PETALUMA, CA, May 19—Winning and losing, hot and cold, lucky or jinxed, they’re all just segments of racing that every driver encounters during the season. Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway a pair of three-race winning streaks were halted, another was extended, and a repeat winner and a first-time winner are hoping that good fortune continues to ride with them.
At the conclusion of the five-division race card, second-year driver Trevor Schmid was standing tall in Pit Stop USA’s Wingless Sprint Car victory lane after notching his first-ever main event triumph, Jeff Decker was all smiles after extending his Late Model division winning streak to three straight, and in the inaugural race of the Spring Modified Nationals, veteran driver Richard Papenhausen led the final 18 laps to earn the victory.
Also basking in the spotlight were former two-time track champions, Steve Studebaker, who pulled out a thrilling last-lap victory in the Lumberjacks Restaurant Super Stocks, and John Peters, who prevailed in the Dwarf Cars.
Wingless Sprint Car driver Schmid felt he had found the right set-up after setting fast time in qualifying and knew he had a chance for victory after rising from sixth to second place after just three laps in the feature. Four different drivers, including Zack Lynskey, Klint Simpson, Joe Stornetta, and Schmid led during the 25-lap race, with Schmid leading the charge over the last 11 laps.
Lynskey led the first seven laps until Schmid took control for two laps before yielding to Klint Simpson, who had stormed up from ninth place. Simpson’s lead gave way to Joe Stornetta, whose three-race winning streak ended after Stornetta surrendered the front spot to Simpson and was trying to regain it by squeezing through a tight fit on the bottom of Turn 4. Stornetta and Simpson got tangled up and both drivers ended up at the rear of the pack for a Lap 16 restart as Schmid regained the lead.
Schmid led for the last 11 laps to collect the victory while Stornetta stormed back to claim second place over 12th-starting Sparky Howard, Lynskey, and Scott Hall, who finished fifth for the fourth time in fifth races.
In the Late Models, Jeff “The Hitman” Decker kept his perfect record in tact by winning his heat and his 24th career main event. Thus far, he’s won every race he’s competed in including Saturday’s 25-lap feature in which he started on the pole, got a great jump to take the lead and never looked back as he raced to victory over fast-qualifier John Silva, Steve Johnson, Anthony Restad, and Paul Guglielmoni.
Despite a strong run by Silva, Decker was never seriously challenged. In an exciting battle for third place Anthony Restad held off Steve Johnson until Lap 19 when Johnson went to the bottom in Turn 4 and captured the position.
“I figured whoever took the lead at the start would win the race,” said Decker, whose three straight wins is one shy of his season-best four straight set in 2010.
Richard Papenhausen began threatening race leader Ray Benkowski on Lap 6 before taking charge on Lap 12 and dominating the rest of the way in the 30-lap Spring Modified Nationals, an event that expects to become an annual affair at Petaluma Speedway. Papenhausen, who was the night’s third-fastest qualifier, nearly came away with a clean sweep, by winning his heat, the dash for cash, and the feature.
The third of three race leaders, Papenhausen kept working around the bottom of the track, a strategy that worked to perfection as he raced across the finish line 5.687 seconds ahead of runner-up Michael Paul Jr., who grabbed second place from Benkowski on Lap 23. Benkowski finished third, ninth-starting Chris Sieweke was fourth, and Ron Palombino fifth.
Steve Studebaker’s exciting last lap victory over points leader Mike Learn was especially gratifying for the former champion in that it not only handed Studebaker his first win of the season but also snapped Learn’s three-race winning streak.
Learn was holding a sizable lead over runner-up Studebaker until a Lap 20 yellow flag closed up the ranks and gave hopes to Studebaker, third-running David Spriggs, and Larry Drew.
“When the yellow flag came out I thought to myself that I can win this race, it’s now or never,” exclaimed Studebaker, who was running the high line and pulled even with Learn on Lap 24. “Finally, I got up on his wheel and pulled it off by going low into the corner.”
Learn finished second, Spriggs came in third, Drew was fourth, and “Ironman” Shawn McCoy, competing in his 735th consecutive race, finished fifth.
Speedy John Peters got into lapped traffic early and stayed there most of the race and although his huge lead diminished to nothing when a yellow flag waved on Lap 16, the Santa Rosa driver had little trouble in winning for the second time in four tries.
Second-place finisher Adam Johnson had slipped as low as fourth before climbing back to second place on Lap 17 but was unable to catch Peters, who led every lap to claim his eighth career win. Third place went to Scooter Gomes, followed by Travis Dutra, Mike Mangini, and Jon Davi.
Results for May 19
WINGLESS SPRINT CARS
Fast time—Trevor Schmid 14.480.
Heat 1—Geoff Ensign; Klint Simpson; Schmid; Scotty Dupont; Bret Barney; Dustin Baxter; Michael Bakkie; Sparky Howard.
Heat 2—Scott Hall; Joe Stornetta; Zack Lynskey; Bill Cornwell; Nick Larson; Jeff Lee; Kyle Bakkie; Bradley Terrell.
Main—Schmid; Stornetta; Howard; Lynskey; Hall; Baxter; Barney; Simpson; Larson; M. Bakkie; K. Bakkie; Lee; Cornwell; Kenny Drew; Ensign; Dupont; Terrell.
Fast time—John Silva 14.474.
Heat 1—Jeff Decker; Steve Johnson; Dean DeVolder; Paul Guglielmoni.
Heat 2—Silva; Anthony Restad; Richard Papenhausen; Dennis Souza.
Main—Decker; Silva; Johnson; Restad; Guglielmoni; Papenhausen; Souza; DeVolder.
Fast time--Joe Carr 16.237.
Heat 1—Richard Papenhausen; Carr; Joel Myers; Michael Paul Jr.; Roger Lorenzini; Tommy Bottini.
Heat 2—Oreste Gonella; Chris Sieweke; Jerry Roy Jr.; Ray Benkowski; Ron Palombino.
Dash—Papenhausen; Sieweke; Roy; Carr; Myers; Gonella.
Main—Papenhausen; Paul; Benkowski; Sieweke; Palombino; Roy; Lorenzini; Gonella; Jeff Thomas; Myers; Carr; Bottini.
Heat 1—Mike Learn; David Spriggs; Steve Studebaker; Michelle Byron; Paul Hanley; Trevor Brady; Stan Devore; Nathan Schleth.
Heat 2—Larry Drew; Michael Drew; Shawn McCoy; DW Drew; Rich Levacque; Shane Brandon; Roger Miller.
Main—Studebaker; Learn; Spriggs; L. Drew; McCoy; M. Drew; Hanley; Levacque; DW Drew; Miller; Byron; Brady; Devore; Schleth; Brandon.
Heat 1—Adam Johnson; Travis Dutra; Scooter Gomes; Danny Marsh; Mike Mangini.
Heat 2—John Peters; Carroll Mendenhall; Tommy King; Kaitlyn Mendenhall; Jon Davi.
Main—Peters; Johnson; Gomes; Dutra; Mangini; Davi; K. Mendenhall; C. Mendenhall; King.