Division leaders take top honors at Petaluma Speedway

 

PETALUMA, CA , Aug.18—With the points racing season closing in on the final stretch it’s time for Petaluma Speedway drivers hoping to make a late push towards a track championship to make their moves. But from all indications by the very strong performances by three of the Speedway’s division points leaders on Saturday, that task may prove to be an uphill challenge.

Among the victorious drivers who extended their points lead were Napa driver Joe Stornetta, in the Pit Stop USA Wingless Sprint Cars, Morgan Hill’s Jeff Decker, in the Late Models, and Santa Rosa’s John Peters, in the Dwarf Cars. BPT Carburetor Mini Stock points leader John Veeninga, of El Sobrante, who started the night with a three point lead over defending champion Keith Benson of Petaluma, was thwarted in his bid to make it a sweep by the top-ranked drivers by Benson’s thrilling last-lap triumph.

Stornetta’s fourth win of the season was perhaps his best ever as he led the charge over a 14-car field from the front row. The night’s fastest qualifier, Stornetta quickly jumped out to a wide lead and found lapped traffic nine laps into the 25-lap race. Clearly benefitting from the all-green flag conditions the smooth and fast Stornetta was never challenged as four cars battled closely for the runner-up spot. Bret Barney, who long-time Petaluma Speedway fans remember as the 1999 Mini Stock champion, held onto the position for the first 19 circuits as he, Geoff Ensign, Taylor Simas, and Klint Simpson ran in a tight cluster.

Ensign’s bottom pass netted second place on Lap 20, and as Barney began to fade, Simas, Simpson and ninth-starting Travor Schmid all moved up a notch. Stornetta aired it out on the way to his fourth career win as Ensign, Simas, Simpson, and Schmid finished in order at the checkered flag.

With just a pair of races left on the Late Model schedule, two-time defending track champion Decker is in the driver’s seat to make it a three-peat. Flawless, fast and smooth were all in evidence as the “Hitman” outlasted a determined challenge by fast-qualifier John Silva, as Decker wrapped up his 25th career win at Petaluma. Making it close and exciting, Silva finished a half-second behind the winner and nearly 12 seconds ahead of third-place finisher Paul Guglielmoni. Fourth place went to Randy Shafer and fifth place to Steve Johnson.

Peters, a two-time Petaluma track champion, came up from the second row to take the lead away from Travis Dutra on Lap 2 and never looked back as he raced to his ninth career win and third of the season. Tony Carmignani looked very strong as he raced to a second place finish over Adam Johnson, Dutra, and Scooter Gomes.

Benson and Veeninga, who’ve battled tooth and nail, fender and lug-nut all 10 races this year, have four more chances to sort it out following Benson’s heat and feature race victories that lifted him into a tie for the points lead on Saturday.

For the first 24 laps it looked like Veeninga would be able to add two points to his tenuous points lead over his top rival Benson, but Benson had a surprise in store as he dropped to the apron and slipped under Veeninga on the final lap to secure the victory.

Veeninga finished second, followed by Josh Williams, who posted his third third-place finish in his last four races. Kimberly Hartman finished fourth and John Clark was fifth.

Results for Aug. 18

WINGLESS SPRINT CARS

Fast time—Joe Stornetta 14.828.

Heat 1—Bill Cornwell; Bret Barney; Stornetta; Scott Hall; Jeff Lee.

Heat 2—Terry Schank Jr.; Zack Lynskey; Taylor Simas; Nick Larson; Jason McIntosh.

Heat 3—Klint Simpson; Trevor Schmid; Scotty Dupont; Geoff Ensign; Michael Bakkie.

Main—Stornetta; Ensign; Simas; Simpson; Schmid; Schank; Lynskey; Barney; McIntosh; Cornwell; Hall; Dupont; Lee; Bakkie.

LATE MODELS

Fast time—John Silva 15.510.

Heat 1—Anthony Restad; Silva; Randy Shafer; Rick Shafer; Dennis Souza.

Heat 2—Jeff Decker; Paul Guglielmoni; Steve Johnson; Michael Paul Jr.; Rod Arnold.

Main—Decker; Silva; Guglielmoni; Randy Shafer; Johnson; Rick Shafer; Arnold; Souza; Restad; Paul.

MINI STOCK

Heat 1—Keith Benson; John Veeninga; John Clark; Kimberly Hartman; Josh Williams; Snazzy Duckworth.

Main—Benson; Veeninga; Williams; Hartman; Clark; Duckworth.

DWARF CARS

Heat 1—John Peters; Adam Johnson; Tony Carmignani; Travis Dutra; Scooter Gomes.

Main—Peters; Carmignani; Johnson; Dutra; Gomes; Tommy King.