The SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series will begin its tenth year of competition on Saturday, March 27th, for what should be the biggest season in the series’ history. The top ten drivers of the 2009 SRL season we’re asked their take on the upcoming year in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series.
M. K. Kanke: After a dominating year that saw the 30 year stock car veteran score four wins on his way to his first touring series championship, Kanke and RPM Motorsports will be carrying a bulls eye on the bumper of their familiar #33 Chevrolet once the 2010 SRL season begins.
“Dan and Kathy (Nikolai) have brought together a great group of people that make up our team. Everyone is dedicated to the effort and last year we never had a bad race. It was one of those years that don’t come around very often in this sport, but it sure was fun.” said Kanke of his championship year. “This series is growing like no other anywhere and we are working even harder to have another great year, but it’s going to be tough, the competition level has been elevated and the new teams coming in will make this series the most competitive I have ever been part of.” stated the 2009 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion.
Greg Voigt: “We had a good 2009 and put ourselves in position to win the championship,” said Voigt, who was second in the championship and scored a win at Stockton 99 Speedway in 2009. “We are building a new car, but it won’t be ready until around mid-season. We’re going to do all we can to move up one position in the final championship standings in 2010.”
Josh Combs: The 2008 Victory Circle SRL Rookie-of-the-Year had a strong second half of 2009 to pick up his first SRL win and finish in the top three in the championship. For 2010, Combs will be extremely busy, as he will compete full-time in both the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series and the NASCAR K & N Pro Series West.
“Finishing third in the championship was a big accomplishment for us. This year is going to be kind of crazy running both series full-time, I’m excited it should be a challenge.”
Jim Pettit II: After being unstoppable on his way to the 2008 SRL championship, 2009 was a year to forget for the veteran Prunedale, CA driver. “We hurt two cars and broke two motors in four races, it was the worst luck we have ever had in racing.” stated Pettit regarding his 2009 season.
“On the positive side, we were proud to salvage a fourth in the championship and we really appreciate Quentin Bammer stepping up and allowing us to use his car and everyone on our team for not giving up. Our team puts out a championship effort and our plan is to be in the championship hunt this year. This series is going to be tough, and it will be quite an accomplishment for whoever is the 2010 champion.”
Mike Mendenhall: After scoring his first SRL win since 2006, Mendenhall had a string of top five finishes that led to a fifth place in points after giving up one full race to his competitors in 2010. “We had a good year and we aren’t planning any changes for this year.” Mendenhall stated.
“In the off season I landscaped my front yard and put a new roof on the house, but the race car is just getting basic prep before the first race. We run on a tight budget so we are working on finding a sponsor who wants to win the championship.” Mendenhall added.
Troy Ermish: After spending the 2009 behind the wheel of the Bob Strandwold Racing #3 Chevrolet, Ermish will be back in his own familiar #38 in 2010.
“We’re back in our own stuff this year with Mike Naake preparing the car and Bob Strandwold supporting our team.” stated Ermish. “2009 was a good year, our win at Irwindale was the highlight of the season. We look to build on our good performances and work on minimizing our mistakes to put ourselves in position to win the 2010 SRL championship.”
Kevin Callahan: For the 2009 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year, Kevin Callahan will change nearly everything in his racing program except his name.
"Everything is different for 2010. We are now part of NTS Motorsports with Brennan Newberry as a teammate," stated Callahan. "We have been prepping the cars in the off-season and will be testing soon at Roseville or Orange Show. I am excited about our new association with NTS and Brennan. It's a great opportunity for us and we are looking forward to the new season."
Dave Byrd: The 2007 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series champion will be with a new team in 2010, driving for team owner Kenny Whalen with some help from O’Reilly Auto Parts.
“The ten race schedule is good. Ten races works well for balancing other obligations for everyone on the team.” Byrd commented on the 2010 SRL schedule. “I’m interested in returning to Orange Show, we ran there many years ago with the NASCAR Southwest Tour and the track wasn’t much more than a paved high school track and field area. I hear they have made some nice improvements since then.”
Brennan Newberry: Newberry saw big gains in his teams’ performance in the later part of the 2009 SRL season and is looking forward to starting the new year.
“The last three races of 2009 were a big boost for our team. We lead laps at Irwindale, and ran well at both Vegas and Stockton, so we are looking forward to carrying that momentum into this season,” commented Newberry. “We added a second car within NTS Motorsports with Kevin Callahan and I am really pumped about having a teammate in 2010.”
Todd Bammer: Rounding out the top 10 in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series championship was Pleasanton’s Todd Bammer.
“We brought on Marc Lungren as crew chief and that was a real boost for our team last year.” Bammer stated. “We built new cars this off-season, so we are gearing up for what I hope is a great year for us.”
The 2010 SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series season begins Saturday, March 27th with the “Mo’sGold 125 presented by AmeriPride” at Roseville’s All-American Speedway.