Brent Kaeding utilizes late race pass for Thunderbowl victory

By Gary Thomas

Tulare, CA - April 1, 2007... 12-time Golden State Challenge Series King of California Brent Kaeding of Campbell showed that he still has what it takes with a championship worthy performance Saturday night at Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway, in what was the sixth race of the ‘07 GSC season. Kaeding is the all-time winningest 410 sprint car driver in Thunderbowl Raceway history and is also the all-time leader when it comes to Golden State Challenge Series wins. The victory in Tulare was BK’s 71st career win with the series, which is far and above any other driver.

The 30 lap Golden State Challenge Series feature got underway with outside front row starter Brad Sweet of Grass Valley jumping into the lead in turn one, but pole sitter "Double Down" Willie Croft of Sacramento sliced underneath him in the second corner to claim the top spot. BK made a wild move on the start to shoot from sixth to third showing just how strong his Billy Albini prepared No. 69 was.

Kaeding made the move under Sweet on the third circuit to take second and gave chase after Croft. The track had become one lane on the bottom, but the racing was intense throughout the feature up front. BK was just getting underneath Croft when the yellow flag flew for Salinas driver Ronnie Day who slowed in turns three and four on lap six. The restart saw current GSC point leader Sean Becker of Oroville move the Fisher-Main Motorsports No 35m into third by getting under Sweet.

The action heated up as multiple green flag laps were clicked off and allowed some traffic to come into play. Croft, running in his very first 410 event at the Thunderbowl and only his second ever race at the track, did a great job to hug the bottom of the raceway and be patient through traffic. Kaeding and Becker began to close and the top three were nose to tail as we reached the halfway point. Kaeding’s car began to get loose off the corners and Becker was right there looking to capitalize, but just as that happened a caution appeared for Kingsburg’s Kody Swanson who had spun in turn four on lap 17.

Becker, the 2005 King of California, made the move under Kaeding on the restart to take over second, but it didn’t last long however, as BK made a hair-raising move in turn three to get back under Becker and re-take the runner-up spot. Kaeding had new life now and closed right up to the back bumper of the leader as the laps clicked off. Croft’s No. 29 machine was visibly getting looser late in the race, but with the racing groove being so narrow, patience was the key for Kaeding.

Lap 25 saw BK test out the top side and with a lap car in play, made a picture perfect move in turn one to drive to the outside of Croft and motor to the lead off the second corner. Croft stayed with Kaeding but a caution on lap 26 gave BK a clear track ahead and that was all she wrote. Kaeding clicked off the last four laps with no worries to drive away and pick up his 71st Golden State Challenge Series win aboard his Al’s Roofing Supply, Kaeding Performance, Selco Heating & Air No. 69.

Thunderbowl Raceway has been good to Kaeding recently and dating back to last year, he has now won three consecutive GSC races at the track. BK won his only two GSC races of 2006 at the Thunderbowl and also won a pair of SCRA wingless 360 events at the track last season. The living legend has also claimed victory at the Trophy Cup in 2005 at the Thunderbowl, and in 2004 picked up a big $5,000 to win open competition 410 winged sprint car event at the 1/3 mile Central, CA track.

Even though he got passed late in the race, it was still a very impressive drive for Croft to finish second in the Holy Smokes BBQ, LRB Manufacturing, Amerikote High Temp Coatings No. 29. His only previous Golden State Challenge Series win came in 2004 at the Mini Gold Cup and to score a runner-up his first time in a 410 at Thunderbowl Raceway says a lot about the 35-year-old driver. He was also coming off a stout performance last weekend in Placerville where he set fast time and finished fifth in the feature. It’s been great having the exciting driver touring with GSC this season.

Sean Becker continued his torrid pace with the Golden State Challenge Series this year scoring a third place finish in the Fisher-Main Motorsports, Cherry St. Mini Storage, Rolling Hills Reality No. 35m. The third place run was Becker’s best ever finish at the Thunderbowl and made it his fifth top five finish in the first six races of the GSC season. "The Shark" has now finished on the podium in three straight races and his worst finish this season is sixth, which is pretty remarkable for a driver and team that didn’t even plan on running full-time with GSC this season. Becker continues to lead the point standings, but as of Saturday night it was still up in the air if they’d travel to Antioch this coming weekend to compete with GSC.

An impressive drive from the sixth row was turned in by Campbell’s Bud Kaeding who finished fourth in the Wright One Construction, Coehlo Meat Company, Swimming Pool Perfections No. 35. The defending USAC Silver Crown champ made some great moves to score his second top five of the season. Completing the top five was Medford, Oregon’s Roger Crockett who drove the Henderson Motorsports, Island Muffler & Brake, All Points Petroleum No. 7n to his third top five of the season. Crockett has now finished in the top five every race he’s competed with the Henderson Motorsports team this season.

Finishing sixth through tenth it was the GT Trends No. 0 of Jonathan Allard, the GP Development No. 6 of Brad Sweet, the Coehlo Meats No. 4 of Mike Faria, the Reedley Irrigation No. 89 of Ricci Faria and the Tom Rolfe Trucking No. 10 of Jason Statler.

The 12 lap B-main was captured by Discovery Bays’ Jim Skinner who inherited the lead when Ronnie Day spun a 360 in turn four. Day kept going and finished second. Also transferring out were Jason Botsford, Craig Stidham, Evan Suggs, Kody Swanson and Garrett Ishii.

Winning his first career GSC dash was Croft who led all six laps of the contest. He was followed by Sweet, Becker, Allard, Crockett, Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria. Brandon Wimmer made the dash through his heat race but scratched for the remainder of the night due to engine issues.

Four entertaining 10 lap heat races were held and the first was won by Jonathan Allard who passed Jason Statler on the final lap. The second heat was picked up by 17-year-old GSC rookie Brett Miller who held off the strong challenges of Wimmer. The third heat race was won by Becker who passed Tommy Tarlton on a late race restart and the fourth heat was won by Bud Kaeding.

Fast time was set by Sweet who toured the 1/3 mile in 13.429 seconds.

The accompanying Western States Modifieds 25 lap feature was won by Bobby Hogge IV who re-inherited the lead when Randy McDaniel broke while running out front with less than five laps to go.

Full results can be found at and

Trophy Cup Date Change- It was previously announced that the 14th annual Trophy Cup would be held on November 9 and 10, but due to a scheduling conflict at the fairgrounds, the Trophy Cup will now be held on November 16 and 17. Please mark your calenders for the change as this will be a can’t miss weekend of action.

The next event for Thunderbowl Raceway will be April 28 when the Golden State Challenge Series and Western States Modifieds compete in the annual Pombo/Sargent Classic.

Attached photo courtesy Paul Trevino.