Watsonville, CA…July 20…Tanner Thorson scored the victory in the 30 lap Civil War Sprint Car Main Event Friday night at Ocean Speedway. This was night #1 of the Howard Kaeding Classic, and it was a shootout event between the Civil War and local Taco Bravo Sprint Car Series. Thorson had to battle with Sprint Car Challenge Tour point leader Kyle Hirst throughout the night. He scored the victory in the first eight lap heat race, but Hirst set the fast time standard of 11.467 on the quarter-mile clay oval.
The six lap Trophy Dash set up the front four rows for the Main Event, and Hirst picked up the win with Thorson in pursuit about a half straightaway behind in second. The battle continued in the Main Event, but the tenacious Thorson was able to hold off Hirst down the stretch and grab the victory. Justin Sanders was a very close third, just ahead of two-time track champion Shane Gobibic. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid settled for fifth, followed by Tanner Carrick, DJ Netto, Koen Shaw, Tim Kaeding and Kyle Offill.
There were 28 drivers on hand, and Hirst’s fast time of 11.467 was barely quicker than the 11.546 of Netto. In addition to the Dash win for Hirst and heat win for Thorson, the other three heat race wins went to King of the West/NARC legend Brent Kaeding, Ocean Speedway point leader Brad Furr and Offill. The remaining competitors ran a 12 lap B Main, and Jeremy Chisum scored an impressive win over Tim Kaeding, Jason Chisum, Dustin Freitas and Vaughn Schott.
IMCA Sport Modified State point leader Austin Manzella turned in a stellar performance in winning the 20 lap Main Event. Manzella had a second row start for the race and wasted little time getting the lead. However, he had his hands full in the waning laps with 2015 State champion Fred Ryland coming from the sixth row to mount a serious challenge. Manzella managed to take the checkered flag with Ryland and Austin Williams in close pursuit. Kevin Johnson finished fourth, followed by Andrew Peckham, Todd Gomez, point leader Jim DiGiovanni, Chase Alves, Adrian Frost and Igor Grandzuk. Frost, Williams and Manzella picked up eight lap heat race wins as there were 19 competitors on hand.
JC Elrod grabbed the 20 lap American Stock Main Event win ahead of Lompoc visitor Jacob Jones. This was his second win of the season as the third ranked driver keeps his championship hopes alive. Point leader Matt Kile was a strong third, followed by Joe Gallaher, Mike Calhoun, Merced Speedway regular Kristie Shearer, Tom Cline, Larry Roberson, reigning champion Rob Gallaher and Norm Ayers. Rob Gallaher and Elrod won eight lap heat races, but Gallaher fell out of the Main Event on the 13th lap.
The closest finish of the night occurred in the South Bay Dwarf Car 20 lap Main Event. In a battle of the champions, two time champ Terre Rothweiler won a photo finish ahead of the reigning champion, Cameron Diatte. Championship hopeful Zach Price was a close third ahead of Gene Punky” Pires, Kyle Jones, Trafton Chandler, Eddie Claesson, Mack Acevez, Eric Wiesler and Justin McKenna. Price and Chandler each scored wins in their respective eight lap heat races.