PETALUMA, Calif. — On a tacky, slot-car-fast track that made even the back-markers look like fast and furious heros, Sean Becker was quickest and fastest all night long and dominated the Adobe Cup at Petaluma Speedway Saturday night.
After setting a new track record in qualifying on the three-eighths-mile oval and winning two qualifying heat races to earn the pole, Becker took advantage of a mistake by early race leader Kalib Henry on the fourth lap to charge into the lead he would hold to the checkered flag 26 laps later.
Henry had started on the outside of the front row and opened a slight lead on Becker before hitting a hole in turn one that had his car bouncing like a pogo stick as Becker dove to the inside groove to take over the top spot.
But after landing on all four wheels, Henry regrouped, got his car pointed in the right direction and chased Becker as the pair wove through slower lapped traffic like two cab drivers dicing through commute traffic. Henry had one last shot at Becker on a lap-21 restart, but Becker quickly pulled away and had the speed to catch the tail of the field in just three laps and to hold off a charging Henry through traffic to the checkered flag.
“I love it when this track gets hooked up and rough,” said an elated Becker moments after scaling the front stretch fence to salute the fans. “I couldn’t ask for a better night.”
Becker graciously conceded that Henry’s mistake gave him the opening he needed to win the race. “Henry was on a rail until he hit that rut,” said Becker. “I was just hoping that I wouldn’t’ hit it, too.”
“I gave it my all and hung it out but made that one bobble,” said a disappointed Henry who has finished second in the Adobe Cup two years in a row. “Becker was good in traffic but I thought we were better,” said Henry, who raced the last 12 laps through traffic without brakes.
Setting a new track record was an unexpected surprise for Becker, who had already made a strong qualifying run before the timing lights malfunctioned and track officials decided to start over. “I had already gotten out of the car and didn’t want to go back out,” said Becker, who was satisfied with his original time. But two laps later, the fast Becker was faster yet and put is name in the record books.