PETALUMA, Calif. — With a little help from an exploding tire, Chase Madjic turned a mid-race setback into a split-second victory in the Pit Stop USA sprint car series at Petaluma Speedway Saturday night, beating Andy Forsberg to the checkers by a mere .8 of a second.
Starting from the pole, Madjic took advantage of clean air to jump out to full straightaway lead over Forsberg and started carving his way through lapped traffic within five laps. It seemed to be a lead too good to be true and during a lap 16 yellow flag race officials agreed, setting Madjic back two spots on the restart for jumping the initial green flag start.
Over the last nine laps, Madjic stormed around three-time Petaluma Speedway champion Bradley Terrell and set chase for Forsberg, who had opened up a multi-car length lead while running laps faster than he qualified.
On the final trip down the backstretch, Forsberg’s left rear tire exploded, sending rubber shrapnel flying in every direction as Madjic closed the gap. The pair ran side by side through turn three as Forsberg manhandled his car before Madjic nosed out the win.
“I figured that I jumped the start a little bit, but when they didn’t throw the yellow flag I just kept going,” said Madjic, who believes officials should have thrown the yellow at the start. But being set back during the restart motivated Madjic. “The car was a rocket ship so after that I just ran the car as hard as I could,” he said. “I saw Forsberg’s tire go down and then something fly off the car and that’s when I really stepped on it.”
Forsberg knew he was courting disaster and was glad the tire held for as long as it did. “I could tell something was wrong on the restart,” he said. “I was dragging the frame rail on the backstretch coming down for the green flag.
“Normally, when a left rear goes down it will only last about three or four laps before it gets too hot and explodes,” he explained. “I’m glad it happened when it did and not a lap earlier. I was surprised I got around that last half a lap and after he got by me, I was just focused on getting to the finish.”
Terrell, Sean Becker and Shane Golobic rounded out the top five.