(Carol Wirts photo)
CALIFORNIA, Mo. — Even though the 2018 season of Sunday Night Thunder at Double-X Speedway is nearing completion, there are still firsts occurring at the familiar quarter-mile oval.
After a layoff from racing of several years, Tyler Utz returned to the seat at Double-X just more than a month ago and Sunday night he picked up his first victory in a sprint car.
With the support of his family and crew, led by his grandfather and Hall of Fame driver Bill Utz, and with a water pump off of the legendary “Ol’ Yeller” No. 56, Tyler Utz was standing tall in victory lane.
With multiple feature winner Tyler Blank sidelined with mechanical issues, it was assured that a first-time winner would emerge at the end of the event. Utz gained the advantage on the start and steadily put down smoother laps as the feature unwound.
Ben Brown drove a hard charging race to claim second, Frank Brown came across the stripe third.
The 600cc winged micro sprints also saw a first-time winner. Tyler Davenport picked up his first career feature win a little over year from the first time he had raced a car. This was also his first time in competition at Double-X. Davenport survived early challenges from veteran Travis Arnold, but was able to fend off the challenge and claim the checkered flag. Finishing second was Aubrey Smith with a strong run after arriving late to the track. Arnold would be third in the running order and Justin Osborn was fourth.
In the street stock division it was a familiar face in victory lane although the finish was much closer than he would have liked. John Clancy put his No. 8 machine in victory lane another time this year at Double-X. Clancy led the majority of the race, handling challenges from Mark Davis and Cole Henson. At the finish Clancy was able to hold off Joe Miller by half a car to secure the win. Miller was second with fellow “Old Guy” Steve Beach in third. Mark Davis fought handling issues to hold on for fourth and Dale Berry finished fifth.
The Hobby Stock class provided some of the most exciting racing of the night. Mike Schrader picked up the feature win in a decisive manner. Isaiah Penton capped off an impressive evening with a second-place finish, Kyle Smith ran hard to finish third, Drew Tully was a model of consistency claiming fourth and Chuck Coffey survived a last lap incident to finish fifth.