Thursday, June 9, 2016

Brown Battles Stone At Merced, Hardtop Preview, Orland On Sunday and More

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Brown, Lewis Score Merced Fairtime Victories

Merced, CA...June 8...The 125th Annual Merced County Fair brought out many race car drivers looking for a chance to race in front of a good crowd on the fast quarter-mile clay oval.  In the IMCA Modified division, it was Randy Brown getting the win in the 25 lap Main Event, while Ben Lewis II crossed the line first in the 25 lap Hobby Stock race.

A past champion in IMCA Modifieds at his home track in Chowchilla, Randy Brown is making a good case for himself at Merced this season.  Brown notched his second win of the season, but it didn't come easy.  Past Merced and Hanford champion Paul Stone looked high and low for a way by, but Brown made no mistakes enroute to the well earned victory.  P. Stone had to keep his cool as well or his mutli time Merced championship winning cousin Ramie Stone would have slipped past for second.  As it was, R. Stone finished a strong third ahead of the season debut of fourth generation racer Ryan Porter and Jeff Streeter.  Mike Villanueva finished sixth as Mitch Enos, Robert Dias, Derek Nance and Ryan Larimer made up the remainder of the Top 10.

Earlier this season, Ben Lewis II scored what appeared to be his first Hobby Stock victory, only to have it taken away from him in post race tech.  Lewis II was back with a vengeance this week, but it didn't come easy.  He had to deal, with numerous restarts and multi time division champion Raul Rodriguez Sr. shadowing his every move.  Rodriguez attempted a last lap move on the inside in Turn 4, but he ended up getting sideways and making a run through the infield.  Lewis II was a happy winner as Rodriguez settled for second.  Robbie Loquaci was a season best third, and B Main winner Tommy Bostic made a charge from the back of the pack to finish fourth ahead of Ben Lewis.  Dave Bettencourt was sixth ahead of Gary Hildebrand, Kodie Dean, Cody Parker and Kevin Joaquin.

Up next for Merced Speedway is a June 18th program featuring IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Valley Sportsman.  For further  information, check out

Hardtops Return To Roseville, Antioch In June

The key to any good racing division, even a vintage division, is the infusion of new drivers. Some of the regulars in any division may get busy or just step away. When that happens, you know there is new talent ready to step up. So far this year, the California Hardtop Association has three different feature winners, all of them first timers. They will be looking for more when they head to Roseville and Antioch Speedway .

In the most recent race at Antioch, Dave Mackey grabbed his first ever victory driving his red and white #1 Hardtop in tribute to The Dudley Racing Family. Dave has had some interesting experiences in his short racing career, but he looked like an old pro in the last race. He had the pass two time winner Jason Clifford and last year's most dominant driver in the group, Rob Waldrop, to do it.

Mackey had watched Hardtop racing at Vallejo Speedway some forty years ago, and he'd always wanted to get behind the wheel of a car himself. After building a car with open wheel ace Jim Perry Jr. and putting Perry behind the wheel of it with some success a few years ago, he started driving his own car last year. His win on Saturday would seem to indicate that Dave has gotten the hang of it. Waldrop, who continues to drive the #36 car for Bill McLaughlin, knows he has some competition.

There is further competition being provided by The father-son duo of Ken Clifford and Jason Clifford. After getting his own car, Ken got a car for his son Jason last year. Jason is driving a car that Steve Lemley competed in at Sacramento and Orland and won the first two modern era California races with back in 2002. Not wanting to be shown up by the car's previous owner, Jason has won Main Events at Placerville and Antioch this year. If not for some brake issues on his car, it could have been three at Antioch.

Nicknamed "The Rocket Man" by his fellow competitors for his uncanny ability to start at the front of the pack and end up at the back, Ken Clifford surprised the field when he scored his first win at Chico two races ago. To get that win, he had to battle Joe Hopp and Ron Ruiz, who are both looking for their first wins. Hopp ended up finishing second in what has been his best finish in the group so far.

The new faces at the front of the pack are certainly making things interesting, and Ken Clifford wanted to do something special for the front runners. To that end, Clifford has sponsored top three finishers trophies for the latest Antioch race and the next four races. Clifford did that because he thought it was a nice touch that the drivers would appreciate.

When the group rolls into Roseville, it's hard to say who might show up, but drivers we're looking for include Club President John Philbert, Russ Kraft, Hopp, the Clifford cars and possibly a car from the Armstrong team. Some of the drivers aren't as enthusiastic about racing on the pavement, but the ones who do like to race there have a lot of fun. Roseville is also the site of the big Vintage Classic event that's held every year in October.

At Antioch, word is that veteran Tommy Thomson should be back in his familiar green #39 car. Thompson was one of those competitors that was there when Conrad Cavallaro started this group about 10 years ago. The #39 car has won Main Events at Vallejo Speedway back in the late 1970's and has won several Main Events with this group since it started. In fact, Tommy has even won races with the Okie Bowl Hardtop group at Santa Maria.

Antioch is the track giving the group most of its dates this year. Promoter John M. Soares was the promoter who gave the group their first break. With Thomson and Waldrop likely to be in the field and Larry Damitz's Modified Hardtop, things should be interesting.

The California Hardtop Association has many great competitors in it, including the steady John Turner, hard chargers Dennis Armstrong and his son Jason Armstrong, Dan Whitney, Steve Cloyes and Zack Frasier. Word is that the car of Doug Broderick isn't that far away from debuting.

Hardtop racing will continue throughout the year, and the group will make other appearances at tracks such as Placerville, Calistoga, Petaluma and Chico. These old Hardtops hearken back to the days when the division was in its heyday, but don't let that fool you. These cars still put on a good show out there on the race track. Roseville on June 11th and Antioch on June 25th should be no different.

Racing, Bike Giveaway On Tap For 
Orland Raceway On Sunday

Orland, CA...The new promoters of Orland Raceway made good on their plans to open the gates and begin a new season of racing last Saturday night.  A field of roughly two dozen cars and Micro Sprints were there to do battle on the 1/5th mile dirt oval.  The program consisted of Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks and 600 and 250 Micro Sprints.

When racing resumes this Sunday afternoon, the same divisions will again be a part of the action packed program.  Not only that, but there will be a bike and helmet giveaway to a lucky young fan, courtesy of Jason and Jerry Richardson of Penner's Auto Service.

In addition to the wheel to wheel racing that was taking place last Saturday night, the current management took it upon themselves to honor most of last year's champions before the races.  With that matter settled, the track is setting its sights on crowning new champions for the 2016 season.  Results for the season opener are pending.

Video footage showed Jackie Whitson Jr. leading Jackie Whitson  Sr. and six others in a Micro Sprint race.  Past Hobby Stock champion Steve Martin led Jeremy Langenderfer and Cody Bundy in a Hobby Stock race.  Defending champion Keith Ross led double division racer "Rollin" Olin Crane and Nate Skaggs in a Mini Truck race. Eric Hammond was back in Mini Stocks after being absent for a couple seasons as he led a race ahead of Tom Davis and Crane.  Again, results for the season opener are pending.

As for the Sunday race, it was just announced that alcohol sales will be a part of the concessions starting Sunday, courtesy of East Coast Foods.  Pit gates will open at 9:00 a.m., the grandstands at 11:00 a.m. and the first race at 12:00 p.m.  General admission tickets are $7.00, children 7-12 are $5.00 and children 6 and under are free.  For further information, check out

Round #4 Of Winged 360 Sprint Car Series 
Heads to Antioch Speedway

The competition has been close in the Winged 360 Sprint Car division at Antioch Speedway. The competitive division has seen three different winners in three races so far. As word has spread about this division, we have seen some fast competitors take their turns on the fast 3/8 mile banked clay oval.

The May 21st event was a non stop race. Watsonville competitor Koen Shaw emerged with an impressive victory. Shaw made his first visit to the speedway in the previous race and left with a strong third place showing. When he returned last time, he didn't come alone. This time, Logan Seavey was there piloting the #92 car normally driven by Koen's brother Kyler.

There has been plenty of speculation about the Winged 360 Sprint Car division at Antioch Speedway since promoter John M. Soares added the division as part of his lineup of Northern All Star divisions. However, the message is clear. There is a commitment to establishing this division at the track. Gradually, new drivers are coming out and giving it a shot.

While Shaw and Seavey were grabbing the first and second positions, a well known Sacramento area Sprint Car driver was paying a visit. Past Marysville champion Colby Wiesz has been at the track before and done well. As with Seavey, Wiesz also captured his heat race on the evening, and he drove to a third place feature finish.

One driver who has unquestionably supported Sprint Car racing every time the division has been welcomed at the track is Art McCarthy. McCarthy is a past division champion and has finished in the top three in points for the last two seasons. His victory in the season opener showed his intentions. If you want to win the championship, you have to go through him. This season, the McCarthy's are a two car team as Art's son Adam, a past feature winner at Antioch himself, has returned to action.

Billy Aton has emerged to contend with McCarthy for the track championship. The past Wingless Spec Sprint champion is a feature winner this year, and he finished fifth in the Main Event last time out after having to start tenth as the previous winner. Billy figures to be a major factor in this championship battle.

Meanwhile, Shawn Arriaga was a late starter this year having missed the first race. The 2015 track champion has picked up back to back top five finishes with his recent fourth place effort.  He has finished in front of his rival McCarthy both times. Shawn has to make up for that lost race, but if anybody can do it, this third generation racer has the ability.  McCarthy ended up a disappointed sixth last time out.

Finishing seventh was another open wheel veteran, Burt Foland Jr. Foland has raced in both Midgets and Sprint Cars, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a win at some point this season. It was Dan Gonderman, Rick Brophy and son Ricky Brophy who rounded out the top 10 in the most recent race.  Gonderman and the elder Brophy are both currently Top 5 ranked drivers.

Nearly two dozen different cars have competed in the three races so far, and there were 12 cars last time out. It appears as if this division is on the rise and better days are ahead. The Winged Sprint Cars will be joined by the Wingless Spec Sprints on the card at Antioch Speedway on June 11th. Further information can be gathered at

2016 Antioch Winged 360 Northern All Star Points

Art McCarthy 148
Billy Aton 146

Dan Gonderman 114
Ricky Brophy 104

Koen Shaw  100
Shawn Arriaga 94
Chris Magoon 94
Burt Foland Jr. 80
Ricky Brophy 64
Jarrett Soares 54

Past Champions

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

Last 25 Feature Winners

May 21, 2016:  Koen Shaw
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

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