Bakersfield Speedway: Rutherford takes Midget feature
BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Only a single caution flag could slow Troy Rutherford on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway.
Rutherford of Ojai started on the outside of the front row and led wire-to-wire to win the 30-lap USAC Western States Midget feature.
Rutherford was never challenged and the closest his competitors got was when a caution bunched the field after 18 laps. The only trouble Rutherford had came late in the race as he bobbled a few times in the corners.
“I had the floor board caved in (trying to use his brakes); I didn’t have any brakes and when you’re running that fast you need them,” he said.
Ronnie Gardner chased Rutherford from the sixth lap on but never got close enough to challenge.
“I was probably over driving a bit (trying to catch Rutherford),” Gardner said.
David Prickett finished third, followed by Cody Swanson and Robby Josett.
Bakersfield’s Shannon McQueen qualified No.1 and finished eighth in the feature. She holds a 139-point lead over Prickett in the race for the series championship.
For Matt Lewis, the American Stock championship was his as soon as he took the green flag at the start of the 20-lap feature. Lewis started 12th in the 20-lap feature and worked his way to fourth for his 12th top-five finish.
But the race belonged to Rich Tillema, who started on the pole and led by a quarter lap or more most of the race. Tillema was making just his third start of the season.
“Last year was a learning curve and there was a couple of times I wasn’t excited about coming out here,” Lewis said. “Everybody said you’re going to get better and here I am.”
Eric Silvius was second with Don Mead third.
Gary Spiller Jr. raced to victory in the final Mini Stock feature of the season and Doug Shepherd finished fifth to win his first title.
It was the first win of the season for Spiller, who took the lead on the 14th lap of the 20-lap race.
Shepherd came into the race with a two-point advantage over Darren Sherman, who finished sixth and wound up four points back. Shepherd won four of the 16 races and placed in the top five 12 times. Jason Ridenour was second, Scott Black Jr. third and Stacy Evans fourth.
Shepherd is the eighth different Mini Stock champion; there has yet to be a repeat champion.
“I worried about this all day long,” Shepherd said. “I went to roll the car up on the trailer earlier and it would not run. I had to go and get another computer and then it started.”
Series point leader Cory Elliott of Bakersfield made a dramatic pass in the final turn to win the USAC Ford Focus 25-lap race.
Elliott, 12, chased leader Daniel Williams for much of the race and tried repeatedly in vain to get past by running the high groove. He made one more try, driving hard into turn three and finding just enough traction to edge ahead in turn four and beat Williams to the checkered flag by a couple of feet.
Williams was disqualified after the race.
Justin Yaden won the Okie Bowl Hard Top race as Matt McCaslin spun in the final turn of the 15-lap race. The two ran side-by-side for several laps before Yaden fell in behind with two laps to go.