The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series SPEARS Manufacturing 125 Set
The Bar Extremely High For The 2012 Season
4/7/12 - By David Holman / Stockton 99 Media Relations
On Saturday, April 7th, on the Toughest Test In The West, the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour came knocking on the door and blew the roof off the old house in their Season debut at the tricky quarter-mile. Also on the Docket for the Event were the always exciting Legends of the Pacific and those speedy little four cylinder Pro-4 Modifieds! The pits were packed with the usual Opening Day paint schemes and uniforms, and the fans in the stands boasted a quaint 2000 occupants to get the 2012 Season underway on a beautiful day for racing.
On the Southwest Tour, these drivers have such an insatiable appetite for asphalt, it would be a daunting task, to say the least, to pick the winner in advance and actually be right. It’s not always the fastest car that wins, but rather, the driver who refuses to push himself away from the table before the eating is done. And so it went, the Young Mantecan, Jacob Gomes, driving the #16 Sunny Valley Smoked Meats, Dell’Osso Farms Toyota, proved too strong and too hungry for the rest of the field on this glorious Opening Night!
The four invert landed Roseville’s Eric Schmidt (05) at P1 with another Roseville driver, Zane Lovelace (46), nabbing the two-spot to get this much-anticipated race underway. Schmidt grabbed a huge hunk of forward bite coming out of four to the green flag, which vaulted him quickly into the early lead. And, no sooner had this one got up to speed, than did the first yellow break through the night sky when the #26 of Garden Grove’s Andy Allen applied too much bumper to Chadworth’s, Keith Spangler (37), which sent Spangler twisting down the frontstretch just beneath the flagstand. Over the next two restarts, Schmidt convincingly controlled the breathable air out front until lap 26 when Derek Thorn (43) of Bakersfield decided it was his turn to show his goods as he got under Schmidt for the lead. Unfortunately for Thorn, when he made the pass on Schmidt, he brought with him the hard-charging Jacob Gomes, who, on lap 32, made a pass of his own, which would eventually prove to be the pass of the race. Once Gomes put his #16 out in that rarified air, he began to chew away at large chunks of asphalt, while maneuvering, stunningly, through lapped traffic, until there was nothing left to race for but that not-so-pristine real estate in second on what was left of the racing surface. Despite an occasional nibble at his back bumper on a couple restarts from Thorn, Gomes went mostly unchallenged as he crossed beneath the checkers nearly a full second ahead of his nearest competitor, who happened to be the always fast, Derek Thorn, in a very commanding Victory. "I always try to do my best whenever I come here, and it's great to come into your home track because you always know you have a chance to win," Gomes said. Of course, Thorn held on to finish second while Dublin’s Jason Gilbert (88) had an absolutely brilliant run of his own, finishing on the podium in third. M.K. Kanke (33) of Frazier Park finished a strong fourth and Carlos Vieira (51) of Livingston, running an extremely quiet race, finally showed up on the map in fifth. Last year’s Champion, Jim Pettit II (18) of Prunedale, after running in the top five most of the night, had a left rear tire go down late in the race, but still managed to rally back to tenth. This race was plagued by ten caution periods for thirty laps and finished in a time of 50:48:130. Earlier in the day, Gomes was fast qualifier and Bob Lyon (44) of Agua Dulce won the B Main.
The Legends of the Pacific showed up in force on this night, sporting 39 cars that took time, which would force a very large B Main. When the dust finally settled, it would be Hemet’s Chad Schug (29S), holding the trophy high above his head on the top rung of the podium.
This one got up to speed with Benecia’s Tony Mangini (7) starting at pole and Upper Lake’s Jeremy Doss (75) high and tight to the right. With the green flag flying high above the racing surface, Mangini grabbed a gear and drove off into turn one with the holeshot. But much to his dismay, the Racing Gods were not smiling on his night as an almost-immediate yellow scraped against the evening sky when, on lap 2, the #03 of Darren Amidon and Ontario’s Christian McGhee (71) tangled low between turns one and two. On the ensuing couple of quick restarts, Doss would take slim charge of P1, but on lap 4, Mangini managed to wrestle it back, and, once out in that much sought-after territory, the #7 would stubbornly guard his front row possession until lap 20, when Upper Lake’s Mike Doss (35) looped in low in turn two bringing with him the third yellow of the race. In the meantime, Mangini drifted back to the tail-end of the field where he would take up new residence at the restart. And on the restart, Hemet’s Chad Schug (29) graciously accepted his new-found inheritance as he put his right foot down and motored off to the lead. Once out front, and despite another restart, Schug would not be denied on this night as he drove off into the annals of history and took home the Victor’s share of the spoils. "I figured we had a car that could get a top three. I wasn't sure if we could pull off a win," Schug said, then added, "We just worked on the car really hard." Darren Amidon (03) drove an absolutely divine race by rebounding from his earlier altercation to finish on the podium in second. Cupertino’s Luis Tyrell (74M) ran his usual strong race and brought her home on the podium in third. Frazier Park’s Cale Kanke (33), fast qualifier on the day and following in the footsteps of his well-known dad, finished fourth while Jeremy Doss fell off just a bit, but still managed a fifth place finish. Tracy’s Cody Berger (63) took the win in the B Main earlier in the day.
The Pro-4 Modifieds returned to action for this Event and Cobb’s Chris Straka (34), as he does quite often, made the most of his night by starting P5 on the grid and driving his way through the field to the checkers for the lopsided Victory. "I enjoy any track when you have to use the brake pedal; it brings a whole new aspect to driving," Straka said. "You can outdrive the guy going into the corner. "It's a lot more of a racer's race track." Kurt Lewis (87) of Forestville ran an impressive race of his own and it paid dividends by putting the #87 on the podium in second. Marty Lewis (07) of Santa Rosa followed closely onto the podium in third, while Windsor’s Nick King (3) brought her home in fourth. The #10 of Stan Bushman rounded out the top five. Earlier in the day, Marty Lewis grabbed top honors in the Heat Race while Straka took the checkers in the Trophy Dash.
Next Saturday, April 14th, NASCAR Whelen All American Series Opening Night presents:
Modified Race #1, Modified Race #2, North State Challenge Series Late Models, Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, and Basically-4-Cylinders. With Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Giveaways!
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, ¼-mile west of Highway 99. For more information on tickets and times, please contact the Speedway Office at (209)466-9999 or visit their Website at www.stockton99.com.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, Budweiser, Alamo Alarm and Stockton Hampton Inn and Suites and Lodi Holiday Express.