Tulare Fan Aprreciation Races to Tim Kaeding - By Bobby Gerould and Ron Rodda - Tulare, CA. 11/29/02 - Tim Kaeding charged from 17th starting position to win the Fan Appreciation Races at Tulare Thunderbowl Friday night. In front of a good sized crowd, Kaeding roared through the field, and caught leader Steve Kent on the white-flag lap of the 30 lap contest. As Kent entered turn one with a car-length lead over Kaeding, Kent went high to try and pass a lapper, opening the door for the 24 year-old hot shoe that has been on a winning rampage in the Golden State in the late season. Kaeding passed Kent on the inside in turn one but the two cars made contact in turn two when Kaeding's right rear hit Kent's left front. The result was Kent in the wall, and turned over, while Kaeding continued as the leader when the green flag replaced the red flag. Kent, none too happy with the situation, proceeded to throw his helmet at Kaeding's cockpit as he walked back to the pits. Words were exchanged but the flammable situation was quickly under control as cooler heads prevailed. Kaeding held off the field for the restart and apologized to Kent and the fans in the winners circle. "I apologize for that but rubbin's racin'."

Kaeding started 17th in the feature after winning the Last Chance Race in the Terry Cowan owned #7T prepared by Rod Tiner, and Greg Yanazzo. Peter Murphy, who finished fourth also came from deep in the pack. Murphy was the unlucky driver that pulled pill #16. A Blind draw for the top 16 starting spots was held after the final heat race.

Blake Robertson drew the pole, and blasted into the lead. He quickly established a large margin between himself and Craig Stidham while Jason Statler ran 3rd, Kasey Kahne was 4th, and Danny Lasoski 5th by the sixth tour of the fast 1/3 mile, high-banked, clay oval.

When Brian Coelho stopped with a flat right rear with ten laps scored, it only momentarily slowed Robertson and Tim Kaeding was in 9th with a third of the race done. Kahne had driveline failure after brushing the backstretch wall on lap 11 and Brent Kaeding spun to a stop in turn four with front end damage a lap later, ending both of their chances. Steve Kent stormed into 4th from his 12th starting spot on lap 12 and took 3rd from Lasoski two laps later with a low pass entering turn three. Kent got past Stidham for 2nd on lap 18 and Robertson's fine effort ended a lap later with right rear suspension problems, handing the lead to Kent with Stidham, Lasoski, T. Kaeding, and Peter Murphy in pursuit.

T. Kaeding spent the last ten laps mounting one of his patented charges and ran on Kent's rear nerf for a couple of laps before the pair took the white flag almost together. To get there he passed Lasoski on lap 21 with a low turn two move and too 2nd a lap later from Stidham racing along the backstretch. As they raced into turn one, T. Kaeding drove under Kent for the pass and contact sent Kent into the turn two wall. Kent emerged unhurt but unhappy about the result and the red flag incident meant a 31 lap race as two more circuits were required by rule. T. Kaeding led the remaining pair with Stidham back in 2nd, Lasoski 3rd, Murphy 4th, and Joey Saldana made a last turn pass for 5th from his 18th starting spot.

Qualifying: Fast time-Jason Meyers 13.369

Heat one-Danny Lasoski, Jason York, Blake Robertson, Jason Statler, Tim Kaeding,

Heat two-Kevin Pylant, Dennis Moore Jr., Danny Faria Jr., Peter Murphy, Tommy Tarlton, Chad Riolo, Brock Lemley, Bobby Davis, Brian Coelho

Heat three-Stan Yockey, Steve Kent, Garrett Ishii, Jason Solwold, Orval Burke, Ricci Faria, Tony Sousa, Steve Cushman, Joey Saldana

Heat four-Kasey Kahne, Craig Stidham, Brent Kaeding, Mike Faria, Tony Lutar, Mike Dunham, Jim Skinner, Mike Quigley, Jason Meyers.

B main-T. Kaeding, Saldana, Tarlton, Meyers, Coelho, Burke, Davey Key, Roger Crockett, Faria, Lemley, Skinner, Riolo, Andy Forsberg, Dunham, Lutar, Quigley, Sousa, Cushman, Davis.

A main-T. Kaeding, Stidham, Lasoski, Murphy, Saldana, Solwold, Yockey, M. Faria, York, Pylant, Coelho, Tarlton, Ishii, Statler, Moore, Kent, D. Faria, Robertson, Burke, Meyers, Kahne, B. Kaeding

A vendor Fair was held in the parking lot before the races.

Cars were displayed and fans enjoyed seeing the cars up close

Grove Hill (far right) had his videos playing. Here, the guys watch a flip by Brian Coelho.

Dennis Moore Jr. (L), and Tommy Tarlton (R) were among the drivers to shake hands with the fans on Fan Appreciation night.

World Champion, drag racer, Gary Scelzi was the Grand Marshall of the race. He too, shook hands with the fans.

Joey Saldana is wildly popular in the Golden State.

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