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Chase Captures Pit Stop USA Sprint Car Series Championship
Press Release, Petaluma Speedway
With a fall crispness in the air and another smooth and blazingly fast adobe track served up it was apparent from the evenings start that Nor Cal Sand & Off Road Championship Night was going to be epic. Coming into the last Pit Stop USA.com Winged 360 points race Sebastopol’s Bradley Terrell held a scant 6 point lead over Penngrove’s Chase Johnson. Qualifying saw 17-year old Johnson rip off a blazingly fast 108 mph lap at 12.431 and just a couple tenth’s off the all-time track record. That quick lap garnered fast time for Johnson over Billy Butler. With every point important the heat races turned out to be pivotal. Visiting Elk Grove’s Bobby McMahon won the first heat over Kenny Drew with Johnson picking up one point for third place. In the second heat Terrell was gunning for the lead when he couldn’t avoid the flipping Trevor Schmidt in turn two. Veteran Art McCarthy picked up the win over Butler and Chase Wood with Terrell clawing his way back to fifth. The main event saw another visitor Shawn Wright charge to the early lead over McMahon, McCarthy, and Drew. The first 11 laps went non-stop with until Wright got tangled with a lapped car and overturned in turn two. The restart saw Johnson pick up two spots and emerge in second behind McMahon. Meanwhile, with the point’s title on the line, Terrell commenced to slice through the field like a surgeon. Butler’s night ended with a quick snap roll in turn two necessitating another red flag. When racing resumed for the final handful of laps it looked like Johnson would have to settle for the runner-up spot. With two laps remaining however McMahon caught a lapped car at the wrong moment allowing Johnson the opportunity he needed to slide by and win the main event. Chasing Johnson and McMahon to the line were McCarthy, Terrell, and Drew. When the points were quickly tabulated it became apparent that the pass for the lead on lap 23 was not only for the race win but the championship title with Johnson winning his first Petaluma Speedway Sprint Car Championship by one point over Terrell.
A Message From Chase:
My cousin Marcus Johnson and Dale Wondergem lost their lifes on March 16th. I can not tell you all how bad and how hurt I feel at this time. I am sorry. Marcus was more like a brother to me than a cousin. We would see each other at least 3 times a week if not more. He could put a smile on anyone's face and always showed his love with his wonderful hugs. He had a long promising future in racing and basketball. If he wasn't winning at the track he was winning on the court. He would come to support me at every race. The one thing he loved was to sit on the tire and help me get ready inside the race car, hand me my safety gear and tell me a couple words right before I went out on the track. And if anybody tried to take his job he would make sure it wasn't for long. I looked up to him as much as he looked up to me. I want to share a memory with you all. The last week Marcus, Hayden, Colby and myself where all at my grandmother's house playing and wrestling on the grass in the dark at 9pm. Marcus and I were always a team against the younger boys Hayden and Colby. After playing with the little guys it wore Marcus and I out. Marcus and I sat outside in two chairs. He looked at me and told me "Chase you better never grow up." I told him don't worry, I will never be to old to play with you, we looked at each other and smiled. I miss you so much Marcus. I love you so much little buddy. The other day I spent a day at the Wondergem's house to learn about Dale and his life. Dale had a huge heart for our sport. He would spend everyday at the track if he had the choice. His wife Jerry told me that on their wedding day that they got married at 2 and he was at the track by 4. The Wondergem family is one of the nicest caring families you will ever meet. Thank you everyone for all the prayers and support through these tough times.
Rest in Peace Marcus and Dale.
I'm so sorry and I love you.
Photo from March 16th before practice