Time to Review: Tribute to Gary Patterson notes 
The 31st annual Tribute to Gary Patterson was originally scheduled for last Saturday, but it got pushed to Sunday due to inclement weather. Despite the schedule change, lot of cars and fans flocked to the Stockton Dirt Track at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds to catch a doubleheader of sorts. The Civil War Sprint Car Series presented by Flowmaster had its season finale, as well as the King of the West Sprint Car Series. That’s right...360 and 410 sprint cars in the same place.

“Mr. Excitement” Andy Forsberg and Rico Abreu started on the front row of the final Civil War 30-lapper, and Forsberg showed the way for the first two laps. A yellow flag came out on the third lap for a spinning Mike Faria on the backstretch, and Forsberg retired pitside. This handed the lead to Abreu. The green flag flew for the restart and the track remained quick after some maintenance, but very tricky. Matt Peterson lost fourth place when he bicycled in turns one and two, but kept going. D.J. Netto got up on two wheels on the same lap at the other end of the track, but he stayed dirty side down as well. Abreu never looked back and was very strong in lapped traffic, as he pulled away from Carson Macedo and points leader Shane Golobic. Shane’s night ended on lap ten, as he bicycled in turn four and turned over. He was okay and he still got the championship. Another red flag was required only two laps later, as Greg DeCaires flipped in turn three. Greg was fine, but he wasn’t too happy with Netto. The driver to look out for with only a third of the race in was Tim Kaeding, who was already in fifth after starting 20th. He passed Herman Klein and Willie Croft in one fell swoop on lap twelve on the backstretch to move up to third. Tim then went on to pass Macedo for the runner-up spot in turn three on lap 20. With only a few laps to go, Abreu got into some very rough stuff in turns three and four and TK really closed in. Rico wouldn’t be denied, as he became the first repeat winner for the Civil War this year and got a $2,000 payday. TK was second, followed by Macedo, Croft, and Dominic Scelzi.

The first try to start the King of the West A-Main was aborted, as Andy Gregg went for a nasty flip into turn one. Andy was all right. T. Kaeding jumped out to the early lead over Scott Parker and Netto. The yellow lights came on the speedway on the third lap, as points leader Kyle Hirst stopped in turn one. Hirst was done for the night, but he earned enough points to win the KWS title for the second straight year. The lights turned red on the next lap, as Parker took a tumble in turns three and four. Scott was also okay. Abreu got into the picture, as he passed Netto down low in turn two to grab second on lap six. The next yellow period was on the tenth lap for Mark Barroso, who stopped on the backstretch. Netto reclaimed second from Abreu as the 11th lap was completed, and that happened just before the fourth place car of Sean Becker hooked on a rut in turn two on the following lap and went flipping. “The Shark” was A-OK. Abreu suffered a flat right rear tire as the green flag dropped, and eventually came to a halt moments later. Third place now belonged to 14th-place starter Golobic, but he lost it to 16th-starting Jason Statler going into turn three on lap 12. Netto tried to take the lead from TK on the 18th circuit when they made contact in turns one and two. Tim spun and kept going, but was charged for causing the yellow flag and had to drop to the rear. After a red flag for a fuel stop, Netto was the new leader ahead of Statler. However, D.J. biked it in turn four and Jason went by for the lead on lap 20. With a new right rear tire, Abreu was blazing fast and was already up to fourth! On the 21st circuit, Rico used the inside groove to pass Golobic in turn one and Netto in turn three to climb to second. Golobic got back up to third, as he passed Netto down low in turn four on lap 22. Shane wanted second and he got it two laps later, as he slid in front of Rico coming out of turn two. Rico fell out of the race on the next lap, but the green lights stayed on. Just when Statler was on his way to the win, the yellow flag came out on the final lap when Bobby McMahan spun on the backstretch. Statler lost the top spot during the yellow period, as he ran out of fuel and stopped in turn one. It was a huge heartbreak for “The Big Guy”. Golobic led the field for the green-white-checkered restart (the race was now 31 laps) and didn’t give it up to collect $3,000 for his second career KWS win. Croft quietly drove from 17th to second, followed by 11th-starting Bud Kaeding, TK, and 15th-place starter Colby Copeland.

Despite starting a day late, fans were treated to some awesome cowboy up racing and two racing series ended their seasons in very exciting fashion. Here’s my final recap for 2014 before I catch up on some well-deserved rest...

Records Being Shattered: The track was really fast when time trials were completed and not one, but two new track records were set. Gregg’s lap of 13.473 seconds was a new 360 sprint record, beating the old time of 13.577 set by Bud Kaeding on March 21. Macedo had the old KWS record of 13.375 seconds on August 2, but he trampled that big time with a lap of 13.008. Carson and ten other drivers had times that were faster than the old mark.

Doing Double Duty, Part 2: Fans were expecting a good number of drivers to race in both the KWS and Civil War and eleven racers did the “double dip”. They were Hirst, TK, Abreu, Golobic, Croft, Forsberg, Macedo, Netto, Copeland, Scelzi, and Gregg.

A Cool Grand: Both racing sanctions held a Dash for Cash that had eight drivers go at it for six laps and the winner took home a nice $1,000. Forsberg held off Abreu to claim the Civil War dash, while Parker won the KWS dash in impressive style.

Rico Gets Number 24: 2014 has been a phenomenal year for Abreu regardless on what he's racing. His Civil War win is another addition to his win total, which is now at 24 to match his car number. This is very reminiscent of Kyle Larson’s 20+ win seasons in 2011 and 2012. Rico’s aggressive year isn’t done yet, as he gets ready for the Bad Boy Buggies World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in North Carolina which is going on as we speak. His season is scheduled to come to an end November 27 at Perris Auto Speedway for the 74th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix.

Getting His Wings: USAC West Coast Sprint Car Series regular Ryan Bernal runs without a wing, and the Civil War race was just his fourth career winged start. He was driving a car normally piloted by Dylan Black and ran as a teammate to Heath Duinkerken. Ryan qualified 11th in the 45-car field and won the third heat race, securing a spot in the Dash for Cash. He was running sixth on a lap nine restart, but drove to the infield before the green flag and that dropped him to 20th.

Not a Way to Go Out: Both Dash for Cash winners and both series champions had nights come to disheartening ends. Forsberg led the first two laps of the Civil War main event before drifting high in turn four and fell out with driveline problems. Parker’s hopes for a potential first KWS win were eliminated as he went for a flip in turn two on lap number four. Golobic was challenging Macedo for the second spot on the tenth lap in the Civil War A-Main when he hooked a rut in turn three and ended up on his side. Hirst had mechanical problems all day long and all he had to do to clinch the KWS championship was to take the green flag in the feature. He did that, but he stopped in turn one on the third lap with more mechanical issues.

They Came to Play: The pits were packed with cars and this year’s total attendance nearly duplicated the numbers of last year’s event. Last year saw 35 KWS cars and 39 360 competitors. Even though there were just 27 KWS drivers that were signed in Sunday, 45 drivers signed in for the Civil War. The Civil War format had four packed heat races, a Dash for Cash, and three main events.

Number for the Weekend: 2. The hard chargers for both races finished in second place, as TK and Croft came from very deep in the field to get there.

Consistency Award: TK and Croft (tie). Both guys had finishes of second and fourth. TK gallantly rebounded for a top five finish after spinning out of the lead on lap 18 in the KWS main event. He started 11th in the Civil War B-Main and finished in the sixth and final transfer spot, beating Justyn Cox in a photo finish. Croft was subbing for Jonathan Allard (who is getting ready to race in New Zealand) and he gave car owners Clyde and Marion Lamar two outstanding top fives.

Hard Luck Award: Dane Lorenc. The Patriot Sprint Tour rookie was surely the one who had the longest trip from Lancaster, New York. He made contact with Anthony Simone in turn four on a lap five restart in the third Civil War heat race, and both flipped end over end. Both drivers were okay, but Dane’s trip to California didn't have a happy ending. Cody Hodgson and Branden Mansfield had mechanical problems in warm-ups and didn't race for the remainder of the Civil War and KWS program, respectively.

Next race: Until next year!

Pictures: http://s113.photobucket.com/albums/n205/Racer4u_2006/

Blog: http://www.shauninthedirt.com/bensblog

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