By Stephanie Deatherage
PETALUMA, Calif. (May 6) – Troy Morris III raced to his first California IMCA Speedweek presented by Hoppes Motorsports feature victory while Tyler Bannister won for the second time in as many nights Thursday at Petaluma Speedway.
Morris topped the $1,000 to win, Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot qualifier for IMCA Modifieds while Bannister followed his Wednesday checkers at Antioch with the Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod main event win.
“I was speechless when it happened,” said Morris, acknowledging the caliber of the competition he beat for his first win in the division. “I feel like I’m on top of the world. It was a stacked field of cars on a technical track and it was fun. I had a blast.”
Buddy Kniss was on a rail at the drop of the green in the 25-lap Modified main, pulling away from the pack before what proved to be a fateful lap four caution. Kniss had an incredible start when things returned to green but briefly lost control in on the sixth circuit and saw Bakersfield teen Morris maneuver his way into the lead.
Dotson managed to chase Morris as lapped traffic came into the picture. He got to Morris’s back bumper and even alongside him but couldn’t make the pass. Despite hefty traffic, Dotson and Morris were in a slugfest that even brought Troy Foulger into the mix.
Foulger squeaked by on the final corner to get second while Dotson ended third. Nick DeCarlo and Jim Pettit II were the rest of the top five.
“Later in the race I moved to the bottom in (turns) three and four and stayed on top in one and two. I followed the moisture around as best I could,” said Morris, so caught up in the moment he had to be reminded that the race was an All-Star ballot qualifier. “It felt good to be out front.”
Fred Ryland got to the front of the Northern SportMod feature field, chased by Jason Nation before Bannister joined the party.
A lap 14 yellow interrupted a three-car race for the point and Ryland spun to miss the wreckage, turning the lead over to Nation with 11 circuits remaining. Bannister stayed close behind in second with Josh Most advancing to third.
Nation found himself caught up in lapped traffic and the front two duked it out in the final stages. The lead changed hands several times before Bannister took over and scored his fourth victory at as many different tracks this season.
Nation was a close second while Most rebounded from an early race spin to finish third. Tanner Thomas placed fourth with fifth going to Tyler’s father Jason.