Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports driver Bud Kaeding wins Trophy Cup

The sprint car team of Oakhurst-based Williams Motorsports and driver Bud Kaeding scored their biggest victory Saturday night, winning the 22nd annual Trophy Cup at Tulare’s Thunderbowl Raceway.

Kaeding won a tight points battle in the unique three-day show when he finished third in Saturday night’s 50-lap “A” main event. Lemoore 19-year-old Carson Macedo, driving an Easton-based Tarlton & Son car painted to look like Tom Tarlton’s first sprint car, put on a spirited drive in the last race but came up short and settled for second place in the final points.

The Trophy Cup pays points for finishes and passing, putting the points leaders at the back of the fields.

It also pays big: Kaeding and Williams won $20,000 from the approximately $160,000 purse. The event is a benefit for Make-A-Wish and was expected to send the charity a check for about $125,000.

The Trophy Cup championship was an emotional win for Kaeding, who won Friday night’s main and finished second to Rico Abreu in the Friday afternoon feature.

He wasn’t certain he had clinched the points championship when he crossed the finish line behind World of Outlaws driver Terry McCarl of Iowa and Spencer Haudenschild of Ohio (in one of three entries in the event by Fresno-based Roth Motorsports).

He drove into the pits for the mandatory postrace weigh-in of his car, and said that’s where Hanford’s DJ Netto (who dropped out of Saturday’s feature early after a crash) ran up and informed him he’d won.

Kaeding returned to the track for some doughnuts on the one-third mile clay oval’s front stretch and then was greeted by his team and given a bear hug by his grandfather, legendary ex-racer Howard Kaeding. Bud joins his father Brent and brother Tim as Trophy Cup champions.

Thursday’s racing was stopped during time trials because of rain and rescheduled for Friday afternoon, making for a long day as the event got back on schedule – 20 heat races and seven main events in 12 hours.

Many of the top drivers are back in action Saturday, Oct. 24 at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford for the 30th annual Cotton Classic. It’s the next-to-last points race in California’s premier sprint car series, the King of the West, and Macedo holds a 20-point lead over Bud Kaeding.