Justin Sanders Storms to Second Career Johnny Key Classic, Obertello and Simunovich Also Win on Saturdayracepmg
Watsonville, CA – Aromas’ Justin Sanders dominated Saturday’s 59th Johnny Key Classic, leading every lap en route to his second win in the prestigious race. Hollister’s Ryan Bernal started on pole but got sideways off the start, allowing Sanders to jump out to the early lead. The race was marred by several relatively minor incidents early, which kept the leaders out of lapped traffic. Justin Sanders was cool and collected at the front while the likes of Fremont’s Shane Golobic and Roseville’s Sean Becker tried to keep the pressure on. At the halfway break at lap 25, Sanders was still out front with Becker in second, but Roseville’s Colby Copeland and St. Helena’s Rico Abreu were up to the top five from their 12th and 13th place starting spots. On the restart, Sean Becker lost a couple spots with Copeland and Abreu moving by. Justin Sanders was still dominant out front while Copeland and Abreu tried to chase him down. A couple more cautions bunched the field up and gave Copeland and Abreu a chance, but with rubber starting to lay down, Sanders was nearly untouchable out front. As the laps clicked off and the leaders entered lapped traffic, Sanders’ lead started to dwindle. Sanders ran the last several laps clean while managing lapped traffic, not giving Colby Copeland an opportunity to take the lead. Justin Sanders would take the big win by just under a second ahead of Copeland. Rico Abreu, in his first appearance at the track in several years, came home third, with Shane Golobic and Sean Becker rounding out the top five. Hanford’s Mitchell Faccinto laid down a blistering 11.490 lap time in time trials to win Quick Time. Penngrove’s Chase Johnson, Campbell’s Bud Kaeding, Sean Becker, and Ryan Bernal won the four heat races. Janesville’s Chelsea Blevins won the B-Main.
Andy Obertello of Hollister dominated Saturday’s feature to take his first IMCA Modified victory of the season. It was also his first win in over four years. Obertello started on pole and led the first five laps before the first caution came out for Aromas’ Raymond Keldsen Jr., who spun in turn four. Obertello had Nick DeCarlo of Martinez alongside him for the restart, but Obertello would keep his car out front. The next and final caution came out on lap nine for Prundedale’s Jim Pettit II, who spun in turn four while running fifth. Point leader Cody Burke of Salinas was tucked up behind Pettit and did a masterful job to avoid his car. On the restart, DeCarlo pressured Obertello, but Obertello was able to just keep ahead. The pair ran nose to tail for the rest of the feature, with Andy Obertello hanging to win by less than a second. Austin and Cody Burke, and San Martin’s Jeff Decker completed the top five. Jeff Decker and Morgan Hill’s Anthony Giuliani won the heat races for the division.
Hollister’s Dennis Simunovich won his second IMCA SportMod feature of the season on Saturday as part of the Key. Prunedale’s Max Baggett started on the outside pole and led the first lap before finding trouble in turn four on lap two. This gave San Martin’s Justin McPherson the lead. Point leader Jarrod Mounce of Atwater found a slick spot in turn four and spun on lap three to bring out the next caution. McPherson stayed out in front of the likes of Grass Valley’s Andrew Peckham and Bakersfield’s Kevin Johnson. Another caution on lap six kept everyone together for another restart, with Justin McPherson looking good out front. Kevin Johnson ran into problems on lap nine, sliding off the track and falling back to sixth from his third-place running position. Justin McPherson still maintained the lead out front as another caution flew on lap ten for a heavy incident in turn two. San Jose’s John Ferro spun collecting Max Baggett and Pittsburg’s Chuck Golden, with Baggett and Golden both done for the night. On the restart, Andrew Peckham made his move for the lead on the inside of McPherson. Peckham continued to lead with Dennis Simunovich now in second. Randy Miller of San Jose went for a spin on lap 13, bunching everyone back up. On the restart, Peckham led for one more lap, but Dennis Simunovich swept around the outside to lead lap 15. As Peckham pulled back ahead down the backstretch, a yellow for Santa Maria’s Markus Frazier would bring the battle to a halt. Simunovich would pull away to take the win while Justin McPherson would get by Peckham to take second. Peckham would hang on to third ahead of Kevin Johnson and Jarrod Mounce. Johnson and Mounce won the heat races for the division.
This Friday is the second to last Ocean Sprints pres. by Taco Bravo race of the year. The IMCA Modifieds and SportMods are also back on the card. The 4-Bangers also have just two races left this season and it’s the final 2019 appearance of the South Bay Dwarf Car. This Friday is the last event before an extended break for the Fair before racing resumes on September 20th.
Advance tickets for the race scheduled for August 23rd are available here: https://market.myracepass.com/store/tickets/?i=1176147&store=12231
Pits are scheduled to open at 2pm and Grandstands will open at 4:30pm. Pill draw will close at 4:30pm. The driver’s meeting is scheduled for 4:45pm. Pit passes are $40 for track members and $45 for non-members. All seating is general admission and tickets cost $18 for adults and $16 for seniors. Juniors 12-15 are $12 and Kids 6-11 are $9 and Kids 5 and under are free.
Photo Credits to David Spencer.