Drake wins Late Model main just ahead of Johnson, who finishes with just 2 tiresbakersfield
By BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
For 15 laps it was a one-man show, then it turned wild in the 30-lap Late Model feature at Bakersfield Speedway.
Well, Steve Drake thought he had lost a close race to Mike Johnson, who drove across the finish line with just two tires on the third-mile clay oval — his right-side tires were on top of the crash wall with sparks flying.
“I saw a little flash of blue (the color of Johnson’s car) when I looked to the right (coming out of turn four),” Drake said of the frantic final lap. “I can’t believe we won this thing. I looked up at the scoreboard and saw my number.”
Drake spun and suffered a flat tire on the second lap of the race (which he changed under caution). After that it was all the Robert Sanders show until the midway point.
Sanders had led by as much as a full straight, lost most of that, and had a several car-length lead over Chad Reichenbach when a caution flew on the 15th lap.
On the restart, Nick Bartels, running third, hit Reichenbach, sending into a 360, bringing out another caution. Both drivers were sent to the rear of the field and another restart ensued.
Sanders led a lap then broke coming off turn 2, giving the lead to Johnson with Clay Daly right behind.
Daly took the lead on the 23rd lap, but broke before completing another lap, putting Johnson back into the lead and bringing out the caution.
Drake was right behind Johnson on the restart and went low on the track to take the lead coming out of Turn 4 on the 27th lap. Johnson stayed close on the high side, setting up the photo finish at the checkered flag.
“It wasn’t real fun,” Johnson said of drifting high and bicycling along the crash wall. “I thought I was going to take the flag stand out.”
Jimmy Irwin led the final 10 laps to become the first repeat winner in Hobby Stock action.
Irwin, the point leader, started 10th and methodically picked his way through the field, moving behind leader Tyler Johnson on the 10th lap.
Irwin drove low in turns 3 and 4 on the13th lap inj a bid for the lead but Johnson led by a bumper at the start/finish line and Irwin fell back and followed for a few laps.
“I thought why tear anything up?” Irwin said. “I figured I had laps left … I’ll get another chance and I did.”
That opportunity came on 15th lap when Johnson bobbled in turn three and slid up the track in turn four.
That was all the opening Irwin needed as he powered past and into the lead. Johnson nearly drew even a lap later but Irwin pulled away over the final eight laps.
Johnson finished second, followed by Ryan Daves, Steven Johnson and Matt Wankum.
Dakota Brown broke up a family reunion late in the American Stock feature and went on to victory in the 20-lap feature.
Brown, making his first start of the season, started 10th and was running third on the 11th lap, behind cousins Teena and Traci Childress, who were running first and second, respectively.
Brown moved past Traci Childress and into second on lap 13 and and two laps later he sailed around Traci Childress on the high side of the track and into the lead.
Teena Childress finished second, followed by Traci Childress and Justin Gonzalez.
Cameron McCauley of Westlake Village raced to his first victory of the season in the Senior Mini Dwarf division, finishing two car lengths ahead of Bakersfield’s Tyler Banister. Kabe McClenny went around a spinning Gavin Manning in the final turn for his second straight victory in the junior division. Manning was hit from behind and McClenny went from third to the win in a matter of a couple of hundred feet.
Kenny Wiley led from flag-to-flag to win the 20-lap NMRA Three-Quarter Midget feature.