By Bill Sessa
Photos Courtesy of Devin M. Photography
Shane Golobic pulled off a magic trick Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway, making himself invisible to his closest challengers as he led all 35 laps of the feature race for the Sprint Car Challenge Tour presented by Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards.
The magic was just an illusion, but Golobic’s raw speed was real as he dominated the field from the drop of the green flag, held off challengers through four restarts, and ran away and disappeared from runner-up Andy Forsberg’s view in the closing laps, claiming the victory by a full straightaway on the 3/8th mile oval.
On each restart, Golobic chose the outside lane to take advantage of his speed on a clear track with clean air. But even as he caught the tail end of the field within a few laps, he wove through traffic like a big city cab driver to maintain and extend his lead.
“It’s always hard here to know how much of a lead you have,” said Golobic. “Lapped traffic is always hectic at Petaluma and I knew that Forsberg was back there and he’s always good in traffic here so I just went as hard as I could.”
Forsberg lived up to his reputation as a traffic master, carving his way from a 14th starting spot to claim the night’s Hard Charger award. Forsberg was fifth by the half-way point, dove inside turn two during a yellow flag restart to claim fourth and then assumed the number three slot a lap later when Sean Becker gave it up, stalled in turn four with a broken rear end to kill a strong run from eighth on the starting grid.
On the restart, Forsberg dueled with Justin Cox for the runner up position and by the time he claimed it a few laps later, Golobic was out of sight with a full straightaway lead and several lapped cars between him and Forsberg.
‘I didn’t know where he was or if he had pulled off and I was in the lead,” said Forsberg. “But by the time I got to second, I just didn’t want to make any mistakes,” ensuring a well-needed strong finish for a team that has struggled in recent weeks.
Golobic’s biggest challenge over the first half of the race came from Geoff Ensign, who started on the pole and kept pace with Golobic, even through lapped traffic. On lap 15, Ensign was already committed to dive under Golobic and make a run for the lead coming out of turn two when Golobic was forced to check up to avoid a lapped car.
As a result, the fast-closing Ensign ran into the back of Golobic, which broke his front suspension and ended his night.
The finish: Shane Golobic, Andy Forsberg, Ryan Bernal, Justin Cox, Colby Copeland, Blake Carrick, Ryan Robinson, Jodie Robinson, Kalib Montgomery, Justin Henry, Tanner Carrick, Tristan Guardino, Chase Madjic, Isiah Vasquez, Dylan Bloomfield, Jason Toft, Sean Becker, Kalib Henry, Geoff Ensign, Max Mitry, Michael Ing, Bradley Terrell, Kyle Offill.