith; Ostheimer; Lynskey; Bell; Barney; Howard; Simpson; McClenon; Paulson; Schmid; Dupont; Baxter; Moore; Stornetta; K. Bakkie; Cornwell.
Fast time—Anthony Restad 15.231.
Heat 1—Jeff Decker; Restad; Paul Guglielmoni; Steve Johnson.
Heat 2—Richard Papenhausen; Dean DeVolder; James Edens; John Silva.
Main—Restad; Decker; Papaenhausen; Silva; Edens; Johnson; DeVolder; Guglielmoni.
Heat 1—Brian Azevedo; Richard Papenhausen; Michael Paul Jr.; Joel Myers; Chris Sieweke; Tommy Bottini.
Heat 2—Joe Carr; Oreste Gonella; Paul Anderson; David Lindt II; Freddie Plourde.
Main—Sieweke; Carr; Gonella; Paul; Lindt; Anderson; Papenhausen; Plourde; Azevedo; Myers.
Heat 1—Michael Drew; Tim Haskins; Kevin Aguirre; Shawn McCoy; Shane Brandon; Michelle Byron; Roger Miller; Stan Devore.
Heat 2—David Spriggs; Mike Learn; Anthony Matthias; Larry Drew; Paul Hanley; Nathan Schleth; Steve Studebaker; Stan Devore.
Main—Learn; McCoy; Studebaker; Haskins; Matthias; Aguirre; Hanley; M. Drew; Devore; Brandon; Miller; Byron; Raul Casteneda; Spriggs; L. Drew; Schleth.
Heat 1—Keith Benson; Kimberly Ramirez; John Veeninga; John Clark; Josh Williams; Snazzy Duckworth; Kelly Campanile.
Main –Benson; Veeninga; Clark; Ramirez; Campanile; Duckworth; Williams.