Willie Croft makes late move to win an epic Sprint Car Challenge Tour 40-lapper on Saturday at the Petaluma Speedway
By Gary Thomas
Petaluma, CA – April 29, 2017…Taking advantage of a green-white-checkered restart Roseville’s Willie Croft shot past fellow Roseville resident Colby Copeland to grab the lead and go on to claim a thrilling victory on Saturday with the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards at Petaluma Speedway.
Croft became the fourth different winner in as many races this season with the tour and came after a tremendous main event on the hooked up 3/8 mile clay oval. The former Trophy Cup champion took home $3,000 for his efforts with the Kyle Larson Racing Bonus Money added in for being a full-time competitor. Croft’s triumph came aboard his familiar Holy Smokes BBQ/ Amerikote No. 29 machine.
“I am absolutely worn out after that race,” Croft commented on the front stretch following the 40-lap contest. “It was definitely a great track tonight because you could race all over, but no doubt a physically demanding surface. It was a lot of fun racing with Colby Copeland through traffic and that last caution worked out in our favor for sure. I knew if I could get the launch coming off the corner I could beat him into turn one and that’s exactly how it played out. I want to send a big thanks to all the fans for coming out and packing this place and a huge thanks to my entire team for all their support.”
At the waving of the green flag it was Copeland jumping into the lead ahead of Croft, who made a great move to charge into the runner up spot from the second row. The first 13-laps clicked off caution free with Copeland, Croft and Auburn’s Andy Forsberg racing closely together once lapped traffic came into play. Unfortunately for Forsberg his night came to an end when a broken axle left him parked in-between turns three and four. Shortly after going back green Fremont’s Shane Golobic began to show his muscle and scooted into third, before charging after the lead duo.
A long green flag run was then seen with outstanding racing through heavy lapped traffic taking place. Copeland did a phenomenal job out front picking the right spots to hold Croft at bay. One slight bicycle in turn four with seven-laps remaining however, gave Croft the chance he needed to grab the top spot. Copeland stayed composed though and a couple laps later returned the favor charging back into the lead.
With fans enjoying every second of the feature things then came to a grinding halt when Placerville’s Andy Gregg flipped down the front stretch on lap 37. He emerged okay, but was done for the night. Copeland nailed the restart and appeared to be headed for victory, until Golobic’s strong run came to an end when he slowed, forcing a caution with a flat tire as the white flag was waving. On the final restart of the night Croft rocketed ahead to take the lead that he would never relinquish.
Copeland had to fend off a final lap charge from Roseville’s Sean Becker and was able to do, crossing the stripe in second. Despite being disappointed Copeland should be commended for driving a great race in the feature at the helm of the F&F Racing/ Econo Lube’N’Tune and Brakes No. x1jr sprinter. Becker also made some beautiful pin-point moves as he is known for doing at the Petaluma Speedway to bring home third at the finish. It marked his third podium in four Sprint Car Challenge Tour races behind the wheel of the Menne Motorsports/ Mike’s Hard Lemonade No. 75 mount.
Penngrove’s Chase Johnson earned the Pit Stop USA Hard Charger Award with a great drive from deep in the field to finish fourth, while RacePartsTrader.com
Dash winner Cory Eliason of Kingsburg rounded out the top-five. The remainder of the top-10 was filled out by Penngrove’s Buddy Kofoid, Paradise’ Kyle Hirst, Sebastopol’s Geoff Ensign, Hanford’s DJ Netto and Mitchell Faccinto.
A-main finish: 1. 29 Willie Croft, 2. X1jr Colby Copeland, 3. 75 Sean Becker, 4. 24 Chase Johnson, 5. 83sa Cory Eliason, 6. 4s Buddy Kofoid, 7. 83 Kyle Hirst, 8. 63 Geoff Ensign, 9. 3c DJ Netto, 10. 37 Mitchell Faccinto, 11. 17s Dominic Scelzi, 12. 101 Klint Simpson, 13. 57 Dustin Golobic, 14. 94 Steven Tiner, 15. 22 Shane Golobic, 16. 2 Billy Butler, 17. 16 Andy Gregg, 18. 33t Jimmy Trulli, 19. X1 Mason Moore, 20. 9l Cody Lamar, 21. 7c Andy Forsberg, 22. 91c Shawn Conde
The Finley Farms B-main was won by Kyle Hirst, with Cory Eliason bringing home the RacePartsTrader.com
Dash. Anderson’s Chelsea Blevins did a fabulous job to win the evening’s C-main to the delight of the packed house on hand.
All Star Performance Heat one went to Shane Golobic, with A.R.T. Speed Equipment Heat two going to Buddy Kofoid, BR Motorsports Heat three was won by Jimmy Trulli and King Racing Products Heat four was captured by Sean Becker. Andy Forsberg began the night by setting the LRB Inc. / ADCO Driveline and Custom Exhaust Fast Time with a lap of 13.225, beating out the 49-car field. Mitchell Faccinto turned an identical lap-time, but Forsberg won the tie-breaker by going out first.
The Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards will now have three weekends off, before resuming action on Saturday May 27 at the Stockton Dirt Track for round five.
The Sprint Car Challenge Tour is proudly sponsored by Elk Grove Ford, Abreu Vineyards, Hoosier Racing Tires, Bianchi Farms, Kyle Larson Racing, All Star Performance, A.R.T. Speed Equipment, BR Motorsports, King Racing Products, Auto Meter, ADCO Driveline & Exhaust, Bullard Construction, Chris Kenner Racing Specialties/ Security Race Products, CLT Logging, CRV Carbon Solutions, Driven2SaveLives, Dynachrome, Finley Farms, Flying Squirrel, Garth Moore Insurance and Financial Services, Jockos Sprint Parts, Keizer Wheels, Light Up the World Beverages, LRB Inc., Menne Hay Inc., Moto Wear, Metal Works, Naake Suspension, Pit Stop USA, PT Shocks, Pyrotect Racing Cells, RacePartsTrader.com
, R&R Racewear, Saldana Racing Products, Sellers Race Wings, Shifty Illusions, Team Ford of Woodland, Walker Performance Filtration, Weld Racing and Winters Performance.
More information on the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Abreu Vineyards can be found at our official website www.sprintcarchallengetour.com
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