Saturday night Jacob Gomes drove to his second SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series victory of 2011, with his win in the “Mid Valley Iron & Metals 150” at Stockton 99 Speedway. Gomes, driving the Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats, Inc. #16 Chevrolet held off veteran M.K. Kanke by .35 seconds for the win, and moved to the top of the current SRL championship standings.
Gomes’ victory was the second of his SRL career, and second in a row as he won on May 14th at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 18 year old from Manteca lead just five laps in Saturday nights 150 lapper, but it was all he needed to pick up the win and the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series points lead.
At the drop of the green it was Mike David out front until a lap two caution when Kanke, Carlos Vieira, and Jared Vorse all got collected in an incident when the front of the pack checked up going into turn 1. All three cars pitted for repairs, with Vorse having to retire due to a broken rear end, Vieira’s Fifty-One Fifty team had to remove the nose of the his car but returned to the field, and Kanke’s RPM Motor Sports team made major repairs to the rear of the car and returned one lap down.
On the restart, Zane Lovelace lead the field, with David in second, followed by Eric Holmes, Gomes, Ross Strmiska and fast qualifier Derek Thorn.
SRL Victory Circle Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Lovelace, would continue to pace the field, followed closely by David, until Strmiska and the #1 Approved Memory/Heritage Cattle Chevrolet of David made contact in turn 2, resulting in the second caution of the night and both cars restarting at the rear of the field.
On the lap 27 restart, it was still Lovelace, followed now by Holmes, in the Moeller Bros. #18, Gomes, Thorn who was on the move, Jim Pettit II who started in 12th position was now up to 5th. Dave Byrd was 6th, Joe Farre’ 7th, Justin Westmoreland 8th, Keith Spangler 9th, and Michael Sandoval rounding out the top 10.
On lap 35, Thorn would muscle his way past Gomes as the two cars made hard contact in turn 4, with Thorn taking the position entering turn 1. Five laps later Thorn moved in front of Holmes for second. Then on lap 60, Thorn slowed to pit with a broken track bar.
With 10 laps to go until the competition yellow would be displayed for the half-time break, the top five were Lovelace, Pettit, Holmes, Gomes, and Westmoreland who had come all the way from 13th starting position. One lap later Holmes started losing positions with a tire going down, but was able to stay on the lead lap until the lap 75 break.
At lap 75, the field followed the Buick Regal Pace Car onto Pit Lane, to get service from their respective teams.
After the five minute break, the cars rolled back on track, the top 10 was; Lovelace, Pettit, Gomes, Westmoreland, Strmiska, Spangler, Kanke, John Wood, Ken Benhamou, and Dave Byrd.
Back to green, the top three began to pull away. With Pettit showing patience with Lovelace, and Gomes anxiously waiting for Pettit to make his move for the lead.
At lap 90, the top three remained unchanged, with Strmiska back up to 4th and Kanke up to 5th.
Lap 105, Pettit started to apply the pressure to Lovelace, Holmes had moved up to 8th, Byrd charging up to 9th.
Ten laps later, Kanke was making on charge past Strmiska, and Holmes moved past Westmoreland for 6th.
On lap 139, Holmes and Strmiska were battling for position through 3 and 4, continued contact down the front straight and into turn 1. When both cars started to spin, Strmiska gathered it up and continued, Holmes spun and restarted as the last car on the lead lap.
With ten to go, the top five were, Lovelace, Pettit, Gomes, Kanke, and Byrd.
It was go time for the leaders, with five to go Lovelace slipped up in turn 2, Pettit put the nose of his Golden Gate Petroleum/ Swift Springs Ford under Lovelace. Slight contact was made and Lovelace’s PDQ Transmission Parts Chevrolet slowly spun. SRL rules state any contact with the leader resulting in the leader spinning, is an automatic penalty to the rear of the field.
Now, it was the top two in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championship standings set to battle it out for the win. The veteran Kanke, right on the bumper of the defending SRL Rookie-of-the-Year, Gomes.
Back to green, Kanke applied the pressure, but Gomes would put his Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats, Inc. Chevrolet in the winner’s circle for the second consecutive race, and took over the points lead after four of ten events.
Next race for the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series is this Saturday night at Madera Speedway, in the “Children’s Hunger Fund 125”.