Open show victories go to Petaluma's track champions

In racing, late-season open shows, or money shows as they're sometimes called, can be a great opportunity for racecar drivers to release the restraints demanded of points racing and just go for it.  At Petaluma Speedway, on Saturday, a pair of hometown drivers who fought all season to earn track championships in their respective divisions put distinctive exclamation points on their recent success by dominating their main events and ended the season on a triumphant note.

 

Petaluma drivers, Steve Dempsey, in the Super Stocks, and Keith Benson, in Mini Stock, wrapped up the season by earning some extra cash, while the Sport Mod division, in its first-ever race at Petaluma drew a disappointing car count for the inaugural Sport Mod Shootout.

 

Although the entry-level Sport Mod class, a newcomer to northern California, is expected to gain popularity in the near future, just four cars entered the event. Of the four drivers who made the call for the twin-25, 50-lap feature, Ron Bolles of Sonoma appeared to be the most polished as he led all 50 laps and pocketed the winner's share of $750.

 

Chris Norris of Rohnert Park solved an overheating problem that left him one lap behind the leader at the break, then came out and grabbed second place from Shawn Bryant of Los Banos on Lap 44. Norris finished in second place, and Bryant was third, while fourth place went to Jeremy Hoff of Copperopolis.

 

In the BRC Race Cars Super Stock open show Dempsey and season-long adversary Steve Studebaker of Santa Rosa renewed their rivalry one last time. Studebaker started on the pole and Dempsey in the second row of the 50-lap feature but it wasn’t long before Dempsey was threatening for the lead. Dempsey, who won six of ten All-Pro Series features this season, grabbed the lead from Studebaker on Lap 19 with a low pass in Turn 4. Trailing the frontrunners were Petaluma drivers Kevin Aguirre, Shawn McCoy, and Michelle Byron.    

 

Dempsey dominated the second half with a flawless performance, which he needed, as Studebaker stalked, ready to pounce on his slightest mistake. Byron took third place from Aguirre on Lap 27, and finished in that spot, which made the top three finishers identical to the All-Pro points race finish with Dempsey winning $500 for placing first, Studebaker coming in second, and Byron third. Fourth place went to Aguirre, and fifth to “Ironman” Shawn McCoy of Petaluma, who finished the season making his 731st consecutive start.

 

In the Aamco Transmissions Mini Stock open show Benson, who won five of eight main events during the points season, was never seriously challenged as he defeated a five-car field with a runaway performance that saw him defeat second place Josh Williams of Petaluma, the only other driver on the lead lap, by more than 14 seconds. Rounding out the finish was John Veeninga of El Sobrante, Sebastopol’s Snazzy Duckworth, and Chris Sieweke of Santa Rosa.

Results for October 1

SUPER STOCK

Fast time—Steve Dempsey 18.775.

Heat 1—Kevin Aguirre; Rick Karnes; Dempsey; Michelle Byron; Shawn McCoy; Steve Studebaker.

Heat 2—Mark Ohlinger; Shawn Smith; Rich Levacque; Paul Hanley; Roger Miller.

Main—Dempsey; Studebaker; Byron; Aguirre; McCoy; Levacque; Smith; Karnes; Ohlinger; Hanley; Miller DNS.

 

MINI STOCK

Fast time—Chris Sieweke 21.163.

Heat 1—Sieweke; Josh Williams; Keith Benson; John Veeninga; Snazzy Duckworth; Eden McCormick.

Main—Benson; Williams; Veeninga; Duckworth; Sieweke; McCormick DNS.

 

SPORT MOD

Fast time—Ron Bolles 17.690.

Heat 1—Jeremy Hoff; Chris Norris; Shawn Bryant; Bolles.

Main—Bolles; Norris; Bryant; Hoff.