Golden State’s Pombo-Sargent Classic to Tommy Tarlton – By Bobby Gerould, 07/19/03, Hanford, CA. … One week ago, Tommy Tarlton was talking about how bad his race team needed a win. Looking toward Hanford on the schedule, he said, "We need to win a race because we are running out of races in the season." Tarlton 'called his own shot' at Kings Speedway in round 19 of 21 in Golden State Challenge competition. Driving the Palace Indian Gaming Center #21, the second-generation driver took advantage of a complete restart as the key to the victory in the 20th annual Pombo/Sargent Winged Sprint Car Classic. It was the second year in a row that Tarlton took home the Saturday night winner's trophy in the event.
A "four" pill was drawn to invert the front two rows for the 30-lap Golden State Challenge feature event. The initial green flag waved for the 22-car feature on the 3/8's mile clay oval. Ronnie Day and Brent Kaeding out-raced Tarlton, the pole sitter, as the field struggled for traction on the opening lap. Day and Kaeding were in front of Tarlton, however, Blake Robertson, who started sixth, did a spin in turn four after being bumped in the tail by another car. The caution flag appeared before Robertson completed a lap. Although 21 cars passed the flag stand to complete lap one, the #10 of Robertson did not, so a complete restart was called with Robertson going to the rear. The restart may have saved the race for Tarlton.
Back on the pole, the second start saw Tarlton out-race Day into turn one to take the lead. It was a position he would not relinquish during the 30-lap contest. Fifteen minutes after the checkered, still sweating in the hot Central California night air, Tarlton said, "We had a horrible start to the season, and my confidence was down so this is huge for us; like coming full circle." In the pit area amid well wishes, he continued, "I couldn't do this without my Dad. He's the man, and our team with Blaine (Steele) has been getting better and better. Blaine is the crew chief now, and his confidence is up too. We've really hit off. I let go of trying to make the chassis setup calls, and its better for the team. Now, I just drive it."
Despite one car leading all the laps, the feature was highly entertaining. The wide and smooth racing surface allowed for three deep racing on lap 7 when Tim Kaeding took over sixth, then fifth from Shain Matthews, and Dennis Moore Jr. The race climaxed on lap 11, as five cars all jockeyed for the lead in deep traffic. Racing off of turn two, Tarlton led the field but Brent Kaeding was virtually even with him. Day, Jon Allard, and Tim Kaeding were the others mixing it up on the slick raceway that started to get sticky in spots due to rubber peeling off the tires and onto the track surface. One corner later, the caution was waiving as Mike Schriver, and Tim Kaeding both came to a stop.
Tim entered the race in second place in the point standings behind only his Dad, Brent. Schriver re-fired but Tim Kaeding needed a tow to the pits for a broken tie-rod stud. The ABC Ready Mix #7T crew tried to quickly fix the car during the two lap courtesy period but crew chief Rod Tiner said following the event, "We only had time to jimmy-rig something, and it didn't hold up." The crew repaired the car enough for Tim to take the restart green but one lap later, any hope for a repeat championship in the series became infinitely longer as Tim slid to a stop in turn four. His car was towed to the infield, and Tim became a spectator for the remaining 17 laps. Tim punched the wing of the car in disgust. Also not finishing was Destiney Hays who suffered a blown engine, and Craig Stidham who was involved in tangle on lap two.
The ensuing restart was good for Jason Statler as he moved around Dennis Moore Jr. into the top five. The track conditions suddenly made a dramatic change just past the midway mark. On lap 17, the entire field recognized the rubber that was laid down more heavily, and traction was no longer a problem.
Mike Faria was spectacular the entire race in his own #4, racing from 18th on the grid to ultimately wrestle away 6th from Dennis Moore Jr. on the white flag lap. The top five at the finish were Tarlton, Brent Kaeding, Day, Allard, and Statler.
The Pombo Sargent Classic honors two driving legends from the Central California Valley. Al Pombo, and the late, Marshall Sargent drove Super Modifieds at now defunct Fresno area racetracks like Kearny Bowl, and Clovis Speedway. A beautifully restored Marshall Sargent #7 Super Modified paced the feature race.
Andy Forsberg led the Last Chance race wire-to-wire. Fellow transfers to the feature were Danny Faria Jr., Mike Quigley, Mike Schriver, Doug Lippincott, and Rick Fowzer. Jon Allard captured the B&B oval Track Products heat. Others heat winners were Jason York, Dennis Moore Jr., and Mike Faria. At the start of the second heat, Brent Kaeding and Garrett Ishii tangled causing Ishii to flip onto his side at the end of the front straightaway. Ishii was okay but his car was damaged too much to continue.
The BR Motor Sports Quick Qualifier award was claimed by Allard. Allard whipped his Wright One Construction Maxim around the 3/8’s mile oval in 13.845 seconds. Hoosier Tires, C.L. Bryant, BR Motor Sports, and B&B Oval Track Products sponsor the Golden State Challenge.
July 19, 2003.
Golden State Challenge Sprint Cars Round 19 of 21
BR Motor Sports Qualifying: Driver Hometown Car Time
B&B Oval Track Products Heat One: 1.Allard, 2. T. Kaeding, 3. Hays, 4. Matthews, 5. Fowzer, 6. Binstock, 7. Schriver
Heat Two: 1. York, 2. R. Faria, 3. B. Kaeding, 4. Robertson, 5. D. Faria Jr., 6. Lippincott, 7. Ishii
Heat Three: 1. Moore Jr., 2. Coelho, 3. Stidham, 4. Day, 5. Williams, 6. Skinner, 7. Louden
Heat Four: 1. M. Faria, 2. Pylant, 3. Tarlton, 4. Statler, 5. Forsberg, 6. Sargent, 7. Quigley
Last Chance Race (12 laps.) 1. Forsberg, 2. Faria Jr., 3. Quigley, 4. Schriver, 5. Lippincott, 6. Fowzer, 7. Sargent, 8. Louden, 9. Skinner, 10. Williams, 11. Binstock (Ishii did not start)
Feature (30 laps) – 1. Tarlton, 2. B. Kaeding, 3. Day, 4. Allard, 5. Statler, 6. M. Faria, 7. Moore Jr., 8. Forsberg, 9. R. Faria, 10. Robertson, 11. Coelho, 12. Pylant, 13. York, 14. Lippincott, 15. D. Faria Jr., 16. Fowzer, 17. Quigley, 18. Schriver, 19. T. Kaeding, 20. Matthews, 21. Hays, 22. Stidham.