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Mission Accomplished for Tim Kaeding By: Troy Hennig (Chico, CA 7-27-02)…As the final 30 lap main event of the year for the Golden State Challenge King of California sprint car race lined up, the words “man on a mission” had been written on the side of Tim Kaeding’s sprint car. Kaeding had entered the final race of the year with a two point advantage over 11-time champion Brent Kaeding. However, after Brent earned three points in qualifying and Tim didn’t earn any, Brent now had a one point lead going into the man event. The weekend could have been coined “mission impossible” for Tim and the Wright One Construction team who had a 16 point lead going into the final two nights of racing at Chico. Yet, entering the main event his lead had evaporated and he was one point behind Brent. This prompted Tim and his crew to write “man on a mission” on the car and 30 laps later those words turned into reality.

“Before the race I gave all of the crew high-fives and hugs and told them I was either coming back to the trailer with the trophy or on a tow-truck,” said Kaeding. In the most spectacular Golden State Challenge main event in recent years, Tim Kaeding needed to not only pass Brent, Tim started seventh and Brent started fourth, but also put one car in between the both of them to gain sole possession of the title. During the most anxious 30 laps of the year, Tim not only passed Brent but when it was all said and done, Tim finished second and Brent finished fifth. Mission accomplished. Tim Kaeding wins the 2002 Golden State Title.

Despite the focus on the championship, the race itself was one of the best all season long. The track had developed a bottom groove and a top groove which made for very exciting side-by-side racing, major slide jobs and heart stopping action. Up front it was Silver Dollar Speedway’s top driver this year, Australian Peter Murphy, who won the main event. Murphy now has won three mains this year at Chico to go along with his second place finish the previous night. Kaeding finished second followed by a solid run by Chico native Stephen Allard, who held the lead up until lap 18.

Craig Stidham and Peter Murphy started on the front row of the 22 car starting A main event. Murphy took the lead while Stephen Allard moved into second and Brent Kaeding was third. The championship was almost decided on lap four. Going into turn three Tim dove to the bottom of Roger Crockett in a battle for seventh. Exiting the turn the two made contact and Kaeding locked up the brakes to avoid a worse accident. For a blink of a second it looked as if the Tim’s championship season was over. Everything seemed to move in slow motion, however, Kaeding controlled the car and somehow kept the car powered and continued on.

The first yellow flew on lap nine when Jim Skinner stopped in turn four. Steven Tiner also stopped on the back straight with a broken rear-end. On the ensuing restart, Allard drove by Murphy for the lead. The next eight laps saw side-by-side racing amongst the top six drivers. Stidham moved back into fourth and was pressuring Brent for third. Jason Meyers was running fifth and also sneaking up to battle for fourth. On lap 18, Jim Skinner brought out his second yellow of the night. The next two attempts at a restart brought out yellow flags. Colby Weisz and Ronnie Day tangled on the back stretch while in separate incidents Jason Statler and Kevin Pylant each came to a stop on the track. The next attempt saw Kevin Pylant spin in turn four. During the restart, Tim had managed to move from the fifth spot to the lead, however, with Pylant sitting in turn four the race was restarted with the previous line-up.

The third attempt was a good start and it proved to be all Murphy needed to regain the lead. Going into turn one Allard dove to the bottom while Murphy ran the high side. Coming out of turn two Murphy had regained the lead. Allard was now being pressured by Brent. Behind them, laps were winding down for Tim. It was now go-time. Tim passed Stidham to set up the epic battle between himself and Brent. Tim forced the issue with Brent and passed him going down the back straight. Brent fought back on the outside and going back into turn one Brent pinched Tim to the bottom. Tim continued to gas it up and drove underneath Brent, slid up the track, banged off the cushion and continued. Going into turn three, Brent tried one last attempt to pass Tim with a slide job. As Brent slid up, Tim was there and Brent seemed to check up. When he did, the car pushed up and over the cushion, allowing Meyers to take the fourth spot from Brent.

However, Tim wasn’t done. He next moved along side Allard and passed Stephen for second on lap 25. Kaeding charged forward and tried to catch Murphy but wasn’t able too. Murphy had driven one of the best races in his career to win his second Golden State main event of the season and it solidified his fourth place finish in the points. Tim finished second followed by Allard, Meyers and Brent. Needless to say, the victory lap donuts were almost as spectacular as the race. Tim started them in turn four and concluded them in turn one. A mob surrounded the Wright One Construction / Compton Shakers / RPM Racing Engine #35 when Tim finally stopped.

In a celebration that would envy a Super Bowl champion, Kaeding was dosed with beer, hugs, high-fives and a wing dance. “This is great,” said a tired but excited champion. “It’s the best night of my life.” With the victory, the twenty-three year old, third generation driver becomes the series youngest champion. “We tore up a lot of stuff this year but the Wright One team busted their butts off all year and we did it, we beat my old man.”

After twenty-two official races in the 2002 series, the final point numbers on the year proved almost too unbelievable but true. Tim Kaeding 1,259 points, Brent Kaeding 1,257. A total of 39 cars qualified for the final night of Golden State Challenge racing. Eugene, Oregon’s Roger Crockett turned the quickest lap at 12.263. Four heat races were needed with three-time Marysville champion Colby Weisz winning heat one. Brian Coehlo picked off the win in heat race number two while young Steven Tiner won heat three. The fourth and final heat race went to a determined Tim Kaeding, who started in the third row.

Chico’s Jason York won the C main event and Carl Enns finished second allowing both of these drivers to move on into the B main. The B Main was won by Stephen Allard. Crockett, Billy Wallace, Pylant, Tommy Tarlton and Andy Forsberg round out the top six and all earned transfer spots into the A main.

Results Fast Time: Roger Crockett: 12.263

Heat 1: Colby Weisz, Ronnie Day, Nick Rescino Jr., Peter Murphy, Billy Wallace

Heat 2: Brian Coehlo, Eric Rossi, Jason Meyers, Craig Stidham, Kyle Schild

Heat 3: Steven Tiner, Jason Statler, Brent Kaeding, Jonathan Allard, Stephen Allard

Heat 4: Tim Kaeding, Garrett Ishii, Jim Skinner, Sean Becker, Kevin Pylant

C MAIN: Jason York, Carl Enns, Stuart Krum, Jon Maiwald, Eddy Lewis, Dave Clarke, Mike Funkhouser

B Main: S. Allard, Crockett, Wallace, Pylant, Tarlton, Forsberg, Jeff Hallieb, Shain Matthews, John Gray, York, Enns, Charlie Lowden, Schild, Bob Maiwald

A Main: Murphy, T. Kaeding, S. Allard, Meyers, B. Kaeding, Rossi, Stidham, Crockett, Ishii, Rescino Jr., Statler, J. Allard, Tarlton, Becker, Day

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