Tyler Walker Claims Calistoga
Cup For Sprint Cars
By Bill Sessa
Calistoga….Sean Becker left a crack in the door to victory circle and Tyler Walker kicked it wide open to take home the Calistoga Cup in the Civil War sprint car series Saturday night.
            After pulling away from the field for the first five laps from the pole on the Calistoga Speedway half mile oval, Becker faltered on a restart, giving Walker a chance to get a run on him.  After stalking Becker for a lap, Walker, who started the race from the outside of the front row, made a high speed dive underneath him in turns three and four to grab the lead that he would hold to the checkered flag of the 20 lap event.
            “Sean did a great job and on an open track we couldn’t do anything with him,” confessed Tyler, a veteran of the national World of Outlaws sprint car tour and of NASCAR’s Nationwide stock car and Craftsman truck racing series.  “I got to take advantage of him on that restart,” said Tyler, when Becker appeared to spin his tires and not get the hard acceleration he was expecting.
            “We’ve had some bad luck this year,” said Tyler, who had a car-destroying wild flip at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway over Memorial Day weekend.  “But we’ve got four wins now this year and our team is getting stronger and stronger.”
            A disappointed Becker, a former champion of the Golden State Challenge sprint car series, acknowledged that his small mistake on the restart cost his team the win.  “I stepped on myself on the restart and he took advantage of it,” Becker confessed.  “I’m kicking myself because I just messed up,” he added.  “We were closing up on him in the last laps of the race, but it wasn’t enough.”  
            Thirteen-time Golden State Challenge Series champion Brent Kaeding finished third, followed by another series’s champion Jason Stattler, while Kyle Hirst rounded out the top five. 
            Kyle Larson, who claimed his first Civil War series victory over Memorial Day, finished sixth after starting 20th in the 24 car field, making him the “hard charger” of the night.
            The race was marred by a series of crashes and spins that left only 12 cars running at the checkered flag, but the most serious was by Chico’s Steven Allard, who was unhurt after a hard flip into the turn one wall with an impact that tore the front end off the car.
            On lap five, two-time USAC Silver Crown series national champion Bud Kaeding crashed into the water barrels on the inside of the front straightaway while running sixth, triggering a chain reaction as he spun across the track and most of the field behind him scrambled for safe ground.  With water from the safety barrels on the track, Allard couldn’t slow down soon enough from the 120 mph straightaway speeds.
With nowhere to go, Allard climbed a wheel of another car which catapulted him into the wall, sending pieces and debris flying through the air as the car cartwheeled through turn one.  “I couldn’t hear anything, but I knew I was moving through the air” said Allard.  “When it’s that silent, you know it’s going to hurt when the car stops,” added Allard, who walked away from the incident. 
The Civil War Sprint Car Series will return to Calistoga Speedway on August 9 and the track will round out its 2008 season with the inaugural Louie Vermeil Memorial for non-wing sprint cars and midgets over Labor Day weekend.
Calistoga Speedway, Civil War Sprint Cars (Saturday):   Fast Time Qualifier; Jason Johnson, Eunice, La. 18.167 sec).   Heat 1:  (8 laps):  Bradley Terrell, Sebastopol; Jeff Paraday, Pope Valley; Willie Croft, Sacramento; Herman Kline, Sacramento.  Heat 2: Tyler Walker, Los Angeles; David Robinson, Jr., Loomis; Doug Machado, Elk Grove; Myles Bishop, Escalon.  Heat 3: Sean Becker, Oroville; Mike Benson, Calistoga; Andy Forsberg, Auburn; Steven Allard, Chico.  Heat 4:  Colby Weisz, Colfax; Kyle Hirst, Loomis; Jason Statler, San Jose; Kyle Larson, Elk Grove.  Semi-main (12 laps):  Bud Kaeding, Campbell; Brent Kaeding, Campbell; Brad Furr, San Jose; Ricky Wright, Jr., Morgan Hill; Shane Golobic, Fremont; Allisa Geving, Pinegrove.  MAIN EVENT (20 laps):  Walker, Becker, Brent Kaeding, Stattler, Hirst, Larson, Terrell, Furr, Forsberg, Weisz, Benson, Robinson, Parady, Croft, Klein, Bud Kaeding, Allard, Wright, Bishop, Golobic, Geving, Machado.