Ensign and Schmid Plant It in Victory Lane on General Hydroponics NightRick Faeth
~~PETALUMA, CA, April 19— Another great crowd filled the grandstand and pit area for General Hydroponics Night at Petaluma Speedway. High winds made for an uncharacteristic hard slick racing surface and saw Geoff Ensign pick up fast time in the Pit Stop USA Winged 360 class with a 14.530. Former track champion Shawn Arriaga and visiting Justyn Cox nabbed the pair of heat races. The 25-lap feature saw Ensign power away from his advantageous pole starting position. A turn three collision on lap three saw the red flag fly as Kirt Organ, Ivan Worden, and Jake Haulot were all eliminated. Herman Klein for the second week in a row mounted an awesome charge from the back of the pack entering the top five on lap five, moved to fourth on lap six, and to third by the eighth circuit. Billy Butler in his familiar #57 mount charged to fifth on stanza number ten. With things seemingly well in hand Ensign bobbled allowing Cox to draw abreast and the pair drag raced down the front straightaway side-by-side on the 18th lap. On the 20th circuit Arriaga wheelied over the berm exiting turn four which caused Alissa Geving to take evasive action resulting in the three-time champion colliding with the front straightaway wall. A final restart on lap 23 saw Ensign pull away to an eight car length lead and pick up his second victory in as many weeks over Cox, Klein, Butler, and Chase Johnson.
The Pit Stop USA Spec Sprints had another fine field. Trevor Schmid stopped the clocks with 16.593 effort nabbing quick time. Heat races were copped by Racin’ Jason McIntosh and Petaluma newcomer Shayna Sylvia. The 25-lap finale saw McIntosh stampede to the front from the outside front row berth. All-time winningest Spec Sprint Pilot Terry Schank Jr. moved into third on lap three and to second the next lap. Gary Paulson from the fourth row started an epic high side battle with Schank as Schmid moved past Zack Lynskey and Sparky Howard for third. Slide jobs were the order of the day as McIntosh, having one of his best races in years, continued to lead. On the 17th go around Schank made a monster move in heavy traffic to steal the lead only to see the yellow negate the nifty maneuver. Sadly on the 19th lap lead McIntosh’s motor let him down. On the restart Paulson and Schank, neither giving an inch collected each other eliminating both of their mounts. Inheriting the lead was Schmid over a rapidly closing Rowdy McLennon. McLennon passed Schmid with three to go, however Schmid re-passed on the 23rd lap and held on for the welcomed win. Defending track champion Scotty Dupont displaced McLennon on the final lap for second, Zack Lynskey was fourth and rapidly improving Bradley Clark rounded out the top five.
The Carr Racing Chassis IMCA Modified Division featured a 19 car field with Tim Balding and Nick DeCarlo picking up preliminary heat race wins. The Joel Myers led the field to the green in his sharp #46 however it was “Quick Nick” DeCarlo forging into the lead with and outside move by the end of the first lap. A lap two caution saw Myers maneuver back into the top spot. What transpired over the next 15 laps was some of the best clean, side-by-side modified racing seen in years, as Myer’s and DeCarlo traded the lead no less than four more times. At the finish it was a jubilant DeCarlo narrowly holding off Myers for the triumph. 2013 track champion Oreste Gonnello was third over Chris Seiweke, and Brian Azevedo.
In the Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stock Division veterans Mark Ohlinger and Steve Studebaker for the second week in a row both garnered heat race wins. Shawn McCoy and Anthony Matthias led the 14-car starting field to the stripe. On the move was Larry Drew who went from sixth to third in the first two laps. Not to be outdone Studebaker and Ohlinger were able to displace McCoy and Matthias for the top two spots. By the seventh circuit it was Studebaker in the lead with a gaggle of competitors trading the runner-up spot. Matthias spun without drawing a caution but sustained hood damage making it difficult to see where he was going. By lap 15 Drew had spun and McCoy was back up to second. Charging from the rear was now Brent Blackwood and picking off positions. By the 25-lap twin checkers it was Studebaker for his second win in a row with Blackwood 2nd, over Matthias, Matt While, and Drew.
The newly sponsored Jake’s Performance Hobbies Mini Stock division featured nine cars. Big John Veeninga won the 8-lap heat and the 20-lap feature over Eden McCormick, “Pistol” Pete Langley, Ryan DeForest, and Jake Fernandes.
Petaluma Speedway returns to action this Saturday Night, April 26th with the California Civil War Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster and the Larsen Racing Products Dwarf Car Series. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.