The San Jose driver, back in the Dennis and Teresa Roth-owned California team car after a brief hiatus, became the seventh winner in seven Outlaws feature races this season. He started fourth, took the lead on lap 31 and survived an accident-filled 35-lap race for his 20th career Outlaws win.
It was the first of two nights of racing at the third-mile clay oval on the Tulare County Fairgrounds, just west of Highway 99. Preliminary races Saturday are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The Outlaws are running this weekend in a co-sanction with the King of the West series, which is opening its 22-race season as it crowns a California champion in the class for winged sprint cars powered by 410-cubic-inch engines.
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Rounding out the top five in the feature were Outlaws regulars Shane Stewart (in a car owned by NASCAR driver Kyle Larson), Terry McCarl and Kerry Madsen and Napa Valley driver Rico Abreu, who’s heading soon to a NASCAR East Coast development series.
The 26-car field included four more central San Joaquin Valley connections: Outlaws driver David Gravel in the Roth Motorsports national team car was 14th, Mitchell Faccinto of Hanford was 20th, Bud Kaeding of Campbell in the Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports car was 21st and Carson Macedo of Fresno in the Easton-based Tarlton & Son Racing car was 25th after a flip at the start of the race ended his night.
Series points leader Joey Saldana led the first 12 laps before he was caught up in a wreck.
Bud Kaeding did double duty Friday, winning the U.S. Auto Club West Coast Sprint Cars 30-lap feature. Kaeding, the 2012 series champion, passed 2013 series champ Danny Faria Jr. of Tipton on lap 14. Faria was second and Riverdale’s Landon Hurst was third. Visalia’s Vander Weerd brothers, Jace and Richard, were seventh and eighth. The USAC series returns to Thunderbowl on Saturday night, too.