By Bill Foland
04/07/02 ...Here I am again from a rather nice and pleasant Mountain View, California. The past two weekends were spent in Chico for a rare back-to-back double-header weekend in California. The reason being, the show at Placerville scheduled for last weekend was changed to Chico because there was still construction going on at the racetrack in Placerville.
Chico has evolved throughout the years from a track that was normally sticky and rough to a very unpredictable race surface. The days of 22 inches of stagger are gone but the races are still usually very good. Roger Crockett has been on a roll at the early part of the year taking another win at Chico at the Points series opener over Ryan Flynn, Brent Kaeding and Peter Murphy. The race went non-stop with no lead changes but plenty of action. Crockett ran traffic very well as Murphy ran 2nd most of the race with pressure from both Flynn and BK. Murphy bobbled with 5 laps to go and Flynn went by but he had nothing for Crockett, then BK passed Murphy for 3rd on the last lap. This race was run off in less than 7 minutes with the race pushing off at 10:58 p.m.
The next night was round two of the Golden State Challenge with some guys from the Central Valley coming to the Saturday race only. Brent Kaeding got out to an early lead and it looked to be a runaway until Brent slid high in turn one and Roger Crockett went by and took off. Crockett led until 7 laps to go when he encountered a spinning Billy Wallace and took evasive action and slid off of turn 2 as BK and Jason Meyers went by. The bad news for Crockett was Wallace kept going and no yellow was displayed. This has always been a controversial spot for the officials as normally it is up to the flagman to make the call whether a yellow should be thrown. Over the last five laps of this race, there were no less than four more instances of cars spinning on the very tricky, and slick, racing surface. One spin, came in front of the leaders, as BK and Meyers took evasive action but were able to keep going, and not lose a spot. Meyers hounded BK but could never find a way by and settled for 2nd with Crockett coming home a disappointed 3rd, Craig Stidham, a very impressive 4th in only his second race at Chico, and Brian Coelho rounding out the top 5.
This past weekend was once again a points show on Friday with 32 cars signing in. The track was very greasy for time trials with a 15.6 being fast time, which is about 3 seconds off the normal fast time. The track was still coming in during the heat races as Troy Hovey won his first ever heat race with an inspiring run to win after Sean Becker was sidelined while leading with a nozzle line problem.
The main event started with Brent Kaeding and Ryan Flynn in the front row and they took off and threatened to leave the rest of the field in their wake. A couple of yellows slowed the field but Brent was able to pull away every restart. Jason Statler was having his best run to date until the big hole inbetween turn three, and four, got him going the wrong direction and he lost several spots, falling from 3rd.
Roger Crockett was once again on the charge as he got into the top 4 from his 8th starting spot after several three and four wide races with lapped traffic, and the 2nd through 4th machines. With the laps winding down, Brent approached serious traffic and seemed to have trouble getting by, as Flynn and Crockett closed. They ran out of laps as Brent went on to his 2nd straight victory at Chico followed by Flynn, Crockett, Statler and Jon Allard. This was a very exciting race as the track came in about 2 laps into the feature and made for some great 3-groove racing.
I have to give a shout out to Brian Coelho whose rig broke down in Fresno but still was able to make it to the races and tagged the B-main. He almost made it into the A-Main but fell two cars short. To Brian and the entire Coelho Motorsports team you guys are on my short list for the "Racers" of the Year award.
The next night a very surprising low car count of 25 cars showed up even though the cars of Meyers, Tommy Tarlton, Mike Faria, Kevin Pylant and Jerry Bonnema showed up after not coming on Friday night. Chico has a very good bunch of local talent who only have the budget to run on Friday nights so they weren't able to make the call for Saturday. It was a very good field of cars that showed up to run the GSRS race on Saturday night but with only three heat races, it made for some very tough heat races.
With an 8 inversion, this put Steve Fehrmann and Brent Kaeding in the front row as the field headed down for the green on the very slick and tough racing surface. BK shot into the lead only to have caution after caution slow the race. Jason Meyers found a line in turns 3 and 4 to his liking and was able to get by Brent and the rest is history. I lost count of all the yellows for minor spins and then the dreaded fuel stop on lap 7 doomed the nights racing.
Restart after restart Meyers pulled away to a comfortable lead as Brent battled with Kevin Pylant for 2nd. Pylant actually had BK passed once only to see the yellow flag. Tim Kaeding was on the prowl from his 16th starting spot and entered into the top five on lap 23. Tim was using his patented middle to high line work as he passed Pylant for 3rd on lap 25, then drove by his dad on lap 28 for 2nd. Tim had nothing for Meyers as Jason won his first Golden State race in a couple of years after traveling with the Gumout Series and the WoO.
Jason Meyers will be tough to beat this year as he has run up front at all the races and looks to be a serious title contender for the rest of the year. Behind Meyers and Tim Kaeding came Brent Kaeding, Kevin Pylant and Peter Murphy. The series now moves on to the Tulare Thunderbowl next Saturday night.
B.F's notes: Brad Furr won his first official WoO A-Main after rain washed out the 2nd night at the Texas Motor Speedway…Kraig Kinser was a very impressive 2nd…Ricky Logan earned his best ever finish with a 3rd place run… Jac Haudenschild picked up his first WoO win in a couple of year at Pevely… Tyler Walker has been impressive in both the WoO and the Gumout Series with several top five runs to his credit already, he will break into the win column shortly…Danny Lasoski swept into Texas and went home with the Gumout loot at the opener at Lone Star Speedway…Steve Kinser and Tyler Walker were taken out of 1st and 2nd by an errant sprinter…Blake Feese took the All-Star race at Eldora over the weekend followed by Jeff Shepard in the Ashworth car… Greg Hodnett and Keith Kauffman have been on a roll lately in Pennsylvania with Kauffman winning three races to Hodnett's two over the past couple of weeks… Fred Rahmer returned to the Lincoln Speedway victory circle last Saturday night followed by Lance Dewease and Niki Siegel's dad Steve…Mike Aabey Jr. won his first ever USAC Western States Sprint car race at El Cajon followed by Rick Hendrix and Scott Hansen…The following week the first ever USAC Regional Sprint car race was won by Brian Bullard after surviving heavy pressure from Mark Monico in the final laps… Shauna Hogg took 2nd after Monico spun trying to pass Bullard…Billy Sellers III took home his first win in a couple of years at Placerville over a revitalized Greg DeCaires and newcomer Chris Wilson…A huge upset took place at the Rebel Cup race in Hanford as unheralded Chris D'Arcy took home the top honors over Tim Worth and Andy Ferris… I bet there were a whole bunch of garbage cans being passed around after that race was over. That is all I have until next time…BF
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