Paulie Harraka picked up where he left off in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. He won the West Series season opener at All American Speedway in Roseville on Saturday night, his second in a row at the third-mile oval in Northern California.
Paulie Harraka reaches the Pole at All American Speedway in Roseville
K&N Pro Series West Winner Paulie Harraka with checkered flag
Harraka, from Wayne, N.J., and a driver for Bill McAnally Racing, won the 2009 West Series season finale race at All American Speedway. His latest win in Roseville was the third of his West Series career and his third in the last four West Series races.
"That was our goal," Harraka said when asked about starting the 2010 season with a win. "It's a little bit better than it was last year. The car was really good. We banged wheels a lot, but we had fun."
Harraka won the pole and led the first 16 laps of the race. Jonathan Gomez, a driver from Twin Falls, Idaho, took over the lead on lap 17 and held it for 32 laps when the first caution came out.
Paulie Harraka claims trophy at All American Speedway in Roseville
"He was a little bit better than us in the middle of that race," Harraka said. "It was a matter of running hard enough. He was good."
David Mayhew spun out on lap 39 and when the race resumed on lap 49, Harraka and Gomez battled for the lead, banging fenders and bumping each around for the next five laps.
Harraka took over the lead on lap 54 and held it for the rest of the race, including 10 laps passed the scheduled 150. Troy Ermish crashed on lap 148, brought out a caution flag and set up a green-white-checker finish.
Harraka said the crash at the end of the race was surprising. He was expecting the race to go green to the end after running nearly 100 virtually caution-free laps.
"It was all good," Harraka said. "We had that breathing room that we needed. I was relaxing inside the car knowing I had to click off solid laps."
Even though Gomez was more than 100 laps removed from the last time he led the race, he said he still thought he could win the race.
"We thought we had it," Gomez said. "I thought we had the fastest car. Coming out of turn 2, I just got a little bit too anxious, got on the gas too hard, had to settle for second because of it."
Harraka didn't give up his lead and was out in front for the green, white and checker flag laps, even though he said after the race that he was worried about Gomez and Greg Pursley, the third-place driver.
"As soon as I cleared Gomez for the lead, I knew it was mine," Harraka said.
However on the last lap of the race, Pursley, a driver from Newhall, was hit from behind and spun out in turn 4. He dropped to seventh place and Josh Combs, a rookie from Sacramento, took over the third place spot.
Eric Holmes, the winner of the spring race at All American Speedway in 2009, collided with Jack Sellers midway through the race. The crash severely damaged the left side of his car. Holmes went into the pits for repairs and returned. He finished in 21st place, 17 laps off the lead.
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