Decker captures second Maselli Classic in a row
By Harlan OsbornePetaluma Speedway
PETALUMA, Calif. (Sept. 12) — Jeff Decker of Morgan Hill, Calif., led every lap at Petaluma Speedway to become the fifth driver to win M. Maselli & Sons Classic back-to-back. The Pennsylvania native earned $3,000 in the 30th running of one of California's longest-running and richest Dirt Late Model events. | Slideshow
“This win is much more fun than the first one,” Decker said amid congratulatory handshakes and backslaps. “Just seeing my name on the list of great drivers who’ve won this race, and to think I’ve won it twice makes this one very special.”
Decker outdueled fellow front-row starter and four-time Petaluma champion Rod Arnold in a close race to the finish of the 35-lapper. Arnold, a 32-year racing veteran and winningest Late Model driver at Petaluma, was the sentimental favorite to win his first Maselli after capturing his heat and earning the pole with his trophy dash triumph.
Arnold persistently pursued the speedy Decker the entire race, searching for room to pass, and waiting for a mistake that never came, before chasing the winner across the finish line by less than one second.
A six-car stack-up and an eight-car melee on laps 16 and 17, dropped several top competitors from contention, including third- and fourth-running Kellen Chadwick and Shawn DeForest, along with Southern California visitors Ron and Nick Bartels.
The incidents lifted 12th-starting Ryan Shafer and 16th-starting Paul Guglielmoni up several spots with Shafer eventually finishing third, Guglielmoni fourth and 11th-row starter Chevy McGinnis in fifth.
Notes: Decker is sponsored by The Pink Poodle, Joe Wadell Backhoe Service, S&S Automotive and E3 Designs. ... Decker has 10 victories overall in 2009 and he's undefeated in Ocean Speedway's Crate Late Model division. ... Only eight drivers have won more than one Maselli Classic. ... The ageless Larry Damitz is the last to win back-to-back events in 1999-2000. ... Decker has been no worse than third in his visits to Petaluma in 2009. ... Petaluma's track champion John Silva finished sixth in the feature.
M. Maselli & Sons Classic: (1) Jeff Decker, (2) Rod Arnold, (3) Ryan Shafer, (4) Paul Guglielmoni, (5) Chevy McGinnis, (6) John Silva, (7) Rob Sanders, (8) Mark Abouzeid, (9) Nick Perivolaris, (10) Dino Napier, (11) Joel Hannagan, (12) Richard Papenhausen, (13) Anthony Restad, (14) David Lindt Jr., (15) Tommy Malcolm, (16) Kellen Chadwick, (17) Shawn DeForest, (18) Nick Bartels, (19) Ron Bartels, (20) Ken Michelli, (21) Chris Shannon, (22) Matt Michelli. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Shannon, 14.964 seconds. Heat race winners: Chadwick, Arnold, DeForest, Decker. Dash winner: Arnold. Consolation winner: Sanders.