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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:25 PM
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Gary Thomas
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49th Johnny Key Classic on tap for GLR 360 Sprints at Ocean Speedway this Saturday night August 29

By Gary Thomas

Watsonville, CA – August 25, 2009…Whenever the summer months slowly come to a close the abundance of "big races" seem to take precedent throughout the Northern California sprint car scene and the start of a huge three weeks of racing in the area will kick off this Saturday night with the GLR 360 Sprint Car Series sanctioned 49th Johnny Key Classic at the Ocean Speedway in Watsonville.

Following the passing of Johnny Key during a racing crash in 1954 the Key Classic started out at the paved San Jose Speedway, before moving to the fairgrounds dirt track in 1978 and had been a staple at the speedway until the closing of the dirt oval in 1999. After a number of years sitting idle the Ocean Speedway decided to bring the event back in 2007 and this year will mark the third straight season that it will be held at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds facility.

Since taking over the Ocean Speedway in 2006 promoter John Prentice and his staff have helped mold the track into one of the premier dirt track venues on the west coast and a big night is expected at the Key Classic on Saturday. "The Johnny Key means a lot to the racers and me as I'm aware that this race carries a lot of history," Prentice said in past press release. "I'm just really proud to have the event held at Ocean Speedway."

Anticipation for the event is also mounting among the local community as the race nears on Saturday. "I remember going to the Johnny Key Classic a lot of years at San Jose, but haven't had the chance to go since it moved to Ocean so I'm looking forward to it this weekend," said super-fan Mike Avilla of San Jose. "Each time I've been to the track the last few years it's been a well organized and well run show so it should be a good deal."

A total of 14 drivers are already locked into the Johnny Key Classic and will be led by Campbell's Brent Kaeding and Easton's Tommy Tarlton, who will continue their entertaining battle for the GLR 360 Series title. The duo also happened to be the top-two finishers in last year's Key Classic main event and will come into this years running sitting just four points apart at the top of the standings.

Kaeding just recently finished third in the final Golden State Challenge 410 Series standings and will be looking to make it back-to-back wins at the Key Classic after claiming his second career victory in the event last season aboard the familiar Al's Roofing Supply, High Five Pizza No. 69. Despite not winning with the GLR 360 Series since the opening round on April 3, "BK" has been consistent enough to give him a four point lead in the series standings as he looks to win the Ocean Speedway title for the third straight year. "Winning the Key last year was pretty cool and we're going to be trying hard to do it again on Saturday," Kaeding said on the front stretch after last weeks GSC finale in Placerville.

After finishing runner-up at the Johnny Key Classic last year Tarlton will be gunning to improve one more position on Saturday. The veteran has driven his Tarlton & Son Inc, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No. 21 to a series high three victories this year, including the most recent event on August 14 and will go into the Key Classic looking to close the four point gap between himself and Kaeding. Tarlton has put together his best season in recent memory and has also scored a pair of runner-up finishes with the Golden State Challenge Series at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway this year.

Scotts Valley's Evan Suggs comes into the weekend sitting third in the GLR Series standings and will look for redemption on Saturday after getting upside down while challenging for the lead at last years Johnny Key Classic. The 22 year-old driver of the Suggs Racing, Riley Collins Body Shop No. 33e machine has set a GLR Series high three fast-times this season, including a new 360 track record on August 14, but is still searching for his first win of the year. Suggs last weekend wrapped up the Golden State Challenge Series season with a fourth place finish in the standings.  

Youngster Justin Sanders has been solid this season and comes into the Key Classic ranking fourth in the GLR standings. The 16 year-old, Prunedale resident picked up a huge victory on May 8 at the Ocean Speedway, which marked his first career sprint car win and has also shown immense talent from all accounts during the year. Sander's scored a fifth place finish during the most recent series event at the helm of his North County Plastering, STS Trucking No. 17 sprinter.

Rounding out the top-five in the current GLR 360 standings is former World of Outlaw regular Brad Furr of Pleasanton, who is still looking for his first of the season. The wheel-man of the Brad Furr Racing, Ray Scheidts Electric No. 2 scored his best finish of third on June 26. Veteran Ronnie Day ranks sixth in the standings and will look for his second career Johnny Key Classic victory on Saturday aboard the Werbach Motorsports, Los Gatos Construction Company No. 20. Like Furr, Day is also searching for his first win of the season and the former King of California will look to make it happen this weekend.  

Morgan Hills Ricky Wright sits seventh in the points and will come into the Johnny Key Classic on the heels of a victory at the Chowchilla Speedway last Saturday. The driver of the Wright One Construction, Red Line Oil No. 35 also picked up a win at the Ocean Speedway on June 5 and last season brought home a strong fifth place finish at the Key Classic. Completing the top-10 in the GLR 360 Series standings and also qualified for the Key are Gilroy's Kurt Nelson, San Jose's Jason Newton and Salinas' Keith Day.

Current California Sprint Car Civil War Series point leader Sean Becker has had a very strong year and will be looking for his first Key Classic victory on Saturday aboard the always potent Scott Miller Racing, Robinson Engineering No. 2sb machine. "The Shark" has won three main events with the Civil War tour this season and holds a commanding 78-point lead in the series standings. The Oroville driver has always seemed to do well at the Ocean Speedway and in May of 2007 tallied a clean-sweep with the Golden State Challenge Series after setting fast-time, winning his heat race, the dash and the main event during the night. Becker this season has also captured a $5,000 win at the Mark Forni Classic in Placerville and this past Friday captured his first 410 victory of the year in Chico.

Former Johnny Key Classic winner Jason Statler has won twice on the season with the GLR Series and will look to make it number three on Saturday behind the wheel of his Statler Racing, DF Rios Construction No. 00. "The Big Guy" last season tallied a third place result at the event and will be searching to continue his successful 2009 campaign this weekend at the prestigious race. Last Saturday night saw Statler charge from 14th to fifth in the main event at the Placerville Speedway to finish off the Golden State Challenge Series season seventh in the standings, having competed in 18 of the 21 events.

Elk Grove's Kyle Larson is sure to be a front runner in the Johnny Key Classic at the helm of his Vertullo Racing, Starr Property Management No. 83v sprint car. The 17 year-old driver has had a big year at the Ocean Speedway having raced to victory during a GLR/Civil War Series co-sanctioned event on July 17 and also picked up his first career Golden State Challenge Series win at the track on May 29. During his most recent visit to the quarter-mile bullring Larson charged from 15th to sixth in the GSC main event and last weekend wrapped-up his first 410 campaign with a fifth place finish in the series standings.

Two-time USAC Silver Crown Series champion and current point leader Bud Kaeding goes into Saturday looking to grab his second career Key Classic victory. The 29 year-old will be back aboard the Sala/Matherly Racing, M&M Powder Coating No. 19 as he searches for his first GLR 360 Series win of the season at the track he calls home. Kaeding raced to an impressive triumph at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds facility on August 8 when he dominated the Golden State Challenge main event for his second 410 victory of the year. Other possibilities on Saturday will include San Martin's Craig Smith and Wes Guiterrez, Visalia's Cory Eliason, Fremont's Brent Bjork, Corralitos' Jerry Bonema, Fresno's Anthony Simone and Mike Stallings, Campbell's Burt Foland Jr, Morgan Hills Devon Ostheimer and more.

Please note an earlier start time is also scheduled for Saturday's Johnny Key Classic with the front grandstand gate opening up at 3pm. The pit board meeting will be held at 3:45 with track packing at 4 and racing scheduled to get underway around 5. This is the same time frame used during all Saturday shows at the Ocean Speedway.

Adult tickets will be $15 with seniors $12, kids 6-12 $9 and five and under free. Ocean Speedway officials also want to stress that the appearance rule from last season is not in place so all teams are invited and welcome to come and compete during the night. The evening will be capped with a 50 lap main event, which will feature a break at midway to allow teams the chance to adjust their cars for the final 25 lap segment that will crown the Key Classic winner.

The Ocean Speedway is located on the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, California. For more info on the 49th Johnny Key Classic, including the format, log onto the site with great documentation concerning the GLR Series done by Lance Jennings and Gary Costa at http://www.oceansprints.com and for more info on the Ocean Speedway visit http://www.oceanspeedway.com

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Campbell's Brent Kaeding goes into this Saturday's 49th Johnny Key Classic looking to win the event for the second year in a row and the third time overall in his career. "BK" also goes into the evening holding a four point lead in the GLR 360 Series standings as he searches for his third straight Ocean Speedway title. Photo courtesy Joe Martinez
http://picasaweb.google.com/jmart16164?pli=1


Last edited on Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:58 PM by Gary Thomas



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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:36 PM
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Photo's courtesy Joe Martinez
http://picasaweb.google.com/jmart16164?pli=1

----------------

Easton's Tommy Tarlton has won a GLR Series high three main events this season and comes into the Johnny Key Classic second in the standings, just four digits back of Kaeding. The veteran driver was also runner-up at last years Key Classic and will look to move up one more position on Saturday aboard his Tarlton & Son Inc, Tachi Palace No. 21



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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:38 PM
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Scotts Valley's Evan Suggs comes into the weekend sitting third in the GLR Series standings and will look for redemption on Saturday after getting upside down while challenging for the lead at last years Johnny Key Classic. The 22 year-old driver of the Suggs Racing, Riley Collins Body Shop No. 33e machine has set a GLR Series high three fast-times this season, including a new 360 track record on August 14




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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:40 PM
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Current California Sprint Car Civil War Series point leader Sean Becker has had a very strong year and will be looking for his first Key Classic victory on Saturday aboard the Scott Miller Racing, Robinson Engineering No. 2sb machine. Becker this season has won three Civil War Series main events and also captured a $5,000 win at the Mark Forni Classic in Placerville. The former King of California also raced to victory this past Friday to capture his first 410 victory of the year in Chico



 



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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:44 PM
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Former Johnny Key Classic winner Jason Statler has won twice on the season with the GLR Series and will look to make it number three on Saturday behind the wheel of his Statler Racing, DF Rios Construction No. 00. "The Big Guy" finished third in last years event and has been solid at the Watsonville based track all season long. The former King of California scored a third place finish in the GSC main event at the track on August 8




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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 09:52 PM
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Talented youngster Kyle Larson of Elk Grove has been extremely strong at the Ocean Speedway this season aboard the Vertullo Racing, Starr Property Management No. 83v. Larson has made four starts at the track this year and has won both a Golden State Challenge Series main event and a GLR/Civil War Series co-sanctioned feature. The 17 year-old also finished fourth with GSC in April and his last visit to the speedway netted a sixth place result after starting 15th on grid with the traveling 410 tour




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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 10:38 PM
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Former Johnny Key Classic winners:

1954 Danny Graves
1955 Al Pombo
1956 Clyde Palmer
1957 Ray Raineri
1958 Rick Henderson
1959 George Benson
1960 Marshall Sargent
1961 Clyde Palmer(2)
1962 Clyde Palmer(3)
1963 Marshall Sargent
1964 George Snider
1965 Burt Foland
1966 Burt Foland(2)
1967 Bill Scott
1968 Howard Kaeding
1969 Bill Scott(2)
1970 Don Epperson
1971 Everett Edlund
1972 Nick Rescino
1973 Howard Kaeding(2)
1974 Nick Rescino(2)
1975 Nick Rescino(3)
1976 Tony Ringo
1977 Danny O'Neill
1978 Johnny Brazil
1979 Howard Kaeding(3)
1980 Brent Kaeding
1981 Mike Sargent
1982 Nick Rescino(4)
1983 John Viel
1984 Nick Rescino(5)
1985 Rich Voss
1986 Nick Rescino(6)
1987 Howard Kaeding(4)
1988 Rod Spencer
1989 Scott Luhdorff
1990 Danny Olmstead
1991 Terry McCarl
1992 Scott Luhdorff(2)
1993 Chuck Miller
1994 Chuck Miller(2)
1995 Rick Martin
1996 Bud Kaeding
1997 Craig Smith
1998 Ronnie Day
1999 Eric Rossi
2007 Jason Statler
2008 Brent Kaeding (2)



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 Posted: Tuesday Aug 25th, 2009 10:54 PM
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 Posted: Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 01:37 AM
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1998 Johnny Key Classic winner Ronnie Day brought home a third place finish during the most recent GLR 360 Series event on August 14 and will look for his first win of the season on Saturday. The 50 year-old former King of California has won a number of big races in his career including the Jim Raper Memorial Dirt Cup, the Trophy Cup, the Pombo/Sargent Classic, the Salute to Walt Ross and is currently in his first season driving the Tim Werbach owned, Los Gatos Construction Company No. 20 sprint car. In addition to winning the Golden State Challenge title in 2000 Day was also the runner-up in the series standings in 2006, 1996 and 1991




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 Posted: Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 03:46 AM
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Here's a couple of cool shots from last years Johnny Key taken by Alan Messick at http://www.pbase.com/alan/motorsports

---------------

BK and team in victory lane



Howard Kaeding being interviewed


Last edited on Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 03:48 AM by Gary Thomas



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 Posted: Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 04:28 PM
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Tarlton Racing PR courtesy Gary Costa

Tommy Tarlton Focused On Winning Johnny Key Classic

By Gary Costa

Easton, CA – (August 26, 2009) – Tommy Tarlton will have his sights set on becoming victorious this Saturday night at Ocean Speedway during the 49th Running of the Johnny Key Classic that will be held at Ocean Speedway. Tarlton has been on fire in the GLR Investments 360 Sprint Car Series winning three main events this season. Tarlton's last victory came in a wild finish that came down to the wire just beating out point leader Brent Kaeding.

"That was a wild race. I'll tell you, I'm really pumped up about the Johnny Key. Our car has been fast, and the guys have found something that makes this thing scream every night out," Tarlton said. "I really like our chances going in. It's definitely not going to be easy, but I will be standing on the gas I can tell you that."

Tarlton, is currently sitting second in the point standings, and is also looking to wrestle the top-spot from Kaeding. The pair has been dicing with each other for most of the season, charging through the pack and putting the fans on their feet.

"Brent is tough competitor, but he's also fun to race," he said. "It seems like when we get next one another, it quickly becomes a dogfight out on the racetrack. I have a lot of respect for him and the other competitors that I race with."

The Tarlton & Son, Inc, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino No 21 Maxim, picked-up wins in GLR competition on May 15, June 26, and most recently August 14. During last years running of the Johnny Key Classic, Tarlton finished second and will be looking to improve his position by one spot. Tarlton is quick to admit that winning the Johnny Key Classic is something that he would be extremely proud of and honored to put on his resume.

"Everyone wants to win the Johnny Key Classic. There's just so much history involved with this race," he said. "We came close in last year's race. We ended up with a second place finish. We are going to go out there and give 110% effort and let the chips fall where they may."

There's a lot on the line this weekend with Tarlton sitting only four points behind point leader Kaeding. With only four races remaining in GLR Investments competition, and the way that the point structure is, Tarlton knows that it's go time, and he must remain consistent through the next four races.

"Any of these guys can win this series, and can bite you real quick. Evan Suggs (third in points) is right behind me, and is a great competitor. This series is so stout, that when the green flag drops, you have to go…there is no waiting," Tarlton explained. "It's a balancing act really. You have to drive hard every lap, and put it on the ragged edge….but you don't want to go over it either. Just talking about racing has got me pumped…I'm ready to go right now!"



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 Posted: Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 04:41 PM
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Story courtesy Kyle Larson Racing PR

-----------

DNF For Larson In Golden State Challenge Finale

Placerville, CA. August 22, 2009. With fifth place in the final points standings of the Golden State Challenge Series assured heading into the main event, Kyle Larson let it all hang out at Placerville Speedway Saturday night in an effort to capture his second series feature win of the season. Unfortunately, the top contender for Rookie of the Year honors was out of the race before the halfway point due to the two stop rule, one self inflicted and the other, as they say, a racing deal.

After qualifying ninth fast of the 25 cars assembled, Larson scored a runaway win in heat three from outside the front row. The Elk Grove, California driver started seventh in the dash and dropped one spot, which secured the fourth row outside starting position in the feature race.

On the opening lap of the race third starting Keith Bloom bounced off the turn four wall and veered toward the infield directly into Larson’s path. A deft maneuver by Larson narrowly averted disaster for the Starr Property Management/Stadelhofer Construction/Eagle/Kistler machine.

On the next start Larson powered into seventh and looked very racy utilizing the treacherous Placerville cushion. However, entering turn one of the next lap Larson missed the cushion just enough to allow the car to spin over the crest of the turn.

Larson restarted at the tail in 21st and began to process of becoming a contender once again. By the time the yellow appeared again on lap 6 Larson was still mired in 20th.

When the race resumed Larson picked up the pace and by lap 10 had moved into 15th. With a red flag that involved third place Andy Forsberg, sixth place Andy Gregg, and seventh place Robbie Farr, Larson jumped into eight on lap 11.

The restart saw Larson re-energized as he mounted a challenge on Brad Bumgarner for seventh. As Larson made his move to the outside of Bumgarner into turn one of lap 13 contact ensued with the right rear and left front tires of each slightly touching. Once again Larson sailed over the top edge of the race track and spun to a halt, ending his night due to his second stoppage in the event.

With the young driver out of the contest Larson’s crew was able to witness the great race between leader Jonathan Allard and point leader Tyler Walker. After a furious battle through heavy lapped traffic Walker prevailed late to take his record setting ninth GSC feature win and his first series title.

After the races Larson summed up the night’s event and also his rookie campaign with the GSC by saying, “First, I would like to congratulate Tyler Walker and his team for winning the GSC championship. My car felt really fast tonight thanks to the setup Dave Vertullo put on it. I just felt a little too good heading into turn one on the second lap and drove her in their a little too hard and spun. Coming from the back it felt fast running the top and I was making good progress. The incident that ended it was just one of those things. I had a good run on Brad and he moved up just a bit as I got there. No fault of his, it was just bad timing.”

Regarding the GSC season just concluded Larson said, “I really want to thank Dave and Debbie Vertullo for stepping up to run 410’s regularly this season. Getting to run with Walker, Allard, the Kaedings, Suggs and all the other top drivers that drop in has really helped my progression as a driver. We’ve been fast everywhere that we have raced and getting a win at Watsonville was the highlight. We had a little bit of a low point in June with some engine problems and crashes, but with Rich Stadelhofer offering support when it was needed most, we were able to keep racing. Hopefully, next year we can come back stronger and make a run at the GSC championship.”

Larson will be competing in the history packed Johnny Key Classic at Ocean Speedway this Saturday. Larson is one of the 14 drivers locked into the A-main by virtue of his big win during the California 360 Civil War Series event last month.

Larson’s racing efforts are sponsored by Starr Property Management, Inc., Phoenix ParkerStores and Lubrication Equipment and Supply Co., Stadelhofer Construction, Wion’s Body Shop and Powdercoating, A.R.T. Speed Equipment, G & N Construction, JW Web Design, Safety Solutions-LFT Technologies, Simpson Performance Products, Wyman Construction, GME-Nields Steerings, LRB Manufacturing, SWEPCO Lubricants, Edward’s Lawn Service, Sierra Tire and Wheel, Mancamp Motorsports, and Mophead Graphix.

Check out http://www.kylelarsonracing.com for current news and information.



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 Posted: Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 05:11 PM
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Photo by http://www.graphxdesigns.com

Brandon Davis makes it back-to-back wins to conclude Petaluma Speedway weekly 360 sprint car season

By Gary Thomas

Petaluma, CA – August 26, 2009…Putting a cap on the Petaluma Speedway point season Rohnert Park, CA's Brandon Davis came back this past Saturday and made it look surprisingly similar to the previous week as he jumped out into the lead during the main event and never looked back to pick up his second straight winged sprint car victory at the sticky 3/8 mile clay oval.

Going along with his three wingless wins this year it marked the fifth overall sprint car triumph for the 19 year-old this season and he was extremely happy to conclude the Petaluma Speedway All-Pro season in victory lane for the second straight week. "I'm so happy I don't know what to say," commented Davis. "It just feels really amazing to come out here and finish off the weekly stuff at this place with a couple of wins and I have to thank my whole team and all our sponsors for making it possible."

Davis went into this past Saturday's All-Pro 360 finale at the Petaluma Speedway with confidence following his first career winged sprint car win during the most recent event on August 15 and was hoping to keep the momentum rolling. To begin the evening he would qualify seventh fastest in the field at the helm of the Brandon Davis Racing, Hettrich Construction No. 19 machine and then charge to victories in both his heat race and the dash.

When the main event came to the track Davis found himself on the front row for the second week in a row and he would not waste the opportunity as he quickly rocketed out into the top spot at the waving of the green flag. Like last week the Rohnert Park driver pulled away from the rest of the competitors with ease as the S&S Automotive, Jay's Kustom Exhaust, Sparky's Collision Center sprinter was set-up to perfection for the track conditions.

As the race went on Davis remained up on the wheel and continued to make it look easy out front, as he dominated the 25-lap contest for the second week in a row to bring the No. 19 mount home in first and become the only driver to score back-to-back wins in the All-Pro 360 Series this season. "We had this car pretty much perfect again and it was locked down to the track really good," said Davis, who also turned a lap under the 360 track record late in the feature for the second straight Saturday. "No other sprint car driver has won back-to-back times this season here so that's pretty cool and we're definitely proud to accomplish that."

The final winged sprint car race of the year at the Petaluma Speedway will be held on September 19 when the California Sprint Car Civil War Series invades the 3/8 mile clay oval. Davis scored an 11th place finish during the most recent Civil War visit to the track on July 25 and he'll to improve upon that at the event next month.

For more news and info on 19 year-old Brandon Davis log onto http://brandondavisracing.com/index2.html

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Rohnert Park's Brandon Davis picked up his second career winged sprint car victory on Saturday night to make it back-to-back wins at the Petaluma Speedway aboard the Brandon Davis Racing No. 19 sprinter. Photo by http://www.stevesracingphotos.com


Last edited on Wednesday Aug 26th, 2009 05:14 PM by Gary Thomas



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