(5/5/18, Chico, CA – Jim Allen) … Willie Croft survived an onslaught of advances by Tanner Thorsen, a flurry of caution flags in the early going, and heavy lap traffic late to claim the 40-lap King of the West-NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Bradway Memorial at Silver Dollar Speedway Saturday.
Driving his own Amerikote/Holey Smokes BBQ-sponsored, Kistler-powered EMI sprint car, Croft also set quick time and with lap money earned more than $6700 for his efforts.
“This is by far my biggest victory ever,” admitted a very happy Croft in victory lane. “I’ve really wanted to win this race for a long time and finally got it done.”
Croft started the headliner on the outside of the front row next to polesitter Mason Moore and hunted him down racing down the backchute on the third lap to take the point. However, he was unable to extend his lead over the field due to a series of seven caution flags that appeared for a variety of spins and collisions during the first 15-laps.
Thorsen, who was piloting Clyde Lamar’s Tri-C Machine/Amsoil ride, was locked in a torrid three-way battle for fourth for more than eight-laps with Moore, Shane Golobic and Bud Kaeding. Thorsen managed to slip under Moore in the second corner to officially earn the runner-up spot on the 12th circuit. At that point it was a full on attack of the leader with slide jobs being launched and the two swapping positions on a corner-by-corner basis.
“There was some great racing going on with Tanner,“ explained Croft, after becoming the fourth different winner in as many series races. “However, I didn’t want to get in a battle of sliders so I locked down my line to pull away.”
While Thorsen was attacking, he was still defending his rear nerf bar from the advances of Moore, Golobic, and series championship point leader Kyle Hirst. The racing was hot and heavy with this group with no clear separation taking place.
After a red flag stop for fuel on lap 26, the remainder of the race ran non-stop. Croft expertly navigated his way away from his nearest challenges and through heavy traffic to secure the victory.
Thorsen second place finish was his best outing of the King of the West-NARC season. Hirst, who started 19th in the Roth Motorsports KPC, was on a mission during the second half of the race, and claimed third at the checkered. He passed Thorsen with 10 remaining, but couldn’t make it stick. He earned $1100 for his hardcharging efforts.
Moore secured fourth in the Brian Cannon Mike’s Hard Lemonade Eagle. Golobic rounded out the top five in the Tarlton Motorports Tachi Palace KPC.
The second five to cross Ed Entz checkered was semi-winner Chase Johnson, Tim Kaeding, Bill Aton, Michael Ing, and Justin Sanders.
Croft’s time of 11.705 seconds in qualifying earned him the “Carwash Mike Avilla” fast qualifier award and an $1100 bonus.
Jason Statler brought out the red flag in his heat race when he got upside down. He was unhurt.
KWS-NARC Fujitsu Feature Event (40 laps): Willie Croft, Tanner Thorsen, Kyle Hirst, Mason Moore, Shane Golobic, Chase Johnson, Tim Kaeding, Billy Aton, Michael Ing, Justin Sanders, Dustin Golobic, Bobby McMahan, Daniel Becker, Jake Morgan, Shawn Conde, Jason Statler, Bud Kaeding, Colby Copeland, Mitchell Faccinto, Dominic Scelzi, Sean Watts, Chelsea Blevins
Lap Leaders: Moore 1-2, Croft 3-40
ARP/Carwash Mike Avilla Fast Qualifier (1/4 mile clay oval): Willie Croft – 11.705 seconds (35 cars)
Brown & Miller Racing Solutions First Heat (10 laps): Shane Golobic, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, Sean Watts, Chase Johnson, Carl Droivold, Jake Wheeler, Jenna Frazier, Richard Brace Jr.
HydrochemPSC Second Heat (10 laps): Michael Ing, Bud Kaeding, Kyle Hirst, Mitchell Faccinto, Shawn Conde, Brent Bjork, Wyatt Brown, Jason Statler, Tim Kaeding
The Cushion Third Heat (10 laps): Michael Kofoid, Bobby McMahan, Mason Moore, Justin Sanders, Daniel Becker, Chelsea Blevins, Dustin Golobic, Billy Wallace, Eddy Lewis
Hoosier Harness Fourth Heat (10 laps): Dominic Scelzi, Tanner Thorsen, Jake Morgan, Billy Aton, Mike Monahan, Nathan Rolfe, Gary Paulson, Pat Harvey Jr.
Sunnyvalley Bacon Trophy Dash (6 laps): Mason Moore, Willie Croft, Tanner Thorsen, Shane Golobic, Bud Kaeding
Kaeding Performance Center Semi-Main (12 laps): Chase Johnson, Jason Statler, Tim Kaeding, Daniel Becker, Shawn Conde, Chelsea Blevins, Dustin Golobic, Richard Brace Jr., Gary Paulson, Carl Droivold, Billy Wallace, Jenna Frazier, Wyatt Brown, Pat Harvey Jr., Eddy Lewis, Jake Wheeler, Nathan Rolfe, Mike Monahan.
Sunnyvalley Bacon Trophy Dash (6 laps): Mason Moore, Willie Croft, Tanner Thorsen, Shane Golobic, Bud Kaeding.