Sunday, March 8, 2015

Garner, Lee, McCarthy And Myers Score Antioch Speedway Victories

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I'm sure the official staff over at the Oval Motorsports Website will have a nice story up about the race at Antioch Speedway, but I thought I'd throw something together.  This is a first for me. I am reporting on a race in which I was at the fairgrounds all night, but I didn't actually see the races.  I had a nice view of the cars all night.  Still, I'm offering my support for the current show one more time.  This may be the last time.  Also, there is a new audio show linked below.


Since I have more details on the Limited Late Model feature, I have added a more detailed review for that race.  If I get more details, other  additions to this post are possible.

Garner Impressive In Victory At Antioch Speedway

After a duel with Mike Hynes late in the race, Mark Garner went on to score the victory in the Northern All Stars Limited Late Model Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway.  The win for Garner served notice to the competition that he intends to make a run at the track championship this season.  Defending champion Larry Damitz also moved past Hynes, but he could only follow Garner to the checkered flag for his second place finish.

The first Limited Late Model heat race was restarted twice with Garner being put to the second row.  Hynes would lead from the third restart to the checkered flag as Damitz took second from Mike Gustafson. Despite pressure from Damitz down the stretch, Hynes won the race.  Lori Brown scratched from the second heat race with mechanical woes, and John Keith went flag to flag for an impressive victory ahead of Ryan Cherezian.

Peggy Sue Jarred and Gustafson brought the Main Event to the green flag, and the two time division champion Gustafson raced into the lead ahead of Hynes. Sixth starter Garner settled into third by the end of the first lap.  As Garner ran all alone in third, the lead duo caught traffic, helping Hynes take the lead from Gustafson on lap six.  Garner caught Gustafson by lap nine and was applying plenty of pressure on the division's all time win leader.  However, Garner bobbled just a bit in Turn 4 of the 10th lap to lose some ground to Gustafson.  By then, Hynes had a half straightaway lead.  The only yellow flag flew for a stalled Lori Brown in Turn 2.  Hynes put Gustafson on the inside on the restart and momentarily lost the lead, only to gain it back on the back stretch.  Garner made an inside pass in Turns 3-4 to take second.  Damitz used an inside move in Turn 1 to take third on lap 12.  Garner immediately went to work on Hynes and made a low move in Turn 2 of the 16th lap to take over first.  Garner caught heavy traffic, including the smoking mount of Gene Haney, on lap 18, as Damitz and Hynes were side by side in the battle for second right behind him.  Garner kept his cool in traffic as Damitz nosed ahead of Haney for second at the white flag.  Garner brought it home to a popular victory ahead of Damitz, Hynes, Jim Freethy and Mike Gustafson.

Original Story...

Garner, Lee, McCarthy And Myers Score Antioch Speedway Victories

The season already opened at Antioch Speedway on January 1st as part of the Oval Motorsports promoted four day racing extravaganza known as the West Coast Nationals.  After two months of waiting, racing resumed at the track with a four division show.  When the checkered flag flew, it was Mark Garner winning the Northern All Stars Limited Late Model Main Event, Jeff Lee scoring the victory in the Econo Sprint feature, Art McCarthy capturing the checkered flag in the Winged 360 Sprint Car headliner and two time champion Melissa Myers driving to a popular victory in the Hobby Stock feature.

The night time brought a cooler temperature to Antioch, but the Limited Late Models were there to heat things up on John Soares Jr's 1/3 mike clay oval.  John "The Bear" Keith, who has competed off and on at the track since 1985, started his night off right with a heat win over the truck of Ryan Cherezian.  Cherezian's night went down hill from there with a DNF ahead of last place finisher Lori Brown in the main.  Brown is still working the bugs out of her #65 car.  Title hopeful Mike Hynes claimed the honors in the second heat race ahead of the man he finished second to in points last season, defending champion Larry Damitz.

The 86 year old Damitz probably figured he could find his way to the front of the Main Event from tenth starting.  Though he did, Mark Garner was waiting there for him.  The Garner family has been racing at the track since the 1960's, and Mark learned his craft from his father, Jerry "The Maverick" Garner.  Mark started in the third row, but he managed to work his way past two time division champion Mike Gustafson and Hynes to grab the top spot. Once in front, Garner held off the determined three time division champion Damitz to score the impressive victory and serve notice to the competition that he is out to win this championship.  Hynes grabbed the final podium position in third as 2013 champion Jim Freethy and Gustafson rounded out the top five.

There had been some concern over what the Wingless Econo Sprint class would look like as rule changes were announced six weeks before the season.  Track management felt the cost was getting out of hand and wanted to bring it back under control.  Car count didn't drop at all for this event.  Relative division newcomer James East held off last year's point runner up Kyle Bakkie for his heat race win, and Alan Miranda held off veteran Rick Panfili to gab the other heat.

For Panfili, it was one of his best nights ever.  The third place driver for the 2014 season, Panfili also ran a steady race to finish third in the Main Event.  However, it was Jeff Lee's night to shine.  Lee has been a competitor in the wingless class for the past several seasons, and he managed to hold off Bakkie to score a well earned feature victory.  Miranda and East wrapped up a solid night in fourth and fifth, respectively.

One of the factors in the track's decision to scale back the rules in Econo Sprints was to keep a good feeder class into the Winged 360 Sprint Car division. Already, several drivers have moved from Spec Sprints into the faster 360 Sprint class, and they want that trend to continue as they build the Northern All Star brand of Winged Warriors.

The defending Antioch Winged 360 Sprint champion and a past Wingless Spec Sprint champion at Marysville, Chris Magoon captured the first heat race ahead of Anthony Espinoza.  Petaluma Spec Sprint graduate Zack Lynsky impressively held off a past 360 Sprint Car champion, Art McCarthy, to win the other heat race.

For the Main Event, McCarthy didn't waste too much time in charging into the lead and taking it home to victory.  Magoon wrapped up a sold night with a second place finish, but the story of the night was third generation racer Shawn Arriaga.  Arriaga had some motor problems in his heat and didn't finish.  Come Main Event time, he gridded in the last position, but he charged up to a third place finish ahead of Espinoza and Brandon Powell.

Not to be forgotten in the mix is the Hobby Stock division, which proved very popular with the fans, judging from the roar of the crowd.  A pair of two time champions were the stars of the night.  Two time defending champion Kimo Oreta won the first heat race ahead of Michael Cooper, while Nick Baldwin, who hopes to bump it up a notch from his 2014 runner up season, claimed the second heat race ahead of two time division champ Melissa Hansen-Myers. 

Come Main Event time, ""Mighty Mouse" took advantage of her pole position start.  Myers  out dueled Oreta to score the popular victory.  Baldwin wrapped up a sold night in third.  Michael Cooper settled for a fourth place finish ahead of Russell Shearer and Four Banger graduate Jordan Swank.

Shawn DeForest gave the fans a preview of what's to come next week as he hot lapped his DIRTcar Late Model.  Joining the Late Models next Saturday at Antioch Speedway will be the IMCA Modifieds, Wingless Econo Sprints, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars.  It's sure to be a crowd pleaser.  For all of the official information, visit the Oval Motorsports Website.

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