Brandon White scored his first career SPEARS Southwest Tour Series win Saturday night in the “Melo’s Gas & Gear 125 presented by DC’s RV Center” at Madera Speedway.
White, from Eureka, started fifth in the 125-lap event, he led the race early on and then ran in second for most of the race behind defending series champion, Jim Pettit II, before dropping back as far as fourth. On the final lap, White made the most important pass of his career when he went by Ross Strmiska for third place. White’s pass on Strmiska ended up securing the win for White, as Pettit and Derek Thorn got together while racing for the win, resulting in Pettit spinning and Thorn receiving the automatic penalty for spinning the leader of the race. Pettit and Thorn placed 11th and 12th respectively.
White, in his second full season in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series had experienced terrible luck at Madera Speedway in 2013 when he only completed nine of the 276 scheduled laps of competition between the two SPEARS Southwest Tour Series races last season.
“Before tonight, I hated Madera, but tonight was just one of those one-in-a-million things," White said. "I made my move on Ross, and it happened to work out for the best. When I saw Derek and (Jim) battling hard, I thought I'd better make my move just in case anything happens."
Saturday marked Strmiska’s second consecutive second place finish at Madera.
"I saw those guys (Thorn and Pettit) racing hard in front when I was running third and I was worried about the fourth-place guy, because I knew if they made contact, I might be leading back to the line. We were racing hard too, Brandon and I. I saw them make contact, so I dove to the bottom and he got into me, got me up the track and passed me for the win."
In Rockwell Time qualifying, Thorn led the twenty-two car field with a time of 14.288 seconds, followed by Greg Voigt, Pettit, Jacob Gomes and White, rounding out the top five in qualifying.
The 125-lap race was slowed by five cautions, and one red flag due to an oil down. Strmiska led lap 1 to lap 8, White led from lap 9 to 12, Pettit took the lead from White and held on until the final lap when the contact from Thorn caused him to spin in turn three. Thorn crossed the line first, but the SRL rule of if you cause the leader to spin, it is an automatic rough driving penalty, relegated Thorn to the last car on the lead lap, which awarded White the win. The final order was White with the win, Strmiska second, followed by Gomes, Jeremy Doss and Carlos Vieira rounding out the top five. Top Rookie-of-the-Year contender Garret Archer was sixth, Voigt seventh, Rockwell Time Hard Charger - Keith Spangler eighth, Donny St. Ours ninth, and Cole Loftsgard in tenth.
Pettit was scored in eleventh, Thorn twelfth, Jeff Bischofberger thirteenth, Ken Benhamou fourteenth, Bob Lyon fifteenth, Scott Sanchez in sixteenth, Hannah Newhouse seventeenth, M.K. Kanke eighteenth, Tracy Bolin nineteenth, Colby Potts twentieth, Bobby Hodges twenty-first, and Todd Souza twenty-second.
In other SRL competition at Madera, Trevor Huddleston won the SRL S2 Series main event and Cameron Austin won the SRL Legends Tour main event.
The next race for the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is the DC’s RV Center 100 presented by AmeriPride Services on Saturday, April 5th at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield.