The Much-Anticipated NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Lived Up To All The Hype
5/9/12 - By David Holman / Stockton 99 Media Relations
On Saturday, May 5th, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rumbled onto the tricky surface and brought down the house in the Pick-n-Pull 150, which was presented by Pick-n-Pull, Allegiant Air, San Joaquin County Chevrolet Dealerships, Budweiser, and Garton Tractor. Plus NASCAR Whelen All American Series Grand American Modifieds, Super Stocks, and Legends of the Pacific. Speaking of the house, over 3500 were in attendance as racing fans from far and wide converged on the historic venue known as The Toughest Test in the West. And, on this night, the old girl lived up to her modern-era moniker as she reached out in all her glory and took hold of some of the best drivers NASCAR has to offer.
The Super Stocks rolled onto the ever-changing racing surface to get this Event up to speed. Stockton’s own “Rompin” Rich Harper (5) pulled some crafty tricks out of his ample bag and took it to the field in this thirty lap romp to the checkers for the very popular Victory.
West Modesto’s Garland Tyler (73) shared front row honors with Escalon’s Brock Monroe (2) and, as the green flag hit the backdrop of the beautiful evening sky, Tyler hit the gas just about a half inch sooner than did Monroe as the #73 drove her on off into turn one for the quick and early lead. Unfortunately, the reckless God of Racing High Jinks was afoot when, on lap 5, Monroe looped it low in turn two in an apparent solo spin. But, upon further review, Riverbank’s Aaron Coonfield (25), was sent to take up space in his new residence at the tail-end of the longest line for his part in the incident. On the ensuing restart, “Rompin” Rich Harper (5), who had been nibbling at that P1 spot, got the great jump in the outside groove and beat the field down into turn one for the lead. Once out in the breathable, Harper began to step away from the pack, lap after lap, until the only thing left between himself and Victory was the checkered flag, which he promptly and most-assuredly captured in commanding fashion as he crossed the stripe nearly two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. The win would be Harper’s third and he praised his crew for keeping up with the track all day. "I really have to give them credit because the track conditions changed through the day and we weren't doing that good early on," Harper said. "But they made some great adjustments." Atwater’s Jason Aguirre (45), always near the top at race’s end, had another strong finish in second. Matt Erickson (42) of La Grange brought her home on the podium in a solid third, while Lodi’s Robbie “The Kid” Knittel (03), after enduring some paint-swapping battles throughout the thirty laps, came home fourth. Oakdale’s Sammy Solari (79), fighting handling issues once again, rounded out the top five.
The Legends of the Pacific, as they most often do, put together another great show and by time the dust settled, the young driving sensation from Cupertino, Luis Tyrell (74M) was the only driver standing atop the podium behind a beautifully driven race.
This one got underway with San Ramon’s Jessica Walker (21) and Stockton’s own Keith Clement (8) pacing the field around to greet the green. And, coming through three and four to the green, race cars were stacked three-deep with Walker getting the nod going off into the first turn. Walker held it together over the next three circuits, but on lap 4, she experienced simply too much Luis Tyrell as he dove low into turn three, in what was by all accounts, a spectacular move, and came out on the other side with the lead. Unfortunately, for the rest of the field, the lead he attained by that move would never be challenged as he began to covetously gobble up the hot asphalt like he owned it. And own it he did, all the way through to the checkers for the overwhelming Victory. Napa’s James Bickford (25B), majestically working his way through the field from deep on the starting grid, finished off his great run by driving it onto the podium in second. And then there was Tracy’s young prodigy, Jeremy Wood (22), starting shotgun on the field, working his way up as only he can do and finishing on the podium in a fantastic third. Walker fell back, if only slightly, but still managed a fourth place run, while Benicia’s Tony Mangini (7), racing in the top five all night, finished just as well at the number five spot.
The Modifieds were back in action for the second week, and on this night, Tracy Superstar, Scott Winters (24), drove a beautifully timed race, which placed the momentum and the Victory firmly in his lap.
Sonoma’s PJ Pedroncelli (0) nabbed P1 to get this one underway with Placerville’s Scott Alves (20A) high and to the right and already chewing at the bold Goodyear on the #0 when the green flag flew high above the racing surface. Pedroncelli beat the #20A down into turn one for the holeshot where he took complete command over the next six go-rounds until lap 7 when Season Points Leader and 2011 Division Champion, Wes Miller (57) of Turlock, suffered catastrophic failure by the hand of the Racing God of Mechanical Woes and spun low in turn two which brought with it an immediate yellow and an abrupt end to Miller’s night. On the restart, Lake Balboa’s Joey Lacata (21), jumped out quickly to the lead where he appeared to be basking in that all-important fresh air out front until lap 15 when Portland’s Keegan Walmer (98A) went up in smoke down the frontstretch, laying oil and debris on the hot asphalt and bringing with him first, a yellow, then a red. On the lap 16 restart, the “Ripon Rocket”, Mike Regelman (63), grabbed a huge hunk of forward bite, which vaulted him out to the immediate lead where he could most definitely began seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, only to have it extinguished on lap 22 when the third yellow of the night went flying. On the restart, unfortunately for the #63, Scott Winters had worked his way into second, and as he often does, the #24 got the super jump on the outside and beat the field off into turn one for the lead. This race was marred by a total of five yellows and a red and due to time constraints, the race was called on lap 25, handing the win to Winters, who, without hesitation, gratefully accepted his new-found inheritance. "We knew ahead of time what the rules were, so you have to plan accordingly," said Winters, who was the fast qualifier at 14.126 seconds. "After we had some early (caution) flags, I figured the time was getting close when we got around lap 20. So I knew we had to make a move, and we were able to go out and get the lead." Regelman would, of course, hold on to finish a very close and very impressive second, with Wilton’s Jason Fensler (3X) rolling onto the podium in third. Lacata slid back, if only slightly, but still managed a nice run in fourth, while Stockton’s Alan Rider rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West stepped up to the plate for their 150 lap battle royal, and to no one’s major surprise, the 16 year-old Star from Las Vegas, NV, Dylan Kwasniewski, driving the #03 Rockstar/Royal Purple Ford, took it to the house by setting fast time earlier in the day, then backing it up by leading all 155 laps to capture his first win of the year and the third of his young career.
Of course, Dylan Kwasniewski, due to setting fast time on the day, nabbed P1 with teammate and 2011 Series Champion from Newhall, Greg Pursley, driving the #26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery Ford, already nibbling at the right side door handle of the #03 as the green flag wrinkled wild and high against the moon-lit sky to get this one wound up to full speed. Kwasniewski jumped quickly out to the lead going off into turn one and, despite encountering some near-gnawing at his rear bumper by Pursley, he held strong through the pressure until lap 20 when Cassie Gannis (01) of Phoenix, AZ came off turn four a bit squirrely and slapped the outside wall just beneath the flagstand, which caught the immediate attention of the flagman, who promptly displayed the first yellow of the race. On the ensuing restart, and six thereafter, Kwasniewski, from the outside line, would absolutely dominate the car to the inside, including the final green/white/checkered finish, by staving off a late-race challenge from Three-Time Series Champion from Escalon, Eric Holmes, driving the #20 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota. Kwasniewski simply had too much car and too much talent on this night for the stacked field of high-caliber competitors as he crossed beneath the checkers nearly a half second ahead of P2. "The car was absolutely perfect. We did a good job of getting through lapped traffic and staying away from the wrecks," Kwasniewski said. "Eric Holmes could have roughed me up on the last restart, but he raced me clean, and he's a great driver." Holmes was unhappy with some of the drivers during the race and voiced his concerns quite clearly during post-race interviews, "We have a great series here and we've got about 10 or 12 awesome drivers, and the rest are terrible," Holmes said. "I'm proud of my team, they gave me a great car, and Dylan ran a great race. But NASCAR should park some of these (drivers) for being stupid." Nonetheless, he enjoyed a successful night, especially after an earlier altercation that put himself and his equipment in jeopardy. But, in Championship fashion, he held it together to finish up with a strong second place run. Atascadero’s David Mayhew, driving the #17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet, had his usual solid run and brought her home on the podium in third. Pursley, after showing super strength through much of the race, fell off, if only slightly, to finish fourth. Jason Fensler of Wilton, driving the #59 Beat Cancer/MTFX Graphics Chevrolet, after starting P14 on the grid, worked his way meticulously through the field to round out the top five. The race was plagued by a total of 7 caution periods for 59 laps and was run in a time of 59 min, 32 secs. Kwasniewski’s fast time of 13.735 was a New Track Record for the Series. With the final caution coming on laps 148-152, the race went into overtime and finished at lap 155.
Next Saturday, May 12th, NASCAR Whelen All American Series Super Stocks, Pure Stocks, Basically-4-Cylinders, Stockton 99 Mini Cups, Ford Focus Midget Twins and Mom’s Powder Puff Race.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 N. Wilson Way, ¼-mile west of Highway 99. For more information on tickets and times, please contact the Speedway Office at (209)466-9999 or visit their Website at www.stockton99.com.
The New Stockton 99 Speedway is sponsored by Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel, Budweiser, Alamo Alarm and Stockton Hampton Inn and Suites and Lodi Holiday Express.