Austin Williams Awes USAC-CRA Crowd at Petaluma SpeedwayRick Faeth
~~PETALUMA, CA, June 28— Short-sleeve weather, a heavy cushion, and a packed grandstand welcomed the USAC-CRA 410 Sprint Car Series back to Petaluma Speedway on Flowmaster & Lumberjack Restaurant Night. The “Demon” Damian Gardner went out 29th to qualify in a field of 30 and laid down the best lap of 14.129 to claim fast time honors. The four 10-lap heat races saw: Gardner, Ryan Bernal, Richard Vander Weerd, and Brody Roa pick up wins. The semi-main saw bay area spec sprint graduate D.J. Johnson nab the 12-lapper with Cody Williams, Jace Vander Weerd, Geoff Ensign, Scott Hall, and Marty Hawkins also transferring to the 30-lap finale. The feature started off with plenty of two groove racing and found Jake Swanson setting the pace for the first 20 laps. Swanson seemed to have his way working through traffic over Austin Liggett, Bernal, Gardner, and Mike Spencer. With five laps remaining it was go time for Bernal as he quickly made up a three-second deficit. Entering turn one on the 28th lap the lead duo collected each other in a close-quarters incident. The final two laps were almost indescribable. Austin Liggett looking for his first ever USAC-CRA win, and racing with a 360 c.i. motor took the white flag as the leader however was way out of shape due to hooking the berm. Gardner saw his run impeded by Liggett’s zig-zag and had to check up momentarily. On the outside and drag racing down the back stretch the new leader was Mike Spencer. Spencer missed the preferred entry into turn three by half a car width and over-rotated. Amazingly Liggett followed in his tracks. Suddenly out of nowhere Austin Williams found bite and gained ground. Out of turn four the final time it was anyone’s guess as to who would win. At the line and with the crowd roaring on their feet, it was Austin Williams over Liggett, Gardner, Spencer, & Cory Kruseman
The Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks had two preliminary heat races with Brent Blackwood and wily veteran Larry Drew collecting wins. The 25-lap finale saw Nathan Schleth, Anthony Matthias, and Drew do the Captain Crunch Dance on lap one. Sophomore sensation Matt While led on the restart over Gary Adams. Point leader Steve Studebaker and Blackwood started a nice back and forth battle over the next few laps with Blackwood finally dispensing of Adams for second on lap 6 and sailing by While for the lead on lap 8. Drew mounted a charge towards the top five from the back of the pack as Adams maneuvered by While for second on the 12th circuit. It was clean racing the final 17 trips around the oval as Blackwood celebrated his second feature win of the season over Adams, While, Drew, and Studebaker.
The Jake’s Performance Hobbies Mini Stocks saw Pistol Pete Langley nab the heat race. The 20-lap main event saw Jake Fenandez get augered out of the lead on the first lap with Eden McCormick being the beneficiary. Big John Veeninga waged a nice battle with rookie Bob Davis before setting off in search of McCormick. All was for naught as McCormick had enough mustard to end his night in victory lane over, Veeninga, Davis, Langley, and Fernandez.
The inaugural Santa Rosa Auto Body 600 Micro Midget Race saw a nice field of 12 cars dazzle the fans with their finesse and high speed. Preliminary heat race wins were collected by Klint Simpson and Danny Potts. The 20-lap finale saw a couple of early spins but then the field got their bearings. Simpson was hooked up and on a rail as he quickly built up a solid half a straightaway lead. Young Jenna Perkins experienced throttle and fuel flow issues and was retired. With only a few laps remaining Simpson’s stellar effort came to an abrupt end with a fried clutch. Simultaneously Chase Johnson was retired due to a fuel leak. The final two laps saw Potts lead over David Prickett and Marcus Hardina. Potts left the bottom open on the white flag lap allowing David Prickett to earn his first Petaluma Speedway victory over Hardina and Potts.
Petaluma Speedway returns to action Saturday Night, July 5th with Buffalo Wild Wings Night featuring the: Civil War Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster along with the Larsen Racing Products Dwarf Cars. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.