CHICO, Calif. — Saturday was a day of celebration and commemoration for Paul McMahan.
It began when he announced his CJB Motorsports team will compete full time this season with the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series. It was then capped under the lights with a splattering of confetti on the frontstretch at Silver Dollar Speedway, where McMahan earned his 15th career World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series victory at the famed Mini Gold Cup.
“Kenny Speck passed away last Friday night at Tulare and we laid him to rest today, and this is the first time I’ve been back to Stephen’s (Allard) hometown here in Chico,” McMahan said. “To win here, I know he’s smiling down, looking on me — both of them are. I said earlier in the night that if I could win here this would be for them guys and I was fortunate enough to get it done.”
While McMahan was all smiles after leading the final 33 of the 40-lap feature, several other drivers left the track in a less-than-desirable mood following a hectic finish, including runner up Chad Kemenah.
After taking last weekend off to heal from a concussion, Kemenah took another wild ride as he collided with NASCAR star Tony Stewart racing for second place to the checkered flag. Kemenah won the position, but ended with a wrecked car in the process.
For Stewart, who started on the pole and led the first seven laps in his first career race at Silver Dollar Speedway, the trouble started in turn four on the final lap.
After David Gravel drove around him in turn three for second place, Gravel spun sideways in turn four. Stewart had nowhere to go and the two drivers crashed in the bottom of the corner. Both were able to keep going, but the melee started the havoc.
Stewart plowed forward to the middle of the track while Gravel’s car was momentarily straightened before he eventually spun across the finish line in sixth place.
“He’s going for a second-place finish so we can’t fault him for that,” Stewart said. “He just spun in front of us and we clipped him on the way by. Then you’re racing to the checkered there and Chad got a really good run on the inside of us. Just banged into him, drove over the left front (tire) and it tore his car all to pieces for a second-place run.”
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series officials had to review a video replay to determine the exact finishing order for everyone behind McMahan, who is second in the championship points standings and can now chase more than wins.
“When I headed to the race track I still didn’t know what we were doing,” he said. “Right before the drivers meeting (crew chief) Barry Jackson told me that we’ve got a contract to sign. So I got pretty excited.”
Shane Golobic finished fourth and Roger Crockett placed fifth.