Ensign, McClennon, & Studebaker Star on Opening NightRick Faeth
~~PETALUMA, CA, April 12— A filled grandstand and pit area established the tone on opening night for the launching of the 54th season at Petaluma Speedway on Saturday Night. Doing double-duty in both sprint car classes, Zack Lynskey set fast time in the 18-car Pit Stop USA Winged 360 class with a 13.162. Heat races on the newly configured, wider track saw Colby Copeland in the familiar Van Lare #5v, Chris Magoon in his own #77, and Geoff Ensign in the Lay Family #24b pick up 8-lap victories in swift fashion. The 25-lap feature started with Lynskey’s #9n Lathrop Special pacing the field. By the end of the first lap Ensign had nabbed the lead away and Lynskey had done a half spin on the second lap. Sadly Lynskey’s Night ended on lap 4 with a stall. Fifth starting Alissa Geving made a nice inside move on Chase Johnson for 2nd on lap five. Ivan Worden drew a caution on lap 7 and on the corresponding restart Copeland displaced Johnson for third. With two grooves top and bottom to choose from Ensign and Geving swapped the lead briefly on lap 9 in exciting fashion. Lap 10 saw a red for Worden and visiting Lance Tomlinson with both overturning. Tomlinson completed the rare exacta by duplicating the effort and overturning again on lap 12. Meanwhile through several cautions and the two red flags Herman Klein was figuring things out and joined the back of the pack with 13 to go. The final 13 laps were run without interruption and saw great top-side dicing between Geving, Copeland, and Johnson. The man on the move was Klein however as he blasted through the pack to enter the top six in just two circuits, finally getting by Johnson and Copeland in the last half dozen laps. At the 25-lap twin checkers it was Ensign over Geving, Klein, Copeland, and Johnson.
The Pit Stop USA Spec Sprints saw 17 wingless wonders time in with Napa’s Joe Stornetta besting the field with a 14.720. The three preliminary heat races were picked off by Trevor Schmid, Adam Christian, and Sparky Howard. Pole-sitter and defending track champion Scotty Dupont scampered away cleanly at the start of the feature however entering turn three Shayna Sylvia pirouetted like a top through the damp Sonoma County air several times necessitating a red flag. Back to racing action saw four cars tangle in turn four on lap two including Schmid and Adam Jones. Meanwhile the new pilot of the potent Dave Johnson #32, Rowdy McClennon had forged to the lead, over Christian, and Stornetta. Lap five saw a caution for Lynskey, lap six for Jones, lap seven for John Clark. Stornetta was able to eclipse Christian for second on lap eight and had taken the lead away from McClennon briefly only to have additional caution flags negate the passes. Second cautions for Jones and Clark finally necessitated an abbreviated event with McClennon picking up his first Petaluma Speedway victory over Stornetta, Christian, Howard, and Jonathon Henry.
In the Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stock Division veterans Mark Ohlinger and Steve Studebaker captured qualifying heats. The main event was a barn-burner with Ohlinger and Brent Blackwood leading the initial charge. Iron-Man Shawn McCoy blasted from fourth starting spot to second on lap four, then with an outside power move got by Ohlinger for the lead on lap five. Not to be out done and in heavy traffic Ohlinger battled back on the next circuit. Blackwood took over second on lap 7, but all eyes shifted to Studebaker as he started his march forward; with his customary #46 moving into third on lap eight, second on lap 13. The lone caution came on lap 16 for a Matt While spin. On the restart it was the wily Studebaker wresting the lead away from Ohlinger who chased Studebaker home followed by: Dave Byron, Blackwood and McCoy.
The newly branded Larsen Racing Products Dwarf Car Division featured a strong field of 14 cars. Petaluma regulars John Peters and Scooter Gomes copped the pair of heats. A caution filled feature saw Danny Wagner pick up the win over Peters, Dave Mosier, Carroll Mendenhall, and defending track champion Travis Dutra.
The fan friendly BPT Carburetor Mini Stocks featured a nice 12-car field. 2013 champion Josh Williams and Eden McCormack were heat race victorious. The line-up for the feature saw pole-sitter Pete Langley lead early over John Veeninga, and Williams. Plenty of back and forth dicing took place with McCormick dispatching a fading Williams. With six to go Veeninga forced his way past Langely holding on for the win. McCormick was third over Ryan DeForest and Jake Fernandes.
Petaluma Speedway returns to action this Saturday Night, April 19th with the Pit Stop USA Winged 360’s and Spec Sprints, Carr Racing Chassis IMCA Modifieds, Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks, and Mini Stock Divisions. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.