Firecracker
Kern County Raceway. (SRL Photo)

Notes: SRL Firecracker 100 At Kern County

The Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series will visit Kern County Raceway Park for the 21st time in series history on June 18.

The “JM Environmental Inc. Wild West Shootout Flick the Switch – Bulwark ‘FR Firecracker 100” will pay $10,000 to the winner and $1,200 to start for teams on the Spears Frequent Flyer Program (three consecutive starts). There will be a Competition Caution at the end of 27 consecutive green flag laps, but no Competition Caution will be thrown after lap 75. The Feature Event will start straight up based upon Qualifying. It will be Round #5 of the 2022 season. 21 Super Late Models are entered for the weekend’s action.

All the action will be broadcast live on SPEED SPORT affiliate www.SpearsRacing.TV. The event will also air on MAVTV at a time and date to be announced later.

Pro Late Models

The Spears Pro Late Models presented by Sigma Performance Services will compete for a $5,400 win in the “Sigma Performance Services 54 presented by MAVTV”. It will pay $400 to start for those on the Spears Frequent Flyer Program (two consecutive starts). It will be Round #6 of 11 for the series. Seth Wise leads the championship standings with 803 points. He is followed by Tyler Reif (790), Dylan Zampa (756), Tanner Reif (751) and Logan Zampa (739). Barrett Polhemus will make his series debut for Wilson Motorsports and the Naake-Klauer Motorsports team will field entries for Bradley Erickson and Cassidy Hinds.

Modifieds

The Spears Modified Series presented by MAVTV will return for round No. 6 of the 2022 season. They will compete for the $2,000 first place prize in the “General Tire 60 presented by PFC Brakes”. $700 will be paid to start the Feature Event for those on the Spears Frequent Flyer Program (two consecutive starts). Jaron Giannini won the opening race for the series and has led the championship standings ever since with 836 points. Sam Jacks is second with 764 points. Jimmy Sloan is third (762) followed by Kyle Jacks (707) and Travis Thirkettle (705). Thirkettle is on a hot streak winning three of the last four events. Holly Clark, who set earned the PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award” at the last Irwindale Speedway event, will make the trip from Colorado Springs, CO to compete this weekend.

SRL Championship

Jacob Gomes leads the Super Late Model standings after winning the last three events in-a-row. The 2015 SRL Champion has 682 points followed by 2018 series champion Jeremy Doss with 650. Two-time SRL Legends Series Champion Cale Kanke sits third with 582 points, with multi-time Irwindale Speedway Track Champion Trevor Huddleston fourth at 553 points. 2021 SRL Rookie-of-the-Year Buddy Shepherd rounds out the top-five with 545 points. Dan Holtz (525), John Moore (524), Andy Allen (518), Dustin Ash (485) and Jace Hansen (481) round out the top-10. Rookie-of-the-Year leader Zach Telford sits 11th.

Kern History

The Spears SRL will make its 21st championship event appearance at Kern County Raceway Park. Four drivers on the entry list have SRL wins at Kern. They include Linny White (2), Jacob Gomes (1), Jeremy Doss (1) and Blaine Rocha (1). Other previous winners include Derek Thorn (13), Jim Pettit II (1), and David Mayhew (1). The Spears Pro Late Models will visit for the sixth time. Previous winners include Seth Wise (2), Jeremy Doss (1), Dylan Capello (1) and Dylan Zampa (1). The Spears Modifieds have visited Kern on 14 occasions beginning in 2016. Previous winners include Jeremy Doss (6), Travis Thirkettle (2), Dylan Cappello (2), Trevor Cristiani (1), Eddie Secord (1), Jason Irwin (1) and Austin Barnes (1). Thirkettle won the very first event as well as the last appearance for the series.

Thornesque Numbers

Jacob Gomes has been on fire in 2022, winning three of the four series events and leading the championship standings. The performance is reminiscent of Derek Thorn’s recent seasons. Thorn is helping Gomes in 2022 and the Gomes Motorsports team has been fast at every event. They have been especially fast since the season opening All-Star Showdown 200 at Irwindale Speedway, earning the PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award” at each event. The 2015 SRL champion has an average finish is 2.75, but his qualifying average is 1.5. He won the “Winter Showdown 100” at Kern two months ago and is brimming with confidence heading to this weekend.

“This season’s been one I won’t forget”, Gomes began. “I’ve been having the run of my life, with the best group of guys around. We are finally getting to show everything we’ve got, with the help of my family, dad, and a bunch of people that believe in me. They have  given me a chance to show it. We’ve had a lot of bad runs, and I think we got some good years to come, to make up for all we had go bad, I hope. I  feel better than ever going into this one. I finally feel like we have a shot (to win) every week, and to finally get myself better on these ½-miles. Going back to Kern, I think we’ve got a good chance. I just have to keep it all together.”

Heartbreak

Entering the last event at Irwindale Speedway, Jace Hansen sat second in the championship standings. He chased Gomes to the finish line to come home second, but in post-race tech, a miscalculation found the team over on left-side weight. The ensuing disqualification dropped Hansen to 10th in the standings. But despite the discouragement, Hansen and the team are even more determined to get their first series victory. After a second-place finish in the “Winter Showdown 100”, this could be the weekend.

“Our finish at Irwindale was a hard pill to swallow” Hansen lamented. “To go from racing side by side for our first tour win, to getting a second place stripped away was an emotional roller coaster to say the least. But it comes down to shop prep. We found our mistake and we have it corrected for Kern. We are hungrier than ever to get a win in this series, as well as our first win on the road! I look forward to seeing where we end up Saturday night, and I hope it’s battling for that first win again!”

Doss Wants Won

Taking advantage of Hansen’s misfortune is 2018 SRL Champion Jeremy Doss. Doss finished third at Irwindale, but moved up to both second in the event and the championship standings. Doss is a previous winner at Kern County Raceway Park, but he is looking for win number one of the 2022 season. After scoring nine wins in 11 starts in the Spears Pro Late Models in 2021, and earning seven of nine victories in Spears Modified Series, Doss is ready to cash in the $10,000 check this weekend. He feels they are getting closer to that first win after becoming more acclimated to the Bob Lyon Racing Team.

“With the Pro Late Model and Modified last year, we had already ran those two specific cars a bunch the year before, so we had a great baseline for everywhere we went”, Doss explained about his 2021 success. “This year the Super Late Model competition is really tough, and we are with a new team and a new car. So, it’s taken us a little bit to find the right ingredients to come home with a win. In our last race at Irwindale, I felt the car was the best it had been, and we were very close. Now we get to take those notes to Kern, and we should have a shot at the victory!”

Rebound

2021 SRL rookie of the year Buddy Shepherd had a horrible start to the 2022 season, failing to finish at Irwindale Speedway and then again at All American Speedway. But two consecutive third-place finishes find Shepherd rebounding to the fifth position in the championship standings. He will now return to his home track, after his strong finish at Irwindale.

“I’m real excited to be back in my own backyard”, Shepherd stated. “We tried a few things at Irwindale and found some great speed there. We are going to take those same concepts to Kern and do our best to have a good night on the 18th.” 

Hall of Famer

John Moore and JM Environmental Inc. are the primary sponsors for this weekend’s $10,000-to-win event, as well as the Wild West Shootout three-race mini-series, all paying $10,000-to-win. Moore was inducted into the West Coast Stockcar Hall of Fame last Friday, boasting a multitude of Motocross championships, a Pacific Challenge Series Championship and his 2021 All American Speedway Pro Late Model Track Championship. It was an honor and a great night for Moore.

“It was surreal, exciting, humbling, and an absolute honor”, Moore commented about his attendance. “The people in the room were so genuine and wonderful. It is the best trophy I’ve ever received. And the words my son had to say about his dad made all the years of firing up the truck before the sun lit the racetrack, an even better memory.”

More Moore

Two events ago, Moore teamed up with Derek Thorn, Mike Keen and Campbell Motorsports. The union paid off with Moore’s career best Kern County Raceway Park finish of fourth, in the “Winter Showdown 100”. An early multi-car accident eliminated Moore at Irwindale, but he hopes that the relationship grows, starting at Kern this weekend.

“Racing with Derek and Mike, we are two races in, and they’re getting to know me and vice versa”, Moore explained. “The talent is there; we just need to make the magic happen. Their work ethic is outstanding!”

Former Winner

Blaine Rocha scored his second career Spears Southwest Tour Series win at Kern County Raceway Park in 2017. Since then, he has been looking for win #3. He has finished second on several occasions but has been unable to finish the deal. Rocha finished ninth at the “Winter Showdown 100” but feels they have figured out what their Strmiska Racing Super Late Model needs, after the last event at Irwindale.

“Us as a team have struggled getting this car dialed in”, Rocha explained. “It is a very sensitive car, but I know we have the equation figured out, we just need to put the parts together. We have won at Kern and I’m confident, if we can get the car where it needs to be, I can drive it to a win. I just can’t thank everyone that works so hard for me; Duane Sharp Ron Strmiska and the whole Strmiska Racing crew. We are going to get to Victory Lane before the year is over.”

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