NARC NEWSLINE, By Jim Allen Highway 99, CA . . . There may be a subtle power change occurring within California's sprint car ranks. Slowly but surely, the young guns of NARC are hitching their horses closer to the front of the pack.
NARC NEWSLINE, By Jim Allen
Highway 99, CA . . . There may be a subtle power change occurring within California's sprint car ranks. Slowly but surely, the young guns of NARC are hitching their horses closer to the front of the pack. Whether it's Jason Meyers or Bud Kaeding, or Tommy Tarlton and Todd Bammer, many of these drivers are quietly, but very steadily, becoming consistent top ten NARC fixtures. As with just about any sport, it takes about three years to accumulate enough experience to have a shot at your 15 minutes of fame. For many, the three-year mark is here.
If you don't believe it, just ask third year sprint car ace Tommy Tarlton. Driving for his father, former open wheel racer Tom Tarlton, this team notched a pair of runner-up finishes at the most recent NARC/GSC doubleheader at Hanford and Bakersfield. These were not a "everybody crash in front of me" and give me second place by default deals. These were earned the hard way, wheel to wheel, against California's best.
At Kings, Tarlton started fifth in his Suburban Propane/Baselite sponsored TCR, and pushed, pressured, and harassed Brent Kaeding the final 10 laps. The final margin was only three car lengths. In Golden State action at Bakersfield, he paced laps 19-28, before getting snookered by veteran Bobby McMahan on a restart. The margin -- again, only three car lengths at the checkered. In fact, if not for a late race caution, Tarlton would have scored his first ever NARC feature win, because nobody was really gaining on him. Either way, Tarlton was one of only three drivers to post top ten finishes both nights. The other two were McMahan (fourth and a win), and Lee Brewer (tenth and a sixth). Just from the sounds of that, Tarlton was in elite company.
As for McMahan and car owner Roy Bumgarner, this team had the honors of scoring the first NARC sprint car victory for Larry Brown's TCR chassis. And it could not have happened in a more appropriate location, because Brown's state of the art shop is right up the road. It was McMahan's 16th NARC feature victory, which ties him with Greg DeCaires and Ron Horton for 11th place on the all-time list.
The point standings got shuffled up pretty good over the weekend. Brent Kaeding took advantage of an off night my Randy Tiner to shave 26 points off his NARC point lead at Hanford. It's now down to only 10. Kaeding dedicated his 132nd NARC win to Pete Albini, the father of crew chief Billy Albini, who passed away earlier in the week.
King of California point chasers had nothing nice to say about the accompanying hobby stock class at Bakersfield. Hobby stock debris sliced the tires of point leader Tiner and closest pursuer Kaeding early in the feature. Jason Meyers was running fourth when his right rear received the ginzu steak knife treatment. Before it was over, Kaeding and Tiner were done with the two stop rule, finishing 23rd and 18th, respectively. Meyers bounced back for a 13th.
The driver gaining the most was probably Randy Hannagan. He chased McMahan and Tarlton to the Bakersfield checkered and now trails Tiner by a single point (148-147). Kaeding dropped to third with 136 markers, followed by McMahan, and another up and comer Graydon Cross. Things are going to get real interesting.
And finally, the washed out May 16 Dave Bradway Jr. Memorial at Chico was the fourth weather related snub of the season. That means that one-third of the races on the NARC-Budweiser Shoot Out Series schedule have been canceled by El Nino. What do normal people do on Saturday nights?
NARC NOTES: Greg DeCaires and car owner Dale Orth had their weekend come to an abrupt end within minutes after starting. The steering broke in their JB sprint car sending it head first into Kings unforgiving concrete. Everything, and I mean everything, bolted on the race car was broke. "I think we can save the master cylinder," smirked one crew member. Said a sore DeCaires afterwards, "It's amazing that I could do that much damage without flipping."
Being the first driver to lead the feature wasn't exactly good news at either track. Randy Hannagan paced the first 19 laps at Hanford, before a bolt fell out of a tie rod forcing him to stop. Jimmy Sills drove Dennis Johnson's sprinter like a man possessed and dominated the first 18 circuits at Bakersfield. Somewhere along the way, he tagged the wall and dropped out with suspension problems.
The JB Enterprises ride steered by Paul McMahan was powered by a motor borrowed from injured racer Steve Coelho. Actually, it was a motor that Coelho purchased a couple years ago from Paul's father Ron McMahan. The team had been running Tri-C power up to the Hanford/B-field weekend.
Bud Kaeding finished 18th at Hanford after crashing and was scheduled to run a 360 powerplant at Tulare the following night. The plan was to put a Bettencourt motor in his car. Unfortunately, after the crash, there wasn't enough car to put it in. Bud ended up roaming the Bakersfield pits in a nice leather HammerDown! jacket. He boarded a 5:30 a.m. flight to Milwaukee on Sunday morning to do Indy Lights testing.
A noticeable absentee over the weekend was the Furr racing team. Word from the Furr camp had driver Brad Furr taking a two-day entrance exam to enter the California Highway Patrol. He finished in time to compete in San Jose's 360 show. He nailed down a second place finish behind winner Tim Kaeding. More up and comers!
Jason Statler took a wild series of flips down the backchute in the Kings feature. The 265-pound driver suffered was complaining of a sore back and was going to be removed from his car on a back board via a crane. However, Statler ended up standing up on his own power to save the crane charges. His hardworking crew assembled a brand new D.F. Rios Construction Maxim for his anticipated return at Bakersfield.
He rewarded their efforts by earning the hardcharger award with a 17th to fifth effort.
The weekends "hustle me up a race car" award goes to SCRA regular Lynn Anderson of Bakersfield. Anderson attended the Kings' event and wanted tp try the winged route for the first time in front of his hometown crowd. He ended up soliciting the support of several car owners. Anderson wound up with a front wing from Rodney Tiner, a top wing from Dennis Johnson, wing runners from Morrie Williams, and tires from Williams and Roy Bumgarner. The next day he was off to the TCR shop to put it together. He ended up finishing 18th in the feature.
Set your auto pilots for the stretch run before Silver Legacy Speedweek ‘98. It's a NARC/GSC doubleheader at Calistoga Speedway on May 23-24. Saturday's show is the Walter T. Ross Salute to the Champions of NARC, followed by Sunday's Tribute to Gary Patterson "King of California" point race. Several NARC champs are expected to attend the Champions event, including Fred Hunt, Billy Anderson, Johnny Anderson, Leroy Van Conett, Rick Hirst, and Brent Kaeding. Several others are also expected.
Follow the Memorial Day weekend up with another two-day show at Tulare's Black & White Classic (May 29-30). It's Golden State action at Santa Maria (June 6), and San Jose on June 13.