(10/8/2022 – Alex Nieten) Hanford, CA… Two features, two vastly different stories as the NARC Fujitsu General Sprint Cars visited Keller Auto Speedway for the Morrie Williams Memorial.
The first saw perhaps the nation’s top young sprint car talent collect yet another victory as he continues his rise to stardom. The latter provided one of the most emotional celebrations in NARC history as a series legend took a storybook trip to the winner’s circle.
In the opening twin-20 lapper Corey Day capitalized on some good fortune to earn his sixth series victory in only his 23rd career start, and then Jonathan Allard followed it up by dominating the second 20-lapper in none other than the car that helped him establish his legacy, the Williams Motorsports No. 0.
The first feature looked like it would be all Kerry Madsen as he wheeled the Roth Motorsports machine from row two to the lead by the end of the opening circuit, taking the top sport from polesitter, Day.
“When you start on the front row, it’s hard to gauge what people are doing behind you and where the fast line is,” Day said of losing the early lead to Madsen. “I definitely thought in my head that race was going to be won on the top, and it wasn’t he drove right by me on the bottom.”
The “Madman” expertly worked traffic in the early going, only being slowed by a mid-race yellow and then a nasty red flag as Ryan Bernal and Craig Stidham flipped entering turn one. Both were unharmed.
As the laps waned, Day began to search on what had been a bottom dominant track. It appeared the Clovis native cost himself a chance at victory when the turn two cushion tripped him up inside of five laps to go, giving Madsen more breathing room. However, on the next trip around, the same spot bit Madsen as he negotiated a slower car. Madsen wasn’t as lucky as Day as his incident sent him flipping, ending his night.
“I definitely got a Christmas gift on that one with him (Madsen) taking himself out,” Day admitted. “He just got in there a little too hard behind the lapped car and slid too hard into the cushion and turned it over.”
On the restart, the new leader Day pulled ahead in his Meyers Constructors/Four CCCCs Construction No. 14 as runner-up Tim Kaeding attempted to run him down. Ultimately, Day would not be denied after inheriting the lead as he cruised to the checkered flag with a 2.066 second advantage, marking his fourth NARC win in his 10th start of 2022.
Completing the podium in the first main event was Tim Kaeding in the Works Limited No. 57 and Shane Golobic in Matt Wood’s NOS Energy Drink/Elk Grove Ford No. 17W.
Courtesy of the full-field invert based on the first feature’s finish (excluding lapped cars), Jonathan Allard started on the front row of the second next to Justyn Cox who was reunited with Bates Hamilton Racing.
Allard darted ahead from the outside as the green flag flew aboard Morrie Williams’ iconic ride with backing from Allard’s New Zealand racing family, the Daltons. The three-time NARC champion immediately glued the No. 0 to the bottom as the field sliced and diced behind him.
A few challengers, Justyn Cox, Bud Kaeding, and Austin McCarl, all appeared that they might give Allard a strong fight at various times throughout the second feature, but every time one of them would muster a run, Allard would stretch the lead again.
The veteran continued to piece together solid laps on the bottom as the battle raged for runner-up behind him and the laps dwindled. Inside of five laps to go, Cox secured the second spot and began to charge at Allard. The white flag flew with Cox just behind him. The duo entered turns three and four for the final time, and Cox let it all hang out on the cushion, drawing even with Allard and bringing the crowd to their feet, but the grip on the bottom proved too strong as Allard pulled ahead and took the checkered flag.
“The biggest thing is I was trying not to make any mistakes. At my age, that happens quite a bit,” Allard said of his race with a smirk. “We’ll take what we can get, and I was just trying to get the car where it needed to be.”
Allard’s 41st career series victory might just be the most special of all. It was Morrie Williams who took a chance on him in 2005 when he didn’t have a ride. It was Morrie Williams’ car he drove to his three NARC championships. It was Morrie Williams who helped Allard cement his status as a sprint car legend. And Allard, reunited with the Williams Motorsports team for the first time in nearly a decade, drove the No. 0 to a win in his first NARC California appearance in three years in the racing honoring Morrie himself.
“As they say, I’d rather be lucky than good any day,” a humble Allard said, crediting the invert for some help. “The guys have been working so hard to try to make me feel comfortable, but it’s going to be a lot of work to keep getting up to speed with these guys. We’ve got a few features to run in a row to try to sort things out. I definitely think Morrie was looking after me tonight.”
Rounding out the podium in the second feature was Justyn Cox in Josh Bates and Roger Hamilton’s Teichert/Vinyltech No. 42X and Austin McCarl in the Country Builders Construction No. 88.
Corey Day claimed the Morrie Williams Memorial overall championship courtesy of his win in the first feature and a fourth-place result in the second.
FUJITSU GENERAL USA FEATURE ONE (20 laps): 1. Corey Day 14 2. Tim Kaeding 57 3. Shane Golobic 17W 4. Dominic Scelzi 41 5. Mitchell Faccinto 21 6. Justin Sanders 2X 7. Max Mittry 2XM 8. D.J. Netto 88N 9. Willie Croft 29 10. Bud Kaeding 69 11. Andy Forsberg 92 12. Dylan Bloomfield 83V 13. Austin McCarl 88 14. Jonathan Allard 0 15. Justyn Cox 42X 16. Kurt Nelson 72W 17. Cody Key 18. Burt Foland Jr. 4 19. Connor Danell 5D 20. Kerry Madsen 83JR 21. Ryan Bernal 22 22. Chase Johnson 24 23. Craig Stidham 36 24. Kaleb Montgomery 2K
FUJITSU GENERAL USA FEATURE TWO (20 laps): 1. Jonathan Allard 0 2. Justyn Cox 42X 3. Austin McCarl 88 4. Corey Day 14 5. Justin Sanders 2X 6. Bud Kaeding 69 7. Tim Kaeding 57 8. Dylan Bloomfield 83V 9. Dominic Scelzi 41 10. Shane Golobic 11. Willie Croft 29 12. Max Mittry 2XM 13. Mitchell Faccinto 21 14. Kurt Nelson 72W 15. Cody Key 15 16. D.J. Netto 88N 17. Andy Forsberg 92 18. Connor Danell 5D 19. Burt Foland Jr. 4
METTEC TITATIUM LAP LEADERS FEATURE ONE: Madsen 1-17, Day 18-20
METTEC TITATIUM LAP LEADERS FEATURE TWO: Allard 1-20
SWIFT METAL FINISHING HARDCHARGER FEATURE ONE: Cody Key
SWIFT METAL FINISHING HARDCHARGER FEATURE TWO: Corey Day
ARP FAST QUALIFIER (30 cars): Tim Kaeding 13.771
BROWN AND MILLER RACING SOLUTIONS HEAT ONE (8 laps): T. Kaeding, Scelzi, Faccinto, Bloomfield, Netto, Forsberg, K. Nelson, C. Nelson, Key, Myers Jr.
KIMO’s TROPICAL CAR WASH HEAT TWO (8 laps): Mittry, Madsen, Sanders, Croft, Bernal, Cox, Danell, Montgomery, Shaw, Hodges
DIRT.TRAVEL CLUB HEAT THREE (8 laps): Day, Golobic, B. Kaeding, Stidham, McCarl, Allard, Johnson, Coelho, Foland Jr.
SUNNYVALLEY “POWERED BY BACON” TROPHY DASH (4 laps): Day, Kaeding, Madsen, Golobic, Scelzi, Mittry
STARR PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SEMI (10 laps): Johnson, Montgomery, K. Nelson, Danell, Key, Foland Jr., Coelho, Hodges, C. Nelson, Shaw, Myers Jr.