Thursday, May 5, 2016

Antioch Speedway And Merced Speedway Weekend Previews

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Sprint Cars Highlight Five Division Program 
At Antioch Speedway
The the 2016 season is in high gear at Antioch Speedway. The racing community is on a high  following last week's six division event. People are saying that was the best race yet this season, and they follow it up with a program that will be headlined by the Sprint Cars this week. In addition to the Winged 360 Sprint Cars and Wingless Spec Sprints, divisions featured on Saturday night will include the B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks.
Bragging rights in the Winged Sprint Cars have been earned by Art McCarthy and Billy Aton. Aton followed up on his third place finish in the season opener with an impressive feature win last time out. As the track continues to establish this division, surprise entrants show up just about every week. The most recent race was no exception as young guns, Giovanni's Scelzi and Koen Shaw finished second and third, respectively.

Aton has been absent from the speedway for the past few years, but the past Wingless Spec Sprint champion was a Main Event winner back in 2011 in the winged class. Aton's return means that he could be the driver to seriously challenge the veteran McCarthy for this season's championship.

McCarthy and 2015 champion Shawn Arriaga were heat race winners in the most recent event, and they battled for fourth in that Main Event with Arriaga edging McCarthy. Coming off of back to back Top 3 point seasons, the past Antioch Speedway Winged Sprint Car champion McCarthy is hoping to get his second track championship at the speedway this year.

2014 Titlist Chris Magoon made many young fans happy in the most recent race as he handed out autographed photos and candy in front the grandstands during intermission. It's been nearly two years since he won a Main Event, and he'd like to get one this week. Fellow Top 5 ranked ranked racer Dan Gonderman, Rick Brophy, Ricky Brophy, Adam McCarthy and Fred Arriaga are among the other drivers we're anticipating this week.

When the Wingless Spec Sprint division was established at Antioch Speedway in 1999, Rick Panfili was among those on the roster. Panfili has never won a Main Event in this division and has ranked third in the points these past two seasons. Following his second and fourth place finishes, Panfili finds himself ranked second in the point standings, just two points behind Jim Perry Jr. and in front of season opening feature winner Dan Gonderman. Panfili is hungry for victory, and he seems poised to get one on any given week.

After winning "Rookie Of The Year" honors and ranking second in the standings last year, Marcus Smith landed the ride driving for Richard Basden this season. His first start at Marysville earlier this year resulted in him flipping the car.  That was followed by a blown motor. However, Marcus has continued to come back, and his perseverance was rewarded last week with an impressive Main Event win. Interesting enough, the car that Marcus was building to run this year, driven by Dan Gonderman, won the season opening Main Event. Smith is trying to make up for lost time and is climbing the point ladder quickly.

While Smith picked up his first win in the division last week, Alan Miranda was hoping to do it and ended up with a career best second. The protégé of past Spec Sprint champion Gary Nelson Jr. seems poised to win one at any time. A field in the mid teens competed last time out, and it's anticipated that it will be pretty much the same this week with rookie Adam Teves, James East, father-son champions Jim Perry Jr. and Jimmy Perry III, Roy Fisher and defending champion Kyle Bakkie among the others we're looking for this week.

The B Modified division continues to be a wide open race. In the most recent event, Trevor Clemens finally grabbed his first win of the season. Because the division is booked just about every week this season, car count has been a bit strained. However, Al Johnson has persevered and is at the top of the point list. Being a leader isn't enough for Johnson, who is hoping for his first career feature win. Johnson matched his career best effort with another second second place finish last week. Could this be the week he finally wins?

Another driver making great strides this season is Shane DeVolder. DeVolder earned a career best second place feature finish recently, and was 4th last week after winning his first career heat race. His father, Dean DeVolder, is a Street Stock champion at Petaluma.

Speaking of family racers, Randy Brown has joined the ranks of the B Mod racers this year. The brother of veteran Ron Brown, Randy began racing at Antioch Speedway in the late 1970's in a Street Stock. He also did some Late Model racing in the early 1980's. Brown is working out the bugs in his new car and made his second start last week. Meanwhile, brother Ron had a solid third place finish ahead of Danny Jones last week.

You really never know who will show up on any given week for B Mod racing at Antioch, but drivers who could be there include 2015 Champion Fred Ryland, Patty Ryland, K.C. Keller, Chuck Golden and Tim Hammett.
Larry Damitz keeps right on going at Antioch Speedway. With the Limited Late Models off last week, Larry ran his Modified Hardtop to a feature win. The winner of the season opening Main Events sits atop the point ladder ahead of "Rookie Of The Year" hopeful Kimo Oreta.

When last we saw the Limited Late Model division, the division's All Time Main Event win leader and two time champion Mike Gustafson picked up the featured victory. Lori Brown was working on another top three finish when mechanical issues hit. Another driver who has had his share of troubles this year is Mark Garner. Garner will be out to try and turn things around this week.

White Damitz, Oreta and Garner are in the championship battle, Jim Freethy is another one trying to shake off the mechanical gremlins. The last time out, his car caught fire. It seems likely that if Freethy can keep things together, he'll get a Main Event win this year. Other drivers we'll be watching for include John Keith, John Evans and Eric Berendsen. Evans is hoping for good things after purchasing the car of 2014-2015 point runner up Mike Hynes. The cars of Calvin Lewis, Chris Long and Jim Robbins are among the ones we could be seeing at some point this year.

The Hobby Stock division has remained a wide open affair. After four races, we have four different Main Event winners. Last time out, Kimo Oreta took advantage of an off night for the Limited Late models to bring his Hobby Stock out to the track. He was rewarded with the Main Event victory. Rookie Guy Ahlwardt is one of the feature winners this year, and he finished a strong second last time out. Ahlwardt's success so far this year has him leading the point standings ahead of surprising fellow rookie Lindsey Buirch.

Cameron Swank has a pretty fast car and has heat race success this year. However, his best effort in the Main Event last week, a third, gives him hope that a Main Event win could be just around the corner. He held off another of this season's feature winners, Chris Sorensen, for that finish. Natalie Perry maintained her Top 5 point effort with a fifth place finish.  Back in seventh was the season debut of the #88 car of Kevin Taylor. We hadn't heard confirmation, but we believe he could be related to past Street Stock driver and feature winner in that class, Chuck Taylor.

There are several competitive cars in this class, and we believe there will be more new feature winners to come. Some of the drivers we're looking for this week include Calvin Louis Jr., Steven Rogers, past champion Dan McCown, Jordan Swank and Michael Cooper.

To recap, Winged Sprint Cars, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks will make this a five division show that you will want to see. For further information, go to the track's official website at

Antioch Speedway Points

Winged 360 Sprint Car

Art McCarthty    104
Bill Aton    102
Chris Magoon    86
Dan Gonderman    78
Rick Brophy     70
Jarrett Soares    54
Giovanni Scelzi    50
Shawn Arriaga    50
Koen Shaw    46
Steve Jaquith    44

Wingless Spec Sprint

Jim Perry Jr.    98
Rock Panfili    96
Dan Gonderman    94
Alan Miranda    90
Roy Fisher    84
Marcus Smith    84
Shannon Newton    82
James East    76
Kyle Bakkie    76
Brandon Burd    68

B Modified
Al Johnson    230
Trevor Clymens    184
Shane DeVolder    178
Danny Jones    160
Brian Pearce    144
Fred Ryland    110
Anthony Giuliani 109
Patti Ryland    104
K.C. Keller    94
Ron Brown    90

Limited Late Model
Larry Damitz    100
Kimo Oreta    98
Mark Garner    92
Lori Brown    90
Jim Freethy    84
John Evans    82
Mike Gustafson    50
Donny Richardson 6

Hobby Stock
Guy Ahlwardt    190
Lindsey Buirch    148
Danny Jones    147
Chris Sorensen    136
Natalie Perry    135
Michael Cooper    132
Cameron Swank    130
Jordan Swank    118
Calvin Louis Jr. 90
Russell Shearer     82

 Merced Speedway Heads Into May With A Five Division Show

One of the best shows in the state of California right now is happening at Merced Speedway every Saturday night. The track had big success with the annual Ted Stofle classic last week. The show hits the month of May with an exciting four division program featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks.

Records will show that after four events in the IMCA Modifieds, there are four different feature winners. The hot driver at the moment is Bill Egleston. The 2012 Champion is coming off of a second place finish in the Ted Stofle Classic, which is his second runner up finish this season. He is also a Main Event winner and sits atop the point leader board at the moment.

It's likely that there will be other feature winners this year, and one who seems poised to be the next one is rookie Bruce "Bubba" Nelson. Nelson drove a solid race last time out and was rewarded with a strong third place finish. Considering he is a two time Hobby Stock champion and won features in that division and the IMCA Sport Modifieds last year, it's not a question of if but when he wins in the IMCA Modified division

Late Model veteran Derek Nance finally made his debut in the division last week with a fourth place finish. The more he races, the more likely it will be that he gets a win. Another driver you should be watching in the battle for victory is Ramie Stone. Though the multi time IMCA Modified champion has struggled a bit this year, it's only a matter of time before he gets it dialed in and scores a victory.

Other drivers that we'll be watching for this week include three time Street Stock champion Ricky Thatcher, Harley Turner, Tim Etchison III, season opening feature winner Paul Stone, feature winner Jeff Streeter and Randy Brown.

In the IMCA Sport Modifieds, there have been three different feature winners. Two of those winners, Rick Diaz and Steve Stone, are locked in a close battle for the point lead. Last time out, neither of these drivers grabbed a podium finish.  It was Bakersfield racer Nick Spainhoward collecting the big trophy and the $600 prize in the Ted Stofle Classic. Third place was the guy behind the wheel of the George Medeiros owned blue #07 car, Mike Drake. It was Drake's second top three finish of the year. He seems likely to be a Main Event winner at some point this year.

Chowchilla resident Tim Elias made his best showing of the year last week as he grabbed a fifth place finish ahead of a season best sixth for Danny Roe. Another driver with multiple top five finishes, Gary Tucker, is one we suspect will most likely be getting a win this year.

The IMCA Sport Modified division is stacked with talent, and other drivers we're watching for this week include Chris Falkenberg, 2015 champion Josh Hensley, Dwayne Short, Nick Tucker, Chase Thomas and Andy Welch.

Perhaps the surprise of the night in the Ted Stofle Classic was the winner of the Hobby Stock portion of the event. The two drivers battling for the win at the end were Phil Vaughn and Dexter Long. Long was coming off a best career finish in second the week before, and he was racing hard to get his first career win. However, that honor fell to past top ten Chowchilla point runner Vaughn. Vaughn's previous best feature finish at Merced was a third place last year, and he was ecstatic that his first win came in one of the biggest events of the year. 

Though season opening feature winner Michael Shearer had to settle for third, it was enough to keep him in charge of the point standings after four events. Michael and his wife Kristie Shearer remain front runners in this division this year with Long a surprise second in front of Kristie. Another driver who has not failed to get a top five finish in his three starts was last week's fourth place finisher Andrew Krumm. The two time division champion could strike for victory at any time.

The Hobby Stock division is filled with talent from front to back, and other drivers we're looking for in the battle for victory include Austin Van Hoff, Kodie Dean, Garrett Corn, John Hensley, Darren Miguel and Cody Parker.

At this point, Mini Stock point leader Chris Corder doesn't seem like he wants to share in the victory experience. The 2014 champion has been the dominant force in the division so far. He enters this week as the man to beat, but there are some drivers poised to knock him off of his perch.

Among the drivers to watch for this week include teammates Mike Germait and James Stockton. Germait has had top three Main Event success this year and is poised to get his first career win. Two of the biggest contenders for victory are both out of the action. Past Mini Truck champion Kevin Lockerby sold his car recently, and Dennis Copus saw his new car get totaled in a crash last time out.

On the heels of her strong third place finish last time out, Joy Alger is hoping to grab her first Main Event win. Robert Jackson could have been another driver to watch as well as Steven Johnson and Paul Lauretti.  However, we just got word that the Jackson car has been purchased by 2014 point runner up Jennifer Corder. There is also rookie Destiny Carter, who is hoping to cross another milestone off of her list and grab a top five feature finish or a heat race win.

As legendary announcer Johnny Sass would say, action will be the attraction at Merced Speedway this Saturday night with IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks. For further information, check out the track's official website at

Merced Speedway Points

IMCA Modified
Bill Egleston        151
Randy Brown         139   
Bruce Nelson         138
Ramie Stone         135
Ricky Thatcher        132
Jarod Fast        126
Paul Stone         116
Jeff Streeter         111
T.J. Etchinson III     103
Jerry Corn         88

IMCA Sport Modified
Steve Stone    150
Mike Drake     146
Rick Diaz     145
Josh Hensley     137
Tim Elias    129
Alex Odishoo     112
Gary Tucker    111
Dwayne Short    107
Chris Falkenberg 97
Paul Espino     93

Hobby Stock
Michael Shearer    85
Dexter Long    81
Kristie Shearer 76
Andrew Krumm     70
Garrett Corn     66
Austin VanHoff     65
Phillip Vaughn     54
Kodie Dean    53
Robbie Loquaci     53
Cody Parker    47

Mini Stock
Chris Corder    58
Joy Alger    48
Paul Lauretti     46
Dennis Copus     44
Mike Germait    43
Destiny Carter    40
James Stockton    40
Curtis Thornhill 29
Robert Jackson    29
Kevin Lockerby     25

Jason Clifford Collects CHA Hardtop Victory At Antioch,
Next Stop All American Speedway

The California Hardtop Association made their inaugural visit to Antioch Speedway Saturday night and brought a nice field of ten cars for the show.  On the heels of his first ever victory in Placerville a  few weeks ago, Jason Clifford made a charge through the pack to collect his second straight win.  

J. Clifford was stuck back in last starting for the feature, and he began his charge through the pack.  Clifford made a move around the outside of Dennis Armstrong for the lead and went to to victory from there.  Clifford is running the car once driven by Oregon hard charger Steve Lemley.  Lemley actually won the first two Hardtop races of the "Modern Era" st Sacramento and Orland in 2002.  Clifford only began his racing career in Hardtops last year and has become the breakout star of the group so far this season.   Armstrong brought it home to his second straight second place finish ahead of the six cylinder Hardtop of Dan Williams.  John Philbert and Rick Ruiz rounded out the Top 5.

The Clifford's had a 1-2 finish in their heat race with Jason leading his father Ken. Rick Ruiz won the second heat race ahead of Armstrong.   Dave Mackey, John Turner, Russ Kraft and Ken Clifford completed the Main Event finishing order. The Modified Hardtop of Larry Damitz was the only car of that particular classification.  Joe Hopp ran his heat race, but a battery problem sidelined him for the Main Event.  All in all, it was a nice turnout, and the Hardtops return to Antioch on May 21.

The next dirt race is set for Friday, May 13 at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway.  This Saturday, it's a return to the pavement at All American Speedway in Roseville.  Among the drivers planning to be in  Roseville are Ken and Jason Clifford, John Philbert and Joe Hopp as there could be at least four to eight cars for that race.

Aton, McCarthy Lead Winged Sprint Cars 
To Antioch Speedway

Antioch , CA...May 2...The Winged 360 Sprint Car division returns to Antioch Speedway on Saturday night for some more exciting action. This popular division is making its third of fifteen scheduled appearances on the fast 3/8's mile clay oval, prepared by John M. Soares.

The last time out on April 23rd, it was past Antioch Wingless Spec Sprint champion Billy Aton picking up an impressive Main Event win. Aton was challenged by young gun Giovanni Scelzi.  It was only Giovanni's first start at the speedway.

The fact is, the growing Sprint Car show at Antioch Speedway is the perfect opportunity for the younger drivers to get some valuable seat time in racing conditions. Finishing third was Koen Shaw, another past Outlaw Kart star. Shaw is also a front runner in Sprint Car racing at Ocean Speedway.

The win was a perfect opportunity for Aton to show that he is indeed a championship contender this year. Aton grabbed his first Main Event win in the Winged Sprint Car class at Antioch back in 2011. Art McCarthy, who is coming off of back to back Top 3 rankings in the division, is the current point leader.

McCarthy battled defending champion Shawn Arriaga before trailing him for a fifth place finish. The fact is, McCarthy has more seat time in the Sprint Car division than anybody else currently competing at Antioch Speedway. He is a past Antioch and Petaluma Speedway champion that has been running up in the front of the pack for decades. Last time out, Art was joined by his son Adam McCarthy in the division. Though Adam had his problems, he is a past Main Event winner and should not be counted out in future races.

2014 champion Chris Magoon had a Top 5 finish in the opener, but he struggled just a bit in the most recent race. The past Marysville Wingless Spec Sprint champion did what he did last year before the Main Event and handed out autographed photos and candy to the kids in front of the grandstands.

Open wheel veteran Burt Foland Jr. was also in the field last time out. Foland has logged many laps behind the wheel of a BCRA Midget and a Sprint Car. Seat time is something that 2015 "Rookie Of The Year"  Ricky Brophy would like to have. Brophy joined his father Rick Brophy in the field last time out, but he struggled with mechanical issues all night long. 

Likewise, Dan Gonderman had issues early on and had to scratch from his heat race. Dan showed marked improvement in his Winged Sprint Car last season as the fourth ranked competitor, but the two time Wingless Spec Sprint champion knows that he has a win within him.

Optimism is high that the Winged Sprint Car division will continue to grow at Antioch Speedway in the most ambitious schedule this division has ever had at the racetrack. Promoter John M. Soares remains committed to building this class. For further information on the Winged Sprint Cars, go to the official website at

2016 Antioch Winged 360 Northern All Star Points

Art McCarthy 104
Billy Aton 102
Chris Magoon 86
Dan Gonderman 78
Ricky Brophy 70
Jarrett Soares 54
Giovanni Scelzi 50
Shawn Arriaga 50
Koen Shaw  46
Steve Jaquith 44

Past Champions

1998-Gary Geving
2007-Art McCarthy
2010-Craig Smith
2013-Chris Magoon
2014-Chris Magoon
2015-Shawn Arriaga

Last 25 Feature Winners

April 23, 2016: Billy Aton
April 2, 2016:  Art McCarthy
August 29, 2015:  Art McCarthy
August 8, 2015:  Shawn Arriaga
July 11, 2015:  Jake Haulot
June 20, 2915:  Austin Liggett
June 6, 2015:  Shawn Arriaga
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

2016 Northern All Stars
Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule

May 21
June 4
June 11
June 18
June 25
July 16
July 30
August 6
August 20
August 27
September 10
September 17
September 24