Although NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver Kyle Larson was the star attraction, it was brothers Bud and Tim Kaeding who dominated the action in this past weekend’s 410 King of the West NARC Sprint Car division doubleheader at the Stockton Dirt Track on the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds.
The Friday and Saturday Champions Classic races in Stockton on Aug. 23 and 24 were the conclusion of the “Fastest Four Days in Motorsports” event which kicked off on Wednesday at Placerville Speedway and moved on to Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico for Thursday night. Over $120,000 in prize and contingency money was on the line over the four day race fest.
Taking advantage of a rare weekend break in the 36-race NASCAR Monster Energy Cup schedule, Larson, a native of Elk Grove, used the opportunity to return to his racing roots at the wheel of a sprint car owned by Sacramento’s Paul Silva.
Larson’s early career success in sprint car racing, including a victory in the King of the West championship in 2010, earned him a contract for a ride in NASCAR with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2012.
“It is great to be back home and race in front of family and friends,” said Larson.
He won in Placerville and was challenging Tim Kaeding for the lead at the Silver Dollar Speedway on Thursday when he spun out. Larson would recover to finish in ninth while Kaeding picked up his 67th career win.
While Larson was the center of attention in Stockton for most of the 3,000 fans in attendance, Bud Kaeding stole some of the spotlight on Friday by making a last minute arrival at the track via helicopter due to his early evening commitment at Watsonville Speedway where he leads in the Sprint Car season standings.
Despite the hectic schedule, the third generation driver was ready to roll as he went wire-to-wire in the 30-lap feature, holding off a determined Willie Craft almost the entire race, to post his second victory of the year and pocket the $5,000 first place check.
“That was a lot of work and I’m glad all of you fans enjoyed it,” said Kaeding in victory lane before adding with a smile, “And that $5000 isn’t too bad either.”
While Bud Kaeding dominated the action on Friday, Saturday’s race belonged to younger brother Tim.
Dominic Scelzi, the son of NHRA legend Gary Scelzi, held the early race lead until Kaeding drove under him in turn one to take the top spot on lap 10. Kaeding was wading through traffic late in the race when he clipped the front end of Jace VanderWeerd causing him to flip violently and bring out the only red flag of the 30-lapper. Luckily, VanderWeerd walked away unhurt while Kaeding was able to continue on without any serious damage to his car.
Kaeding was able to hold off several cars over the final five laps, including Larson who finished in fourth, to take the checkered flag and the $10,000 first place purse.
“I want to say I apologize to Jace and his team. I thought I had him cleared while going past him and I feel really bad,” said Kaeding following the race. “I know I hit him hard because it shook my head inside my helmet.”
For Larson it is back to business as he heads to Darlington, South Carolina for the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Bojangles Southern 500 next Sunday.
Although he is winless this season, Larson sits 11th in the points and with just two races remaining before the 16 driver Cup playoff field is set, looks in good shape to make the cut.
Meanwhile, the Stockton 99 Speedway will be hosting a big six division program featuring the Gun Slingers Wing Sprint Car Series, Grand American Modifieds, B-4s, NCMA Modifieds, Bombers and Legends of Kearney Bowl on Saturday, Aug. 31.