So-Cal’s Ronnie Gardner Triumphs Over Big Field of BCRA-USAC Midgets

PETALUMA, CA, June 15—A sun splashed evening that sported a full grandstand and a fast, hooked up race track saw 25 midgets sanctioned by the Bay Cities Racing Association and the United States Auto Club thrill the fans of Petaluma Speedway Saturday Night.  Time trials saw Norco, CA’s Six-Eight Racing Team driver Ronnie Gardner eclipse the field with a thrilling 14.425 effort.  The three heat race format saw local youngster Frankie Guerrini, Sean Dodenhoff, and Kyle Edwards capturing the 8-lap events.  The 30-lap feature saw last year’s inaugural Johnny Soares Classic victor Shane Golobic jump to the point.  Sixth starting Gardner made the jump to fourth by lap two.  Veteran Bill Lindsey shed a wheel on lap 9 for a quick caution, and the same thing occurred to Terry Nichols on lap 12.  Action was fast and with Golobic hitting his marks expertly over Shannon McQueen, Alex Schutte, and David Prickett.  Multi-time Petaluma winner Scott Pierovich was putting on one of his patented charges from the back of the pack when he stalled on lap 13.  Gardner next disposed of Schutte, and then McQueen by lap 17.  Suddenly on lap 23 Golobic pulled to the infield with a broken power steering unit.  Gardner inherited the lead and blazed to the twin checkers over Schutte, Pricket, McQueen, and Jake Swanson.
            The Pit Stop USA Spec Sprint Series saw 15 cars time in with Zack Lynskey out-pacing the field with 14.778 best lap.  Heat races were garnered by Geoff Ensign and ‘Cowboy’ Craig Smith.  The feature started off with veteran Sparky Howard in the attractive Donny Van Lare #5d with the lead.  Lap 4 saw a caution for hard-luck Jason McIntosh with him pitting.  A return to action saw Sebastopol’s Geoff Ensign propel into 2nd and then power by Howard on lap 6.  The car on the move from the rear was defending champion Joe Stornetta who waged a wheel-to -wheel battle with Lynskey and then Brett Barney.  On lap 15, with an almost straightaway lead Ensign suddenly pulled into the infield with an exploded u-joint.  This put Howard back in front.  Lap 20 saw current point leader Terry Schank Jr. get together with another car and exit with a broken front end.  The final restart saw Stornetta make a key pass to ensure a podium finish, however, it was fan-favorite Howard who warmed the crowd with his first win of the season over Scotty Dupont with a career best second place effort.  Rounding out the top five were: Stornetta, Jonathon Henry driving Jeff Lee’s #98, and Lynskey.
            The Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks put on their normal exciting program on Casa Grande Football Team Night as Dave Byron and Mike Learn won the preliminary heat races.  The 25-lap finale saw Byron rotate through the first turn beating Learn for the initial lead.  Lap 6 saw ‘Fireball’ Larry Drew pass sophomore driver Shane Brandon for third and Steve Studebaker moved to fourth.  Exiting turn four on the ninth lap saw Learn make contact with the rear of Byron causing the leader to spin.  Race officials penalized Learn to rear of the pack and thus Studebaker inherited the lead.  Good racing behind the leader between David Spriggs, Drew and Brandon was the order of the next dozen laps.  Spriggs experienced late race mechanical gremlins and at the finish it was former champion Studebaker grabbing his second win of the year over Drew, Learn, Brandon, and Gary Adams.
               Next Sunday, June 23, Petaluma Speedway will host a 150-lap Enduro and Compact Destruction Derby in conjunction with the annual Sonoma-Marin Fair. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.