By Gary Thomas
Santa Maria, CA – May 21, 2011…Placerville’s Andy Gregg has been trying hard for years to win a traveling 410 sprint car series main event. On two separate occasions in the past he had led until the final lap of a Golden State 410 feature, but each time it ended in disappointment.
Having come that close before it made him even hungrier entering the 2011 season full-time with KWS and on Saturday night in Santa Maria, Gregg accomplished that goal by racing to his first ever Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series victory.
“It’s awesome to come out here and win our first KWS race tonight and just being up here with guys like Tim Kaeding and Jonathan Allard is an honor,” said an emotional Gregg in victory lane. “I have about a million people to thank for helping me get to this point, but have to definitely give big thanks to Bret Ervin and this whole team.”
When the 30-lapper went green on Saturday night it was front starters Brent Kaeding and Jonathan Allard going side by side all the way through the first set of corners. As the duo raced down the back stretch Allard got the momentum he needed on the high-side and led the field to the flag stand to complete the opening lap.
The first few circuits saw San Jose’s Tim Kaeding look nearly unstoppable running the high-line of the Santa Maria Speedway in the Roth Motorsports No. 83. “TK” picked off multiple cars and was up to second at one point, but the yellow lights came on with three-laps down and forced him to go back to fifth for the double file restart.
When the green lights flashed on again the pack roared into turn one and Gregg made a beautiful move to slice by Brent Kaeding and take over the runner up position, after originally starting sixth on the grid. With traffic soon coming into play Gregg rapidly closed in on Allard and then pounced when the two-time Golden State champ got a bit too high in turns three and four.
As the leaders raced off the fourth corner Gregg shot to the bottom in his 7-Industries No. 53 and took over the top-spot as the crowd cheered with approval. Allard tried to stay with Gregg, but had another challenge of his own when Tim Kaeding joined the fray. “JA” and “TK” would then battle back and forth for a couple laps, before Kaeding took the spot for good on lap 16.
Out front Gregg proceeded to do a masterful job through lapped traffic and started to build up a large advantage over the rest of the field, much like he did in the Santa Maria Speedway event last July. Just like last season though when it looked as if he’d be headed for certain victory, circumstances late in the race changed things with a trio of stoppages occurring.
The slowdowns created multiple double file restarts, but even despite Tim Kaeding lining up alongside him, who has 50-career Golden State 410 wins, Gregg never flinched and got great starts each time to charge off and pick up his first ever series triumph. He becomes the fifth different winner in six KWS events this season and also earned the PitStopUSA.com hard charger award for the night.
T. Kaeding crossed the line in second to maintain his Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series point lead. It marked Kaeding’s fifth top-five finish in six races, as he continues his bid to become the first King of the West driving for Dennis and Teresa Roth.
After leading early in the race Allard completed the podium in the feature aboard the Williams Motorsports No. 0. The top-five was rounded out by the Suggs Racing No. 33e of Scotts Valley’s Evan Suggs and Campbell’s Brent Kaeding at the helm of his Al’s Roofing Supply No. 69 mount. The remainder of the top-10 was comprised of Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahan, Chico’s Kenny Allen, Stockton’s Brad Furr, Grass Valley’s Jason Statler and Sacramento’s Willie Croft.
The six-lap KSE Racing Products/ Grant’s Fine Art Dash was captured by Brent Kaeding and the three 10-lap heat races were picked off by Evan Suggs, Brent Kaeding and Kenny Allen. For the 16-year-old Allen it marked his first KWS heat race win of the season behind the wheel of his Chico Truck & RV No. 7k sprinter. The night started out with Evan Suggs claiming the Grant’s Fine Art fast time award by carving his way around the one-third mile oval in 13.059 seconds.
Promoter Chris Kearns also hosted the first Last Man Standing Dash that created some excitement during the night.
Suggs, Allard, T. Kaeding and Gregg took part in the four car fight with $1000 up for grabs to the winner. After Gregg and Suggs were eliminated following the first two segments, Allard and TK went at it for two-laps. The duo gave everyone a glimpse of why they are two of the very best in the west, never backing off for one another and at the checkered flag it was Allard winning the war to bring home a cool grand.
Next up for the Golden State King of the West 410 Sprint Car Series will be a Memorial Day weekend two-night stand at the famed Calistoga Speedway half-mile on Saturday and Sunday May 28 and 29. The Sunday event will be the annual Salute to Walter T Ross. To keep up with the latest happenings from the Golden State King of the West Sprint Car Series visit http://www.kwssprints.com or catch us on Facebook and Twitter.