Kent Captures Calistoga Fair Race - Calistoga, CA. by Bill Sessa - 06/30/01 - Steve Kent took home a trophy to put on his mantle after winning Saturday night's Golden State Challenge Series sprint car race at Calistoga Speedway. It just as easily could have been a stuffed and mounted version of series points leader Brent Kaeding for his wall. In true big game fashion, Kent stalked Kaeding for seven laps on the half-mile oval before taking the lead on lap 19 with a move he planned two laps before, and then took the checkered flag for the 25 lap affair. Kent's description of his pass for the lead sounded more like an ambush in the jungle after he followed Kaeding long enough to find his weak spot.

"The best time to be in first place is on the last lap," said an excited Kent in victory circle, 'because when you're out in front you don't know whose coming up behind you or where they are on the track. While chasing Kaeding, I could see that (he) was comfortable running a groove in the middle of the track & and I got to the front by running in the top groove," said Kent. "But then I found some good rubber a little lower off turn four and kept gaining on him." Kent's momentum from the lap before gave him a good run down the backstretch, "where I set (Brent) up and then dove underneath him." Kaeding got his car a bit sideways coming off the turn in a futile effort to fend off Kent, who had already pulled the trigger on the the front-runner and had set his sights on the clear race track ahead of him.

Kent's victory added to his point total over Kaeding as he guns for his fifth championship at Calistoga. 'If I 've said this once, I 've said it a million times, if they raced here every Saturday night, I 'd be here', reflecting the fact that the high-speed, special-events track is one of his favorites. Kaeding overcame motor problems after his heat race to lead the first 18 laps of the main event from the pole and won a wheel to wheel duel over the first eight laps with Mike Faria, who did a 360 degree spin inches from the turn-four wall and fell back to eighth. Kaeding acknowledged that Kent simply had the better set-up at the end of the race. "He got a real good hold on the racetrack and just drove by me and then he had the motor and the tires to stay up there," said the ten-time Golden State Challenge Series champion and current points leader. "Toward the end, we were running low on fuel and the tires were going away and I was running about 80 percent and just hung on to finish. "

Brian Coelho, who was the night's fastest qualifier and who has set quick time at three of Calistoga's four races this season, finished third. But the fastest car in the closing laps was Jonathan Allard, whose crew has had to regroup after two hard crashes in two weeks. Allard stormed through thick traffic over the last five laps to finish sixth after starting twelth.

Sprint cars return to Calistoga over Labor Day weekend, when the national World of Outlaws tour visits the half-mile oval for the three-day Harvest Classic.