Dutton claims victory on wild, wacky nightbakersfield
BY MIKE GRIFFITH Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
As a full moon rose over turn three, it turned into one of those nights at Bakersfield Speedway.
The kind where nothing much goes as planned, where the flagman gets tennis elbow from repeatedly waving the caution flag in one race, then waves nothing but the green, white and checkered in another. Where a race that had been oh-so-smooth turns into a crash fest.
Such are full-moon short-track racing nights. Or so says racing supersitition.
Saturday night was a “super” moon night as the full moon came as close to earth as it will all year, making it appear 14 percent larger than normal.
That cast plenty of moonlight on the third-mile clay oval and the Hobby Stock drivers were the shining stars on this night.
Thirty-three drivers were in the pits, meaning four heat races and two B-mains (both caution free) to set a 22-car field for the feature.
Gary Dutton took the long way around the track, riding the high groove, to hold off a spirited challenge from Lloyd Wren Jr. to get the feature victory.
In a theme that started earlier in the night, the race was cut from a scheduled 25 laps to 20 due to time constraints.
“I just thought nobody would be up there (in the high groove) ’cause it was slick,” said Dutton, who ran higher on the track than any other driver and became the third different winner in as many races. “I saw (Wren) on the bottom but figured if I hit my lines he could stay there all night.”
That plan worked to perfection for Dutton. Wren pulled even coming off turn two on the final lap and the two were side-by-side heading into turn three. But Dutton found more traction up high and powered away out of the final turn to win by more than a car length.
Jimmy Irwin was third, Clint Reichenbach fourth and Ryan Daves fifth.
The IMCA Modified feature had not been completed at press time.
Matt Lewis made a last-lap pass to come away with his first American Stock victory in a race cut from 20 to 15 laps due to time constraints (six cautions in the first 11 laps)
Teena Childress had led from the drop of the flag in a bid for her first win but Lewis drove low in turn two to take the lead and Childress spun.
Rick Childress Jr., who had won three straight features, make a charge to try and catch Lewis, but spun coming out of turn four, allowing Tim Martin and Justin Gonzalez to get by and finish second and third, respectively.
Kabe McClenny won the time-shortened Junior Dwarf feature with a last-lap pass over Paige Minor. Scheduled for 12 laps, the drivers got in only six (which took 15 minutes due to cautions). By contrast, the Senior division (drivers 9-to-13) ripped off 15 laps without a caution in just a tick over three minutes. Anthony Balcazar raced to his first win and it was the first time a Mini Dwarf feature has ever been completed without a caution.