Linny White used a thrilling last-lap pass of Bob Lyon for fourth in the second of two segments to secure his first SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series victory in front of a large crowd at Kern County Raceway (CA) Saturday night.
White scored the victory in the first 50-lap segment and needed to finish fourth to secure the overall victory over Jacob Gomes in an event that used the average finish of both segments. With Gomes running second, after finishing fourth in segment one, the 2015 SRL Champion held the tie breaker over White, making the dramatic pass a necessity.
It was a caution for a Bobby Hodges spin on lap 97 of 100 that set up the dramatic finish, with White siting in the sixth position. On the single-file restart, White was able to get by Colorado’s Jace Hansen on the outside, and pressure Lyon for the fourth spot with two laps to go. An attempt on the outside of Lyon almost resulted in a crash down the backstretch, when Lyon moved up the track coming off turn two. White backed out and lost ground, but recovered enough to close to the back bumper of Lyon on the last lap. Down the back stretch, White threw it into turn three below Lyon and was able to make the pass, after contact, to secure the win.
White recalled the dramatic final three laps that got him his first SRL victory and the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Move of the Race.
“After the restart, our goal was to get one or maybe two,” White said. “We made a run on the 08-car (Hansen) and got around him on the outside. I thought, man the cars rolling really good out here, I’m just going to leave it out here. I put it up on the outside of the 44 (Lyon), and we were getting up off of (turn) two, and I don’t know that he knew I was there, so I made a last-ditch effort to let out of the throttle and I dive-bombed him into three. He gave me enough room to be able to create a lane, and we were able to get him on the last lap.”
The win was sweet one for the Colton, California driver, who was racing in their new three-race-old Rowdy Manufacturing Super Late Model. The win came in lucky start number 13 for the veteran racer, after three third-place efforts were his previous best finishes. With the win, White can check one goal off his list for the year.
“That was our goal this year,” White stated. “Just to get a win and to maybe contend for the championship. We have had some unfortunate nights so far. We’re not going to say we are out of it, but we are just going to come to the race track and try to win some races, and try to see where it plays out.”
The weekend started out with Cole Moore dominating Friday’s practice. Dan Holtz then set fast time over the field of 18 in qualifying. In doing so, he earned the “PFC Brakes Zero Drag Fast Time Award” with a late-night run of 17.508 seconds on the half-mile tri-oval. White qualified second, followed by Cole Moore, Gomes, Lyon, Kyle Neveau and Bobby Hodges. John Moore qualified in the coveted number eight position, which gave him a chance at the top-eight redraw. Jace Hansen and Andy Allen turned identical laps to Moore but would have to line up ninth and tenth due to series rules.
With the top eight cars drawing for position, White continued his mastery of the redraw by pulling the number-one frisbee. In the last three redraws, he has pulled two number ones and a number two. Holtz grabbed the number two slot with Hodges, John Moore, Kyle Neveau, Bob Lyon, perennial hard luck chooser Gomes and Cole Moore following.
The first segment was relatively uneventful, looking at the scoreboard for the top three, but Hodges and Holtz staged a furious side-by-side battle for a large portion of that first 50-lap segment. Gomes drove a steady first half to advance to fourth. Tyler Fabozzi had the most impressive run, advancing to fifth from the rear after a motor change late Friday night.
Cole Moore, John Moore, Craig Raudman, Bob Lyon and Blaine Rocha rounded out the top-10, who were to undergo a complete inversion at the front of the field.
As the field entered the track for the second segment, the tough luck continued for Blaine Rocha. The driver from Oakdale, California had a tire issue, which resulted in Rocha serving a two-lap penalty for the tire change. This put Lyon and Raudman on the front row. The field went green for the next 34 laps with Cole Moore jumping to the lead before lap 60. Gomes followed Moore into the second position shortly thereafter and took up the chase of the 2018 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Rookie of the Year.
The lap 84 caution, which resulted from a spinning Dan Holtz, after contact with seventh-place running Jace Hansen, gave Gomes the opportunity to see what he had for Moore. At that time, White was still mired back in seventh place, while sitting fourth overall.
Upon the restart, the two drivers raced side by side until Moore finally cleared Gomes, ultimately giving White a shot at the win over the 2015 champion. This was the run that led to the eventful lap 97 caution, which put White right back into the winning picture after the Hodges spin.
Upon that last single-file restart, Gomes was unable to wrestle the lead from Moore, but after the race he believed the difference in the race came at the beginning of the second segment.
“I just knew when Cole got around the 44 car (Lyon) first, he was going to have it (segment win),” Gomes ventured. “Lap-time wise we were pretty close and very similar. I knew Cole was fast. When we got that last restart, I knew I was either going to have to get Cole, or let him go and hope Linny didn’t get around anybody. I guess he got him (Lyon) on the last lap, I just don’t know.”
The Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats Team made great changes to the car at the halftime break, and Gomes feels he has a car capable of winning the championship after Saturday night’s second-place result.
“In the second segment, the car got better because it cooled off. But everybody else’s got better too,” he said. “We made some good adjustments, but we were still just a little tight, but we definitely made it better at the end. Second was a good points finish for us, and we have good speed. We will just have to see how it plays out for us (championship).”
Cole Moore was able to take the checkered flag first in the final segment, and in doing so, assumed the championship lead. It was the debut of a new Fury Racecar for the team, which was cause for excitement. But crossing the finish line first gave Moore mixed emotions.
“It is definitely bitter-sweet to take the checkered flag first and not be the winner, but congrats to the 99 car (White),” Moore stated. “We made some really good adjustments at halfway with my crew chief Mario (Isola). He is really doing his job well. We have a brand-new Fury Racecar and it is right out of the box. You can’t ask for much more than that. It was a good race.
“I think we started fourth in the second segment and we made quick work of a few guys and got behind the 44-car (Lyon). It was actually really fun with Jake, the 44 and myself dancing and crossing swords, as I like to say. We finally got the lead and Jake followed, and we just kind of ran off with that final segment.”
Fourth place went to leading Rookie of the Year Contender Tyler Fabozzi. The rookie showed veteran perseverance after starting shotgun on the field due to a motor change after qualifying. The effort earned him the Top Rookie of the Race accolades and a second-place ranking in the championship standings.
The top-five was rounded out by veteran racer Dan Holtz, who set fast time for the series in qualifying.
With the win, White jumps to fourth in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series championship standings. With their new car from Rowdy Manufacturing, the team is certainly looking like a championship contender. White feels a portion of that credit goes to the new Super Late Model.
“This car was so good the first time we unloaded it at Vegas (The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway), and it has been just great. I have had a few race cars that take a little getting used to, but this one was just molded and built for me. They do a really good job at Rowdy Manufacturing. Cody Glick is a great guy, and he gives us a lot of feedback and a lot of information, and we try to do the best with it that we can.”
The team is another big part of the equation for success. That includes sponsors like Swift Springs, the team owner and another gentleman who is a big supporter of the SRL, as well as Linny White’s racing program.
“First off I have to give thanks to the car owner Earl Robbins,” White began. “Without his love for stock car racing, we wouldn’t be doing this. I’m so thankful to my tire-guy Glen Davis and his business Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse. He plays two parts on our team. On one hand, he is a main part in our partnership and in what we do. On the other hand, he is also a great tire guy. We all have the same attitude, and we push each other. Sometimes I get him a little irritated, but it is what it is. At the end of the day we are a team, and this is where we want to see ourselves, in Victory Lane.”
The next event for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will be the “RJ Allen 100 presented by Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse” at Irwindale Speedway (CA) on July 20. A large field is expected for race number six on the schedule. At the season opener, Preston Peltier came home victorious over Jeff Bischofberger, Craig Raudman, Jeremy Doss and Dylan Lupton. Several drivers are expected to make their first starts of the season in an event that is sure to be one of the highlights of the season.
Official Results: 1. Linny White, 2. Jacob Gomes, 3. Cole Moore, 4. Tyler Fabozzi*, 5. Dan Holtz, 6. Bobby Hodges, 7. Bob Lyon, 8. John Moore, 9. Jace Hansen*, 10. Craig Raudman, 11. Jack Wood, 12. Eric Nascimento Jr.*, 13. Blaine Rocha, 14. Kyle Neveau, 15. Scott Sanchez, 16. Don Zoll Jr*, 17. Jesse Love*, 18. Andy Allen
Unofficial Championship Standings – Top 10
- Cole Moore: 753, 2. Tyler Fabozzi*: 745, 3. Jacob Gomes: 728, 4. Linny White: 709, 5. John Moore: 677, 6. Jace Hansen*: 665, 7. Derek Thorn: 664, 8. Craig Raudman: 620, 9. Kyle Neveau: 614, 10. Blaine Rocha: 612
*Rookie of the Year Contender
-Story and photo by: Kevin Peters, SRL