Willie Croft makes final lap move under Tim Kaeding to win a Sprint Car Challenge Tour thriller in Petaluma
By Gary Thomas
Petaluma, CA – April 28, 2018…Over the year’s Roseville’s Willie Croft has routinely been a driver to beat at the Petaluma Speedway and he certainly showed that again on Saturday after claiming his second career Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards victory in front of a packed house.
Croft’s win on Saturday night came aboard the familiar Holy Smokes BBQ/ Amerikote No. 29 machine and earned him the $500 Kyle Larson Racing Bonus for being a full-time team, bumping his winning total to $3,000. He also earned the Metal Works Fastest Lap Award in the A-main.
“It feels great to get another win here at Petaluma and what a race that was tonight,” commented an exuberant Croft on the front stretch. “I love racing with Tim Kaeding and am glad he’s back here in California because he makes everyone step up their game. I can’t thank my guys enough for working so hard. We’ve been close the last few weeks and something has seemed to happen each night that kept us out of victory lane. Tonight, everything worked out in lapped traffic late in the race, so I couldn’t be happier.”
After winning the Race Punk Dash, Croft jumped into the lead at the waving of Scott Erwin’s green flag in A-main. Early on he opened a sizable advantage, but as always at Petaluma Speedway lapped traffic created some of the most exciting racing seen all season long. Throughout the course of the feature there were numerous movers and shakers, as positions changed regularly during the 35-lapper. Cautions over the first 12-laps of the race though kept drivers out of traffic for extended periods of time, but once green flag laps were clicked off things got good.
Around lap 20 you could throw a blanket over the top-three as they raced through heavy traffic, which allowed Tim Kaeding the chance to make a wild move off turn four and grab the lead. Fremont’s Shane Golobic also flexed his muscle at this point and charged into second from the 10th starting spot. Great racing was seen all over the speedway before a caution flag flew on lap 25. On the restart Croft sliced around Golobic to move back into the second spot and proceeded to hound the rear bumper of Kaeding’s Josh Bates Motorsports No. 42x once traffic came back into play.
Croft raced closely behind Kaeding over the closing laps and with the white flag in the air he made his move. “Double Down” charged to the inside of the “TK Express” and inched ahead as they raced off turn two. Kaeding tried to get back to his outside in turn three, but things got tight and Croft was able to clear him for good, eventually taking the checkered flag to win arguably the race of the year. Unfortunately for Kaeding he got over the right rear of a lapped car just after the checkered and resulted in him getting upside down. Luckily, he was okay and able to walk towards victory lane to give Croft a big hug after the epic duel.
Golobic had a fine run to earn the final spot on the podium aboard the Keith Day Trucking No. 22 machine. Paradise, CA’s Kyle Hirst also had a tremendous run in the feature to come from 14th to fourth, earning the Pit Stop USA Hard Charger Award. Minden, Nevada’s Tanner Thorson made his Petaluma Speedway debut a good one and completed the top-five. Lincoln’s Tanner Carrick also had a great debut at the track and brought home a career best SCCT finish of sixth, while Roseville’s Colby Copeland, Clarksburg’s Justyn Cox, Auburn’s Andy Forsberg and Hollister’s Tony Gualda rounded out the top-10.
A-main results: 1. 29 Willie Croft, 2. 42x Tim Kaeding, 3. 22 Shane Golobic, 4. 83 Kyle Hirst, 5. 3c Tanner Thorson, 6. 83t Tanner Carrick, 7. 5c Colby Copeland, 8. 31c Justyn Cox, 9. X1 Andy Forsberg, 10. 7c Tony Gualda, 11. 56 Justin Sanders, 12. 5v Chase Johnson, 13. 5h Buddy Kofoid, 14. 33 Lucas Ashe, 15. 25b Jake Haulot, 16. 7n Zack Lynskey, 17. 21 Michael Ing, 18. 75 Sean Becker, 19. 01 Jodie Robinson, 20. P37 Matt Peterson, 21. 6 Bradley Terrell, 22. Dustin Golobic, 23. 101 Klint Simpson, 24. 5 Kalib Henry
Penngrove’s Michael “Buddy” Kofoid captured the Finley Farms B-main, while the All-Star Performance heat race was won by Penngrove’s Chase Johnson, the A.R.T. Speed Equipment heat was picked off by Justyn Cox, the Auto Meter Inc. heat was claimed by Tanner Carrick and the Winters Performance heat went to Tim Kaeding. A total of 37 cars were on hand Saturday and the Quick Time Mortgage/ ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust Fast Time Award was earned by Tony Gualda by clocking a 12.672 around the Petaluma Speedway.
The Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards will now take a weekend off before resuming action on Saturday May 12 at the Fernley 95A Speedway in Fernley, Nevada. More info on the tour can be found at www.sprintcarchallengetour.com