Tim Kaeding Blitzes the Field to Win At Calistoga Speedway

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TimKeadingThe rest of the field had fast cars but Tim Kaeding brought a rocket ship.  He rode it on the stratospheric high side of the race trace to blitz the field from the back of the grid and snatch the lead from Jonathan Allard with half a lap to go to win the sprint car feature at Calistoga Speedway Saturday night.

The win was a rebound from bad luck, after the defending champion in the King of the West series failed to finish his heat race because of engine problems that forced the crew to hurriedly change motors and roll the car out just minutes before the main event.  Although Kaeding was the night’s fastest qualifier, he was forced to start 16th on the grid for failing to finish his heat race.

At the drop of the green flag, Allard won the drag race from the pole over Willie Croft to take a lead he would hold for 24 and one half laps on the fast half mile oval.  Meanwhile, Kaeding was ripping through the field, dispensing of back markers and fast front runners alike and was sitting fourth by lap 11.

The final showdown between Kaeding and two time series champion Allard came after a restart with four laps to go.  While Allard was stretching a lead and catching slower lapped traffic, Kaeding ran down Croft for second and set out to catch the leader.   Coming off turn two with the white flag in the air, Allard got bunched up behind three lapped cars.  In a split second, he picked the wrong one to follow and Kaeding passed him like a rifle shot to claim a win that many thought improbable when the race began.

“These guys busted their butts after that heat race,” said an excited, fist-pumping Kaeding in victory circle about his crew and their hurried engine change.  “They said that if anybody could do this from the back it was me and that I should just go out and have some fun.”

Kaeding said the winning pass was possible because Allard “got loose and spun the tires and I got a good run off the bottom of the race track and it was a drag race from there.”   About his blitz through the field, Kaeding noted that the racing groove was narrow on a track that was exceptionally tacky after late afternoon rains.  “I knew everybody was going to the bottom of the track so I went to the high side and just went around all of them,” he said.

Allard, the current championship point leader in the King of the West series, was philosophical but disappointed about the narrow loss.  “Sometimes in lapped traffic you make wrong decisions about which way to go,” said Allard.  “I knew Tim was coming on strong and I guess sometimes it’s better to be in second place in a situation like that.”

Nick DeCarlo won the companion Calistoga Modified Invitational for the second consecutive year after leading all 20 laps from the pole.   He was chased for most of the race by Richard Papenhausen, who eventually faded to fifth in the late laps.  Ryan McDaniel claimed the runner-up spot, followed by Kellen  Chadwick and Matt Sargent.

Calistoga Speedway, King of the West sprint cars (Sat).   Fast Time Qualifier; Tim Kaeding,Campbell (16.982 sec).   Heat 1 (8 laps):  Jonathan Allard, Chico; Peter Murphy, Clovis; Craig Stidham, Fresno; David Matthews, American Canyon; Danielle Simpson, Rio Vista.   Heat 2: Brent Kaeding, Campbell; Andy Gregg, Placerville; EvanSuggs, San Jose; Richard Griffin, St.Helena; Pat Harvey,Grass Valley.   Heat 3:  Willie Croft, Sacramento; Jason Statler, Grass Valley; Chad Compton, Sacramento;  Bobby McMahan, Elk Grove; Sean McMahan, Elk Grove; Doug Gandy, Oakhurst.   MAIN EVENT (25 laps).  T. Kaeding; Allard; Croft; Statler; Bud Kaeding, Campbell; Brent Kaeding; B. McMahan; Stidham; Griffin; Suggs; Simpson; S. McMahan; Harvey; Compton; Gandy.

-Bill Sessa

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