Willie Croft scores big victory with KWS at Marysville Raceway Park
By Gary Thomas
Photo courtesy Steven Cox of http://www.sprintcarphotos.com
Marysville, CA – April 30, 2011…After opening the night with a bang on Saturday at the Marysville Raceway Park Willie Croft ended the evening in that same fashion, making a pass of Jonathan Allard early in the feature and then cruising to his first Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series victory of 2011.
Previously in his career Croft had picked up Golden State 410 wins at Chico’s Mini Gold Cup in 2004 and at the American Valley Speedway in Quincy during the ’07 year. On Saturday the Sacramento gasser also set a new track record in qualifying at Marysville Raceway Park aboard his Holey Smokes BBQ, AIC Powder Coating, MRO Inc. No. 29 mount.
“Wow it’s just great to come here and put this car in victory lane at Marysville tonight,” Croft commented. “We’ve always ran pretty good here and I have to thank everyone that helps us out. We made the decision to come and race with the King of the West Series this year and it’s been really fun the first four races.”
Extremely gusty day-time winds had left the track surface very dry and tricky for the main event and when the green flag waved it was Dash winner Jonathan Allard of Chico getting the lead. Early on Allard looked to be in control of the 30-lapper, but would soon feel pressure from Croft, who hounded the rear bumper of the Williams Motorsports No. 0 sprinter.
A couple of restarts over the first handful of laps saw Allard maintain control of the top-spot, but Croft quickly stepped up his challenges and on lap-eight he would slice to the inside and impressively steal the lead away. The driver known as “Double Down” then checked out from the field and built up a fairly large advantage, before the caution lights flashed on with 13-laps complete.
It created a double file restart and when the field came back for green current KWS point leader Tim Kaeding of San Jose made the most of it and got to the inside of Allard to grab second. He then looked to close on Croft, but the Sacramento driver wasn’t having anything of that and once again pulled away from the pack.
The remaining distance saw Croft work the track, as well as lapped traffic to perfection and despite a late-race double file restart he would go on to take the checkered flag and record a huge victory. In addition to setting fast time he also scored second place finishes in both his heat race and the dash to put together a strong evening of competition.
T. Kaeding came across the line in second to tally his third podium finish in the first four races with the Golden State King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series. The wheel-man of the Roth Motorsports, HR Cattle No. 83 mount will maintain the KWS point lead going into Chico next week.
“It’s good to be back up here on the podium” Kaeding said. “I want to thank Dennis & Teresa Roth and my guys for giving me great stuff and have to thank everyone for coming out tonight and supporting 410 sprint car racing in Marysville. We’ll go on to the Bradway next week and try to get another victory and put on a show for all you fans.”
A wild final couple of laps in the main event ended with Placerville’s Andy Gregg shooting by a few cars and bringing the Bret Ervin Racing, 7-Industries No. 53 home in third place to score his first podium finish of the season with KWS.
“It feels really nice to get on the front stretch tonight,” Gregg commented. “It’s an honor just to be up here with a guy like Tim Kaeding and I definitely want to congratulate my buddy Willie Croft for winning. We’ve been getting better each week and I’m excited for the Bradway next Saturday.”
After leading early in the main event Allard slipped to fourth at the conclusion, with Fremont’s Brent Bjork having a strong run in the Bjork Construction No. 7b to finish fifth and score his first career top-five with the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series. Bjork has been very impressive the past couple weekends and it has been great to see after suffering a dislocated elbow at the season opener.
Princeton’s Mason Moore made his first Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series start of the season and had a solid outing in the main event to finish sixth, even despite having to go to the rear of the field at one point. After winning the LCQ Campbell’s Brent Kaeding came home in seventh, with Chico’s Brad Bumgarner in eighth, Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan in ninth and Yuba City’s Korey Lovell rounding out the top-10.
Lovell received the PitStopUSA.com hard charger award by coming from 18th to 10th in the feature. It was a nice run for the five-time MRP track champion, who was utilizing a 360 power plant during the night.
As mentioned Brent Kaeding captured the Last Chance Qualifier with Jonathan Allard winning the KSE Racing Products/ Grant’s Fine Art Dash. Allard, Andy Gregg and Bobby McMahan picked off the three 10-lap heat races. Willie Croft won the Grant’s Fine Art fast-time award by cutting a 12.111 to set a new Marysville Raceway Park track record.
Next Saturday night May 7 the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series will head for its biggest night of the season, with the 21st annual Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial on deck at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway. The prestigious event is always one of the most special shows each year and next Saturday is expected to be an action packed night of racing as KWS makes its debut at SDS. To keep up with the latest happenings with the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series visit http://www.kwssprints.com or catch us on Facebook and Twitter.
As a note King of the West Tonight will switch to Thursdays starting this week. The show will continue to air live at 7pm pst each week at http://www.kwssprints.com/webcast
Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series Results - Marysville Raceway Park April 30, 2011
Fast time Willie Croft: 12.111 NTR
Heat 1: Jonathan Allard, Willie Croft, Danielle Simpson, Kenny Allen, Brad Bumgarner, Dan Simpson, Brent Kaeding, Eli Deshaies
Heat 2: Andy Gregg, Mason Moore, Tim Kaeding, Billy Strange Jr., Mark Barroso, Mike Monahan, Doug Gandy
Heat 3: Bobby McMahan,Jason Statler, Evan Suggs, Brent Bjork, Nick Rescino Jr., Korey Lovell, Brandon Dozier, Pat Harvey
Dash: Jonathan Allard, Willie Croft, Andy Gregg, Tim Kaeding, Evan Suggs, Bobby McMahan, Brent Bjork, Mason Moore
LCQ: Brent Kaeding, Mike Monahan, Brandon Dozier, Korey Lovell, Mark Tabor Jr., Eli Deshaies, Dan Simpson, Pat Harvey, Doug Gandy
A-main: Willie Croft, Tim Kaeding, Andy Gregg, Jonathan Allard, Brent Bjork, Mason Moore, Brent Kaeding, Brad Bumgarner, Bobby McMahan, Korey Lovell, Billy Strange Jr., Jason Statler, Nick Rescino Jr., Evan Suggs, Kenny Allen, Dan Simpson, Brandon Dozier, Pat Harvey, Mark Tabor Jr., Eli Deshaies, Danielle Simpson, Mike Monahan
The podium finishers from Saturday night at MRP. Pictured left to right are third place Andy Gregg, winner Willie Croft and runner up Tim Kaeding. Photo by Steven Cox.
KWS goes 4-wide at the Marysville Raceway Park. Thanks to Paul and Kathy Hawes and the MRP staff for their hospitality during the night. Photo by Steven Cox