Ensign and Howard Swing Axes On Lumberjack’s Restaurant NightRick Faeth
Petaluma, CA – Hot weather and a hooked-up race track greeted the 78 competitors on Lumberjack’s Restaurant Night at Petaluma Speedway Saturday Night. An emotions-filled night saw two celebrations that of “Iron Man” Shawn McCoy’s 750th consecutive super stock race and the return of defending Pit Stop USA Winged Sprint Car Champion Chase Johnson. Action started with Justyn Cox out qualifying a field of 17 winged warriors with a swift 12.878. The three heat races were run in green-to-checkers style with Shawn Arriaga, Ivan Worden, and Geoff Ensign picking off the 8-lappers. The 25-lap feature saw current point leader Bradley Terrell starting on the pole position and shoot to a 10 car length immediate lead only to have his car bicycle big-time in turn three with the familiar #43 coming to rest next to the turn four crash wall. With Terrell restarting from the rear it was Alissa Geving’s turn to bring the field down to a restart. Entering turn one Cox and Worden tangled hard with both cars overturning, though both drivers emerged healthy. Geving led the first four circuits over Ensign, Johnson, and Jason Toft. Lap five saw visiting Jeremy Burt overturn in turn three for the second stoppage of the event. Back to competition it was still Geving pacing the field but spectators were starting to notice the charge of the Terrell Brigade from the back of the pack. Lap 10 saw Terrell in 7th. A long green flag stint saw Geving entering lapped traffic. Exiting turn four on lap 21, while assessing how to deal with a lapper, Geving was forced to lift briefly which allowed the closely tracking Ensign to bolt by with an outside pass. At the 25-lap twin checkers it was Sebastopol’s Ensign piloting the Van Lare Family #5v to his second winged victory and fourth overall sprint car win at Petaluma Speedway in 2013. Geving wheeled her attractive families #3x into second followed by Chase Johnson in third, Matthew Haulot in fourth and Terrell fifth.
The Pit Stop USA Spec Sprints saw journeymen Bret Barney eclipse the field with a 15.134 effort. Preliminary heat races were copped by veteran’s Scott Dupont and Sparky Howard. The feature saw Howard and Zack Lynskey bring the field to green, Howard with the early advantage found the bottom line to his liking. A caution for a Dupont flat saw Ensign doing double-duty in the Dave Johnson #32 make a huge leap to fifth on the lap two restart. On lap four rivals Terry Schank Jr. and Bob Newberry banged wheels with Schank getting the worst of the incident. Again on the restart Ensign capitalized on an advantage and passed Barney for fifth. Several more cautions brought an un-lucky end to point leader Schank’s night. By lap 20 Ensign who had been hounding Lynskey made a bold pass, only to have Lynskey return the favor two circuits later. Coming to the white flag Lynskey and Ensign ran out of racing room with Lynskey’s #07n mount spun, sadly ending one of his better recent efforts. Through all the spins and cautions it was a very pleased Howard capturing his second consecutive non-wing main event in the well-prepped Donny Van Lare #5d. Newberry, Ensign, Jason McIntosh, and rookie of the year contender Shawn Jones rounded out the top five.
The Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks event saw the series’ top two rivals Steve Studebaker and Mike Learn earn heat race victories. With those same two starting from the front row it was Studebaker making a hard and wide entry into turn one to shut the door and lead. A wild and wooly race with persistent yellows was the course and lots of mid-pack passing saw Brent Blackwood consistently pick off all other competitors. On lap 14 Blackwood passed Larry Drew to enter the top five, two laps later it was Paul Hanley, and finally Learn. At the conclusion it was Studebaker leading from wire-to-wire over Blackwood, Learn, Hanley, and Drew.
The ultra-competitive Petaluma Speedway Dwarf Cars saw a nice field of 15 cars vie for top honors. Ryan Winter and Carroll Mendenhall were victorious in the heats. The 20-lap feature was a barn-burner with Travis Dutra and defending track champion John Peters bringing the field to action. Peters with a good start paced the field with Adam Johnson displacing Dutra for second on lap 3. A see-saw battle now developed between Scooter Gomes, Johnson, and Dutra. Ryan Winters working the high groove entered the top three on lap 10 and then made a brilliant pass of Peters at the start finish line on lap 13. The non-stop affair saw young Winter garner his first Petaluma win of the season over Peters, Gomes, Johnson, and Mendenhall.
The ever expanding mini-stock division featured heat wins by Ryan DeForest and Josh Williams. The 20-lap finale looked to be well in hand for rookie sensation Pete Langley however trouble navigating a lapped car found his #3 Pinto auger into the back straightaway wall. Josh Williams inherited the lead briefly before sophomore driver Eden McCormick found his way around on lap 12. Checking out on the field the last few laps to earn the win was McCormick over, Big John Veeninga, Williams, Scott Nelson, and DeForest.
Petaluma Speedway will return to action on July 6th featuring the California Civil War Sprint Car Series and Dwarf Cars. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.