Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hayfork Speedway To Crown A Champion, Late Models At Antioch

I was thinking about letting my Spec Sprint article stay on top for a week or so, but enough happened during the week that I decided to put something up.  Honestly, I'd like to cover a few other tracks more too.  I just don't want to put the time in this that I did three years ago.  I enjoy writing, but I'll start spending hours on it for no pay.

Orland Speedbowl has always been an interesting track to me.  Its a tight one-fifth mile dirt oval that first came to my attention in 1989 when the NCMA booked dates there.  When I met the Turners at Reno in 1999 and talked Spec Sprint with them, I became interested again.  I loved that they would run the class there.  I knew it would work for them, and it did.

Times have been tough for Spec Sprints this year.  I believe there are those who would love to be rid of this class, and that disappoints me.  Put a wing on it?  Just get a 360, and let a Spec Sprint be a Spec Sprint.  So, car count has struggled at Chico, Watsonville and Orland, but Orland had nine cars for the latest race, won by Ray Benkowski.  Past champion Josh Jacobo won the dash.

Antioch fans may remember Ray from Pure Stocks about ten years ago.  He's since been racing very competitively at Marysville in Street Stocks and now Spec Sprints.  Car count hasn't been great at Marysville this year either, but when you take points away for a season, things like that will happen.  People get out of the habit of racing.  I give track management credit for trying though.  They've had success with this class through the years.

Point totals show Benkowski now leading last year's champion Felisha Jacobo and past champion Tony Richards in a close Spec Sprint race at Orland.  Also of note is is a close battle between Dan Webster, Jim Davis and Ross Vige in Mini Trucks.  Davis won the recent Main Event.  Garrett Agnew leads Rick Shires in Hobby Stocks as Jeremy Hammons was the recent winner.

While promoter Mike McCann continues to rebuild the program at Orland, there was a Hardtop sighting at Orland last week.  Cars driven by Pure Stock and Spec Sprint veteran Pat Bisio and Dan Whitney competed last week.  So, basically, McCann is hoping to build this class from scratch.  As People see these cars on the track, more will be built.  This is how it has worked for the Northern California Hardtops.

Speaking of which, the man on the scene, Warren Estlin, reported ten cars were in action at Petaluma.  Tommy Thomson and John Philbert were the heat winners.  Looking at who was in Philbert's heat race, I have to wonder if the "Encouragement Heat" idea was used.  Whatever the case, it's nice to see different names getting wins.

Fresh off his win at Stockton, "Quick" Nick DeCarlo jumped into George Conner's #70 car and gave his father Terry DeCarlo a driving lesson in leading a DeCarlo 1-2 finish.  It has to be a thrill for both of them to race together when they can as Nick is usually running competitively in Dirt Modifieds.  Dan Williams completed the podium finish, which Carmen Cavallero subbed for his brother Conrad and finished fourth ahead of Aaron Easley, Kendra McKee, John Fuller, Mike McClure, Philbert and Thomson.

At Hayfork Speedway, it's been confirmed that there will be a 2013 Hobby Stock champion for this seven race season.  I love it.  Way to promote guys!  Between this and cutting the smaller track in the infield to get the kids involved, they are making some great moves there already.

In three races, there have been three different Hobby Stock winners.  The latest is current point leader Bill Kasper, who held off Kevin Kasper for the victory.  I'm not sure if this is a brother or father-son team, but this was definitely a nice family moment for the Kasper's.  Burl Richardson had his best finish in third ahead of Mark Jones and Danny Layne in the nine car field.  With Main Event points the only thing being counted, B. Kasper leads previous winner Josh Smith by 34 points as Smith finished last in the latest race.  K. Kasper, Jones and Richardson make up the top five in points at the moment.

Hobby Stocks return to action at Hayfork Speedway at July 13th.  Coming off of back to back nine car fields, will this be the first race of the season they break into double digits?

I want to be brief is I can in talking about Antioch Speedway.  A thought occurred to me back when I was at the track still, so at least ten years ago.  Now it seems more relevant.  Track management could start a campaign to locate cars in their divisions, especially the ones low on cars.  This could mean calling up racers who have been missing for a while and seeing if they can get them back.

That driver may have sold their car.  Perhaps they can't afford to race, but hope to eventually.  Maybe something can be worked out to get them back.  Maybe, if hey want to sell the car, something can be arranged to get the car displayed and sold to somebody who wants to race.  Alternatively, the track could post a bulletin board in the pits and grand stands with cars for sale.  I know it's effort, but if it gets more cars to the track for just a little effort, isn't it worth it?  I always thought it would be cool to have a little display board on the side of the grand stand near the main concession stand with old pictures and listings of the past champions like Santa Maria used to have, but that's another subject.

Antioch ran Late Models last week, but so did Bakersfield once again.  It would be nice to not double book like that, even though I know the tracks are far enough that maybe only one or two drivers would go either way.  You want to see more than 13-14 cars at these races, but it's so much better than nothing.  The upside is it helps establish a base car count in these areas that can keep this division alive.  I know many people are thrilled about that.

Late Models are an amazing show to behold at Bakeersfied, which anybody who has seen them there can attest.  With 14 cars in action last week, Clay Daly grabbed the victory ahead of Larry Childress and Brad Pounds.  By the way, racing at Bakersfield Speedway is pretty exciting to watch this year as it is one of the best shows on dirt anywhere in California. (consider donating to them if you like those videos) has videos there several times during the season.

In case you were wondering, Luke Dodd beat a big field of Hobby Stocks for the feature win at Bakersfield, while Rich Tillema won the American Stock Main Event.  The track also has two classes of Mini Dwarfs to train some of the future stars, which run on the infield track.  Anthony Balcazar won the Sr. Mini Dwarf feature, while Kyliegh Forster was the Jr. Mini Dwarf winner.

Back at Antioch, a name not unfamiliar with Late Model fans, Richard Papenhausen, collected the victory in the 13 car Late Model feature ahead of Dirt Modified point leader Troy Foulger and Jason Englund.  Scheduling cooperation between Petaluma and Antioch is helping make this happen, though car count at Petaluma has dropped this year as the track deemphasized this division to the chagrin of the racers. 

Papenhausen nearly matched Jeff Decker's double win night the last time Late Models were in town, but it was past Dirt Modified champion Kellen Chadwick claiming the IMCA Modified feature win ahead of Papenhausen and four time champion Scott Busby.  It looks like Troy Foulger had a DNF in 11th, but it probably hasn't effected his strong bid for a fourth straight championship very much.

Defending IMCA Sport Mod champion Phil Indihar bested an eight car field for the feature win, while Nick Viscusi won the 15 car Hobby Stock Main Event.  Ken Radabaugh won the 11 car Four Banger feature, while Ryan DeForest was the winner in the four Mini Truck feature.  Mini Trucks were scheduled to run with Four Bangers due to low turn out.

Sport Mods and Spec Sprints headline Merced Speedway Saturday night.  They held a race during the fair on Wednesday with Cody Burke besting the 15 car IMCA Modified feature ahead of Austin Burke and Rodney Freitas.  Meanwhile, Michael Shearer was the winner of the 17 car Hobby Stock Main Event ahead of Shane Hausmann and Jim Freethy.  Interesting to note Hobbys aren't booked at Merced this week, though I think this would have been a good time to have them with IMCA Modifieds off that night.

IMCA Modifieds are definitely on at Antioch Saturday night as John Soares Jr. is again promoting a big Late Model and Dirt Modified show during the big NASCAR weekend at Sears Point.  These shows tend to be huge and very entertaining, so if you are a fan who only wants to go to big money events, Antioch Speedway should be the place to be Saturday night.