Gomes Takes SRL National All-Star Showdown at Irwindale
Jan 23, 2023
Bakersfield, CA - When it comes to the Spears Modified Series, Travis Thirkettle has proven to be the King of Irwindale’s half-mile oval. On Saturday night, Thirkettle scored his fourth overall All-Star Showdown victory, his third in the last four years, and his second in-a-row. His lone defeat in the Modified was in 2021 on the one-third mile, finishing third behind Jeremy Doss and Travis McCullough. It was McCullough who would provide the greatest challenge to Thirkettle, but at the end of the day, Thirkettle would take home the $5,000 prize in the Fourth Annual “All-Star Showdown 75”.
Thirkettle got off the first shot, earning the PFC Brakes “Zero Drag Fast Time Award” with a lap of 19.061 seconds over the field of 15 Modifieds, earning an extra $250 from the Apache rental Group. Holly Clark clocked in second followed by Kevin Vossen, Travis McCullough, and Andrew Anderson. Thirkettle drew the number “four” for the invert, placing McCullough on the pole with Vossen alongside. McCullough got the jump, as Holly Clark moved to second and Thirkettle moved to third, when Vossen scrapped the outside wall. Thirkettle got by Clark two laps later, with Andrew Anderson also joining the four-car breakaway at the front of the field. By lap 10, the top-two began to ease away from the Clark / Anderson battle for third.
On lap 17, Thirkettle began to apply pressure to the back bumper of McCullough, looking low to make the pass on the former two-time Modified series winner. Lap 18 found the duo side by side, but McCullough was able to fight off the challenge. On lap 25, Thirkettle was able to dive deep into Turn 1, emerging with the lead in Turn 2. But McCullough fought back using a cross over move, as the tandem raced into Turn 3. But Thirkettle was just to strong, leading lap 26, and clearing his challenger by Turn 1.
As the laps clicked off, Jimmy Sloan was working his way towards the front, from his eighth starting position. He was running the extreme low line, nearly clipping the grass on the flat portion of the track. When the Competition Caution flew on lap 40, Thirkettle led McCullough, Clark, Anderson, and horticultural racer Sloan. The ensuing restart found Anderson taking advantage of the outside line, getting around Clark for third. Sloan also turned up the wick, battling Clark in his low-side assault. By lap 44, Sloan had used the low line to edge ahead of Clark for fourth, as the three-car battle for the position also found Stephen Brucker in the mix. By lap 50, Clark was able to fight back by Sloan for fourth, as Anderson followed McCullough closely for second.
The final caution fell on lap 65 for debris, giving the field one last shot at Thirkettle for the rich win. On the restart, Thirkettle motored to the lead, with Sloan making it three-wide for third with Anderson and Clark. Sloan was able to grab fourth, as Brucker battled three-wide with Sloan and Clark. As the race neared its’ conclusion, Clark closed on the battle for third with Anderson and Sloan. With five laps to go, Clark closed to the rear bumper of Anderson, as Sloan was still engaged in the lower groove.
With two laps to go, Sloan bobbled, allowing Clark to get by for fourth. As the checkered flew, Thirkettle was able to hold off McCullough by a half second, with Anderson third. Clark crossed the line on Anderson’s bumper with Jimmy Sloan holding off Brucker for the final top-five spot. Jim Mardis was seventh followed by Weston Marthaler, Eddie Secord, and Brandon White.
Thirkettle was excited to grab another Showdown win in Victory Lane, and he expressed his enthusiasm to the crowd that gathered for the evening’s events.
“Man, that was fun”, Thirkettle exclaimed. “Travis (McCullough) kept me honest there, it was the Travis and Travis show there. He didn’t let me rest at all. I had to have the metal down the whole race, all the way. My team just hit it out of the park and the driver just didn’t screw it up, and that’s why we are standing right here (Victory Lane). This Racecar Factory chassis is just a missile. This car has been fast ever since we built it. It is one of the older cars in the field today, but it still gets the trophies.”
The next event for the Spears Modified Series is the “Winter Showdown” at Kern County Raceway Park. The teams in the series will look to put an end to Thirkettle’s run of successes on March 25th, when Round #2 of the season series convenes.
1. Travis Thirkettle, 2. Travis McCullough, 3. Andrew Anderson, 4. Holly Clark*, 5. Jimmy Sloan, 6. Stephen Brucker, 7. Jim Mardis, 8. Weston Marthaler*, 9. Eddie Secord, 10. Brandon White, 11. Josh Fanopoulos, 12. Ian Elliott, 13. Rosalee Weller, 14. Kevin Vossen, 15. William Guevara