Event: The “8th Annual Winter Showdown” will take place on March 25 at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, CA. The competing series will include the Super Late Models of the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series, the Spears Pro- Late Models presented by Sigma Performance Services, and the Spears Modified Series. It is the third time all three divisions have competed in the annual event. The Super Late Models will via for a $10,000 winner’s check, thanks to the “Winner’s Bonus” from Senneker Performance. They will have a break on lap 80 of the 135-lap feature. The Pro Late Models will compete for $2,500, or for $3,500, if the winner competed at the season opening “All-Star Showdown 100” at Irwindale Speedway. The $1,000 bonus is thanks to Sigma Performance Services. The Modifieds will compete for a $2,000 payday in Round #2 of their season.
History: The first “Winter Showdown was held in 2015 with Bubba Pollard earning a $25,000 win. He followed it up with a second victory in 2016. Derek Thorn broke through in 2017, bagging $30,000 for his effort. NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch turned the $30,000 trick in 2018, getting even for his third place run the previous season. NASCAR Camping World Truck Series star Ty Majeski beat the weather and a 38-car entry to win $30,000 in 2019. Covid claimed the 2020 edition, but Derek Thorn returned to pick up his second victory in 2021 in front of 27 Super Late Models, winning $10,000. Jacob Gomes got his 2022 Spears Southwest Tour Series season off to a great start by winning the 7th Annual Edition worth $10,000.
Colorado Contenders: Three teams from the state of Colorado will via for the win on Saturday night. Jase Hansen will make his fifth start in the event, where he has a best finish of second in 2022. Hansen was a winner at Kern County Raceway Park in 2022 in the “JM Environmental Inc. Wild West Shootout Firecracker 100”. Darren Robertson will make his first start at KCRP, after coming home fifth in the “All-Star Showdown 200” at Irwindale Speedway. The three-time Colorado National Speedway (CNS) Super Late Model champion has three career SRL starts. Nicholas Cooper will make his third series start, and second in 2023, after finishing 14th in the “All-Star Showdown 200”. Cooper was the championship runner-up at CNS in 2021 and 2022.
Busy Blaine: Blaine Rocha will make his third start in three weeks, after crisscrossing the country in his Port City Racecars Super Late Model. Rocha finished 13th in the ASA Stars National Tour at 5 Flags Speedway (FL). He proceeded to South Alabama Speedway (AL) for the ”47th Annual Hardee’s Rattler 250” for the SRL National. He ran in the top-10 before motor issues ended his day in 27th. He will return to KCRP for the “Winter Showdown 135”, where he has a best finish of fourth in six starts. He is a former Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series winner at the facility, winning in 2017.
Championship Leader: Jacob Gomes is coming off his second series championship in 2022 and is the championship leader in 2023. Gomes won $25,000 in the season opener at Irwindale, and will be looking to defend his 2022 “Winter Showdown” title. Gomes is once again hooked up with Derek Thorn and Derek Thorn Racing in 2023. He travelled to 5 Flags Speedway two weeks ago and came home eighth in the ASA Stars National Tour event. He will now turn his attention to a track for which he has had recent success, earning seven top-five’s in his last eight starts.
“I can’t wait to get back and give it all we got again”, Gomes exclaimed! “I think we have a great shot at it, and I’m happy to get back racing again. It’s a fun track and really racy. It has two good grooves and it puts on a good race for the racers and fans. It is always fun coming back to it.”
Championship Runner-Up: John Moore is coming off a career tying best, second-place finish in the “All-Star Showdown 200” at Irwindale Speedway. Like Gomes, Moore has joined forces with Derek Thorn Racing in 2023. The veteran racer is a former Pacific Challenge Series champion and is known for his ability to finish races. The Granite Bay, CA driver finished a career best fourth in the SRL standings last season He finished fourth in last season’s “Winter Showdown”. It was his best finish in 17 career starts at KCRP. With his momentum, Moore could be one to contend with for the $10,000 victory.
Heartbreak Holtz: Dan Holtz will be looking for his second career SRL victory this weekend. The driver from Pacific Palisades, CA was a former regular at the East Bakersfield ½-mile known at Mesa Marin Raceway, where he was a two-time Super Late Model track champion. Holtz has had a run of bad luck in the series however, signified by his “All-Star Showdown 200” effort, where he ran out of gas with three laps remaining, while running second. At KCRP he has been strong when he finishes, averaging a fifth-place finish over those six starts, but he has also had frustrating results, garnering two DNF’s in the last six starts overall.
“I’ve been so fortunate to have so many victories in Bakersfield over the years, so I certainly can’t complain when things don’t work out the way we want them to”, Holtz recanted about his recent misfortunes. “Mesa Marin Raceway gave me so much success, it’s kept me going over the years when the wins have slowed down. We have been fortunate to have fast race cars that are capable of winning, if everything goes our way, but the stars haven’t lined up right recently. Winning the “Winter Showdown” would mean a lot to me, because I have such love for Kern County Raceway, and the people from Bakersfield.”
Kulwicki Champion: 2022 Kulwicki Driver Development Program champion Dylan Zampa will be back behind the wheel of the Randy Hedrick owned Super Late Model. After a fifth-place finish in his first series start, Zampa has gone 0-for-3 since, in top-10 finishes. Zampa had four victories in the Spears Pro Late Model Series last season, but two DNF’s squashed his championship hopes, finishing runner-up in the standings. At KCRP he will look for big gains over his 15th-place finish in the “All-Star Showdown 200” at Irwindale Speedway. The All-American Speedway Pro Late Model track champion will seek to add to his 2022 Pro Late Model win at the facility.
Champ Steps Up: 2022 Spears Pro Late Model Series champion Seth Wise will make his first start in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series. Wise is a two-time Pro Late Model winner at his hometrack and will be driving for Scott Sanchez Motorsports. For Wise, it is the culmination of years of hard work.
“It’s a dream come true to be making my first start in a Super Late”, Wise stated. “It’s something I’ve really been looking forward to and worked hard for. It’s going to be at our hometown track at the “Winter Showdown”, which is going to make it even more special.”
Pro Late Models: “All-Star Showdown 100” winner Linny White will make his second Spears Pro Late Model Series start, this time at the “Winter Showdown”. White swept both championship events at KCRP for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series in 2019. 2022 champion Seth Wise will look to rebound at his home track after a seventh-place effort at Irwindale. He will be pulling double duty and will be looking for his first “Winter Showdown” victory. Kabe and Kale McClenny will make their first starts with the series. They are both regulars at Madera Speedway. Both Bradley Erickson and Kasey Kleyn will be back with Naake-Klauer Racing, after finishing eighth and ninth at the “All-Star Showdown 100”. White leads Dylan Zampa, Sean Woodside, Nick Joanides, and Trevor Huddleston in the championship standings.
Modifieds: Travis Thirkettle is the Spears Modified Series championship leader heading into the “Winter Showdown 60” for the Modifieds. He will look to defend his 2022 title of the race, with another $2,000 victory. Travis McCullough sits second in the standings and will look for Modified series win number three. Andrew Anderson finished third at the “All-Star Showdown” and will look for series win #1, after two runner-up finishes in 2022. Holly Clark sits fourth in the standings and will seek to improve upon her career best KCRP finish of fourth. Jimmy Sloan is the final driver in the top-five. Sloan finished fourth in last year’s “Winter Showdown”, and has a best career KCRP finish of third, also in 2022.
Schedule: Spectator Gates officially open at 4:00 PM with Qualifying for the Pro Late Models, Modifieds, and Super Late Models commencing immediately thereafter. Opening Ceremonies and an Autograph Session commence at 5:15 PM. At 6:00 PM, feature events are scheduled for the Spears Pro Late Model Series (60 laps), Spears Modified Series (60 laps) followed by a Fireworks Spectacular. The “Eighth Annual Winter Showdown 135” for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series will complete the evening.
Broadcast: For fans unable to attend the “Winter Showdown”, all the events will be Livestreamed at www.SpearsRacing.TV with a subscription. The events will also be shown on MAVTV at a time and date to be announced later.
Celebrating its twenty third season in 2023, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series…Where the Champions Race”.
Super Late Model Entry:
1. 1 Dylan Zampa, Napa, CA – Sierra Speed Technology, Apache Rental Group*
2. 05 Nick Cooper, Severance, CO – Neighbors Trailer*
3. 08 Jace Hansen, Greely, CO – NAPA Cheyenne, Buckeye Welding Supply
4. 11R Darren Robertson, Arvada, CO – Buckeye Welding Supply, Rocky Mountain Motorsports
5. 11H Austin Herzog, Clovis, CA – Richard Herzog Construction, Superior Door*
6. 16 Jacob Gomes, Manteca, CA – Sunnyvalley Smoked Meats, Dell’Osso Family Farms
7. 17 Zach Telford, Middleton, ID – Gibson Performance Diesel, Project Filter
8. 21N Ethan Nascimento, Jr., Lathrop, CA – Nascimento Motorsports*
9. 22A Andy Allen, Garden Grove, CA – RJ Allen, Inc.
10. 22S Buddy Shepherd, Bakersfield, CA – Sun Power by Sun Solar, Doby Hagar Trucking
11. 23 Dan Holtz, Pacific Palisades, CA – Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center, Concrete Motorsports
12. 24S Scott Sanchez, Bakersfield, CA – Salted Metals, Gibson Crane
13. 24W Seth Wise, Bakersfield, CA – TBA*
14. 27M John Moore, Granite Bay, CA – JM Environmental Inc., Berco Redwood
15. 33 Cale Kanke, Frazier Park, CA – Allie Bakes
16. 79 Barrett Polhemus, Wimberley, TX – Wilson Motorsports, VanDoorn Racing Development*
17. 80 Andre Prescott, Mesa, AZ – Burgeson’s A/C, National Trade Contractors
18. 98 Blaine Rocha, Oakdale, CA – MASROC Farms, Masellis Drilling