The newly crowned SRL Southwest Tour Champion Jonathon Gomez of Twin Falls, Idaho will be doing double duty this weekend in the inaugural CANIDAE California Classic presented by MasterCraft Safety at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.
Gomez will drive his championship-winning car, the No. 22 Century Boatland Chevrolet, in the 110-lap Spear SRL Southwest tour race, along with competing in the 50-lap Auto Club Late Model race.
The SRL tour will be making its third and final stop at the progressively banked half-mile speedway, with Gomez having scored his second of two victories in the series here at the track back on July 17.
Gomez, who began Friday night’s practice session in his late model, brought it back to the pits early in the session after noticing the rpm's were running high.
After exiting the car, Gomez said, “We had the wrong gear in it, so we didn’t get any practice in tonight.”
Gomez added, "The Heritage Cattle Company hasn’t run for over a year, but it’s always a good-running car.” When the evening’s practice began for the SRL tour, Gomez climbed into his Chevrolet only to have misfortune strike twice in one night.
A valve spring broke on the left side of the engine, which ended Gomez’s practice session earlier than expected.
The crew quickly went to work on both cars and, before the evening ended, had both cars ready to repair once the parts arrived.
A rear end for the late model, along with a valve retainer for the SRL car, was to arrive Saturday morning in time for the crew to make the necessary repairs.
Crew member Derek Copeland said, “Luckily, when the valve spring broke, he pulled off before the valve dropped.”
The team was in really good spirits, along with his father, Jon, even though the night didn’t go as planned, as most of it was spent diagnosing the repairs needed to get both cars ready for Saturday night's main events.
Gomez himself was optimistic that both his cars would be ready for Saturday's practice, but even more so for the upcoming evening race.
“We are here to have fun since we are not points racing, and I have no clue what to expect. We have never run the car at Irwindale, so there will be a lot of new people I have never raced against,” said Gomez, who will be making his first start in a late model at the track.
Gomez added, “We are getting all the kinks worked out so we can come out tomorrow and do some racing and hopefully win the guitar and surfboard."
The winner of the 110-lap SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series race at the CANIDAE California Classic will take home a one-of-a-kind Troy Lee Designs surfboard and guitar, along with $5,000, the second-largest winner’s payout in series history.
When talking about his championship season, Gomez added, “It’s a good feeling to know that all the hard work the team and I put in all year paid off. We start the year off working towards the championship and to finish with the championship.”
Gomez also took time to thank his sponsors, Heritage Cattle Company, Century Boatland, J&C Custom Harvesting, United Oil, Modern Machinery, DJ Safety and Gomez Farms.
VERSUS Network will broadcast the CANIDAE California Classic and will televise the special event on December 26 at 4:00pm EST and December 30 at 6pm EST.