BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It was eight years in the making, but the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour returned to Bakersfield on Saturday night with Jim Pettit II winning the “DC’s RV Center 100” at Kern County Raceway Park.
The $4,500 win was his 15th career SRL victory to tie him runner-up Derek Thorn on the all-time SRL win list.
The win came before a crowd of nearly 3500 with wins also going to Daryl Scoggins and Anthony Gianonne in the SRL S2 Tour Series and Ricky Schlick in the SRL / INEX Legends. 22 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour teams raced in the 100-lap contest.
“It is always very special to win the very first race, no doubt,” Pettit said on winning the inaugural SRL event at the brand-new half-mile venue. “We worked hard all weekend and knew we had a good car for the race.”
Pettit took over the lead from Jared Vorse on lap five with Thorn in tow to take over second. Rookie Brandon White went back-and-forth within the top-five in the early laps, running as high as third several times.
Pettit and Thorn built up a six second cushion on White by the lap 25 mark while navigating lapped traffic. On lap 35, Thorn seized the opportunity to use the outside and box in Pettit behind a slower lapped car. The bold move worked and thrust Thorn into the lead.
A caution on lap 37 allowed Pettit a chance to get back at Thorn, taking the lead on lap 42. Jacob Gomes retired from the top-five with a rear end issue while 2004 NASCAR Whelen National Champion Greg Pursley moved into third after starting 12th.
Cautions came out on lap 47 for Brandon Loverock making contact with the inside wall in turn three and lap 53 for former Altamont regulars Jason Gilbert and Bobby Hodges colliding down the backstretch. Fast-qualifier Jeremy Doss was working his way into the top five before stopping for a caution on lap 58 with a flat left-rear tire.
On that restart it became apparent that Thorn was running with engine troubles, but he was able to stay within a few car lengths of Pettit to the finish while they stretched their lead on the field. 14th starting Greg Voigt navigated up to fourth and then inherited third when Pursley retired with a blown engine on lap 80.
Pettit cruised to a 1.3 second win ahead of Thorn, who was nearly 13 seconds ahead of Voigt at the stripe. Donny St. Ours and White rounded out the top five with 17th starting Troy Ermish scored sixth.
“I’m just happy the ol’ girl didn’t blow up on me,” Thorn said. “I want to congratulate Jim Pettit II. And I really got to thank (the fans) for supporting a local series with local drivers tonight.”
The SRL S2 Tour Series ran twin 20 lap events on the half-mile speedway with Daryl Scoggins leading all 20 laps to win the first event narrowly over Anthony Giannone. In the second 20, Giannane put on a show. The Colorado driver made a nice crossover move to take second from fast-time qualifier Trevor Huddleston, then muscled his way past race leader Kenny Smith on lap 18 to take the victory. Giannone ended the night with a huge burnout that led to a fire underneath his Chevrolet.
Ricky Schlick scored his second consecutive race win, taking the INEX and SRL Legends event on the quarter-mile oval. Schlick started seventh and was in the lead by the sixth lap. Point leader Buddy Shepherd moved in second by lap 18 but was unable to close down on Schlick in the final rundown.