Sunday, May 31, 2015

Merced Race Review, Plus Antioch And Chowchilla Stuff

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 Merced story is a work in progress as I am still waiting for more information.  It will be revised, so stay tuned. Plus, here's some basic hype stories I sent out to various sources for Chowchilla and Antioch.  The actual weekend preview article for Chowchilla and Antioch should debut later today.  Need to finish the weekend review DCRR Racing Radio Show that will go up with it.  We'll do it later today.   Be sure to check for the official word on these three tracks.

Stone Grabs Modified Win At Merced Speedway

Paul Stone of Winton came back with a vengeance Saturday night at Merced Speedway.  The 2014 champion has been piloting the IMCA Modified of Jack Mounce while he prepares his own car for some big shows.  Mounce’s #44 car ran strong, and Stone drove it from the third row to the lead.  Once in front, he went on to score his first victory of the season in the 20 lap IMCA Modified Main Event.

Merced’s Mike Villanueva started in the fifth row, right behind Kyle Wilson of Salinas.  Wilson had won the previous two Main Events, and these two drivers worked their way forward.  At the checkered flag, it was Villanueva finishing second ahead of Wilson.  Antioch’s John MacDougall finished fourth ahead of Harley Turner.

Bakersfield visitor Garrett Jernagan made only his second visit of the year to Merced Speedway.  His previous effort was a fourth in a good field of IMCA Sport Modifieds, but he was about to do even better.  Jernagan mixed it up early in the feature with point leader Josh Hensley of Ballico.  However, Hensley was no match for Jernagen as he scored a well earned victory in the 20 lap feature.  Heat winner Mark Odgers of Mariposa managed to grab second from Hensley late.  Hensley settled for third ahead.  Young Chase Thomas came from last starting to finish fourth in his first start as George Medeiros rounded out the Top 5.

Kristie Shearer of Los Banos had a front row start for the 20 lap Hobby Stock Main Event.  Despite being pressured all the way by Chris Mayer of Salinas, Shearer drove to her second straight victory and third of the season. Mayer settled for second ahead of Chowchilla’s Austin Van Hoff, point leader Kevin Joaquin of Sonora and Merced's Raul Rodriguez Jr.

Mark Garner of Antioch has won four of five Limited Late Model Main Events this season, but Roy Hart Jr. of Dos Palos stepped up and put a stop to Garner’s dominance.  The two time defending champion Hart would win his first 20 lap Main Event of the season.  Garner came up just short in second as Scott Van Gelder of Columbia was third as Oakley's Peggy Sue Jarred and Donny Richardson of Merced completed the Top 5.

Merced’s Kevin Lockerby used the element of surprise to beat the competition for his first 20 lap Mini Stock feature win of the season.  Lockerby had been hinting that he was doing a change over with his car to run asphalt.  After missing a couple races, the 1999 Merced Little Truck champion made his surprising return and grabbed a 20 lap Mini Stock feature win.  Dennis Copus of Merced rebounded from terrible recent luck to finish second.  Merced’s Darren Miguel was a heat winner, but his bid for a seventh feature win ended early as he joined defending champion Chris Corder of Modesto on the sidelines.  Miguel was scored third ahead of Corder.

There will be no racing in Merced next Saturday night as racing heads to Chowchilla Speedway.  There will be two races during the Merced County Fair.  On Wednesday, June 10th, the IMCA Modifieds and Sport Mods will be in action.  On Thursday, the track hosts a special Dwarf Car race along with Mini Stocks.  The Dwarf Car race will pay $1000 to win and is expected to draw several top drivers.  Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif.

Racing Switches To Saturday Night At Chowchilla Speedway

For two weeks, racing will take place on Saturday night at Chowchilla Speedway as their sister track in Merced goes dark that night during the fair.  On the card this Saturday night will be the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Dwarf Cars and the Valley Sportsman division.

With five races in the books, Fred Ryland of Brentwood has four wins and a growing point lead in IMCA Sport Mods.  Ryland's closest rival, Keith Brown Jr., spun out on the last lap during the fair race last time, and Ryland's lead grew to 17 points as a result.

Meanwhile, Josh Gish of Copperoplis failed to finish last time, but he is still 25 points ahead of Madera's Nastasia Dodd for third.  Mariposa's Marisa Odgers used her fifth place finish in the last race to move to within three points of Dodd and Merced Speedway point leader Josh Henley of Ballico in the battle for fourth.

Kevin Joaquin of Turlock leads two Chowchilla locals, Austin Van Hoff and Kodie Dean, in the Hobby Stock point race.  Kevin has struggled in the last two races but won the other two features.  Gary Hildebrand of Turlock's second Top 3 finish in the most recent event has him tied with Dean for third in points.  The last two Main Events have been won by Bruce Nelson of Winton, who is now ten points out of fifth.

Stockton's Chris Corder has a good lead in the Mini Stock race with two wins and a second in the most recent race.  His closest rival is Merced's Alex Odishoo, who holds a 14 point lead over Mike Congdon of Madera.  Odishoo is trying to make this race, but his commitment to announce at this event may force him to miss competing in his red, white and blue #48 car.

The Dwarf Cars have been booked for this race.  These smaller, motorcycle engined race cars generally put on a good show.  In the past, the area has seen several drivers from the Watsonville track make appearances in this division.  In a recent race at Merced, Merced's Mike Drake won after winner Charlie Correia of Tracy failed to report to tech and was disqualified. 

The Sportsman division is a regular class at the neighboring track in Merced and features a style of open wheel, winged race cars that go back to the 1960's and 1970's.  At one time, Chowchilla featured this class and has crowned four champions through the years.  Merced point leader Marcus Lung, Kenny Birdsong and Mike Palmberg are three racers anticipated for this event.

These five divisions put on a good show, and the racing is sure to be exciting on Saturday.  Chowchilla Speedway is located at the Chowchilla Madera County Fairgrounds on S. 5th Street in Chowchilla. Racing begins at 6 p.m.  

Chowchilla Speedway Top 5 Points At A Glance

IMCA Sport Mod

Fred Ryland     194
Keith Brown Jr. 177
Joshua Gish     158
Nastasia Dodd     133
Josh Hensley     132

Hobby Stocks

Kevin Joaquin     198
Austin Van Hoff 164
Kode Dean     130
Gary Hildebrand 130
Dexter Long     114

Mini Stocks

Chris Corder     250
Alex Odishoo     186
Mike Congdon     172
Jadon Harrington  102
Brian Widdowson 98

Merced Valley Sportsman

Marcus Lung     216
Jeff Bristow     186
Kenny Birdsong     150
Eric Seale     108
Mike Palmberg     100

IMCA Modifieds, Sprint Cars Headline At Antioch Speedway

It's been two weeks since there was racing at Antioch Speedway, but the action returns to the fast, three-eighths mile clay oval this Saturday night.  The IMCA Modifieds, Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks will be on the card this week.

The battle between Scott Busby of Martinez and San Pablo's Bobby Motts Jr. continues in IMCA Modifieds.  The two time winner Busby finished third last time out and took the lead by just four points ahead of the one time winner.  Motts ended up in a crash, though he still took a checkered flag several spots behind Busby.  Motts will be out for some redemption this week.

Speaking of redemption, the last two times defending champion Carl Berendsen II of Antioch was in the hunt for a win, he ended up being spun from a Top 3 spot.  Carl has a fast car, but he's still getting comfortable as he goes for his first win.  Carl has a not too comfortable six point lead over Manteca's Dustin Himes in the battle or third.  Previous winner Jeff Thomas of Petaluma, Mike Salazar of Antioch and the Wilson brothers of Salinas, Alex and Kyle, are others who could be there.

With three races in the books, there have been three differe nt winners in the Winged Sprint Car division.  The list includes two of this season's regulars, Jake Haulot of Cotati and San Jose's Art McCarthy.  Haulot's win still didn't gain him the lead from Antioch's Shawn Arriaga, who finished third and won his heat race last time out.

The division is still being established, and there have been 12 different winners in the last 12 races.  The top 4 drivers in points have all won during that time frame, and chances are good that one of them will win.  Brentwood's Chris Magoon is the 2014 champion and is tied with McCarthy for third in points.  San Jose's Brandon Powell just passed Antioch's Dan Gonderman in a close battle for fifth.

With three wins, Kyle Bakkie holds a 26 point lead over Rick Panfili of Antioch in the Wingless Spec Sprint division.  Bakkie won the most recent race, while Panfili passed Fairfield's Alan Miranda on the last lap in that race to finish third.  Panfili has competed in this class since it started in 1999 and is looking for his first career win.

The Bakkie win came after a late race pass on Antioch's Roy Fisher, who seemed headed for his third win up until then.  Fisher will be competing in one of the two Sprint Car classes on Saturday.  Others to watch for include impressive rookie Marcus Smith of Tracy, NFL alumni Jeremy Newberry of Brentwood and Concord's Jimmy Perry III.

Vallejo's Larry Damitz has been the driver to beat in Limited Late Models with three wins in six races.  The three time champion holds an 18 point lead over Antioch's Mark Garner.  Garner is a one time winner at Antioch and leads the points at Merced Speedway.  With two wins in his last three starts, Concord's Mike Gustafson is 24 points out of the lead in third.

Word out of Hayward is that Calvin Louis is set to debut his new car.  It was just two races ago when 2013 champion Jim Freethy of Brentwood debuted his new car.  Freethy finished second to Gustafson last time and seems poised to get a win.  Lori Brown of Antioch, Mike Hynes of Susuin and Peggy Sue Jarred of Antioch are others anticipated for this race.

Kimo Oreta of Vacaville holds a commanding lead in Hobby Stocks and is coming off of back to back feature wins.  The battle is for second between Castro Valley's Danny Jones, Michael Cooper of Bay Point and rookie Jordan Swank of Concord.  Only six points separate the three, and all are gunning for their first wins of the season.  Jones has three seconds and Swank is coming off of a career best third place finish.

The division has become very competitive and unpredictable this season, and Antioch's Frank Furtado has moved into a career best fifth in points.  Others to watch for this week include past champion Dan McCown of Antioch, Cameron Swank of Concord, Natalie Perry of Antioch and Robert Niven of Concord.

Saturday's race should be a good one.  Antioch Speedway is located within the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St. in Antioch, Calif. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Top 5 In Points At A Glance

IMCA Modifieds

Scott Busby        217
Bobby Motts        213
Carl Berendsen II  165
Dustin Himes        159
Jeff Thomas        130

Winged 360 Sprints

Shawn Arriaga     144
Jake Haulot       138
Chris Magoon     130
Art McCarthy       130
Brandon Powell     84

Wingless Spec Sprints

Kyle Bakkie     344
Rick Panfili     318
Marcus Smith     296
Alan Miranda    264
Roy Fisher     248

Limited Late Model

Larry Damitz     310
Mark Garner     292
Mike Gustafson     286
Mike Hynes     284
Jim Freethy     266   

Hobby Stocks

Kimo Oreta     474
Danny Jones    325
Michael Cooper     3200
Jordan Swank     319
Frank Furtado    284

Sprint Car Racing Returns To Antioch Speedway

The Northern All Stars Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Wingless Spec Sprints will be in action Saturday night at Antioch Speedway.  Oval Motorsports has begun a rebuilding process for these divisions.  They are getting the rules back in line and more affordable in Wingless Spec Sprints, while establishing their own Winged Sprint Car class.

There is a core of 6-8 drivers who got on board with the Winged class early on as the track crowned a 2014 champion.  That champion, Chris Magoon, is committed to helping the class grow.  He has a second place finish this season and won a heat race last time, but Magoon tries to make a difference in other ways. 

He was signing full color pictures for the fans two weeks ago and contributed Hot Wheels and candy for the weekly give away to the kids.  "It's not just about us out there, " said Magoon.  "We need to remember the fans.  Without them, there's no show."

The division has had 12 different winners in the last 12 races, and the current Top 4, which includes Magoon, all have won races during that time.  Chances are good that we will finally see somebody break that streak.

Point leader Shawn Arriaga hopes it will be him who breaks the streak.  "We were good in the heat race last time, but we didn't quite have the setup right for the main, " Arriaga explained.  "I think we have a winning car, and we'll need a win to stay in the lead out here."

Jake Haulot actually became the third different winner this season by winning ahead of Art McCarthy last time.  However, heat race points enabled Arriaga to maintain his slim six point lead over Haulot.  McCarthy was rebounding from a crash in the previous race.  The winner of the season opener is tied with Magoon for third, just 14 points out of the lead.  Like Magoon, McCarthy has an Antioch championship to his credit.

Dan Gondrman was fifth going into the last race, but he blew a motor working on a possible Top 5 run in the previous race.  He was unable to get it ready for the last race, but the two time Spec Sprint champion hopes his #8 Winged Sprinter will be ready this time.  He finds himself 14 points behind fifth place Brandon Powell and two ahead of Spec Sprint alumni Rick Brophy.

The Brophy team has two Sprint Cars, but Ricky Brophy's car wasn't quite ready last time.  It's been a struggle for the second generation racer to get it running right, but he keeps plugging away.  Third generation racer Ryan Timmons, Chase Wood and Roy Fisher are three others we're watching for this week.

Kyle Bakkie can't seem to shake Rick Panfili in the Wingless Spec Sprint battle.  Even after winning his third race of the season with a late race pass on Roy Fisher, he still only leads Panfili by 26 points.  "It's a long season, " said 2014 point runner up Bakkie.  "At this point, we're just focusing on wins.  We'll see how points go at the end."

For Panfili, a win is something he really wants.  He picked up another third place finish last time after a late pass, but he has yet to win in his 17 year Spec Sprint career.  "I think we have a winning car, " claimed Panfili.  "We just need the right break to go our way.  We'll get it.  I'm having a lot of fun out there."

After motor problems sidelined him from the last Main Event, rookie Marcus Smith fell to 22 points behind Panfili.  He impressed with a second place finish a couple weeks earlier.  He had made some adjustments that he felt would make his car handle better, but hot lap motor problems kept him on the sidelines for the remainder of the night.

Fourth place Alan Miranda knows about bad luck.  He's already flipped his car once this season and led a race for 19 laps before being spun out in the final turn.  After a fourth place finish last time, he remains within striking distance of Smith for third, just 32 points back.

Roy Fisher is a two time winner who could be there in a Spec Sprinter, though expectations are that he will race his Winged Sprinter instead.  One time winner and past champion Jimmy Perry III will likely be there along with hard charger Jeremy Newberry, rapidly improving rookie Chase Wood Jr., and James East.

Winged 360 Sprint Car Points

Shawn Arriaga     144
Jake Haulot       138
Chris Magoon     130
Art McCarthy       130
Brandon Powell     84
Dan Gonderman     70
Rick Brophy     68
Justin Sanders     52
Anthony Espinoza 51
Alissa Geving     50
Bradley Terrell 46
Chase Wood     46
Pete Paulson     44
D.J. Freitas     44
Darrell Taylor    40
Zack Lynskey      40
Roy Fisher     36
Ricky Brophy    34
Ryan Timmons     30

Last 18 Feature Winners

May 16, 2015:  Jake Haulot
April 25, 2015:  Alissa Geving
March 7, 2015: Art McCarthy
August 2, 2014: Zack Lynskey
June 21 2014:  Bradley Terrell
June 10, 2014:  Chris Magoon
April 5, 2014:  Kurt Nelson
May 4, 2013: Shawn Arriaga
April 13, 2014: Chris Martin
September 17, 2011:  Billy Aton
July 30, 2011:  Craig Smith
September 15, 2010: Jeremy Burt
August 25, 2010: Craig Smith
April 24, 2010: Craig Smith
March  27, 2010: Craig Smith
March 20, 2010:  Ryan Risconi
September 26, 2009:  Jeremy Burt
August 29, 2009:  Jeremy Burt

Northern All Stars
Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule

June 20
July 11
August 8
August 29

Top Ten In Wingless Spec Sprint Points

Kyle Bakkie     344
Rick Panfili     318
Marcus Smith     296
Alan Miranda     264
Roy Fisher     248
Chase Wood Jr.    190
Jeremy Newberry 182
Ryon Sieverling 182
James East     158
Jim Perry III    140

Past Wingless Spec Sprint Champions

1999-Dan Gonderman
2000-Travis Berryhill
2001-Terry Tarditi
2002-Darrell Hanestad
2003-Darrell Hanestad
2004-Bob Newberry
2005-Scott Merrell
2006-Jimmy Perry III
2007-Jim Perry Jr.
2008-Billy Macedo
2009-Billy Aton
2010-Tommy LaLiberte
2011-Dan Gonderman
2012-D.J. Johnson
2013-Gary Nelson Jr.