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Friday Night Edition
Watsonville, Hanford, Chico Friday Night Review
Friday night was a busy night in California with three tracks in action. There was plenty of open wheel racing with those three tracks all hosting Sprint Cars and having at least one form of Modifieds. Of note was an exciting finish in IMCA Modifieds at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, won by defending track champion Bobby Hogge IV over the returning Alex Wilson. Justin Sanders continued to roll in Taco Bravo Sprint Cars at Watsonville, while Johnathon Allard forced Sean Becker to again settle for second in 410 Sprint Cars at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway. Phillip Shelby (IMCA Sport Modifieds) and Tony Richards (Wingless Spec Sprints) were other Chico winners. At Hanford, Kellen Chadwick battled Cody Laney to win the IMCA Modified Main Event, while Cory Eliason snatched a Sprint Car win away from young Giovanni Scelzi.
Alex Wilson has been missing from the roster in IMCA Modifieds this season, but the 2015 IMCA Modified State champion returned and led the Main Event at Watsonville for 19 laps. Bobby Hogge IV ran a patient race and gained second with about a half dozen laps left. With three seconds to make up, the flying Hogge moved to Wilson's rear bumper down the stretch and collected a last lap win. Wilson settled for second ahead of the Burke brothers, Cody and Austin, and many time champion Kenny Nott. Austin Burke bested Wilson in the heat race.
Kate Beardsley finished second to Kelly Campanile in the Mini Stock heat race at Watsonville, but she turned the tables on her in the Main Event with a win. Campanile finished second ahead of Bill Beardsley, Amanda Daly and Dennis Keldsen Jr. The Hobby Stock win went to Nick Triolo in an impressive performance. Bobby Huckaby was second ahead of two time champion Terry Campion, past champion Wally Kennedy and George Fernandez. Robert Gallahar won a heat race ahead of Kennedy, while Ron Bonnema won his heat race ahead of Triolo.
Defending champion Justin Sanders bested the 23 car Taco Bravo Sprint Car field in their Main Event. Past champion Shane Golobic made an early pass on Kurt Nelson and would hold on to second from there ahead of another past champion, Tommy Tarlton, Buddy Kofoid and Brad Furr. Sanders won his heat race ahead of Jeremy Chisum, but he settled for second in the Trophy Dash behind Nelson. Kofoid won his heat race ahead of Jason Chisum, while veteran Jerry Bonnema won his heat race ahead of Shane Golobic.
IMCA Sport Modified point lead Anthony Giuliani grabbed another Main Event win as car count reached into double digits. Igor Gradzuk had his best finish yet in second ahead of Dave Gibson, Dennis Gates and heat winner Justin McPherson. Giuliani also held off Gradzuk for his heat race win.
The 410 Sprint Cars at Chico saw Johnathon Allard take off to the lead from the start. Sean Becker drove Dan Menne's car around Chase Madjik for second early on and would go on to get the second place finish ahead of Andy Forsberg, Kyle Hirst and Seth Nunes in the Jim Van Lare car. Keith Bloom won his heat race ahead of Forsberg, while Allard won his heat ahead of Becker.
Tony Richards went flag to flag in capturing the Wingless Spec Sprint feature at Chico. He was chased across the line by point leader Terry Schank Jr. Barry Pries Jr. had another third place finish as Orland veteran Don Emery and Angelique Bell completed the Top 5. Chris Story won the Winged Encony Sprint feature ahead of Mike Ficklin. Heat winner Wyatt Brown won a spirited duel with Bob Johnson for third and Mike Sayre rounded out the Top 5.
Marysville Stock Car veteran Phillip Shelby led the distance to win Chico's IMCA Sport Modified Main Event. There were 18 cars in action, and the Coopers were well accounted for once again as Brian Cooper was second and Todd Cooper was third. Damion Merritt and Modified veteran Mark Abouzeid rounded out the Top 5. 2015 Marysville champion Howard Law, Kyle Cheney and Shelby won heat races.
At Hanford, Giovanni Scelzi was doing a good job in leading most of the Winged 360 Sprint Car feature. However, he was passed by Cory Eliason late as Eliason grabbed the win. Scelzi faded and Colby Copeland was second ahead of Criag Stidham, Mitchell Faccinto and D.J. Netto. Heath Duinkerken won a heat race ahead of D.J. Netto. Cole Macedo won his heat over Copeland, while Steven Tiner was the final heat race winner ahead of Stidham. Scelzi did win the Trophy Dash ahead of Faccinto.
Kellen Chadwick visited Hanford and had a nice tuneup for the All Star Modified race Saturday night in Tulare. The past Antioch champion chased Cody Laney in second for most of the race before passing him with about five laps to go. Chadwick would win with Ethan Dotson making a late pass on Laney for second. Paul Stone and Jeff Streeter rounded out the Top 5. Chadwick won a heat race ahead of Stone and Dotson won his heat ahead of Laney.
Austin Fry held off a past IMCA Sport Modified champion Nick Spainhoward to win that division's Main Event. Brenden Fry was third ahead of Kelly Wilkinson.
Ken Clifford Grabs First Hardtop Win At Chico
The 2016 season has produced some fresh new faces in the winner's circle for the CHA Hardtops. The group hit Chico for their third race of the season, and the checkered flag in the ten lap event waved on another first time winner. In this case, it was "The Rocket Man" Ken Clifford piloting his #27 car to victory. An interesting fact about that car is that his motor came from a pickup truck that belonged to country music legend Merle Haggard.
The first two races of the season have been wins for Ken's son, Jason Clifford. In an effort to show the group where Jason gets it from, Ken made a charge from the third row and took the lead from Ron Ruiz on the last lap with Ruiz spinning Joe Hopp grabbed the runner up finish. Russ Kraft suffered mechanical issues to end his night early, and veteran Dennis Armstrong was done before the Main Event. In the Main Event, K. Clifford raced out to the lead ahead of Ruiz and Joe Hopp. Ruiz was in contention until being passed by Hopp for second on lap six. At that point, it didn't matter as K. Clifford brought it home to victory. Hopp had his best finish yet in second ahead of the steady John Turner. Ruiz ended up fourth. Next up for the Hardtops is Antioch Speedway on May 21.