Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pettit dominates SRL debut at the Acres

By Matthew J. Sullivan

The grandstands were packed this past Saturday night at Redwood Acres Raceway as the 3/8-mile paved oval welcomed the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series for their first ever visit to the Eureka, California track. The fans did not go home disappointed as the SRL drivers joined the local classes of real stocks, Thunder Roadsters and sportsman cars in providing a superb night of racing.

Matt Simon took the trophy dash victory for the real stocks ahead of Nick Green while the heat race victory was taken by Nick Green over Ryan Walters. The real stock feature was dominated by Walters who ended up taking home the win followed by Green, Harvey Holm, Doug Way and Michael Lawrence.

The trophy dash in the Thunder Roadster division was won by David Henderson.  Paul Peeples, Jr. won the heat race and was dominant in the feature event. Unfortunately his chief rival, Henderson suffered a cut tire in the main and fell out of action.  Peeples cruised to the feature win beating Thomas Payne, Mike Ward, Chris Sarvinski and Robbie Nelson.
Brandon Barnwell was victorious in the trophy dash while the heat race trophy went to Dennis DelBiaggio. Driving the car formerly owned by local racing icon, Larry Pries, Marty Walsh made his return to the Acres after several years away from the track.  Walsh moved to the front quickly and looked as though he was going to win without worry.

The biggest incident of the night occurred in the latter stages of the sportsman main when Barnwell appeared to cut a tire and hit the wall at the pit entrance.  Barnwell was okay but his car was heavily damaged.  The caution allowed DelBiaggio to get on Walsh’s bumper and the two waged a serious duel for the lead in the final handful of laps.  DelBiaggio appeared to have the better car but Walsh held him off for the win. Angelo Marcelli, Kenny Demello and Al Acuna completed the top five finishers.

20 cars qualified and started the 125-lap SRL feature.  Unfortunately, Zane Lovelace was a scratch after he suffered issues in practice.  Jacob Gomes set the fast time mark with a 15.478 lap. With the field invert at six, Donny St. Ours started on the pole while Ross Strmiska started to his outside.  St. Ours took the lead off the start but it was apparent early that Jim Pettit II was the man to beat.  It only took 17 laps for Pettit to work his way from sixth to the lead, a position he would never relinquish.

The star of the night was hometown favorite, Jim Walker. The west coast racing legend started from the 10th position fell back a few spots early in the going but began to maneuver his way through the field passing one car after another.  By the time the first caution flag flew on lap 87 Walker had maneuvered himself into the sixth spot.  Walker briefly moved into the top five and go to fourth until a cut tire forced him to the pits and ruined his chance at a good finish.

Strmiska did all he could on the restarts to get by Pettit but just didn’t have enough.  Pettit took the victory followed by Strmiska, Gomes and series rookie, Bobby Hodges.  Another Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series rookie, Brandon White delighted the hometown crowd with a solid top five run all night and a fifth place effort.

Racing returns to Redwood Acres Raceway this Saturday night with the roadrunners back on the track.