WATSONVILLE — The old saying is “you get what you pay for,” and the Pettit family, partnering with promoter John Prentice, paid the richest first prize for modified racing on the West Coast. In return, they got the best drivers delivering the best modified racing at Ocean Speedway over the weekend.
Ryan McDaniel of Olivehurst won the $10,003 first prize in the second annual 50-lap Pat Pettit Shootout. A total of six lead changes kept the crowd on the edge of their seats. McDaniel passed Martinez’s Nick DeCarlo on lap 34 to lead the final 16 laps.
“This is a great place to race,” McDaniel said. “All of us owe the Pettits and the Speedway a big thank you for the opportunity to race for this kind of prize money. Usually, we have to travel 1,500 miles or more to race for this kind of money.”
Oakley’s Kellan Chadwick drove from 21st to second, challenging McDaniel for the lead before time ran out. Third-place finisher Jimmy Reeves of Hanford did it the hard way. Reeves spun his car out of control in order to avoid hitting a fellow racer and had to restart at the rear of the 24-car field. Reeves added another element of excitement to the show, maneuvering his way over the rough spots and through traffic.
The highest finishing local racers included 2011 modified champion Brian Cass of Livermore, who finished sixth. Cody Burke of Salinas shared a piece of the lead during the first half of the race before finishing eighth. Ninth-place
finisher Nick DeCarlo, of Martinez, led eight of the 50 laps through the mid-section of the race.
The rough track also took its toll on the best of the local talent. Jimmy Pettit II was out with right rear suspension damage, and Tim Clark and Robert Marsh each had engine trouble. Last year’s shootout winner Bobby Hogge IV was out with loss of oil pressure followed by a broken drive line.
The four “B” main events and the two last-chance races were pressure cookers — just as exciting as the seven qualifying heat races that took place on Friday night.
Jeff Taylor of Cave City, Ark., missed the show by finishing second in the first last-chance race. Taylor is the 2012 IMCA super national’s champion. Union City, Iowa, resident Justin O’Brian won the second last-chance race, beating Morgan Hill’s Jeff Decker for the starting spot in the main event.
The eight “B” main event transfers included Watsonville’s Tim Clark Sr. and Cass, Brad Pounds of Bakersfield and Kellan Chadwick, Pettit and Ryan Porter of Atwater, Jeff Olschowka of Chico and Atwater’s Mike Vellanueva.
Despite Phil Priddy’s back-to-back wins Friday and Saturday night in Ocean’s limited late model division, Watsonville’s Clay Daly became the 2012 Ocean Speedway limited late model champion for the second consecutive year. Priddy has five wins for the season.
Andy LaVerne of Boulder Creek won his fifth 4-Bangers main event to hold on to fourth place in the standings over Sara Leslie, who led the first half of the 20-lap race. LaVerne and Leslie were also heat race winners.
Billy Nelson and J.J. Keldson, grandsons of Pat Pettit, competed in the American stock main event. Nelson won the 20-lap feature and Keldson suffered mechanical problems, ending his effort during the first quarter of the race.
Next week is the penultimate round in Ocean’s 360 winged sprint car series. It’s also the penultimate week of the 2012 season for Ocean Speedway. American stocks, dwarf cars, Micro 600 mini-sprints, IMCA sport modifieds and the traditional non-wing sprint cars fill Friday night’s schedule.