In leaving the field in his dust, 15-year-old Clay Petersen of Seward continued to prove Saturday night at Twin City Raceway that he may have a bright future in dirt racing.
In doing the same in the Sprint Car races, track veteran Geoff Clark continued to prove that he can still whip them on any given night, even after 25 years of racing.
It was that sort of contrast between the A-Stocks and Sprint Cars that slung dirt at Twin City — youth vs. experience, young talent vs. been there, done that.
Along with the newer division Dollar Stocks, the A-Stock and Sprint Car drivers comprised the only three divisions of racing Saturday night, which was originally scheduled to hold the “Dirty Thirty” 30-lap Legends car race.
However, none of the Legends regulars showed up to race, committing their time instead to the Alaska Raceway Park paved oval in Palmer over the weekend.
But a fun time and tense racing was still on offer at Twin City. In the A-Stocks, Petersen won two out of three races, taking the first heat and the 20-lap feature win. Jeremy Herr grabbed the second heat victory driving the No. 1/5 car.
Petersen has shown a lot of speed this year, his inaugural season at Twin City, and has kept the more experienced crowd chasing him.
“He’s doing amazing,” said fellow A-Stock racer Bridgette Attleson, driver of the No. 5 car. “You’ve got these young guys out there, and of course you don’t want them to beat you, but it’s fun to see that they have no fear, and they want to stay ahead of us.
“My feelings are hurt in no way.”
Peterson is joined by fellow teenage racers Mady Stichal and Gracie Bass in bringing the youthful vibe this year, and all three showcased their skills Saturday. Bass, 16, took second place in the first heat behind Petersen, and Stichal, 15, was second in the heat race No. 2, only behind Herr.
Petersen has regularly been one of the fastest A-Stock drivers.
“I definitely did not expect it to go as well as it did,” Petersen said. “The goal coming into the season was one heat or something.”
“His goal was to not finish last in points,” interjected his father Todd Petersen.
Petersen and his family recently made the trip up from Seward to Kenai on three consecutive days for Progress Days weekend, which was completely rained out. Instead of complaining about it, the Petersens returned to their home base and kept working on making the No. 53 car faster.
But something went awry with the carburetor in the second heat, leaving Petersen in fourth. He said under yellow flag conditions, the car was showing symptoms of dying out, leaving him to deal with the problem on his own.
“I had one foot on the brake and one on the gas at 2,000 RPM, so it wouldn’t put-put-put and die,” Petersen explained. “Once we were up to speed, it was OK.”
In the 20-lap A-Stock feature, Petersen took off on every restart to claim the victory. The Seward racer had to contend with three yellow flags, due to spin-outs, including two from Stichal.
In the Sprint Car races, it was experience winning the day as 25-year Twin City Raceway veteran Geoff Clark swept all three races to dominate the field. As the two-time defending Sprint champion, Clark had his way with the field on Saturday, ripping around the turns in his green No. 3 machine.
Clark said he believes he is trailing in points to fellow Sprint driver Elton McGahan, and said his goal is to overtake McGahan in the title race and win his third straight.
“I’m aiming for Elton McGahan,” Clark said. “I want to beat him on the track.”
Clark first had to deal with his own engine issues midrace when he experienced a spark plug foul out, leading to an ominous popping sound as the race car dove into the turns.
“I was nervous thinking they were right behind me,” Clark said of the field. “I was going to slow and backing off … once it cleared up I thought OK, I’ll hold my foot down and roll the brake instead of backing off.”
Eventually, the problem cleared itself out and Clark was able to continue the dominating run.
Dollar Stocks were dominated by the No. 555 car of Johnny Gomulak, who won all three races. Gomulak had strong competition in Alex Clevinger, who put a fight in the No. 72 car.
Dollar Stocks debuted this season with the catch that race vehicles must be valued at $500 or lower in order to compete, resulting in a rowdy bunch of aspiring racers and drivers just looking to have a fun time.