In a race loaded with veteran drivers, many of them with racing resumes reaching back to long before Clay Daly's birth, the 22-year-old Watsonville driver proved it takes more than just experience to win the big races, it also takes a great car, a lot of talent, and a bit of luck. Daly combined all those ingredients, and more, Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway with a dazzling wire-to-wire victory in the 32nd annual M. Maselli & Sons Late Model Classic.


"We always try to come here with a great car and tonight we seem to have hit the set-up right from the start. We didn't make any changes all night. I have the best car owner there is," said a smiling Daly, after collecting the $2000 winner’s share, and giving credit to car owner Pete Van Iderstine.


Drivers belonging to the West Coast Shootout Late Model Series joined with Petaluma Speedway regulars to bolster the 29 car turn-out for the premier event, which is the longest running late model race on the West Coast.


The only bit of luck Daly needed all night came during the pill draw for the trophy dash when Daly joined heat winners John Silva, Steve Drake, and Nick Bartels along with second-place finishers Bobby Hogge IV, Bill Bartles, and Robert Sanders. Daly drew the pole slot for the dash and from that point on he led every lap for the rest of the night.


After winning the dash, Daly earned the pole position in the 20 car, 35 lap feature in which West Coast Shootout points leader Drake was a late scratch. Hogge, Silva, and Nick Bartles kept pace with Daly until the he reached lapped traffic after 12 laps. Bartles and Hogge tangled on lap 15 which sent Bartles to the rear on the restart. A three-car crash on lap 17 eliminated five-time Maselli winner Silva, who, in qualifying, broke Daly’s one-year-old track-record, and two laps later second-running Hogge drifted high in Turn 2 allowing Petaluma track champion Jeff Decker and Santa Rosa’s Anthony Restad to move up. Decker closed in the leader in the closing laps but the masterful Daly rebuked the challenge and notched the victory.


“If we’d have stayed in lapped traffic, I could've got him,” said Decker, who picked up $1000 for finishing second. Restad won $850 for third place, Hogge bagged $700 for fourth and Mike Kirby, of Torrance, collected $600 for fifth. Rounding out the top-10 were Nick Bartels, Rick Shafer, Bill Bartles, Jason Papich, and Shawn DeForest.


In the accompanying All-Pro Racing Series season finales for the Wingless Sprint Car and Dwarf Car divisions, Terry Schank Jr. of Santa Rosa captured his second wingless division championship and Shawn Jones of San Jose won the Dwarf Car crown.


A strong late-season surge by Schank, that included victories in the last two events, lifted the veteran driver to the championship. Saturday night, he bolted from third-place into the lead on the first lap of the 19-car, 25- lap feature, and despite strong pressure from Joe Stornetta, he never relented. Stornetta finished a season-best second, followed by Arvo Backholm, who finished second in the point standings behind Schank. Zack Lynskey was fourth, and Matthew Haulot was fifth, followed by Marcus Hardina, Scotty Dupont, Klint Simpson, Bill Cornwell, and Gary Nelson Jr.


Thirty-two dwarf cars packed into the pits for the season–ending race for both the All-Pro Series Dwarf Car division, and the Bay Area Dwarf Cars. Camron Diatte of Salinas took charge on Lap 3 and led the rest of the way in the nonstop 20-lap feature that produced a new 20-lap track record of 8:05.664 for the victorious Diatte. Robert Mesloh finished second, Jones was third, John Wear fourth, and Punky Pires finished fifth.


Jones, driving a car borrowed from Dan Zuger, capped a great season in which the 18-year-old driver won five of nine races at Petaluma to become the youngest All-Pro Dwarf Car champion, and he also won the Bay Area Dwarf Car title on the same night.



FAST TIME—John Silva 14.212 NTR.

Heat 1—Silva; Bobby Hogge IV; Jeff Decker; Mike Kirby; Rick Shafer; Tony Toste; Steve Johnson.

Heat 2—Steve Drake; Bill Bartels; Richard Papenhausen; Paul Guglielmoni; Don Iverson; Michael Paul Sr.; Jimmy Gallagher; Carla Laney.

Heat 3—Nick Bartels; Anthony Restad; Jason Papich; Andy Obertello; Shawn DeForest; Dennis Souza; Rod Arnold.

Heat 4—Clay Daly; Robert Sanders; Johnny Cardoza; Randy Larsen; Les Friend; Trent Elliott.

Dash—Daly; Hogge; Drake; Silva; N. Bartels; Restad; Sanders; B. Bartels.

B-Main—Shafer; DeForest; Toste; Elliott; Laney; Souza; Iverson; Friend; Gallagher; Johnson; Arnold.

A-Main—Daly; Decker; Restad; Hogge; Kirby; N. Bartels; Shafer; B.Bartels; Papich; DeForest; Guglielmoni; Cardoza; Papenhausen; Obertello; Silva; Larsen; Toste; Sanders; Elliott; Laney.



Fast time—Jimmy Sills 14.364.

Heat 1—Marcus Hardina; Sills; Joe Stornetta; Scotty Dupont; Dan Payne; Klint Simpson; Bill Cornwell.

Heat 2—Arvo Backholm; Terry Schank Jr.; Trevor Schmid; Bret Barney; Jason McIntosh; Dustin Baxter.

Heat 3—Sparky Howard; Zack Lynskey; Gary Nelson Jr.; Colton Slack; Matthew Haulot; Nick Larson.

Main—Schank; Stornetta; Backholm; Lynskey; Haulot; Hardina; Dupont; Simpson; Cornwell; Nelson; Larson; JW Wilson; Schmid; Howard; Payne; McIntosh; Slack; Barney; Baxter.


DWARF CARS          

Heat 1—Camron Diatte; John Wear; Michael Grenert; Ryan Winter; Jack Haverty; Mike Mangini; Ed Heeney; Scooter Gomes.

Heat 2—Gene Pires; Robert Mesloh; Richard Klinetobe; Igor Gandzjuk; Tommy King; Adam Johnson; Jason Gandzjuk.

Heat 3—Terre Rothweiler; Shawn Jones; Gilbert Toste; Brian Quilty; Mark Biscardi; Matt Hauff; Alan Heeney; Ed Sans III.

Heat 4—Ryan Diatte; Eric Weisler; Mark Ramirez; Chris Dorto; Carroll Mendenhall; John Peters; Matt Darton; Chris Sieweke; Ray Etherton.

B-Main—Peters; Hauff; Sieweke; Biscardi; Sans; E. Heeney; Darton; Mangini; Haverty; Mendenhall; Johnson; J. Gandzjuk; A. Heeney; Etherton; Gomes.

A-Main—C. Diatte; Mesloh; Jones; Wear; Pires; R. Diatte; Quilty; Toste; Weisler; Grenert; Ramirez; Peters; Winter; Rothweiler; Dorto; Hauff; Mendenhall; Biscardi; Sieweke; Johnson; I. Gandzjuk; Haverty; Klinetobe; Sans; E. Heeney; Mangini; Darton.