Decker, Schank Jr., and Peters Collect Maselli HardwareRick Faeth
Petaluma, CA … The 33rd Annual M. Maselli & Sons Classic West Coast Late Model Shootout resembled a vintage wild west showdown Saturday Night, September 8 at Petaluma Speedway as the traditionally hooked up black adobe clay was in picture perfect shape. The night was started off by touring late model pilot Rob Sanders scorching the timing lights with a 14.452 effort to garner fast time over 15 other competitors. First heat action saw a tremendous crowd pleasing finish when Michael Paul Jr. rode the top of the front straight away crash wall across the start finish line over Jeff Decker. Heat two was captured by defending Maselli champion Clay Daly and local favorite Steve Johnson sped to the third heat checkers. The six-lap dash for cash was captured by Sanders. The 35-lap Classic saw a couple of over-anxious start attempts eliminate favorite Daly, and locals Anthony Restad, and Dean Devolder. When action finally got under way it was Sanders stepping out to a 10-car lead over Decker, and teammates Jason Papich and Tony Toste. Several cautions continued to thin the ranks but saw Sanders continue to lead. Multi-time Maselli Champion John Silva exerted himself and picked off three cars in eight laps to emerge in third place. By mid-race Decker had closed the deficit and was nipping at Sanders’ rear bumper. Entering turn one on the 24th circuit the leaders came upon lapped traffic with Sanders having to evade a slower car. This was the opening that Decker was seeking. The two leaders, neither giving an inch, made door-to-door contact with Decker emerging with the top spot. The last 11 laps were uneventful as the “Hit Man” Jeff Decker garnered his third Maselli title within the last four years. John Silva was second being chased to the line by Paul Gugliemoni the only three cars on the lead lap. Papich and Mike Meazell were fourth and fifth a lap down.
The Pit Stop USA.com and Joe Hunt Magneto Wingless Sprint Car Series’ combined to draw a great field of 24 open-wheelers. Group qualifying saw defending track champion Terry Schank Jr out-pace the field with a stellar 14.685 effort. Caution-free heat race action saw Sparky Howard, Trevor Schmid, and Geoff Ensign take top honors. The six lap dash for cash saw young lion Zack Lynskey charge around Howard on the white flag lap to the win. Twenty three cars made the call to the green flag with Benicia’s Billy Aton blasting into the early lead. Aton quickly out-paced Lynskey, Schank, and Ensign for the first eight circuits. A flat left rear tire on lap ten for the leader in turn two slowed the action. Quick pit work by the Aton’s crew got him back on track at the rear of the pack. Schank asserted himself and kept a decent four car length lead over the opposition. A good battle emerged with Ensign dueling high and low with Chris Magoon, and Nick Larson. Point leader Joe Stornetta who was battling mechanical gremlins all night long finally found high gear and made several key passes from mid-pack. At the 25-lap twin-checkers it was Schank Jr. in the borrowed Donnie Van Lare #5d holding on for his second win in as many weeks over an impressive Lynskey, Ensign, Magoon, and Larson.
A nice field of ten dwarf cars competed for the first of three straight weekends in preparation for the much anticipated King of the Hill event on Sept 22. The two eight lap heat preliminaries were tapped by Tony Carmignani and point leader John Peters. The 20-lap feature was run in a blazingly fast non-stop fashion by Peters over Alan Heeney, Travis Dutra, Carmignani, and Scooter Gomes in 5 minutes and 53 seconds.
Petaluma Speedway hosts its third and final round of the California Civil War Sprint Car Series along with dwarf cars on A1A Performance Muffler Night next Saturday Night, Sept 15th.