Friday, July 8, 2016

Antioch And Merced Speedway Weekend Previews

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Hetrick Memorial Race Headlines Six Division Show 
At Antioch Speedway

After a one week break, racing returns to Antioch Speedway's fast 3/8 mile clay oval this Saturday night. The $2,500 to win Jerry Hetrick Memorial Race for A Modifieds will headline this program. Also on the card will be the DIRTcar Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks.

Throughout the 1970's and into the early 1980's, Jerry Hetrick was one of the top local drivers in the old Sportsman division. He did not have the budget of the top teams, yet he managed to be competitive and win races. In the mid 1970s, he even set the track record in qualifying.  He was ranked in the Top 20 in points every year from 1975-1981, with best seasons of 4th (1975), 5th (1981) and 10th (1977). Back in February of this year, Hetrick passed away. He was 72. Several members of the racing community, including legend J.D. Willis, attended his funeral.

One of the racer's Jerry competed against was promoter John M. Soares. Soares decided to add a $2,500 to win Memorial Race in Jerry's honor, and the stage is set for this Saturday night. The buzz is that there will be several top drivers hoping to bring home the big prize money. If that is not enough, there is no extra entry fee for the drivers to come out and race. The cost to enter is the normal rate.

Anytime you put the money up, you know that Bobby Hogge IV will come to town. Hogge is known for coming to the big races and leaving with the big bucks. Throughout his decorated career, Bobby has won three track championships at Antioch Speedway and is #3 on the all time win list behind Willis and Scott Busby. Bobby just may be the driver to beat on Saturday.

However, Kellen Chadwick may have something to say about that. Chadwick recently went up to the Pacific Northwest and scored four wins in a one week period to win the Wild West Modified Series championship. Chadwick is a past Antioch Speedway champion, and he has been known to win the big shows too.

When you put the money on the line, you know that some of the big names will come to town. With four championships and roughly 30 feature wins to his credit at Antioch Speedway alone, Troy Foulger is a serious contender for the big victory. Last season, Troy picked up a pair of $2,500 paychecks with two big wins aboard the Bowers Racing Modified at Antioch Speedway.

The fact that Hogge, Chadwick and Foulger will be in town might be enough to get the attention of the fans, but there are other stars anticipated for this race as well. The last time the A Modifieds raced, five time track champion Scott Busby was picking up one of the biggest wins of his career after a battle with NASCAR veteran Kenny Schrader. Nobody has won more A Modified Main Events in Antioch Speedway history than Busby, but the big prize seems to have eluded him at his home track.

2014 champion and current point leader Carl Berendsen II has hopes of picking up his first career feature win in the division. Consistency has given Berendsen the point lead as the division races into the month of July. Another past champion, Aaron Crowell, hopes to have another motor in his car after he blew a motor in Tulare earlier this year. A Crowell appearance means another tough competitor in the battle for the big win.

Two time reigning Petaluma Speedway champion Nick DeCarlo is anticipated for the show as well. Josh Combs has a feature win at Antioch Speedway this year and will be hoping to pick up the big paycheck this week. There should be a good field of drivers, including Raymond Lindeman, Shawn O'Gara, Bobby Montalvo, Jeff Thomas, Trent Wentworth, Mikey Slaney and John McDougall.

The DIRTcar Late Models could see a couple more cars due to Modified drivers possibly fielding two entries. Two drivers who are actually two car teams are Hogge and Foulger, and Hogge does have feature wins in both Modifieds and Late Models this year at Antioch. Foulger came close as he finished second in both the Late Model and Modified Main Events on the night he brought both cars earlier this year. He was a two time feature winner in Late Models last season.

Of course, two big name drivers waiting for others to come through the gates are point leader Richard Papenhausen and reigning champion Jeff Decker. Both drivers have feature wins this season as does West Coast Late Model champion Clay Daly. You never know who might show up to run Late Models, but Top 5 ranked Chester Kniss and David Newquist are anticipated along with last season's top rookie Danny Malfatti, Paul Guglielmoni, Terry Kuntz, Mike Hynes and Dennis Souza.

The man with more wins than anybody else in Wingless Spec Sprint history is gunning for his second division championship. That would be Jim Perry Jr., who has recorded two feature wins so far this year. Jim was in the hunt for a third win last time out when mechanical problems hit. Perry is being chased in the standings right now by Rick Panfili and Marcus Smith. Smith has driven the Richard Basden owned entry to one feature win this year, while division original Panfili is still looking for his first career win. He has two career best second place finishes this year.

Jimmy Perry III has won many Main Events and is third on the all time win list. Jimmy was a multi time winner last year, but his luck so far this year has been anything but good. There are some hard chargers in the points battle this year as car count has grown just a little bit. Racers to keep an eye on this week include Roy Fisher, Alan Miranda, James East, Brandon Burd, Shannon Newton, rookie Adam Teves and the winner last time, NFL alumnus Jeremy Newberry.

The B Modified division has been led for several weeks by the consistent Al Johnson. Though he leads the standings, Johnson has yet to get a feature win. He has three second place finishes and is using his consistency to withstand the challenge of three time winner Trevor Clymens. Clymens missed a race, but he is slowly chipping away at the Johnson lead.

The busy schedule has affected the car count just a little bit, and Fred Ryland's decision not to defend his championship has meant chances have increased for new winners. A few weeks ago, K.C. Keller added his name to the list and is one of the Top 5 drivers in the standings. Shane DeVolder has finished as high as second this year and could be a winner as well. You also have to consider double division racer Danny Jones, who is also Top 5 ranked.

Word out of the Pearce Racing Team is that Brian Pearce is getting a new car together for a return to the speedway soon. Drivers to watch for this week include Randy Brown, Chuck Golden, Paul Mulder and Ron Brown.

In The Limited Late Model division, Larry Damitz is the reigning champion and winner of four of the last five championships. However, he isn't dominating the way he has in the past. In fact, the driver with the most wins right now in the class is two time winner Mark Garner. Garner, point leader Damitz and Kino Oreta are locked in a close battle for the championship. Oreta has yet to join the other two on the winner's list, but it could happen at any time.

Top 5 ranked Jim Freethy and the division's all time win leader, Mike Gustafson, are also on the winner's list, but past champion Lori Brown appears to be closing in on her first win in a while. The steady John Evans is anticipated this week along with Calvin Lewis and John Keith.

An amazing Hobby Stock rookie season continues for Guy Ahlwardt. Last time out, he charged from tenth starting to take the lead from 2010 champion Chris Sorensen for his third win of the season. He has had such a good start that he has a comfortable point lead. Behind him in second is one time feature winner Danny Jones. Jones had some bad luck earlier in the season drop him back just a bit.

Cameron Swank is in the hunt and is also a driver to watch as he goes for his first career feature win. There are a few drivers who have raced for a while at the speedway and have yet to win, and drivers who could get it done soon are Natalie Perry, Michael Cooper and Robert Niven.

The Hobby Stock division is stacked with talent, and car count is approaching 20 on race night. Other drivers you need to keep an eye on include Jason Jennings, last year's top rookie Jordan Swank, Frank Furtado, Lindsey Buirch, Sorensen and Jessica Jones.

The Jerry Hetrick Memorial $2,500 to win A Modified Main Event headlines the six division show, but there will be some great racing in the DIRTcar Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks as well. For further information, go to

All Star Series
Antioch Speedway

A Modified
Carl Berendsen II 294
Scott Busby    265
Ray Lindeman    231
Trent Wentworth    230
Sean O'Gara    204

DIRTcar Late Model
Richard Papenhausen 210
Jeff Decker     200
Chester Kniss    166
David Newquist    139
Dennis Souza    126

Wingless Spec Sprint
Jim Perry Jr.    256
Rick Panfili    206
Marcus Smith    204
James East    202
Shannon Newton    196

B Modified
Al Johnson    462
Trevor  Clymens    434
Shane DeVolder    408
Danny Jones    370
K.C. Keller    280

Limited Late Model
Larry Damitz    252
Mark Garner    246
Kimo Oreta    240
John Evans    214
Jim Freethy    182

Hobby Stock
Guy Ahlwardt    354
Danny Jones    273
Michael Cooper    258
Cameron Swank    252
Natalie Perry    251

IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks Headline Show
At Merced Speedway Saturday night

As the warm days of summer begin, the action on the fast quarter-mile clay oval at Merced Speedway is even hotter. This Saturday night, IMCA Sport Modifieds return with a close championship battle in full swing. Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and a special Box Stock Kart race on the inside race track will also be on the card.

When 2014 IMCA Sport Modified champion Rick Diaz lost his ride in the number #9d car to speedway veteran Bobby Smith, there might have been some people writing him off. However, he came into this year intending to win a championship in honor of his fallen friend John Fore Jr., and he wasn't about to give up. Rick secured another ride to keep things going.

Last week, Diaz kept the pressure on incoming point leader Steve Stone as he finished fourth in the Main Event, but Stone was fifth. This has the makings of a championship battle that may go down to the final checkered flag of the season. Mike Drake debuted another ride in the most recent race, but unfortunately his luck didn't hold up very well. Saturday night will be an opportunity for him to turn things around.

There are several drivers in the Sport Modified division hoping to pick up their first wins, and just making the Main Event wasn't easy for everybody last week as 24 cars were there to try to qualify. To tell you how tough the competition was last week, two time Street Stock champion Tim Ragsdale had to win the B Main to get into the Main Event. Gary Tucker has driven Street Stocks and Sportsman cars at the track through the years, and he remains one of the top Sport Modified racers. After joining his son Nick Tucker as a heat race winner last time out, Gary had one of his best finishes of the year in third.

Fred Ryland might have been the driver people would have expected to win that race, but the reigning IMCA State champion settled for second behind Bakersfield visitor Levi Kiefer. The talent level is pretty deep in this division, and racers like Chris Falkenberg, reigning champion Josh Hensley, Dwayne Short, Top 5 ranked Tim Elias and Alex Odishoo are other top racers anticipated for the coming race.

Darren Miguel knew that he would have a challenge moving up from the Mini Stock division into the Hobby Stocks. He picked up a feature win last year in his limited starts, but he got his own ride this year and has found just getting a Top 5 finish a difficult task. In one of the bigger races of the year last week, The Timmy Post Memorial Race, Miguel made a charge to the front and won a three car battle for his first win of the season. He will be out to see if he can make it two in a row this week.

There is lots of buzz centered around the #70L car of Robbie Loquaci, who gave it a good run before finishing a season best second last week. People are talking about the past Chowchilla Speedway Mini Stock champion, and they're saying he is going to get a win before the season is up. Another driver you know will not likely be shut out of the win column this year is the reigning champion, Kevin Joaquin. Kevin had one of his best finishes of the year in fourth last week.

The battle in the points right now continues to be between the husband and wife team of Michael and Kristie Shearer. Unfortunately for both of them, last week was not a very good race for either of them. However, the two won heat races earlier that evening and served notice that they will continue to be major factors in the quest for victory.

The fact is, the talent pool is just as deep in the Hobby Stock division as it is in the Sport Modified division. You really do not know who will win on any given week, and other drivers who will be gunning for victory this week could include past Chowchilla Sport Modified champion Gary Hildebrand, Kodie Dean, Garrett Corn, Dexter Long, George Silva, Chris Williams and Austin Van Hoff. If the Corn name sounds familiar, it should. Garrett Corn is the son of past Chowchilla champion Nathan Corn, and his family has been racing at Merced Speedway going back to when it opened up in the 1950's.

Chris Corder continues to be the driver to beat in the Mini Stock division. Corder is the 2014 champion and only lost last year's title by a couple points to Darren Miguel. He will probably be the man to beat this week, but they are lining up behind them for that opportunity. Not the least of which are his own teammates, Joy Alger and his sister Jennifer Corder. Jennifer has won Main Events in the past in this division and is the 2014 point runner up.

Teammates James Stockton and Mike Germait are high on the list of drivers who could pick up a win this week. Other drivers to watch this week include the #13x car of Paul Lauretti, Curtis Thornhill, Tony Peffer and Jason Lewis, who is a feature winner this year. Rookie Destiny Caster is reportedly returning to action this week as well.

When it comes to getting drivers started in racing, many families choose the path of Outlaw Kart racing. Tracks near Merced for these Karts include Atwater and Chowchilla. Merced Speedway is beginning an experiment with a track cut in the infield for the Karts. California has seen some good drivers moving all the way up from the Beginners Box Stock division, including recent Wild West Series Speedweek champion Kellen Chadwick and two time reigning Petaluma Speedway champion Nick DeCarlo. We're not sure who will be showing up for this race, but they definitely have a good stage on which to perform on Saturday night.

So if you're looking for some great racing action, Merced Speedway will have you covered on Saturday night with the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks and Box Stock Karts. For further information, go to

Merced Speedway

IMCA Modified
Bill Egleston     246
Randy Brown     241
Ramie Stone     240
Bruce Nelson     219
Ricky Thatcher     214

IMCA Sport Modified
Rick Diaz     256
Steve Stone     256
Josh Hensley     234
Mike Drake     232
Tim Elias     231

Hobby Stock
Michael Shearer 151
Kristie Shearer 126
Robbie Loquaci     117
Kevin Joaquin     116
Kodie Dean     112

Mini Stock
Chris Corder     89
Joy Alger     66
James Stockton     59
Paul Lauretti     59
Mike Germait     57