Slack, Marcham, Paul Jr. Use the Right Tools on NAPA Night
PETALUMA, CA, Aug 10 – A brilliant sunshiny day with early evening fog greeted the fans and competitors on Petaluma Speedway’s annual Open Wheel Madness Night sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts. A smooth and fast sealed racing surface saw the stars of the Joe Hunt Wingless Sprint Car Series take on the Pit Stop USA local Spec Sprints for the third of four 2013 shootouts. Action started with San Jose’s Colton Slack eclipsing the 20-car field with a 14.443 effort. The three preliminary heat races were captured by Hunt Series Point Leader Scott Hall, defending Petaluma Champion Joe Stornetta, and Terry Schank Jr. Slack won the lightning quick six-lap dash that earned him the pole position for the start of the feature. The 25-lap main event pitted Slack and the most recent spec sprint winner Tommy LaLiberte on the front row. LaLiberte blasted from the outside position and held a six car advantage through the first turn. Slack with tremendous poise pointed his car low and passed LaLiberte down the back stretch in impressive fashion. On lap six action was halted for an upended Hall who was pinched by a lapped car and ended up splintering the sound barrier in turn one. Hall was okay but retired for the event. Returning to competition saw no change to the top three Slack, LaLiberte, and Schank Jr. However Bradley Terrell, Nick Larsen, and Shawn Jones waged a see-saw battle for 4th – 6th. Lap 18 saw Petaluma veterans Sparky Howard and Scott Dupont make contact with Howard overturning at least half a dozen times down the back stretch. Howard exited the car quickly under his own power. The final stretch to the finish saw Joe Stornetta, who had to start last due to a push start, quickly exert himself as the one of the fastest cars on the track. Lap 20 saw Terrell bicycle his way out of the top five and Schank Jr. hampered by a lapped car fell to sixth. At the twin checkers it was Slack capping off a brilliant night over LaLiberte, rookie Shawn Jones with his best effort of the season, over Schank Jr., and Stornetta.
The Bay Cities Racing Association Midgets qualified 16 cars with Tehachapi’s Shannon McQueen breaking her four year old track record with a 14.203 effort. McQueen and Visalia’s Greg Bragg copped the preliminary 8-lappers. The start of the 30 lap main event saw Gary Conterno lead the first circuit but was quickly side-stepped by New Castle, Oklahoma’s Trey Marcham in a McQueen team car. Lap five saw the always smooth Bragg pass two cars and take over the runner up spot with McQueen hot on his tail pipe. Lapping began on the 11th circuit. Marcham by this time had a straightaway lead and expertly negotiated the lappers as he approached them. At the half way point it was: Marcham, Bragg, McQueen, Britton Bock, and Taylor Simas. The final half of the race saw the top three in constant traffic and Bragg only able to cut half way into the insurmountable lead of Marcham who won his first ever BCRA feature in caution free-fashion in a resounding 7:40. Second through fifth were Bragg, McQueen, Simas, and Frankie Guerrini III.
The companion BCRA Midget Lites division saw 8 cars compete. Bradley Dillard on the heat race. The 20-lap feature saw Sudden Sam Corso excel to the point. Steve Brown suffered a single car flip, but was righted and kept on racing. Mechanical gremlins sidelined Corso and allowed Dakota Albright to assume the lead. The battle at this stage was for second between Dillard and Scott Kinney. Coming to the checkers it was Dillard attempting a risky move and spinning out Kinney. Albright captured his second Petaluma win in as many seasons, Dillard was second over: Stuart Goehring, Kinney, and Joey Hoover.
The Carr Racing Chassis IMCA Modifieds featured a dozen cars. Michael Paul Jr. and Brian Azevedo found the heat races to their liking as they both took top honors. The feature saw Michael Paul Sr. and Don Camilli drag race into turn one, with Paul Sr. gaining the advantage. Joel Myers made the jump to runner up on lap 2 and displaced Paul Sr. for the lead on lap 3 bringing Paul Jr. in tow up to 2nd. Lap four saw a caution for Camilli who suffered a broken front end. On the restart it was Myers holding off Paul Jr. in what was setting up to be an epic two-car battle. Mid-race saw Michelle Byron and Chris Siewke enter the top five. Lap 18 saw Oreste Gonnella jump to fourth. Two brief cautions on lap 18 and lap 23 saw the battle for the lead swap as Paul Jr. got the better restart and held off Myers. Third was Sieweke over Gonnella, and Byron.
Dwarf car action found veteran Carrol Mendenhall win both the heat race and the 20-lap feature. Early action saw Adam Johnson leading the first few circuits but then make contact and spin yielding the lead to Mendenhall. Travis Dutra made a nice move past several cars on the restart to jump into third. The final dozen laps were swiftly and cleanly run with Mendenhall guiding his familiar #15 into victory lane over Scooter Gomes, Dutra, Tommy King, and rookie Chad Matthias.
Petaluma Speedway will host the legendary Gene Romero’s West Coast Flat Track Series this Saturday Night, August 17th. For more information please go to www.petaluma-speedway.com.