Sparks Fly At Kern County

Brandon Weaver and Buddy Shepherd make contact at the finish of the Semi Pro race (Ricky Bassman photo)
Brandon Weaver and Buddy Shepherd make contact at the finish of the Semi Pro race (Ricky Bassman photo)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Tyler Bannister, Ricky Lewis, Blaine Perkins, and Donny St. Ours scored victories in hotly contested INEX National Qualifying races on Sunday evening at Kern County Raceway Park.

The matinee showing saw three of the four races coming down the wire on the quarter-mile speedway inside the brand-new raceway park.

Perhaps the most spectacular finish came in the Young Lion and Semi Pro Legends 30 lap event. Blaine Perkins inherited the win after the leaders came together coming to the finish, claiming his first Kern Raceway win and locking himself into the 2013 INEX Legends Nationals.

Las Vegas’ Chris Trickle led the first six laps with Racin Vernon in tow. Ricky Schlick started deep in the field but maneuvered to the lead on lap seven, but went wide to allow Trickle to lead lap eight. Buddy Shepherd took advantage to pass Schlick and then pass Trickle for the lead on lap nine.

The race settled down until lap 14 when the caution came out for Trickle spinning after contact with Vernon. On the restart, Schlick fought off hard charges from Johnathan St. Ours and Perkins to maintain second.

On lap 25, Lacie Price and Trickle tangled to bring out the caution and Eddie Garone had a fire underneath his machine. On the restart, Schlick made a bold effort to make the outside work but he was unable to pass Shepherd.

That thrust Brandon Weaver into second in the closing stages of the event. In the final lap, Weaver sailed into turn three coming to the checkered flag and made contact with Shepherd, sending Shepherd spinning. Weaver crossed the line first, but was penalized to the rear of the lead lap cars to hand the victory to Perkins.

Perkins, St. Ours, Noah Gragson, Schlick, and Shepherd were the top-five finishers, with Weaver scored sixth in the final order.

On the INEX Legends Pro / Master side of things, Donny St. Ours led the final 27 laps for a 1.794 second victory over Dallas Montes and Canyon Country’s Ben Walker. St. Ours took the lead from Mark Iungerich on a lap four restart to take the comfortable win. Iungerich and Studio City’s Aaron Wells were the rest of the top-five finishers.

Oxnard’s Ricky Lewis scored his first Kern Raceway win in the INEX Bandolero Outlaw qualifier, using a well-timed move to take a close win. Colton Page led the opening lap while outside pole sitter Kailey Boersma fell to seventh.

Tony Lamas took the lead on lap two with Lewis trailing him throughout the race. Lewis stuck his nose underneath Lamas multiple times. Coming out of turn four with two to go, Lewis made his move on the inside to take the lead into turn one.

Lewis led the final two laps to take the win, while La Mirada’s Ryan Vargas moved past Lamas for second as well. Lamas got into Lewis in the cool down lap after the checkered flag, and was disqualified by race officials.

Bandolero Bandits was another battle between track points leader Tyler Bannister and Las Vegas points leader Caden Carlin, with Bannister hanging tough to take a narrow .268 second win. Carlin overcame a lap four spin to make a run at Bannister but ultimately fell short with fellow Las Vegas racer Tye O’Hanley on the podium.