By JIM ALLEN
WATSONVILLE, CA – Colby Copeland scored his first King of the West-NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car Series victory of his career Saturday night, earning top honors at the Eighth Annual Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway.
Copeland started on the outside of the front-row and posted an impressive 30-lap green-to-checkered run aboard Larry Antaya’s potent GoodGuys Rod & Custom Association/Fuel Curve-backed Maxim. Their efforts were worth a $5,000 paycheck.
However, his victory didn’t come easy as he had patiently wait his way through six caution periods, escape a run in with the concrete wall, and a hold off a persistent Bud Kaeding in the second half of the event.
Copeland won a drag race down the frontchute against polesitter Sean Watts on the initial green and quickly jumped out to a 10-car length advantage as the field sorted itself out behind him.
Chase Johnson, ARP fast qualifier Buddy Kofoid and Shane Golobic mixed it up in a heated battle for the runner-up spot in the early going, until Golobic spun and brought out the caution on lap 10. Two laps later, Kurt Nelson found himself upside down on the backchute to bring out the red. And on the ensuing restart, Australian driver Matt Dumesny made contact with another car and flipped hard in turn four to stop the action again. Nobody was hurt, but for Copeland in meant his lead kept getting erased.
Bud Kaeding, in the Williams Motorsports Alviso Rock Maxim, started 11th and motored his way into contention by powering past Kofoid for the runner-up spot on lap 13. Kaeding began to reel in the leader as the pair approached heavy traffic on lap 20. However, the caution came out again for a crash involving Watts and Justin Sanders.
With only two remaining, Kofoid and Thorson tangled while dueling for the fourth spot bringing out the final caution of the night. This set the stage for a Copeland-Kaeding shootout, but Copeland wasn’t about to take any prisoners and cruised to the win.
“I don’t normally look at the scoreboard, but I did this time and saw that Kaeding was behind me,” said Copeland. “I know he runs really good here so I just ran the best lines that I could.”
“I made a mistake jumping the cushion once in two and ended up smacking the wall,” he continued. “But I held it together and kept it going. I have to thank my team because they’ve worked really hard for me all season long.”
Kaeding earned $2500 for his second place finish. Johnson posted the best overall workman’s effort after starting third. He fell back to as far as seventh at one point, but battled back to third after passing Kyle Hirst on the final lap. Johnson was piloting the Safecraft Safety Equipment Maxim owned by Shawn Thomas.
Championship points leader Hirst claimed fourth in the Roth Motorsports KPC and 17th starter DJ Netto rounded out the top five. Netto earned the Swift Metal Finishing Hardcharger award for his efforts in the Netto Ag KPC.
The second five featured Marcus Dumensy, Golobic, Brad Furr, Mitchell Faccinto, and rookie Dustin Golobic.
KWS-NARC Fujitsu Feature Event (30 laps): Colby Copeland, Bud Kaeding, Chase Johnson, Kyle Hirst, DJ Netto, Marcus Dumesny, Shane Golobic, Brad Furr, Mitchell Faccinto, Dustin Golobic, Nathan Rolfe, Bobby McMahan, Sean Watts, Jeremy Chisum, Kyle Offill, Tanner Thorson, Brent Kaeding, Buddy Kofoid, Justin Sanders, Matt Dumesny, Tim Kaeding, Kurt Nelson
Lap Leaders: Copeland 1-30
ARP Fast Qualifier (1/4 mile clay oval – 31 cars): Buddy Kofoid – 11.681 seconds
BMRS First Heat (10 laps): Kyle Hirst, Buddy Kofoid, Kurt Nelson, Marcus Dumesny, Jeremy Chisum, Bobby McMahan, Mark Barroso, Richard Fajardo.
Hydrochem PSC Second Heat (10 laps): Colby Copeland, Tim Kaeding, Shane Golobic, Matt Dumesny, Justin Sanders, Kyle Offill, Vaughn Schott, Jason Chisum.
The Cushion/Mills Video Promotions Third Heat (10 laps): Tanner Thorson, Sean Watts, Chase Johnson, DJ Netto, Gary Nelson, Nathan Rolfe, Richard Brace, Jenna Frazier
Hoosier Harness Fourth Heat (10 laps): Bud Kaeding, Dustin Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Brad Furr, Jarrett Soares, Gary Paulson, Brent Kaeding
Sunnyvalley Bacon Trophy Dash (6 laps): Sean Watts, Colby Copeland, Chase Johnson, Shane Golobic, Kyle Hirst, Buddy Kofoid
Kaeding Performance Last Chance Race (12 laps): Justin Sanders, Nathan Rolfe, Kyle Offill, Jeremy Chisum, Bobby McMahan, Brent Kaeding, Jarrett Soares, Jason Chisum, Gary Nelson, Richard Brace, Gary Paulson, Vaughn Schott, Mark Barroso, Richard Fajardo.