Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Random Thoughts

Okay, I'm going to try and limit my rambling here, because I know I can get going very easily on different subjects. At the top of the list, should the Spec Sprints have been booked for a special at Antioch, are open shows effecting the regular point season at tracks, what is next for Chowchilla and other stuff if I don't ramble too long.

Ten Dirt Modifieds showed for $1,000 to win at Antioch last week. I understand Tulare ran a big show that night, though that doesn't account for all of the absences. I'm not blaming the local racers. It was a long season, cars were wrecked and people needed a break. The fact is it's also open season and some drivers want to race at places they don't get to run now that point season is over. I hope for the best at Antioch, but I'm not expecting car count to hit the 20's in this class. It may not even get that close.

Fact is, this division was given two very big paying races at Antioch this season, and they produced strong car counts both times. Up until that fateful night in July, this class has been clutch, even on regular point nights. I understand John booking them now, but I believe the Spec Sprints would probably have produced at least into the high 20's or low 30's if booked right. Look at what Petaluma just did. This wasn't in Antioch's plans and that's fine, but I can't help thinking they missed an opportunity.

All things considered, I don't think John isn't too unhappy with the stretch run he just had at the track, and that's the main thing. For him to be running two tracks and basically getting Merced Speedway up again on such short notice is a good thing. As long as the tracks are running, things have a chance to get bigger and better at both places.

I do wonder if the open show is killing or at least hurting the point show at some of these tracks, particularly with Dirt Modifieds. More promoters are booking money races during the season, and there are some good racers who used to chase points who now chase the money. It makes it hard to have a show on a point night that even gets near a B Main car count at some places. IMCA has had some moments.

Which leads me to Chowchilla. I don't know what Hanford will be doing, but Tulare has went to an IMCA sanction for its Modifieds in 2010. Having read some of the things that have gone down at that track in recent years, I bet this is a proud moment for Paul and IMCA. However, this puts a damper on the cooperation Hanford, Tulare and Chowchilla had with the Modifieds that allowed each track to have shows not booked on top of the other ones.

As I see it, Kenny has some choices to make going forward at Chowchilla if he wants to run a regular season. UMP is one option. He can jump on the bandwagon with John and link up with Antioch and Merced. I know Antioch and Chowchilla are Saturday tracks, but Antioch does not run Modifieds every week. This would;d be doable with a minimum of double booking. That's one option, and it definitely solidifies UMP's presence in California. If, and I say IF, they do this, I'd love to see Hobbys and Super Stocks added to the sanctioning as UMP keeps Regional and National points there too.

I still have my doubts about UMP, but I want to be fair here since I have my doubts about the crazy thing I'm about to type next. Some "old schoolers" may love it though.

Kenny could bring NASCAR to Chowchilla. The money may not be there for such a move, but it's a thought. I don't even know what NASCAR offers the short track anymore, other than a state point race. This is a longshot, and the only reason I bring this up is Kenny's history racing with NASCAR. Plus, as I said, he needs to make a move.

The Valley's resident IMCA booster, Johnnie Baptista, has proposed IMCA sanctioning for Modifieds, Sport Mods and Four Bangers. Yeah, I know, stop the presses, Johnnie is talking IMCA again, but this may not be so crazy. First of all, this track has worked well with Watsonville in the past, and Watsonville has IMCA Modifieds. Suddenly, California is back at the table competing for IMCA Regional honors.

Chowchilla has a growing Sport Mod class. Ten cars this year, and eight last week. Kenny is even considering a big race for them at the end of October in hopes of enticing cars from Victorville. This class is slowly growing, and double digit counts in 2011 seems doable. It should be pointed out, in fairness, that the track has gotten to this point without sanctioning, but they definitely need to realize that they may have something here.

Four Bangers are coming either way, but sanctioning wouldn't hurt. What if Watsonville sanctioned their class too? I don't see that happening, but what if?

Here's the kicker. Merced was a big base for many years for IMCA Modifieds, and Chuck's Four Banger class at that time carried IMCA sanctioning as well. The question is, how many drivers in the area are looking for the IMCA option in Modifieds? Would it hurt for Chowchilla to hold a meeting for driver input? You can certainly make a case that IMCA saved the Modifieds at Merced and allowed the class to grow to the point of B Mains being needed.

Its an interesting thought. At this point, it seems to me Chowchilla needs to make some changes going forward. Things may be bleak there, but it's salvageable. What Kenny does next will be important, but may be that some driver input can help things along.

I think I will end this here. I was going to comment on Orland Speedway, but if you've been reading, you know my thoughts. Orland is doing good to open the gates these past two years and do some racing, but they do need to step things up in year three. I hope for the best.

For those wondering, I'm not planning to close this blog. It may not be a place that covers things weekly. I may not cover the 50th Anniversary Season at Antioch Speedway (1961-2011), but the blog will be here and posts will be made.

Damitz Collects Fourth Win of 2010 Season, Machado Champion

Wasn't planning to do a story, but since JonKPest had his videos up and I said I would cover the point season, I did one. I do hope the track makes a better effort to get the word out next year, but we shall see. Congratulations to all of the drivers who helped give this track it's 50th consecutive point season. Technically, next year is the 50th Anniversary of the track, so we'll see how that's handled too. Anyway, results are unofficial and if I misspelled a name, I'm sorry. There were some new cars this week.

Four divisions competed Saturday night as Antioch Speedway wrapped up it's 50th consecutive season of point racing. Ageless veteran Larry Damitz did all that he could do in scoring his fourth Super Stock feature win of the season, but Mitch Machado used his top five finish to grab a well earned championship. Having been disqualified from a win earlier in the season, Jim Freethy finally earned his first Hobby Stock feature win of the season in the Team #99 car that he has shared with Jack Jonker this season. Meanwhile, Brad Myers used his top three finish to give the Team #33 car he shares with Melissa Hansen the division championship. With no points, but $1,000 on the line, Mike Salazar dominated in winning the Dirt Modified Main Event. With their race being run in reverse, Justin Silveira continued his strong late season effort with his second Four Banger feature win, while Patty Ryland won her second straight division title.

With 12 cars on hand, the Super Stocks ran two heat races. Damitz got his night started off right with a heat win ahead of Mikey Slaney. Lori Brown held off Machado to win her heat race, but Machado came back to win the Trophy Dash ahead of Damitz.

While Machado started deep in the pack, Damitz had a front row start for the feature and raced into the lead at the drop of the green flag ahead of Slaney and Brown. Fred Ryland and Machado were battling for fifth when they tangled in Turn 2 for a yellow flag. Damitz chose the outside for the restart and continued to lead as Mike Gustafson rode the high side around Slaney for second. Eric Berendsen had his hands full with Machado battling him for fifth as Brown was fourth. On lap 18, Berendsen, Daniel Mendes and Ryland crashed in Turn 4 for a caution flag. Damitz didn't let that stop him as he led the restart and cruised to victory ahead of Gustafson, Slaney, Brown, Machado, Jon Haney, the #8 car (Alan Beasy?), Berendsen, Mendes and Ryland.

There were 11 Hobby Stocks, and Wes Bentley won the first heat race ahead of Phillip Gibber. Myers won the second heat race ahead of previous feature winner Dave Lincoln. The division also got a Trophy Dash with Gibber collecting the win ahead of Lincoln. Randy Mentzler scratched after the heat races.

The top point earning driver in the Hobby Stocks this season, Chris Sorensen shared the front row of the Main Event with Freethy, but it was Freethy charging into the lead at the start ahead of Megan Ponciano and Myers. An outside move on the back stretch gained Lincoln third on lap two. A yellow flag flew on lap six when Gibber's strong night came to an abrupt end. Freethy remained in the lead on the restart, but a yellow flag flew a lap later as Bentley and Lincoln crashed in Turn 2. Bentley and Lincoln retired, and Freethy led Ponciano and Myers on the restart. With Sorensen running fourth, the lead four cars ran closely the rest of the way, and Freethy collected a well earned victory ahead of Ponciano, Myers, Sorensen, Chuck Templeman, Pat Gooding, Aaron Biels, Lincoln, Bentley and Gibber.

With Tulare also running a money race for Dirt Modifieds, ten cars showed for the $1,000 to win at Antioch. Petaluma champ Michael Paul Jr. won the first heat ahead of Chester Kniss. After Dan Gonderman and Troy Foulger crashed running 1-2, Salazar won the second heat with Foulger bouncing back for second.

Salazar had a front row start for the Dirt Modified feature and was not to be denied as he charged into the lead at the green flag ahead of Paul and Foulger. By lap five, Salazar was a straightaway in front and lapping slower cars. Foulger slowed in Turn 4 for a lap eight caution flag. Salazar maintained the lead on the restart as Derek Colvin slipped past Paul for second. Colvin was doing a great job of holding down second, but problems in traffic on lap 16 dropped him out of the top three as Paul and Gonderman raced past. Salazar had a huge lead at that point and cruised to a popular victory ahead of Paul, Gonderman, Colvin and Gene Haney.

Eight cars competed in the Four Banger division, and Ryland's point lead was not insurmountable until she won the heat race by a straightaway ahead of Dayna Andreesen. Track officials elected to run the Main Event in reverse to shake things up a bit, and newcomer Humberto Orezzo set the early pace ahead of Silveira and Ken Radabaugh. A back stretch pass on lap four gained Silveira the lead. Radabaugh was second by lap ten, but Silveira was not to be denied the victory as possibly the hottest driver in this division in the last four or five races. Radabaugh settled for second and will be the runnerup in points for the second straight season. Orezzo held off Ryland to finish third. Lynn Wilkerson was fifth as Andreesen, Mike Felt and Laura Crabtree completed the finishing order.

With point racing done, the season closes at Antioch Speedway with an open show for Dirt Modifieds, Super Stocks and Hobby Stocks this Saturday night.