50th Anniversary: The “Bulwark ‘FR 50/50 presented by SPEARS Manufacturing” is race number five of the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series schedule. It will be run in two 50-lap segments to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of SPEARS Manufacturing. The winner of the event will be the driver who has the best finishing average between both segments. In the event of a tie, the highest finisher in the second segment will gain the higher position.
That Makes a Dozen: This will be the 12th time the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series has raced at Kern County Raceway. The series made one appearance in the inaugural 2013 season and has raced there twice per season even since as the adopted home track for the series. The track also serves as the home of the $30,000-to-win SRL Winter Showdown, which takes place each February.
Lucky Seven: Derek Thorn has dominated at his current home track, having scored seven SRL victories at the facility. Other winners include Jim Pettit II (2013), Jeremy Doss (2014), David Mayhew (2014) and Blaine Rocha (2017).
Winner’s Bonus: The winner of Saturday night’s race will take home $5,000, thanks to the “Winner’s Bonus” sponsored by KHI Management. KHI Management will also pay $125 to the leader at the end of the first segment and to the 13th- place overall finisher at the end of the evening.
Hollywood: Hollywood Dan Holtz will make his second start of the season in the former Donnie Wilson Super Late Model. Holtz has been a fixture in the Bakersfield racing scene for many years, winning a Super Late Model Championship at the now defunct Mesa Marin Raceway (CA) in 2001. The Pacific Palisades, California driver has always had an affinity for the Bakersfield area, and the fans from that region.
“I love the fans from Bakersfield,” Holtz stated. “I've always seen the Bakersfield people as the West Coast hub of NASCAR. The people there are true stock car race fans. Without them, we would not have the ability to do what we love to do so much.”
Holtz has always had an attraction to the larger tracks on the series, and that is especially the case for Mesa Marin and Kern County Raceways, as he looks for SRL victory number two in his Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Ford.
“I miss Mesa Marin Raceway every day, but Kern County Raceway is such an awesome facility and I'm very grateful that we have it,” Holtz commented. “Larry Collins does such a great job running the track and our division (SRL). I’m looking forward to racing at Bakersfield again, which I consider to be my home track.”
The former East Bakersfield area track is also the source of Holtz’ nickname that goes back over 20 years.
“I believe that came (nickname) from Larry Naston, who used to be the announcer at Mesa Marin,” Holtz recalled. “He basically called me that because I’m from the west side of Los Angeles.”
The Red Rocket: The 2017 Speed51.com Most Popular Driver for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will make his return after missing the last event at Madera Speedway. Bobby Hodges will be back behind the wheel of his new VanDoorn Racing Chassis Super Late Model. The two-time series winner is a big fan of Kern County Raceway, with four top-five and six top-ten efforts in nine starts. His best finish is a second, and he knows it will take a total team effort to win at Kern.
“Racing at Kern is all about the speed, there is no better feeling than banging through the gears, and getting up to speed on the back straight,” Hodges stated. “It's a great facility and has a great staff running the show. It's always a challenge keeping it rolling, but also having enough grip off. To win at Kern it takes a true team effort, and you know you've earned it when you win there.”
Wood-a, Could-a, Should-a: Jack Wood is coming off his best SRL finish in the last two years, with an eighth-place effort at Madera Speedway. Wood qualified a career-best fourth in last year’s October Classic at Kern County Raceway but after drawing the number-one card, he was unable to get his car to fire at the line. It was a major disappointment for Wood, but the recent high school graduate will use the experience as motivation this weekend.
“I think for my team and myself as a driver, we know that we have speed at KCR,” Wood stated. “What happened last year was unfortunate, but only pushes us harder to have a successful weekend and back up our performance from last year with even more speed.”
In addition, Wood’s recent NASCAR K&N Pro Series West top-10 and his last Madera SRL start, the teenager enters the event with a building momentum.
“Our finish at Madera proved to me and my team that we are improving,” Wood commented. “We hope to take what we learned from that weekend, and apply it towards this upcoming event.”
Championship Shake-up: The series is likely to see its fourth different driver at the top of the standings in the first five events. Currently Derek Thorn leads Cole Moore, Tyler Fabozzi, Jacob Gomes and John Moore in the championship standings. With Thorn planning a trip to the Summer Showdown at Evergreen Speedway (WA), only a rainout or rain delay at Evergreen on Saturday will prevent the swap. Each driver in the top seven could realistically take the lead, which also includes Linny White and Jace Hansen.
Rookie Battle: Four rookies have competed in every event this season. Tyler Fabozzi leads Jace Hansen, Eric Nascimento Jr. and Jessie Love for the Rookie-of-the-Year title. Don Zoll Jr. sits fifth after missing the second event of the season at All American Speedway in Roseville, California.
Speed51.com: Saturday’s race will be streamed live to a worldwide audience on Speed51.com. Fans will be able to watch with a monthly or yearly subscription to the Speed51 Network.
MAVTV: This weekend’s event will be televised on MAVTV at a date to be named later. Both the SPEARS Southwest Tour and SPEARS Modifieds Series will be shown nationally on the network.
Schedule: The action for the weekend gets underway Friday night, with three practice sessions for the SRL Super Late Models beginning at 5:00 pm. The teams will qualify that evening at 10:00 pm. The Legends and Spears Modified Series presented by Lucas Oil will also practice.
On Saturday, June 29th, the Modifieds will have two practice sessions, with the Legends, Mini Dwarf’s and Jr. Mini Dwarfs also practicing. Spectator Gates open at 4:30 pm, with Qualifying for the SPEARS Modifieds and Legend cars scheduled for 5:30 pm, with the Dwarf main events to follow. The on-track autograph session begins at 6:15 pm, with opening ceremonies set for 6:45 pm.
The first 50-lap segment for the “Bulwark ‘FR 50/50 presented by SPEARS Manufacturing 50th Anniversary,” featuring the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series is slated thereafter, with the Modifieds, Legends and Modifieds running their features. The “Salute to America Fireworks Spectacular” is tentatively up next, with the 50-lap Segment #2, for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, scheduled to round out the evening’s activities.
-Story & Photo by Kevin Peters, SRL