Jonathan Allard kicks off King of the West season in victory lane
Back and forth Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series opener goes to Jonathan Allard at Antioch Speedway on Saturday
By Gary Thomas
Photo by http://www.mmracingphotos.com
Antioch, CA – April 9, 2011…There was no shortage of excitement during Saturday’s season opener for the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series and when all was said and done it was Chico’s Jonathan Allard standing in victory lane at the Antioch Speedway.
A huge crowd was on hand to witness the inaugural King of the West Series event and they also saw a bit more history, as the triumph marked Allard’s 25th career Golden State 410 win, making him the fourth driver to reach that mark.
“It’s great to come out here and win the first King of the West race tonight and I just can’t thank my guys enough,” said Allard, who joins Brent Kaeding, Tim Kaeding & Steve Kent as drivers who have won at least 25 races with the Golden State Series. “Getting fast time and winning the main event is a tremendous way to begin the season and we’ll try to do it again in Tulare next week.”
The 30-lap Golden State King of the West Series main event started out with dash winner Bobby McMahan getting the jump and pacing the field in the first set of corners at the helm of his McMahan Racing No. 25 sprinter. The Elk Grove driver looked strong in the early stages with drivers trying to find their groove on the extremely hooked up 1/3 mile oval.
As traffic came into play McMahan looked solid trying to keep the rest of the competitors at bay, but things came to a crashing halt on lap seven when contact with a lapped car left him upside down in turn one. It was a tough way to end the night for the veteran driver, who was looking to score his first series victory in a number of years.
Just one lap prior to McMahan’s accident, Allard had passed Grass Valley’s Jason Statler for second so when racing went back green it was the Chico driver leading the field back down for the double file restart. When the green lights came back on however, a big melee ensued when a car got sideways coming out of turn four and resulted in multiple cars flipping down the front stretch, including Tommy Tarlton, Shane Golobic and Billy Strange Jr.
After getting the accident scene cleared things went back green and the action began to intensify with some great side by side racing seen at the front of the field. On lap nine Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs would dispatch of Statler to assume second and then started to close in on Allard for the top-spot. At the same time the man on the move was reigning Golden State 410 champ Kyle Larson, who was marching his way to the front in the Stadelhofer Construction No. 99 mount.
Making some hair-raising moves on the rough and fast surface the 18-year-old soon found himself in second and quickly tracked down leader Allard. With the crowd coming to their feet Larson charged to the high side and blasted around Allard to take command of the race on lap 18. The youngster then pulled away and worked traffic like a magician until the caution lights came on with just eight-circuits remaining.
On the restart Allard then shot to the bottom of the speedway and made a great move to slide in front of Larson and put the Williams Motorsports No. 0 back out front. The duo remained stuck together over the next couple laps as Larson hounded the rear of Allard, but his chance at victory came to an end when he bicycled hard in the third and fourth corners and flipped to bring out a red flag.
The final restart with six laps to go saw Allard easily pull away and drive off to record victory for the second year in a row at the Golden State 410 Series opener. The two-time series champion also set fast time to begin the night, earning seven bonus points for doing so and will be the point leader after one night of racing.
Suggs and Statler had a close battle for second over the final couple of laps and in the end it was Suggs narrowly winning out for the runner up position aboard the Suggs Racing No. 33e. It also marked the second April event in a row at the Antioch Speedway that Suggs has finished second to Allard.
“It seems like we keep finishing second to Jonathan around here, but one of these days we’re going to get him,” Suggs joked on the front stretch. “I really have to think my whole team, because we had some extra people helping out tonight and that made it nice. I also want to give props to Dan Simpson and everyone with KWS for doing such a great job and it’s going to be a fun year.”
Statler’s third place finish continued the consistency that he put together at the end of last year’s Golden State 410 campaign, as he looks to get back into victory lane with the series this season while driving his familiar DF Rios Motorsports No. 00.
“Last year we didn’t have all that many podiums so to get one right out of the box this season is pretty cool,” said Statler, who captured a Golden State victory at the Antioch Speedway in 2003. “We had the car pretty good all night so I have to thank my crew and definitely want to thank all you fans for coming out and supporting us tonight.”
Completing the top five was row six starter Tim Kaeding of San Jose in the Roth Motorsports No. 83 and Stockton’s Brad Furr in the Ray Scheidts Electric No. 2 machine. Finishing sixth and earning the Pit Stop USA.com hard charger award after starting 16th was Sacramento’s Willie Croft, with Placerville’s Andy Gregg, Campbell’s Brent Kaeding, Puyallup, Washington’s Trey Starks and Chico’s Kenny Allen rounding out the top-10. B. Kaeding was running among the top-five on the final lap when an incident in turn two resulted in him not crossing the stripe.
Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series Managing Director Dan Simpson of Rio Vista captured the 12-lap Last Chance Qualifier with Bobby McMahan claiming the six lap dash. Heat race victories were taken by Brent Kaeding, Bobby McMahan, Jason Statler and Andy Gregg. A total of 28-cars were on hand for the KWS opener and Antioch Speedway track record holder Jonathan Allard kicked off the night by setting fast time with a clocking of 12.483 seconds around the 1/3 mile oval.
The Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series will return to action next Saturday night April 16 for the running of the annual Chris & Brian Faria Memorial at the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare. Tickets are on sale for the event and can be acquired by contacting the track office at 559-688-0909. Reserved tickets cost $20 with general admission bleachers being $17.
More information can be found during the coming week at http://www.kwssprints.com and http://www.thunderbowlraceway.com
Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series Results Antioch Speedway April 9
Fast time- Jonathan Allard 12.483
Heat 1: Brent Kaeding, Tim Kaeding, Jonathan Allard, Brad Furr, Trey Starks, Dan Simpson, Chase Wood
Heat 2: Bobby McMahan, Tommy Tarlton, Brent Bjork, Kenny Allen, Nick Rescino Jr., Steve Osbourne, Keith Collins
Heat 3: Jason Statler Shane Golobic, Evan Suggs, Danielle Simpson, Sean McMahan, Pat Harvey, Kurt Nelson
Heat 4: Andy Gregg, Kyle Larson, Willie Croft, Mark Barroso, Doug Gandy, Billy Strange Jr., Art McCarthy
Dash: McMahan, Statler, Allard, Suggs, Furr, B. Kaeding, Allen, Gregg
Last Chance Qualifier: Dan Simpson, Rescino Jr., Starks, Strange Jr., Wood, Harvey, Sean McMahan, Gandy, Osbourne, Collins
A-main: Allard, Suggs, Statler, T. Kaeding, Furr, Croft, Gregg, B. Kaeding, Starks, Allen, Simpson, Bjork, Danielle Simpson, Wood, Harvey, Larson, Rescino Jr., B. McMahan, Tarlton, Golobic, Strange Jr., Barroso
A pack of KWS cars fighting it out at the Antioch Speedway season opener last night. The series will now head for the Groppetti Automotive Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare this coming Saturday for the Chris & Brian Faria Memorial. Photo by Mike Adaskaveg of Antioch Speedway.