The SRL is Back: After a 70-day “Summer Break,” the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series presented by Lucas Oil will be back in action Saturday night for the “SPEARS Southwest Tour 125 presented by 51 FIFTY” at Madera Speedway (CA). The event will be the seventh race of the nine-event schedule this season.
Full Field: Twenty-Four Super Late Models are pre-entered for this weekend’s event. Twenty-Two cars participated in the series’ first 2019 visit to the “Fastest One-Third Mile in the West” in June.
Approaching a Record: The series is averaging 26.2 cars per event in 2019. With 24 cars on the entry list, the series must average 29 cars per event over the last two events to break the record set in 2010. With two of the biggest events of the season upcoming, which averaged 29.5 cars in 2018, the record is within reach. In 2018, the series recorded an average car count of 25.9, which was second on the all-time list.
Popular Track: Madera Speedway has hosted the most SRL events in the series’ history. This will be the 42nd race held at the facility. Over the first 41 races, the SRL has averaged 20.8 cars per event.
Five Grand: The winner of this weekend’s event will receive $5,000 thanks to the “Winner’s Bonus” from McGunegill Engine Performance.
Where the Champions Race: Six drivers entered in this weekend’s event possess Super Late Model touring series championships, accounting for 11 championships. Leading the pack is four-time SPEARS Southwest Tour Series champion Derek Thorn. Eric Schmidt possess a championship in both the SPEARS Southwest Tour and the Pacific Challenge Series (PCS). Mike Beeler is a two-time champion of the Pacific Challenge Series, while John Moore won that championship in 2015. Jacob Gomes was the 2015 SRL champion, while Craig Raudman was the 2001 NASCAR Southwest Tour Series champion.
Thorns’ Playground: Derek Thorn is the winningest SPEARS Southwest Tour Series driver at Madera Speedway. Thorn has been very successful at the facility, scoring seven victories, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 15 starts. Thorn was the winner of the June 8 event, holding off Austin Herzog, Linny White, Cole Moore and Blaine Rocha.
Rookies: Six rookies are entered in this weekend’s event. The top-five in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings are all entered. They are represented by Tyler Fabozzi, Jace Hansen, Eric Nascimento Jr., Jesse Love and Don Zoll Jr. Austin Herzog, the televised Nut Up Pro Late Model championship leader at Madera Speedway is also entered. Herzog had the best finish of the rookie group the last time the SRL visited Madera Speedway. The 17-year-old driver finished as the runner-up to Derek Thorn in June.
The Legend Returns: Ross “The Legend Lives On” Strmiska will make his first SRL start since 2015. Strmiska is a veteran of the series, with 52 career starts. The Manteca, California racer has three consecutive runner-up finishes at Madera Speedway in his last three SRL events. He is excited to make his return to Southwest Tour Series action and hopes to return to the series for the remainder of the season.
“I really miss racing in the SRL Tour, and luckily our sponsors, Nut Up Industries/Mainline Equipment and our family race team, have the opportunity and equipment to make it happen,” Strmiska said. “We have been racing at Madera and Stockton in the Late Model classes and have been running well the last few years. It is not a tour car, however, and that’s what I want to race again. The SRL is the best of the best teams, equipment and drivers on the west coast and that’s where we belong.”
Championship Focus: Cole Moore is the current championship leader for the series. Moore has Rookie-of-the-Year titles in both the SRL and the PCS, but will be looking for his first touring series title. It is an aspiration that has the young driver looking at each race from a different point of view.
“The focus this year has simply been consistency,” Moore stated. “There have been points throughout the year where I have reminded myself that I am racing for a championship and need to exercise the patience and maturity that goes along with that. Besides that, we have continued to work on speed, which has put us in a place to fight for wins and podiums.”
Championship Standings: Cole Moore leads Linny White, Tyler Fabozzi, Derek Thorn, Jacob Gomes, John Moore, Jace Hansen (tie 7th), Kyle Neveau (tie 7th), Blaine Rocha and Craig Raudman. Jack Wood (tie 11th), Eric Nascimento Jr. (tie 11th), Jesse Love and Scott Sanchez round out the top-14, each of which have started in all six events.
2018 Winner: Jacob Gomes was the winner of this event one year ago. Gomes held off Blaine Rocha, Craig Raudman, Eric Schmidt and Jeremy Doss to score his eighth career SRL victory. Of the final three events, Gomes counts the Madera Speedway event as the one he is anticipating the most.
“I'd say Madera is the event I most look forward to,” Gomes stated. “I run really well there, and I feel like we have a shot at it every time we go.”
Vieira Returns: Carlos Vieira is the owner of this weekend’s presenting sponsor, 51 FIFTY Energy Drink. Vieira had attended every SRL event since 2010, but has appeared at only half of the schedule in 2019 due to conflicting dates. Vieira will be returning after missing the previous two events. He will be looking to get off to a good start to finish off the final third of the season. His best SRL finish at his home track in the series is a fifth. He has three PCS victories at the facility, however. Vieira is looking forward to the event and racing his Super Late Model.
“The cars are so much fun to race, lots of power and lightweight,” Vieira expressed. “Madera is my home track and it’s close to home. It's nice to go home after each night of practice and racing. Madera is also a track that provides some good side by side racing, which makes it really fun to race on.”
Television: The “SPEARS Southwest Tour 125 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM.” Will be broadcast nationally on MAVTV at a date to be named later.’
1:30 PM SPEARS Modified Tour Practice (45 min)
2:15 PM SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Practice (45 min)
3:00 PM Local Divisions and Legends (40 min)
3:40 PM Legends of the Kearney Bowl (15 min)
4:00 PM Local Divisions and Legends
4:30 PM Spears Modified Tour
4:45 PM Local Divisions
5:30 PM SPEARS SRL SOUTHWEST TOUR QUALIFYING
6:00 PM MAIN EVENTS
Toyota Sedans (25) 20 mins
Hobby Stocks (30 Laps) 20 mins
Legends of the Kearney Bowl Main (10 Laps)
7:00 PM OPENING CEREMONIES
Legends of the Pacific
Spears Modified Tour “FAST 75 presented by General Tire” (75 Laps)
SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Driver Introductions
SPEARS Southwest Tour 125 presented by 51 FIFTY LTM.” (125 Laps)
Celebrating its nineteenth season in 2019, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series..…Where the Champions Race”.
-Story and Photo by: Kevin Peters, SRL