Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Nationals Two Day Event At Antioch, Chowchilla Sunday

First of all...

On Sale At Reduced Price

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 Bako Motorsports Power Hour looks back at last week's races and ahead to the Richie McGowan Memorial Race right HERE

The Civil War Series Sprint Car Main Event from Petaluma Speedway can be viewed HERE

The IMCA Modified Main Event from Petaluma Speedway can be viewed HERE

Merced Speedway IMCA Sport Mod Main Event footage covering fifth place finisher Tim Cecil's effort can be viewed HERE

DCRR Racing Radio Show
Weekend Preview Edition

DCRR Racing Radio Show: Episode 41 by GenWhat

October Races To Close 2016 Chowchilla Season?
This is SPECULATION and NOT official  

John had indicated that he would still try to get all ten races in for the 2016 season at Chowchilla Speedway, and that got me thinking.  Sundays through September are all booked up at Merced, and October is tricky.  You kind of want to get the races in as quickly as possible before the weather really changes, but we have the Pat Pettit Memorial at Watsonville the first Friday and Saturday of October and the Budweiser Nationals at Bakersfield the second Friday and Saturday.  However, that leaves both Sunday's available.  Here's my idea:

October 4:  IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Buddy Cox Memorial Hobby Stock $500 (50 laps, $500 to win) and Mini Stocks.

October 11:  IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Limited Late Models*

The Hobby Stocks have been busting their butts for Oval Motorsports with a very busy schedule, and I think $500 to win (or better) is deserved.  What better race than THE Hobby Stock race.  This was a race that put Chowchilla Speedway on the map, and it honors a man (Buddy Cox) who helped make the track happen in the beginning.  I see no reason why we can't get guys from all the Oval Motorsports tracks to run that, plus guys from Watsonville who want that third race and maybe a few Bakersfield cars.  The other classes run a regular show.  I'd do something special for Mini Stocks to reward them, but we need to see more support to justify such a move.

We can end the season with a regular show, or if the desire was there, we can do something for one of the Modified classes.  I penciled in Limited Late Models and the idea would be extra money if we can get guys to come from Antioch.  It's a risk, and I'm not set on the idea.  I also thought about Dwarf Cars, but who will come?  We can also just use this date to close the season with a regular show. Another idea I had was to add Ladies and Mechanics races at the end of the final night.  This is all just a thought and NOT official, but I'd love to see the Buddy Cox Memorial Race return for the Hobby Stocks. 

Now, if Chowchilla Speedway were to stay in the Oval Motorsports family in 2016, you're looking at ten races.  Keep the October Sundays after Merced closes, do the January deal as part of the three track deal as currently scheduled, open in March before Merced gets going for a date or two, squeeze in the May Chowchilla Fair date, another date somewhere.  Then, Oval Motorsports reverses course on the holidays with the return of the three holiday event that further established the track in the first place.  I'm talking about The Freedom Series.  Sundays when nobody else is racing, and keep Merced and Antioch dark those weekends.  Get out ahead of all of this with promoting, and I think it can work.  Before my words get twisted, this is only an idea.  I am NOT saying anybody is scheduling this as of now.

Summer Nationals Two Day Event At Antioch Speedway
Oval Motorsports has an action packed weekend of racing in store for the fans.  First up will be the Summer Nationals at Antioch Speedway.  This two day event will have IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars on Friday night.  The Saturday night show will have IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods and DIRTcar Late Models.  On Sunday, Chowchilla Speedway will have IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.

IMCA Modifieds are the headliners for the two day event at Antioch Speedway.  The two races are for IMCA points and extra money purses.  Friday's race will pay $1500 to win, while Saturday night will pay $2500 to win.  As if that's not enough, the field will include NASCAR star Kenny Wallace.  Wallace is in town for the Sears Point event for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and Oval Motorsports loves to put on special races at Antioch every year on that weekend.

Scott Busby has won over 60 Main Events in his Antioch Speedway career, but what has eluded him for the most part is a big money win at his home track.  He will be hoping to change that with a win on Saturday.  With two point earning possibilities, Busby will be hoping to put a little more distance between he and Bobby Motts Jr. in the championship battle.  Four time champion Busby has just a seven point lead over Motts, and he already has three Main Event wins to one for Motts.

Since this is a big two day event with enough cars expected that there should be a B Main, if not a C Main, there is great potential for a shakeup in the points.  It's a time where the pressure will be on both Motts and Busby.  If one or the other slips up just a bit, the other could make a big gain.  If they both have bad weekends, Carl Berendsen II could use that to reassert himself into the championship battle.  At 52 points behind Busby, Carl isn't really thinking about it, but you never know.  The way his car has been running, he is capable of making his first career feature win a big one.  His last finish was his best one yet in second after pitting with a flat tire.

There is quite a battle going on for fourth in the standings as Dustin Himes finds himself on the hot seat.  After his fourth place finish last time, Merced co point leader Alex Wilson is just six points behind Himes.  Alex is also the State point leader, a year after his brother Kyle Wilson won that championship.  Kyle is only nine points behind Himes in sixth, but more importantly, he could be in line for one of this weekend's big winner's prizes.  Seventh place Chris Elby is 15 points behind Himes, while eighth ranked Mike Salazar trails Himes by 18 points.  Salazar is another driver you shouldn't count out in the quest for victory this weekend.

Jeff Thomas has a win this year and will be looking for another one this week.  Nick Viscusi III received encouragement last time with a career best third place finish, and he should be back for more this week.  Josh Combs, Shawn DeForest, Trent Wentworth, Dean Devolder and John Pierce are others anticipated for the race.  If he has a motor ready in time, Sean O'Gara is another driver to keep an eye on this week.

Then, there are the big guns from the local area.  They don't race for points at Antioch this year, but they are tough to beat when they show.  All are anticipated this week. There's Troy Foulger, who has won over two dozen races at Antioch for Bowers Racing along with four consecutive championships from 2010-2013.  There's 2004 champ Aaron Crowell.  He won a battle with the legendary J.D. Willis for that championship, and he has a new car for this race.  There's 2006 champion Kellen Chadwick, who has been dialing things in with a few starts this year and is Top 10 in points.  There is Nick DeCarlo, who won last year's Petaluma championship and is dominating over there to lead this season's battle.

Speaking of Petaluma, heavy support from some of that track's best competitors is also anticipated.  Leading the charge should be six time champion Michael Paul Jr., who has a second place finish at Antioch earlier this year and has won in the past.  Oreste Gonella is another past Petaluma champion we may see at this race. "Stormin" Norman Boeck came up through the Pure Stock ranks into Modifieds at Petaluma and is a past Top 5 driver at Antioch.  Second ranked Petaluma competitor Joel Myers and Mitch Machado are two other possibilities for this show.

Once upon a time, Watsonville drivers used to race at Antioch, and there are a few who may be in town for the weekend.  Bobby Hogge IV is third on Antioch's Overall All Time Main Event Winners List with three championships along the way, but he currently is dominating the Modified point race at his home track.  The Burke brothers, Cody and Austin, don't have any races on their schedule and could make a surprise visit.  There's also Tim Clark Jr., who debuted a new car with a win at Chowchilla two weeks ago.

Who might come in from Merced Speedway is another question, but one driver we are hoping for is 2014 champion Paul Stone.  Paul recently debuted a new car, but will he bring it to Antioch?  Antioch is John McDougall's home track, but he's in the midst of a championship battle at Merced this season.  Title hopeful Bill Egleston could come, though it's more likely you'll see him in Chowchilla.  Speaking of Chowchilla, defending champion Josh Vogt is rumored to be coming in from Santa Maria.  Vogt is in the midst of a championship battle at his home track and is also the 2014 Ventura champion.

Then, you have rumors of drivers coming in from the Yreka-Southern Oregon area.  Nick Trenchard is the Yreka point leader and is said to be considering an Antioch trip.  Mark Wauge has visited Antioch for big shows in the past and could make the trip this time.  We'll just have to keep an eye on things and see what happens.  The money could draw just about anybody.  A 40 car turnout should be on hand for this race, but this event hasn't really been promoted to the drivers as it should have been.  The number could be in the 25-35 car range, though anything under 30 would have to be viewed as a bit disappointing.

DIRTcar Late Models will be guaranteed $2000 to win and $200 to start regardless of car count on Saturday night (according to the recent update at the track's website), but there's a challenge being issued to the racers. It's an opportunity to beat a NASCAR racer.  Kenny Wallace will be driving the Antioch Speedway House Car, a car that Bobby Hogge IV won his two starts with last year.  Who will accept the challenge?

Note: The increase in purse in the Late Model division was made in the last few days thanks to Henner Tank Lines of Vacaville sponsoring $500 for the winner.  That makes it a $2000 to win race, rather than the $1500 originally advertised.  Henner Tank Lines is a sponsor of one of the bigger boosters of the Late Model effort at Antioch Speedway, Paul Guglielmoni.  Paul actually owns three cars that have run at least one race at the track this year.  With money being sponsored to the winner, Promoter John Soares decided to fill out the rest of the purse and bump the to start money to $200.

You need not look any further than the orange Mohawk Trading #4p car of Richard Papenhausen.  The five time winner and defending track champion leads Jeff Decker by 26 points in the championship battle after collecting his third straight win.  Last week, Decker suffered a rare DNF in last to lose major ground to Papenhausen.  Decker had recently debuted his new car in the hopes of being more competitive, and he will be out looking for redemption and his second win of the season this week.

David Newquist and Danny Malfatti are far enough behind the two leaders that they are battling for third, just as they were battling for third last week in the feature.  Newquist won that battle and leads this battle by just eight points.  Can either of these two drivers take it up a notch and get that first win?  As they were battling side by side for the lead last week, an orange blur flew between them and left them far behind.  Third place is Newquist's best finish so far this year.

Chester Kniss had a third two weeks ago, but with his daughter getting ready for college, he took a week off for family.  This enabled Rob Norris to take fifth in the standings by 15 points over Kniss.  Norris is still getting comfortable with his car, but Kniss seems like he's not far from really competing for a win.  Speaking of which, seventh ranked Troy Foulger already has one win this year, and he could be in line for number two should the Bowers Racing Team bring that car.  The dry slick racing conditions likely to greet the drivers on Saturday might be to Troy's liking.

Paul Guglielmoni was absent last week, but two of his teammates were there in Randy Shafer and Terry Kuntz.  Both were lead lap finishers as Shafer was fifth and Kuntz was seventh.  Paul is a feature winner this season and is anticipated for this bigger event.  Anthony Restad won a recent race at Placerville and already has a second and a third in two starts at Antioch so far.  He could be a driver to watch in his white #4r car Saturday night.

A stronger show of support by drivers who have been racing at Antioch this season is anticipated, which means we could be seeing the return of Dennis Souza, Mike Hynes, past Petaluma champion Rod Arnold and Duane Cleveland.  The push for 20 cars may be dependent upon a few drivers showing up from the Bay Area who aren't usually there.  Bobby Hogge IV has been mentioned.   This is a team that generally won't run the Late Model for less that $2000 to win.  Car count should still be stronger than it has been all season, and we anticipate 12-16 cars will compete.

IMCA Sport Mods are part of the Summer Nationals on Friday and Saturday, and they too get to race for extra money.  On Friday, the win will pay $500, and they get $750 to win on Saturday.  No word at the moment as to whether or not Kenny Wallace has secured a ride for this race, but we know there will be some tough competitors gunning for the win.  There is, of course, a monkey wrench thrown into all of this in the form of a Friday night point race at Watsonville.  Because of this, Oval Motorsports has listed the Friday night show as no track points, but IMCA State, Regional and National points.

That makes it easier for Fred Ryland to go back to Watsonville to try to maintain his point lead there.  Paul Mulder, Al Sotomayor and Patti Ryland are also expected at Ocean Speedway.  Ryland has won most of the races there, but his lead over Anthony Giuliani is just six points as Sotomayor and Mulder are also Top 5 ranked.  Mulder did cross the line first one night earlier this season, but when he didn't go to tech, the win went to Gary Vincelet.

Mulder grabbed an impressive feature win at Antioch Speedway last week, and in doing so, he has moved to within 11 points of hard luck racer Al Johnson for third.  Mulder missed the two January races, but he's generally battling for Top 5 finishes when his car is running right.  Further ahead at Antioch, four time winner Fred Ryland had an eventful race last week in which he spun twice without causing a yellow.  Despite that, Ryland finished a close second to Mulder.  His lead is now 35 points over Keith Brown Jr.  Brown hit the wall at the Turn 1 exit and was in turn hit by K.C. Keller, heavily damaging both cars.  The third generation racer Brown has lots of work to do to make his usually very fast #128 car ready for the weekend.

The Top 15 in Antioch points, which includes some Marysvile and Merced regulars, is anticipated for both nights (with the exception of those noted as likely Watsonville racers on Friday).  Patti Ryland had another Top 5 finish last week to stay within 21 points of Johnson for third,  A move up to third is not out of the question for Sotomayor or Chuck Golden as they trail by 24 and 27 points, respectively.  The rookie K.C. Keller has work to do to make his black #38 car ready for the weekend.  Ron Brown grabbed himself a heat win last week, and the ninth ranked driver will be hoping for a win this week.  He's certainly fast enough to do it.  You also can't count out tenth ranked Megan Ponciano.

Loyd Cline debuted his new yellow #11 car last week and should be in action this week.  Loyd is a past Top 5 ranked Limited Late Model and Dirt Modified racer at Antioch.  Rookie Tim Hammett could return for at least one of these races after making a trip last week to Merced.  Of course, the rest of the car count will need to be made up of drivers from out of town if it's going to pop.  Though Hanford is dark this week, Bakersfield Speedway is running the special Richie McGowan Memorial race, and both IMCA Modifieds and Sport Mods are headlining the special event in memory of one of the track's more popular drivers.

That leaves it up to Merced, Marysville and Watsonville drivers to grow the field into the 20's, as is hoped.  Interestingly enough, while the Merced car count popped to 14 cars last week, four of the track's drivers were in Marysville supporting that race.  Three Marysville drivers we may see this weekend are Alan Furuta, Jason Ferguson and Jimmy Ford, and all three are fast and capable of winning.  All three drivers were Top 5 ranked at Marysville going into last week, though second ranked Ferguson was a no show, which will open the door for the track's 2014 Mini Stock champion, Jimmy Ford, to take over the spot behind Howard Law.  Ford's racing career began at Antioch in Street Stocks and then Late Models back in the 1980's.  His last visit to Antioch ended in a strong second place finish.

Two Merced drivers came to Antioch this year back in January and left with the winner's trophies.  The January 1st race saw Bruce "Bubba" Nelson win ahead of 2013 Antioch champion Jeremy Hoff.  The next night, Hoff grabbed the biggest win of his career with a $1750 victory ahead of the red hot Fred Ryland.  Nelson grabbed the final podium spot in third.  Hoff and Nelson bring the competition when they are in town, and both are feature winners at their home track this year.  The two time Merced Hobby Stock champion Nelson won at Merced last week.  These two could be in Antioch this week, and rumor has it that Merced point leader Josh Hensley may be in town to see if he can add an Antioch win to his Merced and recent Chowchilla victories.  Hensley has gotten much faster since switching to the former Shawn Bryant car.

As for the rest of the Merced field, it remains to be seen if anybody will come visit.  Rick Diaz and D.C. Brown might have something for the Antioch competition, but you're probably more likely to see them at Chowchilla, which is where third ranked Mark Odgers will be, pitting for his Top 5 ranked daughter, Marisa Odgers.  Alan Pace returned to Merced last week, and that could mean that he'll be at Antioch this week.  He did come to Antioch back in January.

This takes us back to Watsonville.  After the regulars take care of business there on Friday night, Saturday will still be open if they keep their cars in one piece.  Matt Hagio was at Antioch, perhaps as a tuneup, and he had a strong third place finish last week.  The second generation racer has a Watsonville win this year and could be a threat for the $750 win on Saturday night.  Likewise, second ranked Anthony Giuliani could return to Antioch.  Justin McPherson was just at Antioch last week for what could be a tune up.  There's also the possibility of another 2015 Watsonville feature winner, Dennis Simumovich, coming to Antioch.

Other than that, it's hard to say.  Jimmy Lipke was rankled third at Yreka going into last week, but he opted to come to Antioch to check things out.  He could be back this week as the next big race at Yreka's Siskiyou Motor Speedway is the $1000 to win Firecracker Challenge in July.  Jordon Braaten had a great time last time he came down, finishing second at Chowchilla and Marysville that weekend, so it's just possible he'll be at Antioch and maybe even Chowchilla this week.  Friday night may be a tick under 20 cars with the drivers who may be at Watsonville, but we'll put the projection at 15-25 cars this weekend.

Three more divisions have been welcomed to the Friday night portion of the Summer Nationals, the first of which is the Limited Late Models.  With his regular division off for the last two weeks, point leader Larry Damitz didn't sit at home waiting for the next race.  He went out and ran the last two Late Model races.  Larry has hit stride this year with four feature wins and a 32 point lead over his closest rival, two time winner Mike Gustafson.  The two drivers have accounted for over 70 wins in this division alone, not to mention five track championships.

The battle is turning into a battle for second as Gustafson has just a two point lead over Merced point leader Mark Garner and an eight point advantage over Mike Hynes.   Hynes is the only one of the four without an Antioch feature win this season, though he has finished as high as second.  Both he and Garner will be out to put the last race in the past, and Garner will probably be hoping the #05 car of Hynes stays far away from him.

Meanwhile, John Evans had been away from Antioch for a while, but his return last time resulted in a season best third place finish.  Evans has moved to within 13 points of Lori Brown, who has a couple of third place finishes of her own.  The sixth ranked Brown hurt a motor last time out, and we hadn't heard if her beautiful #65 roses car will be ready this week.  Jim Freethy currently has a decent hold on fifth, but he backed out of any title hopes he might have had when he put Brian Zachary behind the wheel of his new #99 car last time out.  Zachary finished fifth in that race.

Add the steady Peggy Sue Jarred to the mix, and the Top 8 drivers could be ready for Friday.  Peggy Sue was a Top 5 driver last year, but points went out the window this year after she missed several races getting a new motor together.  There is the outside chance of a ten car field, depending on visitation of Petaluma racers like the tenth ranked Ryan Cherezian and Paul Hanley, who made a surprise visit and came home second last time.  Last time out, we saw a visit from Jeff Kendrick, who is one of a half dozen or so Merced drivers who has helped grow the car count at that track in recent weeks.  At some point, we should see the season debut of Calvin Louis, and Eric Berendsen has indicated that he's hoping to have his car ready before season's end. 

Danny Wagner knows the Three Nuts Racing Team is serious about trying to dethrone him as Dwarf Car champion.  Adam Teves has two wins to his credit, and his father David Teves now has three wins after grabbing another win last week.  In fact, since debuting his new car that was built in the team's shop by their own design, David has yet to finish outside of the Top 3.  Add the fact that as the winner a race earlier, he had to start tenth, and you have an impressive victory.

The D. Teves lead over Wagner is now 12 points, and this has Wagner scrambling to get back into the winner's circle.  It's not as if he's slow or anything.  Wagner finished third last week as 2013 Petaluma champion Travis Dutra was between he and Teves.  However, it's been a few races since the yellow #11d car has made it to the winner's circle, and he's itching to collect his fourth win of the season.  At Merced recently, Danny picked up a $500 payday with his second place finish.

After losing several laps in the pits last week, Adam Teves has fallen 52 points behind his father and is only 12 points in front of Mike Corsaro for third.  Corsaro was thinking he might have a good night last week after winning his heat race, but he DNF'ed back in 13th.  Kevin Miraglio has generally been a contender for Top 5 finishes, but he too failed to finish last week.  The rapidly improving Miranda Chappa had a seventh place finish, and she is now 32 points behind Miraglio in the battle for fifth.

You can never tell what the car count is going to be with the Dwarf Cars, but it's generally in the 12-16 car range.  Last week saw it pop even higher to 17 cars with drivers like Mark Biscardi, Pat Urdahl, Travis Dutra, Chris Kenner and Jenna Frazier making appearances.  Urdahl and Biscardi were Top 5 finishers after Urdahl won a heat race.  Tim Reeder maintained his Top 10 status with a Top 10 feature finish, but fellow Top 10 drivers Jack Haverty and Jerry Doty were again absent last week.  Haverty is probably still putting a car together after his hard flip.  Word is that Kenny Wallace will be driving the #17 Dwarf Car of Brian Gray this week.

About the only thing left for Kimo Oreta to do in a Hobby Stock now is wrap up his third straight championship and add to his all time win record in the division.  Last week, it was his 18th career feature win as he holds a commanding point lead.  Still, everybody has one goal in mind, and that is to try to beat Oreta for a Main Event win every week, and the leaders of the pack in that quest are Danny Jones and Chris Sorensen.  The 2010 champion, Sorensen has a second and a win since coming back a few weeks ago.

Jones has five second place finishes, and last week's runner up finish had to be a bit frustrating for the Stock Car veteran.  Jones appeared to have the fastest car in the field, but Oreta was just that much smoother as Jones nearly spun moments after talking the lead.  Jones has his hands full trying to maintain second in the standings.  Just 13 points behind Jones in the race for second is Michael Cooper.  Cooper looked better than he has all season with an impressive third place finish last week that will make people wonder if a win might be possible for him soon.  Jordan Swank didn't have a great night, but he is still within 13 points of Cooper for third.

Robert Niven took a night off to celebrate last week and fell further behind fifth ranked Frank Furtado,  Not only is Niven more than 100 points behind Furtado now, he only has a 16 point advantage over Natalie Perry in the battle for sixth.  Perry really turned in a good effort last week after her hood flew up earlier in the race.  Once that was situated, she finished a lead lap fourth for her best finish of the season.  We anticipate the Top 7 in points will be in action along with Sorensen Chris Long and Jeremy Jennings, and beyond that we'll wait and see.  Car count should be a little better than last week, but we'll stick with the usual 8-12 car projection.  

Chowchilla Speedway Returns 
With Four Division Show On Sunday

Switching over to Chowchilla Speedway, Oval Motorsports has announced that this Sunday's race will be the last there until September (or later).  There's also an indication that the lone race that was canceled in July will be made up after that if the weather permits.  There has been speculation as to what the future holds for this race track, and it really comes down to what the drivers want.  Their support for this race will help dictate what happens next.

However, people need to think about who would run the track should Oval Motorsports decide not to come back.  At this point, there has been no announcement on that front, and Oval Motorsports still has plans for another big money race at Chowchilla in January of 2016.   When you consider that the track has been through five promoters since track founder Tom Sagmiller was forced out politically, you realize what a challenge it is to make that track go.

The track does have needs, but when you struggle to get a car count or a fan count, would you want to put a lot of money into it?  There needs to be a little bit better racer support for this track going forward.  It's not just about the future of Oval Motorsports, but that race track itself.  It's not easy or cheap to run a race track, but there aren't too many people out there who want to do it.  Three of the four promoters before Oval Motorsports exhausted the budget they had for Chowchlla, two of them before finishing one season.  The fourth had to make the difficult decision to put their promotional efforts into another track.

The time is now to stand up for the future of these race tracks.  While the gates open at a race track, there is a chance for good things to happen.  Good things have happened at Chowchilla Speedway in its 15 year history, and that can continue.  On Sunday afternoon, IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks will take their turns on the one-third mile dirt oval.  We saw new winners in three divisions last time.  Who will it be this week?

Danny Luukkonen finds himself in the surprising position of point leader for the IMCA Modifieds.  This happened after Santa Maria long tow Josh Vogt had to chose between Chowchilla and his home track in Santa Maria, where he could ill afford to take a night off and still have any chance.  The thinking may have been that he could take a week off from Chowchilla and make it up in the last three races.  He does have three wins at Chowchilla this year, and he'll need more wins to make up 19 points on Luukkonen.

At this point, the only confirmed race we know of is this week with the possibility of another race in September.  What's interesting is that Vogt is just good enough to do it in two races.  A past Modified Mini Stock champion, Luukkonen has struggled at times, but he came into the last race pretty confident that he had figured something out.  He won his first heat race last time out, but he finished fourth in the five car feature.  We do anticipate that car count should double at least for this race, and we are hoping that Vogt will come back and try to finish what he started as the defending track champion.

Only ten points behind Vogt and therefore 29 points out of the lead is Ray Mayer.  Ray has been racing on and off at Chowchilla in a Modified throughout the track's history and he is a feature winner in the past.  In fact, he led the most recent race for several laps before falling back to third after a restart.  The man who won was second generation racer Tim Clark Jr.  Clark looked good in his new ride and may be back this week to try for two in a row.

The real question is who will be left after the Summer Nationals at Antioch as this track is dependent upon out of town visitors?  It could be that 2012 Merced champion Bill Egleston will be in action and trying to improve on the second place finish he had earlier this year.  Bill didn't race last time.  Kyle Wilson had moved into fifth in points after his Top 5 finish two races ago.  He leads Troy Foulger by one point and trails Billy Wilker by five for fourth.  Wilker led the points after three races before stepping away.

We don't anticipate that Wilder will be there, but Wilson and Foulger could be there depending on how Antioch goes.  Foulger and Bowers Racing have been working on their dry slick setup for future out of state plans, so they've made several trips to Chowchilla and Bakersfield in the last two months.  Beyond that, we're not really sure what to expect, though we think there could be 8-12 cars on Sunday.  Harley Turner enjoyed a second place finish last time and may decide to race.  Recent Merced winner Karl Rose is another who could show, as could the #67j Micheal Shearer car.

The win he earned last time out had to be satisfying for Merced Sport Mod point leader Josh Hensley.  With Keith Brown Jr. and Rick Diaz all over him in the battle for victory, he prevailed in his white #86 car.  A Chowchilla championship was not his goal, and thus he missed a couple races.  However, Hensley trails Nastasia Dodd by one point and Keith Brown Jr. by 16 points in the battle for second.  It's very likely he'll move up further in points if he continues to show up.

Brown has been giving Fred Ryland all the challenge he can, and he was second last time out.  The five time winner Ryland has a 50 point lead over Brown in the championship battle, but his most recent Chowchilla start is one he'd rather forget.  The only incentive Brown may have to be there Sunday is that his one win this season happened there.  After a hard crash last week at Antioch, he'll be scraping just to make it to Antioch for the Summer Nationals, and it would be understandable if he did miss Chowchilla.  He has three drivers behind him hoping that he doesn't show, because they know he's a hard charger when he's there.

This Just in:  As of now (Thursday), Keith Brown Jr. will not be in Chowchilla as he prepares for the $1000 to win race in Yreka a week later.

Hensley is actually tied with Marisa Odgers for fourth at the moment, and Odgers would love to get back into the Top 3 in points as she was in 2011 when this was the headline class at the track.  Marisa rebounded from her crash in the previous race by finishing fifth last time.  She continues to improve as a driver, and there are times you watch her aboard her black and pink #57 car and think that she could win a Main Event.  You shouldn't count out Odgers or Dodd in the race to win.  As we found out last time, Fred Ryland can't win them all.

As for what car count will be, we think it can go anywhere from 8-14 cars.  We hit double digits the last two times and had some good racing.  Rick Diaz is somebody who will certainly be fast if he shows up.  Three drivers who generally support Chowchilla, John Fore Jr., Tim Elias and Paul Espino, all went to Marysville last week.  Any or all of them could be a part of this show, as could Josh Gish.  Gish was third in points before missing the last two races.

The saying that anything can happen on any given night was proven in the Hobby Stock race they had last time out.  When the checkered flag flew on the heat race and the Main Event, it was George Silva grabbing the wins.  Silva looked better than he has all season long, and he ran second in the Main Event, waiting for point leader Kevin Joaquin to make a mistake.  It happened as Joaquin spun in the fourth turn and surrendered the lead.

Joaquin was probably not too happy with himself after that second place finish.   He made up for it last week at Merced by winning his third Main Event there.  The talented 18 year old holds a 46 point lead over the man he's led all season, Austin Van Hoff.  Van Hoff had a DNF last time, but his closest rivals, Gary Hildebrand and Kodie Dean, couldn't take advantage of that and fell further back.  Hildebrand broke an axle in a heat race crash, and Dean was a no show.

Hildebrand has been driving the #86 car for Hensley Racing and was coming off of back to back third place finishes.  He leads Dean by nine points in the battle for third.  We anticipate these five will be in action, along with Dexter Long and past Mini Stock champion Robbie Loquaci.  Loquaci has had some bad luck lately, but he is within 15 points of the fifth ranked Long.  We have no idea if Shearer Racing may bring the #73 and #67 cars, but we anticipate that Bobby Williams may be there to try for another Top 3 finish.  Car count could be in the 8-12 car range for this race.

Mini Stocks have sort of imploded at Chowchilla, and we really don't know what car count will be.  Jadon Harrington had moved all the way to fourth after back to back second place finishes, only to no show since then.  Second ranked Alex Odishoo was a no show at the latest race, opening the door wide for Mike Congdon to take over second.  Three time winner Chris Corder has a commanding 82 point lead over Congdon, and Congdon's lead over Odishoo is now 36 points.  Odishoo has one win at Chowchilla this season, but the past Merced Mini Stock champion has been battling a persistent motor problem that seems to develop during the Main Event after he really gets going.

We are hoping the Top 3 point runners show up along with fourth ranked Darren Miguel, who has two wins to his credit this season at Chowchilla.  Merced didn't run Mini Stocks last week and has no races for two weeks, so this is the perfect opportunity for the seven time Merced winner and point leader at that track to get his racing fix.  It's hard to forecast who will show as the divers could surprise us with people bringing cars out of the blue, or it might be a low turnout.  We are thinking Dennis Copus could be another driver to watch for this week, and we'll put car count estimations at 4-8 cars.

Once again, Antioch Speedway has Friday and Saturday night racing this week with the big Summer Nationals event.  Friday has IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Limited Late Models, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf CarsSaturday night will feature IMCA Modifieds, DIRTcar Late Models and IMCA Sport ModsSunday afternoon at Chowchilla will feature IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Northern All Stars Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.  This means a three race weekend for the fan looking to get their racing fix.  For further information, check the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Merced Speedway Pit Stops

Merced Speedway heads into a two week break with change in the air.  Oval Motorsports is preparing to go back to a Sunday night schedule for the second half of the year and has pulled the July Chowchilla date to make that easier.  This was a decision Promoter John Soares Jr. wrestled with for a while but he felt it needed to be made.  He did it to enable him to be more hands on with the people at the track.

When Oval Motorsports opened Merced Speedway in July of 2010, they went with a Sunday program.  This was done in part to work with Chowchilla Speedway as Kenny Shepherd was running a Saturday night show there.  Soares was hands on for the first three years that he promoted the track, but he went back to a Saturday program in 2013 with the hiring of Doug Williams as General Manager.

After two years under that arrangement, Soares and Williams had a parting of the ways and he went in another direction with Sonny Nabors as GM.  Unfortunately, there was still some fall out from the departure of the previous GM, and the program never really seemed to gel in a way that Oval Motorsports needed.  Nabors had recently hired long time racer Nathan Corn as Chief Steward and was hoping things would begin to pop.

Soares had been trying to find the right time and was trying to determine if his Antioch Speedway crew might be willing to travel to Merced to take over the show. The timing coincided with a two week break, and the crew was willing to come.  Antioch Chief Steward Brad Coelho will take over those duties at Merced.  A long time racer, Coelho is a past Dirt Modified champion at neighboring Chowchilla Speedway.

When Merced Speedway reopens on July 12th for the Ted Stofle Classic, it will be a Sunday race with a new crew.  Predictably, reactions were mixed, but this arrangement will allow Soares to be more hands on and oversee the program as they attempt to build up car count and get things going in the right direction.

Headlining the Ted Stofle Classic in July will be the IMCA Modifieds, and it's hoped that the two week break will lead to a strong car count for the special race.  Three drivers anticipated for that race will be the three title contenders, John MacDougall, Alex Wilson and Bill Egleston.  Egleston needed a good night last week as he could feel it slipping away from him.  A good night was exactly what he had.

Incoming point leader McDougall had to pit for repairs, and his attempt to return to the race was denied by track officials.  He ended up last, but the good news for him was that last was only eighth.  Wilson finished fourth, moving him into a tie with MacDougall for the point lead.  Meanwhile, Egleston enjoyed a season best second place finish behind two time winner Ryan Porter, and he is now seven points out of the lead.

Meanwhile, Bruce "Bubba" Nelson had reason to be happy.  He's come close to winning a Sport Mod Main Event at Merced on more than one occasion, but this time, he made it happen.  After an early duel with Bakersfield racer Jared Tickel, the two time Hobby Stock champion grabbed that first feature victory.  Tickel still managed a second place finish as Mark Odgers continued his recent string of good finishes.

An interesting thing is happening with Odgers.  He's climbing up the point ladder and is third in the standings.  Second is not out of the question, but Odgers continues to insist that he is not chasing points.  The reality is, he really is not racing for points.  It kind of looks like he is, but had Mark run every race this season, he could very well be the point leader.  In the latest race, Odgers out dueled point leader Josh Hensley to get that third place finish.  Hensley is running much better than he did earlier this season and finished fourth ahead of Tim Cecil, who was enjoying one of his better finishes.

Kevin Joaquin returned to the Hobby Stock winner's circle for the first time in weeks at Merced.  At this point, he's not really in danger of losing his huge point lead, but he wants wins.  This was his third win, which ties him with Kristie Shearer.  Shearer finished second after back to back wins.  Joaquin knows all about second place finishes with five of them so far at Merced.  Kevin is also the point leader at Chowchilla, and he has hinted at making an appearance at Antioch Speedway before the season is up.

Shearer and her teammate, Shannon Nelson, both did well last week as Nelson finished fourth in the Main Event.  The two are having a battle for third in points, and Shearer took over that position after her second place finish ahead of Austin Van Hoff.  Van Hoff is still looking for his first win, but his third place finish moved him closer to George Silva for fifth in points.  Silva did start his night off right with a heat race win, which comes on the heels of his Chowchilla feature win.

Jennifer Corder has had miserable luck lately with all kinds of problems keeping her from the finish line.  Last week, the 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" hopeful drove a solid race and things held together for a Top 5 finish.  She has fallen further behind Joaquin in the point battle, but this finish helped her stop the fall as Shearer and Nelson have been steadily gaining on her for second in the standings.

Track management is not happy with the complete drop off of Sportsman competitors this season.  Estimations are that there are 12-14 cars and some go as high as 20 cars, but there have been no more than five cars at any race this year.  Racers like Tim Prothro, the Hausmans and Mike Henault supported in recent years but not this season.  The division has never had a huge car count in the modern area that goes back to 1999, but six or seven cars (sometimes more) would show more often than not.

It was again just three cars last week as faithful supporters Kenny Birdsong and Marcus Lung raced along with Mike Palmberg.  This has prompted reports that the division may be dropped from the program after a 17 year run.  If that is true, there is a hint of irony in the decision.  In 1980, it was Jim Soares dropping the Sportsman class at Merced.  35 years later, it would be his brother John doing the same thing.  Promoter Chuck Griffin was one of the last drivers the class had in 1980, and he worked with Luis Miranda to add the class to his roster back in 1999.  As somebody who absolutely loves this division, this reporter hates to see it go, but totally understands why the decision would be made.

Antioch Speedway Pit Stops

Charlie Correia was in Merced for the big $1000 to win Dwarf Car race, though he may have wished he had not shown up after what happened.  Charlie hit the front wall during the Main Event and did a double barrel roll.  The result of the impact left the 77 year old with a broken right shoulder.  To tell you how tough this veteran of over 40 years of racing is, he's already planning to get back out there and race again before the year is up.

What happened was Correia was battling the sunlight coming out of Turn 4 in the feature and lost track of where the wall was.  The good news in all of this is we will get to see him race again in his #0 car, and it could happen as soon as six weeks from now. Charlie was at Antioch last week as he was with teammate Mike Corsaro in the pits.  Dana Craig even lent Charlie the use of his pit buggy to get around the pits.

Track management at Antioch Speedway continues to be encouraged by the driver interest being shown in their Winged 360 Sprint Car class.  There is already a core of 8-10 racers who try to make all the races, but there were three other drivers making their second appearances of the year last week.  This included young Brayden McMahan, Watsonville regular Dustin Golobic and Jeremy Burt.  Golobic didn't do as well as he had last time when he had the Top 3 finish.  He won his heat race but fell out of the Main Event early.  McMahon was lapped, but he still grabbed a checkered flag in eighth.

When Oval Motorsports expanded the track in Turns 1 and 2 back in 2009, it was with an eye on doing bigger things with Sprint Cars.  Jeremy Burt took advantage of the opportunity with two feature wins that year.  He went on to win a championship at Marysvile and has ranked Top 3 there on more than one occasion despite missing races.  Jeremy is not really concerned about points, though he is again Top 3 ranked at Marysville.  Actually, he likes racing at Antioch, which is why he returned two races ago with a heat race win and fourth in the feature.  He was Top 3 again last week before mechanical issues forced him out.

Shawn Arriaga is another Sprint Car driver enjoying Antioch.  He has a Petaluma Speedway championship, but he admitted he never really felt like part of the show that year, like he wasn't part of the group.  Since he lives in Antioch, he likes having the option of racing closer to home, but he also says that racing at Antioch Speedway is more fun.  He insists that he is racing for fun more than points.  His father, Super Modified racer Fred Arriaga, instilled in him a love of the sport and doing it because it's fun.

The championship possibility here is just an added bonus.  Shawn had an eventful Main Event last week, but he still came back to finish fifth at the checkered flag. As luck would have it, that was one position behind his closest point rival, Art McCarthy.  It looks like the point battle will be between these two drivers after Jake Haulot and 2014 champion Chris Magoon were not a part of last week's show.  That makes the fact that there were still 12 cars in action all the more impressive.  It looks like something good is happening with these Sprint Cars at Antioch Speedway.

Austin Liggett heard about the good stuff, and that got him to make an appearance last week.  The talented up and comer in the Sprint Car world had an entertaining, slide job battle with Kurt Nelson for the feature win, but in the end, it was Liggett pocketing the $1250 first prize.  Eric Humphries was second in what was also his first start at the track.  When last he raced at Antioch, Nelson was losing the 2014 championship to Chris Magoon by just four points.  His third place finish was a nice return.

Dan Gonderman commented before the race that he simply wanted to finish and be able to drive it up on the trailer.  Between motor problems and being caught up in other people's spins, it's been a frustrating season for the generally jovial second generation racer.  Well, Saturday night was more reason for Gonderman to smile as he was a lead lap seventh behind Chase Wood Sr.  With Jake Haulot and Magoon absent last week, suddenly third in points is a possibility for Gonderman, who missed a race fixing a blown motor this year.

The wreck that ended the previous Wingless Spec Sprint Main Event took a heavy toll on the class.  Flip victim Jeremy Newberry and Roy Fisher both no showed the latest race.  Kyle Bakkie's regular car was so damaged that they were unable to get the rear end damage fixed in time.  To keep his point lead in tact, the team took the wings off of their Economy Sprint Car and brought it to Antioch,  This paid off with a third place finish ahead of championship rival Rick Panfili.  It was Panfili who was one of the first on the scene of Bakkie's flip at the last race to make sure he got out of his car okay.

Marcus Smith is making some great laps this year and not letting the bad luck get him down.  Just as it seemed as if he was poised to pass Panfili for second in points, Smith saw his car damaged when it it was hit by another car in hot laps three races ago.  They had gone into that race believing they had figured some things out with the chassis set up that would make him even faster.  A race later, Smith was one of the four drivers to flip in the Main Event.

Despite the flip, he and his crew, which includes his father (former Altamont Street Stock star Mark Smith) fixed his #28 car and got him out to Stockton for the Hunt Series race.  Battery issues ended that effort early, but he was back at Antioch last week showing that the car was indeed handling better.  Marcus won his first heat race.  Despite a mistake early that saw him spin from the lead, he came back to another career best second place feature finish.  With two seconds now, that win may be just around the corner for Marcus.

It was James East grabbing the win after problems got the better of three other leaders.  Smith was the first to lose the lead with a spin.  John Clark was running along in the lead when a slower car failing to yield to the blue flag caused him to spin.  Alan Miranda had the lead until being passed by Jimmy Perry III.  After Miranda spun from second for a late caution flag, Perry discovered a right rear flat and had to pit.  Suddenly, East had the lead and he led the rest of the way to win.  Considering all the problems East has had this year in his #71 car, he was more than happy to take this win.

In another bit of Dwarf Car news, Danny Chappa reports that his daughter Miranda Chappa is running a different motor in her #81 car, and the car itself has undergone some improvements in an effort to make the 500 Mini Sprint graduate more competitive.  It seemed to pay off at the previous race with her first heat race win and sixth place feature finish.  She was in the hunt for a Top 5 finish most of last week before finishing seventh.  Miranda has another car in the works, but her dad admits he is hoping to get her into a Sprint Car eventually.

Michael Cooper won his first heat race at the previous event, but his night ended with a motor problem that dropped him to a tenth place finish.  As of Friday night leading into the latest race, things didn't look too good for Cooper, but Kenny Swank lent him a hand to make sure the red #57 car would be back in action.  Michael finished things up on Saturday morning and had a great night at the track with a career best third place finish.  We've been talking about the possibility of Danny Jones or Jordan Swank getting a win soon, but Cooper could get a win too if he keeps looking like that.

Kenny Swank has revealed that he has a Sport Mod.  He has the former Loyd Cline car, which used to belong to Nick DeCarlo.  There's no hurry to get the car to the track, according to Kenny.  His son Jordan's potential Top 3 Hobby Stock season and "Rookie Of The Year" effort is more important.  As for who is driving that car when it does make it to the track, Kenny isn't sure.  In fact, there's a possibility he may get in there and drive it too.  Kenny raced Street Stocks at Antioch in the late 1980's and is at least considering the possibility of driving again.

And Furthermore...

The Pombo-Sargent Classic moves to Ocean Speedway in Watsonville this Friday night.  This is a King Of The West 410 Sprint Car event with South Bay Dwarf Cars and IMCA Sport Mods also on the card.  Last week's winners at Watsonville included Shane Golobic (Taco Bravo Sprint Cars), Bobby Hogge IV (IMCA Modifieds), Rob Gallaher (American Stocks) and Luke Babcock (Mini Stocks).

Speaking of memorial races, Bakersfield Speedway has a special race planned for Saturday night.  It will be the Richie McGowan Memorial Race.  The Hobby Stocks were Richie's division, and in honor of him, extra money is on the line for them in a special 32 lap Main Event.  Also on the card will be the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods and American Stocks.  Last week, Roger Holder won the IMCA Modified Main Event as Ricky Childress Jr. (IMCA Sport Mods), Kevin Collier (Hobby Stocks), Rick Childress Sr. (IMCA Stock Cars) Bobby Michnowicz (California Lightning Sprints) and West Evans (NMRA TQ Midgets) were the other feature winners.

Placerville Speedway is back after a week off during the fair.  Saturday night's program will feature the track's 360 Sprint Cars, Limited Late Models, Pure Stocks and Nor Cal Dwarf Cars.  Last time out, feature wins were scored by Greg DeCaires (360 Sprint Cars), Ryan McDaniel (Limited Late Models) and Dan Jinkerson (Pure Stocks).

Kings Speedway in Hanford has a Saturday night race that will be headlined by the USAC West Coast 360 Sprint CarsIMCA Stock Cars, Mini Stocks and Racesaver Sprint Cars will also be in action.  Mitchell Faccinto (Winged 360 Sprint Cars), Brad Pounds (IMCA Modifieds) and Nick Spainhoward (IMCA Sport Mods) won the Main Events last time.

Santa Maria Raceway is back at it again Saturday night with Santa Maria Late Models, CDCRA Dwarf Cars, Mini Stocks and QRC Sprints all in action.  Tristan Guardino won last week's West Coast 360 Sprint Car Main Event as Sean Martin Jr. (American Stocks), Aaron Basti (Mini Stocks), Zach Forster (Mod Lites), Kaden Cochrun (Sr. Mini Dwarfs), Cole Forster (Jr. Mini Dwarfs) and Dylan Thornton (Jr. Midgets) were the other feature winners.

Siskiyou Motor Speedway in Yreka opens ASCS Sprint Car Speedweek on Sunday with the Sprint Cars being joined by other divisions.  I'm thinking McDonald's Mini Stocks will be there, but that is a guess.  The Firecracker Challenge on July 4th will be the next race with the track's regular classes (IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Mods, Mini Stocks and Super Stocks).  There will be a $1000 to win IMCA Sport Mod race on the card that night.

On the pavement this Saturday night, All American Speedway in Roseville returns for a Placer County Fair race that will feature Pacific Coast Challenge Late Models, NSCS Modifieds and Street Stocks Lakeport Speedway will have a five division show that will include Bombers, Jammers, Outlaws, Mini Stocks and Bandoleros.