2009 was a great year for the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series; a standout veteran won a popular championship after sitting out last season due to injury, the series signed a new title sponsor, seven different drivers tasted victory in 2009 and car counts hit levels not seen in many years.
M.K. Kanke Scores First Touring Championship
After more than thirty years of competing in stock cars on the oval tracks in the southwest region, the 2009 Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series champion M.K. Kanke of Frazier Park, CA has now won his first touring championship. With more than twenty wins in the NASCAR Southwest Tour, and now adding a series high of four SRL wins in 2009, Kanke is the winningest active driver in southwest tour racing. After missing the 2008 season due to a work related injury, Kanke and his RPM Motor Sports team showed up ready for the 2009 season by winning the season opener at Roseville’s All-American Speedway. Kanke, backed up that win with another victory at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on May 3rd, which put him into the point lead that he would never surrender. Over the course of the season, Kanke only finished outside the top five on two occasions, to finish the year with a 2.4 finishing average and winning the championship by 46 points over Goleta’s Greg Voigt.
Spears Manufacturing Comes on Board as Series Sponsor
Spears Manufacturing has been a name associated with west coast racing for over twenty years. After winning a NASCAR Southwest Tour Series championship with driver Roman Calzynski in the 80’s, Wayne and Connie Spears went on to field teams in the NASCAR Camping World Series West, Sprint Cup and the Camping World Truck Series for such notable west coast drivers as; Ron Hornaday, Bill Sedgwick and Kevin Harvick. On Friday, July 3rd, it was announced that Spears Manufacturing would continue their support of west coast racing by becoming the title sponsor of the SRL Southwest Tour Series, now known as the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series.
Seven Different Winners
With Kanke starting the season with three wins and a second after just four races into the 2009 season, it looked like he may create a monopoly on the winner’s circle of the SRL season. But the remainder of 2009 saw a total of seven different winners overall. After Auggie Vidovich won in his SRL debut on May 23rd at Madera, Troy Ermish found victory lane at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in a wild finish on July 18th. Then it was championship contender Voigt who scored his first career SRL victory by winning at Stockton 99 Speedway. Mike Mendenhall of Santee, CA was next to win, by driving to victory in the 130 lap event at Madera on September 5th. As the series went back to Stockton, it was defending series champ Jim Pettit II winning his first main event of 2009. On October 10th, Kanke won at Irwindale to solidify the 2009 championship. Then at the season finale at The Bullring, 2008 SRL Rookie-of-the-Year, Josh Combs scored his first career SRL victory.
Other 2009 Notes of Interest:
Tens of thousands of viewers watched the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series on web casts provided by GoLiveStream.TV and RPMtvonline.com.
Prize monies were at an all-time high for the SRL and the 154 lap season finale was the longest race in SRL history.
In 2009, the SRL experienced a mix of competitors that featured the true veterans, if not legends, of the sport such as Kanke, Pettit, Craig Raudman and Dave Byrd, with notable up and coming drivers such as 2009 Rookie-of-the-Year Kevin Callahan, Kyle Gottula, Jacob Gomes, Brennan Newberry and Jonathon Gomez. With the line up of outstanding drivers on the rise, the Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series is looking forward to a strong 2010.
The Spears SRL Southwest Tour Series will celebrate its ninth season and honor its top 15 drivers and owners at the 2009 Championship Awards Banquet this Saturday at the Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, CA.