Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sprint Cars, Late Models At Antioch, IMCA Modifieds At Merced

First of all...

Don's California Racing Recollections:  Best Of The Blog And Beyond

Available via print on demand at Lulu in Hard Cover or Paperback

Just A Kid From The Grandstands:  My Time In Auto Racing

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

Also, what could be a series of informative books...

Short Track History Project at Gofundme

Additional info on the Short Track History Project  HERE

 The Weekend Preview Edition Of The DCRR Racing Radio Show 

The Bakersfield Speedway portion of the Bako Motorsports Power Hour is up and can be seen HERE.

Tony Karis filed a report for Ocean Speedway's races last week that can be found HERE.

Sharon Martin filed a report for last week's races at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway that can be found HERE. 

Special Event In Antioch:  Natalie Perry was putting fliers up in the pits to let people know about the Relay For Life of Antioch Celebration.  The event will take place in the Deer Valley High School front parking lot on Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM.  It is a celebration of Cancer survivors.  She was hoping to get some of the racers to bring their cars for the Day In The Park.  More information can be found at

Sprint Cars, Late Models Headline Five Division Show At Antioch

When the schedule was booked for Antioch Speedway this Saturday night, Oval Motorsports had big things in mind.  It may be a bit of a test.  You may not think twice when you see IMCA Sport Mods and Northern All Stars Dwarf Cars and Wingless Spec Sprints on the schedule, but then you see the headliners.  Not one but two "high end" divisions are part of the program as Northern All Stars Winged 360 Sprints and DIRTcar Late Models are headlining this show.

Both of these divisions are very much a part of what John Soares Jr. wants to feature at the track.  He's been trying to find a way to make it happen since taking over the track, but the timing hasn't been right.  After the track expansion of 2009, the plans were set in motion.  The Winged Sprints have run 15 races since then, and this year is the most ambitious schedule yet at eight races.  If all goes well, it could be an even bigger season for the class in 2015.

Note: A Race Preview Article For The Winged 360 Sprints can be found HERE

Driver support will dictate where it goes.  A little over half of the races were booked on off nights for the closest track, Petaluma Speedway.  This week is one of those weeks, so there are hopes of at least some visitors growing the field.  However, there's also a belief that the roster of drivers in the area is at least in the teens, boosted by the drivers who in recent years have moved up from Spec Sprints.

Antioch Speedway is trying to establish it's own car base and it's own identity for the Winged 360 Sprints.  Prior to 2009, races were generally shared between Petaluma and Antioch.  When John Soares Sr. promoted Petaluma, he would send the drivers to Antioch, while Antioch shared the Spec Sprints with Petaluma.  After John Sr., it gets a little more complicated.  Eventually, Petaluma started a Spec Sprint class, and Antioch has tried to establish a Winged 360 Sprint division of their own.

The man who seems to have been with Soares Jr. through all of this is Art McCarthy.  Art won the 2007 Antioch title and is a two time Petaluma champion.  The Arriaga family has supported Antioch when they could, going back to the 1990's.  Shawn Arriaga is another Petaluma champion, and he is anticipated for the field.  The Spec Sprint connection comes from the likes of past division champions Dan Gonderman and Chris Magoon, who is the defending 360 Sprint Car champion at Antioch.  Rick and Ricky Brophy, Zack Lynsky and Roy Fisher also have Spec Sprint backgrounds.

The criticism of hard core Sprint Car fans is that you don't have "name" drives in the field, but this group will make names for themselves given the opportunity.  Certainly, when you consider the backgrounds of racers like McCarthy, Arriaga, Gonderman and Magoon, they are not chumps.  Add in other names from the season opener (won by McCarthy), such as Anthony Espinoza, Brandon Powell and Darrell Taylor, and you have the building blocks for the foundation of a new class at Antioch.  If they come, Soares will definitely do good things with this class.

Just who is showing up this week is still a guessing game.  It's anticipated that most of the nine competitors at the season opener will be there, and it's rumored that a few new cars may be ready.  Anywhere from 8-12 cars could be a safe bet, and that could be better depending on who comes from Petaluma.  This could be considered a test to see where this division is at now.  Given the fact that the other high end purse division (Late Models) is on the card, it's also a bit of a risk doing both at once.  However, Soares has taken other risks in his time as promoter that have paid off.  This could be another winner.

DIRTcar Late Models have delivered no less than ten cars at any of their previous four races this year.  As we've reported already, Soares swooped in and grabbed this class with a phone call to promoter Rick Faeth after Petaluma dropped them in in 2013.  For many years, John's dad fought keep this class at Petaluma while other tracks had dropped it.

John Jr. himself ran Late Models at Petaluma and is a past champion.  So, to say that he has a love for Late Models is an understatement.  John also has a house car that Bobby Hogge IV won two Main Events with at Antioch last year.  Believe it or not, John has been tempted to get behind the wheel of that car himself.  Word is that during Antioch's holiday down time, he'll be heading out of state with a couple other racers to compete somewhere else.

In the meantime, Richard Papenhausen, Jeff Decker and Paul Guglielmoni have committed to Antioch Late Models.  All three have won track championships in their career.  Papenhausen is the defending champion, and point leader Decker won a championship at Antioch not too many years ago.  These three definitely want to see this class thrive and begin to attract other drivers into the fold.  There's indication that this is starting to happen, but a few drivers are still driving past Antioch to go south.

One driver leading the local charge is four time Dirt Modified champion Troy Foulger, who is already a force in the division.  Troy finished third last time out and is now just 17 points behind third ranked David Newquist.  Newquist is currently second at Chico and has been fielding two cars to Antioch, the second of which has been driven by Limited Late Model racer Mike Hynes.  Two other locals following Foulger's lead are past Dirt Modified champion Rob Norris and Chester Kniss.  Kniss looked good in the Top 5 last time out until mechanical problems sidelined him.

Guglielmoni indicated last time that Randy Shafer may be back with his car this week.  Shafer had to work last time and was unable to make it.  No word on whether sixth ranked Dennis Souza will be back after his rollover last time, but the damage didn't look as bad as it could have been.  There is probably a roster of available cars that goes into the 20's, but we'll keep projections in the 8-12 car range for this race.  The Decker-Papenhausen point battle continues as Decker leads by just two points.

IMCA Sport Mods have been noteworthy this year for all the racing being done by Fred Ryland and Keith Brown Jr.  Ryland has set his sights on National Championship honors and is running every race he can.  Brown hasn't missed many races himself and trails Ryland in the State point race.  Brown certainly helped his cause at Chowchilla last Sunday as he won the Main Event, which was his first of the season.  Ryland's Watsonville win on Friday makes ten for the season as he leads Watsonville, Antioch, Chowchilla, State and National points.  At Antioch, Brown trails Ryland by 15 points.

Sport Mods have generally been good for 10-12 cars this year, which is probably where they will be on Saturday, and Marysville and Merced also have races.  Al Johnson is still in the title hunt, just 20 points out of the lead, but everybody else missed the January shows to pretty much end any title hopes they may have had.  Only 13 points separate the next five point runners of Al Sotomayor, Paul Mulder, Patti Ryland, K.C. Keller and Chuck Golden, and all of these competitors are anticipated this week.

Of course, P. Ryland is coming off of a win the last time out after earlier winning her heat race.  The two time Four Banger champion and past Hobby Stock point runner up has set her sights on "Rookie Of The Year" honors, and it appears as if her main competitor in that battle will be K.C. Keller.  As far as her challenger in the previous feature, that would be veteran Ron Brown.  The two time Limited Late Model champion ran a close second to Ryland and seemed at times like he might be able to pull off the pass.  The fact that Ron seems comfortable in his beautiful yellow #3 car is bad news for the competition.

Rookie Tim Hammett has indicated that he's planning to come back and make some better laps this time around.  His season debut at Antioch was less than stellar, and he's hoping to erase that memory with a better performance this time around.  Megan Ponciano has been off in Oregon, and there's no word if we'll be seeing her #22 car this week.  If she is there, the past Hobby Stock champion will be a force to be reckoned with.  She is a four time feature winner in her Sport Mod career.

Danny Wagner certainly looks unbeatable in Northern All Stars Dwarf Cars, but the season isn't even half over yet.  Anything can happen.  The two time defending division champion has notched three feature wins so far and leads David Teves by 14 points after his latest win last week.  Teves debuted a new car last week, and the third place finish he earned would seem to indicate it is going to be a good car for him.  Just 20 points behind Teves after his second place finish last time out is a Mike Corsaro.

Corsaro has good company behind him in the battle for third.  Young Adam Teves, a feature winner this season, is eight points behind Corsaro, while 2010 champion Jerry Doty is only 12 points behind.  There's simply no room to get comfortable.  In fact, Jack Haverty, Charlie Correia and Kevin Miraglio are all within 22 points of Doty in the battle for fifth.  As competitive as the Dwarf Cars have been so far this year, you know the order will change several times before the season ends.

A good estimation is 12-16 cars for the Dwarf Cars, which have been supplying the biggest car count of any division at most of the races so far this year.  Rapidly improving Miranda Chappa had reason to smile last week after driving her beautiful #81 car to a sixth place feature finish ahead of the third Correia Team car of Randy Jahoda.  Sprint Car veteran Brian Gray was also making good laps in the former Ray Etherton car as he finished eighth last week.

The rule changes made in the Wingless Spec Sprint class as they have taken on the "Econo" rules has greatly effected car count.  To date, 16 cars have competed, though it's a good bet that some of those cars were not completely legal.  In fact, one driver was later disqualified after winning.  This also means that visitation from the other tracks may be light, if at all, and the division is relying on locals to build things back up.

An ugly early race incident two weeks ago sent Alan Miranda flipping and also eliminated James East.  Later, Jimmy Perry III blew a motor while running third.  None of the three were out there last week, and neither was young Chase Wood Jr.  In fact, Roy Fisher decided to take a week off after winning the sometimes ugly feature a week earlier.  This left just five cars for the last race, and Kyle Bakkie served notice to the other two drivers gunning for the championship that he will not be easy to beat.  After his second feature win, Bakkie has a 24 point advantage over Rick Panfili and a 40 point lead over rookie Marcus Smith.

Ryon Siverling is now 14 points behind Fisher and 34 behind third ranked Smith, despite missing the opener.  Former NFL offensive lineman Jeremy Newberry has been a welcome sight at Antioch these past two weeks.  With a fourth and a second in his two starts, along with a heat race win, it could be that Jeremy is in line for a feature win if he's there this week.  The division seems to be reeling at the moment, so projections are for a car count in the 6-10 range.

IMCA Modifieds, Sport Mods Headline Youth Baseball Night At Merced Speedway

Youth Baseball Night At The Races is happening at Merced Speedway.  Any child in uniform, accompanied by one paying adult, will be admitted free.  What they will see is a four division show featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and Northern All Stars Mini Stocks.

Despite any confusion in points, the IMCA Modified leader at Merced Speedway is Alex Wilson.  Wilson was a Top 5 finisher last time out, though the winner was his brother, Kyle Wilson.  Alex has been racing at Watsonville and elsewhere this year and leads the IMCA State point race at the moment.  His lead at Merced is a not too comfortable one point ahead of John MacDougall.  MacDougall got off to such a good start this season that he decided to skip racing at his home track at Antioch to focus on a Merced championship run.  With the second place finish he had last time out, he certainly helped his cause.

Not to be ignored in this battle is the third place driver, 2012 champion Bill Egelston.  Bill is only six points out of the lead.  If these three continue to come back, there's no reason to believe this battle won't continue to be close the rest of the season.  There's no telling who will come out ahead, but it may be the driver who steps up with a win down the stretch.

Bob Williamson knows what it's like to be in a championship race.  He's lost a few, but he's also a two time IMCA Modified champion.  Bob holds a two point lead over three time Merced Street Stock champion, Ricky Thatcher in the battle for fourth.  These five are generally there for most of the races, but the rest of the pack changes from week to week.  Drivers like Tim Porter and Les Friend have shown up and won races as well, and both of them could be there.  Estimations are that there could be anywhere from 8-12 cars on hand for this race.

The big test for Merced could be what effect, if any, Kings Speedway has on the car count.  The Hanford track is running Modifieds and Sport Mods on Friday night.  It's anticipated that the Sport Mods could have 8-12 cars of their own this week, which depends on a few of the hard chargers in the area who have decided not to race for points.  In fact, the championship doesn't seem to be in question, and it's only April.

Rookie Josh Hensley has been making all of the races and now holds a 40 point lead over National point leader Fred Ryland, who's not even expected to be there on Saturday.  Josh is definitely a rookie and has struggled to learn the ropes, but he's out there making his laps each and every week and getting more comfortable.  Dwayne Short is just five points behind Ryland.  Like Hensley, Short is a Hobby Stock graduate, and he is coming off of a lead lap sixth place finish last time out.

Really, the question about points is who wants them at this stage in the game?  With Ryland and Keith Brown Jr. only racing when Antioch is dark to the class, they've still managed to be Top 5 Merced competitors.  That will change the moment one of the locals steps up and claims it.  Right now, Jeremy Hoff is fifth, and he's coming off of a third place finish after leading several laps.  The question is, will Hoff show up at Merced, Antioch or not even race this week?

A few drivers who are likely to be in action this week are D.C. Brown, Gary Tucker and John Gish.  Odgers Racing could be back, but that has not been confirmed.  Work still continues on the Tim Prothro car, and he'll probably be back as soon as he can.  Whoever shows up, the show will go on, and it's sure to be another interesting race at Merced Speedway.

The list of Northern All Stars Hobby Stock winners continues to grow.  Last week, it was Marc Key winning or it may have been point leader Kevin Joaquin winning for the third time.  Joaquin is the only driver to win two main events so far this season, and he also won at Chowchilla last week, where he is also the point leader.  Joaquin's lead over rookie Jennifer Corder at Merced is now 36 after Corder's disappointing outing last week.

George Silva is hoping he'll be winner #8, which coincidentally is the number of his car.  After a good outing last week, George has settled into third in the standings, but it's not a comfortable third.  He is just two points ahead of Dexter Long and four in front of Ty Shelton.  A pair of ladies, and feature winners at that, Kristie Shearer and Shannon Nelson, are both within 16 points of Silva to make it a good battle for third.

Car count is slowly creeping up, and this division is poised to have it's biggest count of the point season.  We'll conservatively say 8-12 cars could be in action.  If recent winners Marc Key and Gary Hildebrand are part of the action, this race could turn out to be the best part of this week's show.  The one thing about Merced Hobby Stocks is that they have been very exciting to watch this season no matter who has been there.

Not to be forgotten are the Mini Stocks.  The Chris Corder-Darren Miguel battle was effected by Miguel's disappointing effort last week, but Miguel is still only 12 points behind the defending champion Corder.  Both drivers have feature wins this season, and they have been the class of the field.  However, it was Robert Alger getting in the middle of the battle with an impressive season debut performance gaining him the victory last week.  Joy Alger is on the outside of the championship battle, but at 44 points behind, she's not out of the hunt just yet.

Kevin Lockerby's hopes ended with a blown clutch last week that forced a Main Event scratch.  Lockerby has been racing at Merced while trying to get things together to race with the Madera Toyota Stars class, but he found himself ranked third until last week.  The steady Dennis Copus moved into a tie with Lockerby for fourth as both trail J. Alger by 36 points.  Alicia Caldwell and Mike Germait both had season debuts in the Top 5.  If they, and others like Steve Johnson and Natalie Waldrop are in the field, there's no reason to expect that the car count won't hit the 8-12 mark.  In fact, it could even be better.

Chowchilla will be back on May 3 with a similar program to this week's Merced show of IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  Antioch's big show consists of DIRTcar Late Models, Northern All Stars Winged 360 Sprints, IMCA Modfieds, Dwarf Cars and Wingless Spec Sprints.  For further information, check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.

And Furthermore...

We were waiting, and waiting for results from Sacramento Valley Speedway in Orland so that we could share them here.  Unfortunately, no such results were available by the time this article was ready to go live.  We did see pictures of five Wingless Sprint Cars, so we know they had some cars.  We'll keep an eye on things and put something here when we are able to.  Micro Sprints, Wingless Sprints and Mini Trucks are the featured divisions there this Saturday night.

If there is a track showing some love for Wingless Spec Sprints this year, it is Petaluma Speedway.  After Klint Simpson's latest win, he shared the podium with the Top 3 drivers in front of the sign for some pictures and was interviewed by promoter Rick Faeth.  This week, the Hunt Series Spec Sprints are the featured class, and winners so far are Joe Stornetta (Chico) and Colton Slack (Calistoga).  Who will it be this time?

Spec Sprints won't be coming alone as the IMCA Modfieds are back.  Defending champion Nick DeCarlo won a spirited duel with six time champion Michael Paul Jr. for the victory last week.  DeCarlo has said that he is going to Fernley, Nevada to race, but racers like past champion Oreste Gonella and Norm Boeck should be there to battle with Paul for the victory.  Defending champion Brent Blackwood leads the Lumberjack Restaurant Super Stocks back for a second 2015 appearance, along with Mini Stocks and 600 Mini Sprints.  Petaluma Speedway has had some great racing so far this season.

They're calling in the POSSE to Placerville Speedway this Saturday night.  That would be the Placerville POSSE.  This is the second of four scheduled extra money races for the 360 Sprint Cars.  They race for $2000 to win, but the extra money isn't just for them.  Limited Late Models race for $750 to win this week, and the Pure Stocks compete for a $500 first prize.  BCRA Midget Lites make this a four division show.  If you are keeping track, Steven Tiner (360 Sprints), Ryan McDaniel (Limited Late Models), Rich Zoller (Pure Stocks) and Shawn Jones  (NorCal Dwarf Cars) won the Main Events there last week.

It's time to "Double Down" at Ocean Speedway.  Point leader and past champion Tommy Tarlton wants some extra money, and he or somebody else can grab the bonus if they win the Ocean Sprint Car feature on Friday night and the Civil War Sprint Car race at Tulare Thunderbowl on Saturday.  The bonus goes to anybody that can score a two win weekend in Sprint Car competition at the two tracks.

Sprint Cars won't come alone.  The exciting American Stocks, IMCA Modifieds and Police In Pursuit cars are also a part of Friday night's program.  Last week, Bobby Hogge IV (IMCA Modifieds), Fred Ryland (Sport Mods), Robert Gallaher (American Stocks), Eric Weisler (South Bay Dwarf Cars) and Luke Babcock (Mini Stocks) were feature winners.

410 Sprint Cars have a busy weekend up north, as do the Winged Economy Sprint Cars.  The two divisions will be featured Friday night at Chico Speedway and Saturday night at Marysville Raceway.  Also getting in on the act will be the NorCal Dwarf Cars, who get to run both tracks as well.  Friday's Chico event is billed as The Bill Brownell Memorial Race, and local legend Shane Scott has helped put that race together,  Chico will also have Hobby Stocks, while Marysville will see the second appearance of IMCA Sport Mods and the Hobby Stocks.

Chico had an interesting 1-2 battle between Ryan McDaniel and Duane Clevelend where one beat the other in Limited Late Models and Dirt Modifieds last week.  Cleveland won the Modified race, while McDaniel won Limited Late Models, where he is the defending champion.  Also winning last Friday at Chico were Colby Copeland  (410 Sprints), Justin Henry (Economy Sprints) and Brian Cooper (Hobby Stocks).  Who will it be this Friday night?

Not to be forgotten are the Marysville winners from last week, where Justin Sanders beat a stout field for the 360 Sprint Car win.  Misty Castleberry had a good night with a Pro 4 Sprint Car win and a second in Wingless Spec Sprints behind Tim Sherman Jr.  Past Antioch competitor Mike Walko gave it a good run before settling for second behind Cortney Dozier in the Street Stock feature.  It was 2014 champion Jimmy Ford winning the Mini Stock feature.  Saturday night is sure to be another good night at Marysville Raceway.

Hanford's Kings Speedway gets things kicked off with a 360 Sprint Car race on Friday night with IMCA Modifieds and Sport Mods also on the card.  We had heard that Mini Stocks have also been added.  The two IMCA classes are also racing down the road at Bakersfield Speedway, where they also have the IMCA Stock Cars and Mini Stocks.

Racing season is in high gear up and down the state of California as Hayfork Speedway has Hobby Stocks and Enduros on Saturday and Siskiyu Motor Speedway has a full program, which includes extra money races for the IMCA Sport Mods and McDonald's Mini Stocks.  It's looking like it will be another great weekend of racing.