Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Antioch and Merced Speedway Weekend Previews Articles, Pit Stops

First of all...

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

Available on Lulu in Paperback And Hard Cover

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

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

Short Track History Project at Gofundme 

Additional info on the Short Track History Project  HERE

DCRR Racing Media And PR Consulting  HERE

Petaluma Speedway Mini Stock Main Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA Modified Main Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA Street Stock Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Petaluma Speedway IMCA PitStopUSA.com Winged 360 Sprint Car Event From last week can be viewed HERE

Alameda County Fair Demolition Derby 4th of July. Check out the Mini Stock Figure 8 race at the end HERE

Figure 8 racing at Alameda County Fair.  Mini Stock Figure 8 racing in a Rodeo Arena. Check it out HERE

The DCRR Racing Radio Show

Weekend Preview Edition

IMCA Modifieds Headline Four Division Show 
At Antioch Speedway

Racing returns to Antioch Speedway this Saturday night with a four division show.  Taking turns on the fast three-eighth mile clay oval will be the IMCA Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks.

Nobody really expected Scott Busby of Martinez to return for a run at the IMCA Modified championship this season.  Busby hasn't made a serious run at the track championship since he won his fourth title in 1997, but he knew his schedule was open enough to allow him to run most of the races.  After winning his fourth Main Event of the season three weeks ago, Busby now leads San Pablo's Bobby Motts Jr. by 30 points.

Motts saw his title hopes take a blow three weeks ago when he failed to make the Friday night feature.  The Motts team was dealt a more serious blow over a month ago after long time racing partner Mike Ferry was seriously injured in a motor cycle accident just a few blocks from his home.  It was only a year ago when Motts took a year off to be there for his friend, who was battling an illness that threatened his life.

Motts and Busby can expect some competition from the likes of 2014 champion Carl Berendsen II of Antioch, IMCA State point leader Alex Wilson and his 2014 State champion brother Kyle Wilson, both of Salinas.  Manteca's Dustin Himes, Nick Viscusi III of Vacaville and past champion Aaron Crowell of Antioch are among others anticipated for this race.  He hasn't been confirmed, but Troy Foulger of Martinez has impressed with a $2500 IMCA Modified victory and a Late Model win in recent weeks.

It's been about a month since we saw the Wingless Spec Sprints in action, and that was an eventful night in which several leaders had their problems.  When the checkered flag flew, it was hard luck racer James East grabbing his first victory.  Even three time winner and point leader Kyle Bakkie had his struggles that night.  However, the rising young star from Citrus Heights holds a 36 point lead over division veteran Rick Panfili of Antioch.

Panfili is still searching for his first career win, and he may need it to hold off the rapidly approaching rookie Marcus Smith of Tracy.  After grabbing his second runner up finish in the previous race, Smith trails Panfili by 20 points in the battle for third.  Roy Fisher of Antioch and Concord's Jimmy Perry III both have multiple wins this year and are anticipated this week.  Others to watch for include NFL Alumni Jeremy Newberry of Antioch, Chase Wood Jr. of Gilroy, Pleasant Hill's Keith Shipherd and hard charger Alan Miranda of Vacaville.  Miranda and Newberry both have second place finishes as they look for their first wins.

The win column in Limited Late Models lately seems to belong to point leader Larry Damitz of Vallejo.  The six time winner is pulling away in his quest for a fourth championship in the last five seasons.  Damitz leads two time feature winner Mike Gustafson by 42 points, leaving the two time division champ to battle Suisun's Mike Hynes and Antioch's Mark Garner for second.  Gustafson leads Hynes by two points and Merced point leader Garner by eight.

Hynes looked better than he has in weeks as he ran a strong third last time behind Antioch's Jim Freethy, who matched his season best effort in second.  However, Freethy debuted a new car four races ago and is hoping this could be his week to win.  Other drivers to watch for this week include the steady John Evans of Alamo, Peggy Sue Jarred of Antioch and Paul Hanley of Petaluma.

Kimo Oreta has been in control of the Hobby Stock point race.  The two time defending champion from Vacaville now has five feature wins to hold a commanding lead in the standings.  The second place point battle finds Danny Jones of Castro Valley leading Concord's Jordan Swank by 22 points.  Jones has five second place finishes and was in the hunt for a win last week when he suffered a motor problem to end his night.  With all the mechanical issues he's been through lately, Jones may be tempted to just take a night off to regroup.

Swank may be hoping for that to happen, but the rookie also has his hands full trying to hold off Bay Point's Michael Cooper for third.  Cooper is 17 points behind him after a fifth place finish last week.  Only 27 points behind Swank now is the steady Frank Furtado of Antioch.  It was Chase Templeton of Antioch who impressed by winning his season debut last week.  Can he back it up his week?  Other drivers we'll be watching for this week include Chris Sorensen of El Sobrante, Antioch's Natalie Perry, Concord's Cameron Swank 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. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, and $10 for children 6-12. Children under six years old are admitted free. A family four pack of tickets is $40. Secured parking is offered by the Fairgrounds for $5. Racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Antioch Speedway Top 5 At A Glance

IMCA Modifieds

Scott Busby        362
Bobby Motts Jr.       332
Carl Berendsen        281
Alex Wilson        219
Kyle Wilson        216

Econo Sprints

Kyle Bakkie        440
Rick Panfili        404
Marcus Smith        384
Alan Miranda        364
Roy Fisher        290

Limited Late Models

Larry Damitz        420
Mike Gustafson        378
Mike Hynes        372
Mark Garner        370
Jim Freethy        320

Hobby Stocks

Kimo Oreta        734
Dan Jones        527
Jordan Swank        505
Michael Cooper        488
Frank Furtado        478

IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks Take Center Stage 
At Merced Speedway

Coming off of the excitement of last week's Ted Stofle Classic, won by Michael Shearer of Los Banos, five divisions will be in competition this Sunday night at Merced Speedway.  The IMCA Modified battle heats up this week as IMCA Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Dwarf Cars will also be in action on the quarter-mile dirt oval.

Despite being winless so far this season, IMCA Modified point leader Alex Wilson of Salinas and 2012 champion Bill Egleston of Atwater battle for the championship.  The IMCA State leader Wilson leads Egleston by just six points.  This was a three car battle, but Antioch's John MacDougall is out for the season following a crash in a recent visit to Petaluma Speedway.  Two time champion and long time racer Bob Williamson of Merced is poised to take over third in the standings this week, and he will join Wilson and Egleston in the battle for that first win of the season.

The hottest driver at this point is Merced's Ryan Porter.  Porter won last week for his third win of the season.  He held off two time winner Kyle Wilson, who has two wins this season.  Other drivers we're anticipating include one time winner Karl Rose of Merced, Ricky Thatcher of Mariposa and Modesto's Harley Turner.

The IMCA Sport Mods have had some very competitive races in recent weeks with Rick Diaz of Los Banos and Bruce Nelson of Winton winning the last two races.  Diaz won last week after a battle with Nelson, and these two drivers are usually in the thick of the battle when they come to town.  Neither is going for points this year, and rookie Josh Hensley of Ballico is a runaway point leader with one win to his credit.

The closer battle is the one for second between Merced's Dwayne Short and Mariposa's Mark Odgers.  Odgers trails by just 19 points and has had some good finishes in recent weeks.  Other drivers to watch for this week include the father and son team of Gary and Nick Tucker of Turlock, IMCA National point leader Fred Ryland of Brentwood and young Chase Thomas of Atwater.  With eight winners in this competitive division, you never know who will win from week to week.

The Hobby Stocks are the most competitive with 10 different winners in 14 races.  Michael Shearer of Los Banos added his name to that list with a big victory last week in the 89 lap Ted Stofle Classic.  He joins wife Kristie on the win list, and Kristie already has three wins.  Point leader Kevin Joaquin is also a three time winner, but the Sonora area driver missed last week's show to be in a wedding.  His point lead over Modesto rookie Jennifer Corder was so big that he still leads by over 100 points.

Shearer and Winton's Shannon Nelson are having the closest battle for points up front as Shearer leads the one time winner by just one point in the race for third.  The Shearer team had five cars in action last week.  It's possible that Michael will be back to try for a second win in the fast #72 car.  The always exciting George Silva of Merced is currently fifth in points and is anticipated for this race.  Other drivers to watch for include the steady rookie Bobby Williams of Merced, Chowchilla's Austin Van Hoff and Dexter Long of Merced.

Ballico's Darren Miguel doubled his Mini Stocks point lead over 2014 champion Chris Corder of Modesto to 26 points after his impressive eighth win last Sunday.  Corder is struggling lately and didn't finish last week.  He's still looking for his first win of the season.  Two Bay Area visitors, Kelly Campanile and Natalie Waldrop, finished second and fourth, respectively last week.  Campanile was right behind Miguel in that race for her second runner up finish of the season.

Mike Drake of Merced and San Jose's Shawn Jones are both Dwarf Car feature winners this season at Merced.  The Dwarf Cars are slated for their third visit of the season, and among the possible competitors this week are Chuck Weir of Merced and Thomas Leiby of Copperopolis.  Leiby scored his first win of the season last week at Watsonville, and it's possible a few visitors from that track could come to town for this show.

Merced Speedway is located inside the Merced County Fairgrounds, 900 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way in Merced, Calif. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for children 6-12. A family four-pack of tickets admits two children and two adults for $32. Racing begins at 6 p.m. The grandstand opens at 4:30 p.m.

Merced Speedway Top 5 At A Glance

IMCA Modified

Alex Wilson     356
Bill Egleston     350
John MacDougall 321
Bob Williamson     295
Ricky Thatcher     256

IMCA Sport Mod

Josh Hensley     505
Dwayne Short     341
Mark Odgers     322
Bruce Nelson     283
Fred Ryland     280

Hobby Stock

Kevin Joaquin     584
Jennifer Corder 478
Kristie Shearer 411
Shannon Nelson     410
George Silva     334

Mini Stocks

Darren Miguel     580
Chris Corder     554
Dennis Copus     318
Kevin Lockerby     283
Joy Alger     216
Natalie Waldrop 216

Pit Stops

We reach into the grab bag for a few brief notes from what was a very busy weekend, and we start with the Mini Stocks at Merced Speedway where Matt Shlessinger and Brian Widdowson were both in the pits.  Both drivers had cars at the Alameda County Fair Figure 8 races July 3-5, and it was these two putting on the show.  Matt won the first two nights, and the first race featured a spirited contact duel between the friends.  Both commented that they would be up for a similar type of "Rodeo Arena" Figure 8 at Merced.  On this night, Shlessinger was driving the #67 car that was the team's third car in Alameda, but he had a DNF in last.

Third generation racer Natalie Waldrop was back in her #0 Mini Stock with dad, Rob Waldrop, as crew chief.  Natalie recently graduated and has a job, so racing has taken a back seat lately.  She made up for lost time with a lead lap fourth place finish that moved her into a tie with Joy Alger for fifth in points at Merced.  Rob indicated that he put his daughter in the car to see if she had an interest in racing.  She  does.  She could be switching over to a Sport Mod or a Dwarf Car next year.

We give a shout out to Shearer Racing for fielding five of the 13 Hobby Stocks that competed in the Ted Stofle Classic.  Michael Shearer was in a fast car that was competitive at Bakersfield Speedway before.  Wife Kristie was in her usual #73j car.  Bruce "Bubba" Nelson's wife Shannon was in the #67 car as usual, past IMCA Modified star Tommy Bostic was in the #1 car and Marshall Weaver was in the team's #37 car.  Bruce Nelson was in his usual #4 Modified, but the two time Hobby Stock champion has definitely had a hand in helping K. Shearer get her car dialed in.

Kristie did just fine on Sunday with a lead lap second place finish maintaining her one point lead in the battle for third.  S. Nelson's fourth place finish and heat win kept the one point interval intact.  Bostic and Weaver both led some laps and looked like potential winners, but both fell out with mechanical issues.  Michael Shearer was the winner of the prestigious race, making this his biggest win.  B. Nelson was a strong second in the Sport Mod feature.  All in all, the team made their presence known in the big show and kept the Hobby Stock count from falling off its usual numbers.

We hadn't seen the past champion Weaver in a while, but he showed he can still find his way to the front.  Jay Connolly is another racer who has had his moments through the years.  He was making his season debut, but he had problems early in the night to end it in disappointment.  Steve Torres started his career at Antioch Speedway in 1985, but the low budget and crewless racer has moved to the Modesto area.  He admits that family obligations keep his racing time to a minimum, but he was happy to run some laps and finish seventh on Sunday.

The Merced IMCA Modified battle took a blow when John MacDougall announced his car was so damaged from a visit to Petaluma that he was ending his effort for the season.  He came into Sunday in a tie with State point leader Alex Wilson. Wilson had a third place finish a night earlier at Santa Maria as his last five starts have been at five different race tracks.  Wilson got a flat tire, but he came back after a pit stop to finish sixth, right behind point rival Bill Egleston.  Alex leads Bill by six points now.

The Sport Mods have had their struggles in car count at times this season at Merced, but Sunday's race saw an impressive 20 cars show up.  Dwayne Short was a surprise, despite the fact that he is second in points.  He had remarked a couple weeks earlier that work would keep him from racing as the track switches to Sundays.  Mark Odgers cut Short's advantage in the race for second down to 19 points as he finished ninth in the feature after pitting with a flat tire.  The Tuckers did pretty well as Gary was sixth in the main, and his son Nick won his heat race.

Like long time Sportsman and Street Stock racer Gary Tucker, three time Street Stock champion Darren Thomas is getting his son started in Sport Mods.  Darren finished eighth at Merced and sixth a night earlier at Antioch.  Darren also revealed that he'll put his son Chase Thomas in the car to race at Watsonville this Friday and Merced on Sunday.  Watsonvillle point leader Anthony Giuliani raced at both Merced and Antioch and had two Top 5 finishes.  He was joined by fellow Watsonville racer Matt Hagio at Merced.  Both were heat race winners and Hagio was third in the feature.  Danny Roe also took a shot at running two races and was tenth at Antioch and fifth at Merced.

Shawn Arriaga and Art McCarthy have been having a good battle for the Winged 360 Sprint Car title at Antioch Speedway, but the two crashed early in the recent Main Event.  Arriaga revealed before the latest race that his father, Super Modified racer Fernando Arriaga, will be out there racing with him by the next race.  This is something the two are very much looking forward to as Shawn is very proud of his family's racing history.  Mother Sherri Hill won her fist Sprint Car feature at Antioch in the mid 1990's, and grandfather Gil Richardson was a star of Hardtops at Vallejo Speedway in the 1960's.

Dan Gonderman is probably kicking himself about the Sprint Car win that got away.  He lost his heat race to a last turn pass by Chris Magoon.  He was leading the Main Event until getting sideways in Turn 4 just past the halfway mark of the race.  That gave the lead to Jake Haulot, who brought it home to victory.  Gonderman settled for second.  The Main Event was still going to pay $1250 to win despite a less than desired car count.

One team absent last week was Ricky Brophy and his father Rick "Doc" Brophy.  Ricky has been waiting on a motor from his engine builder, but it wasn't ready yet.  Rather than field one car, the team decided to take the night off.  The previous race's Top 2 finishers were in Spec Sprints on Saturday.  The previous winner, Austin Liggett, was finishing third in the Hunt Series race at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, while Eric Humphries was wining the NCMA feature at Madera.  The Hunt Series had an impressive 23 car field, and all accounts are that this show was a success.

The Saturday race at Watsonville was the Howard Kaeding Classic, honoring Kaeding racing family patriarch Howard Kaeding.  There were an impressive 29 King Of The West Sprint Cars, and Kyle Hirst won ahead of Tyler Walker.  Dwarf Car drivers from South Bay, Nor Cal, Southern Oregon, Antioch and Petaluma made up a roughly 50 car field of Dwarf Cars, and this enabled Watsonville to have over 100 open wheel race cars on Saturday night among three divisions. 

Now, in recent years, these big Dwarf Car events break the cars down into three classifications, Sportsman for the younger drivers, Veteran for the older drivers and Pro for the division in general.  Thomas Leiby has finished as high as second at Antioch this year, but the hard luck racer picked up a win in the Sportsman group.  In the Veteran class, Antioch regular Kevin Miraglio proved that what we've been saying about him being due to win to was a correct assessment.  Miraglio held off one of the Olschowka clan, Buddy Olschowka, to get his first win of the year.

We're also happy to report that the #2j Dwarf Car of Jack Haverty was back together, and Jack won a Veteran heat race on Friday  Unfortunately, he DNF'ed in last on Saturday, but we hope the damage wasn't too bad.  The Sargent family has long had a reputation for wining, and third generation racer Matt Sargent bested the 17 car Pro Dwarf Car field to win on Saturday ahead of Petaluma point leader Dave Mosier and Cameron Diatte.  This effectively shut Nor Cal out of the winner's column after they swept Friday's event with Joey Dale (Sportsman) Scott Dahlgren (Veteran) and Shawn Jones (Pro) getting the wins.

In further Dwarf car news, Chester Kniss revealed that his son Chester Jr. just turned 14 years old and should be making his Dwarf Car debut on July 25 at Antioch.  The younger Chester has some prior racing experience in the 250 Mini Sprints at Dixon.  The older Chester has been steadily dialing in his Delta Transmission Late Model, and his strong fourth place finish last week enabled him to grab a five point advantage over Rob Norris in the battle for fifth in points.

The Late Models seem to be taking hold at Antioch, and Chester is enjoying this division.  As it seems to be gaining momentum, perhaps other Modified drivers will join he, Troy Foulger and Rob Norris in giving it a go.  Foulger certainly is adapting well as his second win of the season last week would indicate,  He beat point leader Jeff Decker to get the win, but the lead five cars ran closely for a while.  Kniss had a late duel with Richard Papenhuasen for third before settling for fourth.  Papenhausen was happy to be back after missing the Summer Nationals with a back injury, and he still seemed to be walking gingerly.

Mark Garner was dialing in the Tim Hammett car and led ten laps of the Sport Mod feature at Antioch Saturday night.  Garner revealed that he and the crew made some big changes with the rear end of the car and it's coming along.  Mark commented that it was difficult for him to drive this car at first, and this is coming from a winner of Modified and Limited Late Model features.  When he does turn the wheel back over to Hammett, we should see an improvement in his efforts.

Garner had to skip Sunday's race at Merced, but this is not an indication that he is bailing on a championship.  With his father's illness, he wanted to be closer to home.  Only two cars showed up at Merced, and those drives, Scott Van Gelder and Buddy Thatcher, crashed while fighting for the lead in a heat race.  Van Gelder was credited with the win, but he was shaken up in the crash.  The division had no Main Event.

Getting back to the Sport Mods, Garner wasn't the only surprise up front, although some wouldn't really call either driver a surprise.  Trevor Clymens was a star in Pure Stocks in the past, and he was giving it a good run in his beautiful blue #2c car.  Trevor led the race until being passed on lap 19 by Fred Ryland.  He still finished a solid second and could be somebody to watch in the race for victories.  Ryland was just doing what he needed to do.  He needs wins desperately to maintain his National point lead, and he's actually pessimistic that he will be able to hold this lead.

In the Hobby Stocks, Antioch Speedway has seen seven different Hobby Stock winners this season, and the seventh winner occurred last week in his season debut.  Chase Templeton had a front row start and managed to hold off the likes of Kimo Oreta and Chris Sorensen in getting the win.  His biggest threat may have been himself as he nearly spun exiting Turn 4 to take a white flag.  Templeton got the win ahead of Sorensen and Oreta.  Robert Niven had another good effort in fourth, and shout outs go to Michael Cooper and Frank Furtado for lead lap finishes in the Top 6.

Danny Jones, Natalie Perry and Cameron Swank have work to do if they are coming back this week.  Perry impressed with a strong second in her heat race, but a car got sideways in front of her in the feature, leaving her with front end damage to fix.  Jones was in the thick of the battle to win, but his race ended with possibly a blown motor.  Swank had a car get sideways in front of him in his heat race.  He hit the car and suffered right front damage, yet somehow he still won that heat race.

We wanted to hear this last bit mentioned on the PA at Merced Speedway as it concerns a member of the racing family.  Eva Sass passed away on June 30.  She was the beloved wife of "the voice of Merced Speedway" Johnny Sass.  Eva was a scorekeeper herself, and she supported Johnny's drive to do all that he did through the years for that race track.  She leaves behind Johnny, as well as several children, grand children, great grand children and one great great grand child.

For all of the official news about Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway, be sure to check out the official Oval Motorsports Website.

Stevens, Richards, Ross Win Features At Orland

Six divisions of racing took to the one-fifth mile dirt oval at Sacramento Valley Speedway in Orland Saturday night.  When the checkered flag flew, we had three repeat winners in Paul Stevens (Hobby Stocks), Tony Richards (Wingless Sprints) and Keith Ross (Mini Trucks).  Other winners included Tom Davis (Mini Stocks), Jeromie Crismon (600 Mini Sprints) and Jackie Whitson Jr. (250 Mini Sprints).

The Hobby Stocks had a good turnout, and Paul Stevens and title hopeful Shanon Collins set the stage with wins in their heat races.  The duo ran at the front of the pack in the Main Event, but it was Stevens notching his second straight victory.  Collins has a pair of thirds this season, and he improved on that with a season best second place finish.  Former Mini Truck racer Brad Ray grabbed a podium finish in third as point leader Steve Martin and Earl Adams rounded out the Top 5.  Jeremy Langenderfer settled for sixth ahead of Sean Halterman, Jason Cooper and former champion Rich Hood.  Collins moved into a tie with Martin for the point lead with Hood 85 points back in third.

Past Wingless Sprint champion Tony Richards has been practically unbeatable since his season debut at the second race.  Richards and Ryan Owens each won heat races, but the night went down hill from there for Owens.  Richards drove to his third straight feature victory.  Point leader Bill Hopper was going for his fourth straight second pace finish, but he lost that battle to Jeremy Wilson, who was making his season debut.  Hopper settled for third ahead of Jeffrey Crossman, Mark Michelet and Wilson.  Hopper continues to lead the standings, though Richards has cut the lead down to 55 points.

A pair of champions, Keith Ross and Ross Vige, were Mini Truck heat race winners, and both made their presence known at the front of the Main Event, along with title hopeful Tyler Pebley.  However, it was Ross showing why he's the point leader with his second straight win.  Pebley out ran Vige for the second place finish as William Fogle and Mike Chase completed the Top 5.  Past champion Dan Webster was sixth ahead of John Chase and Willie Tanson.

The Mini Stock field was a little light on cars, but defending champion Tom Davis made the most of it.  After winning the heat race, Davis proved to be unstoppable in the Main Event.  Kenny Britt made his second start of the second and finished second ahead of John Kirkpatrick, Willie Tanson and disappointed point leader Nick Vidovich.  Vidovich saw his lead over Davis shrink to just ten points as 2013 champion Kirkpatrick is only 30 points back in third.

Jeromie Crismon backed up his double win at the last 600 Mini Sprint event by doing it again.  After winning his heat race, he held off fellow heat race winner Todd Zachary for the feature victory.  Skyler Richter was third ahead of Marty Plumb, Bryan Stankey, Roger Tidmore and Kyra Michelet.

The track has added a 250 Mini Sprint division, and Jackie Whitson Jr. and Jesse Garland shared the heat wins.  Whitson continued his winning ways with a feature win ahead of double division racer Jeromie Crismon.  Previous feature winner Jesse Garland settled for third ahead of Jackie Whitson Sr., Andrew Love and Rob Baker.

Racing continues at Sacramento Valley Speedway on July 25 with Hobby Stocks, Mini Trucks, Mini Stocks, 600 Mini Sprints and 250 Mini Sprints.  For further information, check out the Sacramento Valley Speedway Website.