Monday, July 11, 2016

Antioch Speedway and Merced Speedway Weekend Previews

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Sprint Cars Return To Antioch Speedway

Coming off a fitting tribute to Sportsman legend Jerry Hetrick last week that saw roughly 80 cars, Antioch Speedway returns this week with a six division show led by the All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars. Joining them in the program will be A Modifieds,Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks. It should be another great night of racing on John M. Soares's fast 3/8 mile clay oval.

The last time the Winged 360 Sprint Cars were in action, they had their sixth different Main Event winner in six races and also had a point lead change. When he couldn't get his car to fire just before the start of the Main Event, incoming point leader Art McCarthy was forced to scratch. Billy Aton didn't have a very good night either, but he did take the green flag and was able to use that to take over the point lead. This is the first time this year that the past Wingless Spec Sprint champion has led the Winged 360 Sprint Car point race.

A funny thing is happening with the Winged 360 Sprint Car class at Antioch Speedway this year. There is a new crop of young drivers coming up from the ranks of the 600 Micro Sprint and Outlaw Kart classes. A few of these drivers have made their way to Antioch Speedway to earn some really good results. Last time out, young Caleb Montgomery came from the back of the pack and made a last lap pass to pick up his first career feature victory. There's no telling who might show up this week as word is getting out that Antioch Speedway is a fast race track and the perfect place for the young up and coming Sprint Car racers to make some good laps.

Two time Wingless Spec Sprint champion Dan Gonderman was licking his wounds after a flip in the previous race forced him to miss the most recent race. Last week, Dan was back behind the wheel of a Wingless Spec Sprinter and finishing second in the Main Event. Hopefully, his winged car will be ready for action as he battles Rick Brophy for third in the point standings. Other drivers we anticipate this week could include Matt Barber, Top 5 point competitor Burt Foland Jr, reigning champion Shawn Arriaga, 2014 champion Chris Magoon and Ricky Brophy.

A funny thing is happening in the A Modified division as well. We are still looking for our first repeat Main Event winner of the year. It nearly happened on the grand stage of the $2,500 to win Jerry Hetrick Memorial race last week. Superstar Bobby Hogge IV was turning in another stellar performance when he was taken out by a car he was attempting to lap. This handed the rich victory to many time Modified champion Randy McDaniel.

While all of this is going on, there's a battle going on for the championship between 2014 champion Carl Berendsen II and five time reigning champion Scott Busby. Busby has been struggling just a bit, but he won a battle with NASCAR racer Kenny Schrader a few weeks ago for his first Main Event win of the season. Still searching for his first win is Berendsen, and he's even switched over to a new car in an effort to get it. Last week found him in the B Mein, but he made the transfer and still finished higher than Busby in the Main Event with his Top 10 effort. Word out of Antioch is that Carl's younger brother Eric Berendsen will be making his A Modified debut this week in Carl's old car.

The competition level is pretty evenly matched, and there are still a few other drivers itching to get in there and get their first win. One such driver is John McDougall. John has been a somewhat regular computer at the speedway and is now contending for a Top 5 point position. His effort last season saw him lead the Merced point race for the first half of the year before a crash ended his season. John will be running with a heavy heart this week as his father just passed away. Our condolences go out to the McDougall family during this difficult time.

The A Modified division has some good drivers in it including Shawn O'Gara, Raymond Lindeman, rookie Bobby Montalvo, Anthony Slaney and Trent Wentworth. Wentworth has been so quick this year that it could be just a matter of time before he brings his #141 car home to victory.

Just when it looked like Jim Perry Jr. was hitting stride, he's been hit with back to back DNF's in the Wingless Spec Sprint division, and that should tighten the points just a little bit as he races for his second division championship. Last week, it was 70 something year old Roy Fisher scoring a popular victory. Roy started racing in motorcycles years ago and joined the Spec Sprints back in the early 2000's. He shows no signs of slowing down. He's been running up near the front this year, and everybody knew his first 2016 win was just around the corner.

Having won the "Rookie Of The Year" award last year, Marcus Smith entered 2016 with the big goal of a track championship in mind. To further that goal, he's teamed up with a championship winning car owner named Richard Basden. The two have already won a Main Event together, and Marcus is coming off of three consecutive third place finishes as he's moved into second in the points and is closing in on Perry. Rick Panfili didn't have the kind of night he desired, but he still remains in the hunt for second and is not out of the championship battle by any means.

Coming off of an impressive second place point ranking last year in Dwarf Cars that saw him win multiple Main Events, 16 year old Adam Teves got the ride in the Lloyd Beard Special, owned by his grandfather Dana Craig and Cameron Beard. Adam has been making his laps this year and getting better each week. The team got some encouragement last week as Adam earned his first Top 5 finish in fifth. He remains one of the Top 10 drivers in the standings.

Other drivers we will be watching for this week include Top 5 point contender Shannon Newton, recent winner Jeremy Newberry, Alan Miiranda, Bobby East, Chowchilla Speedway champion Brandon Burd, Jimmy Perry III and Steven Grier, who finished fourth in the Main Event last week.

Trevor Clymens has let it be known that he is trying to reel in Al Johnson for the point lead in the B Modified division. Johnson had a rare non Top 5 finish last week, and Clymens has been trying to make up for the fact that he missed one race. Last week, the farthest to the front he could get was third, but it was 2004 Modified champion Aaron Croowell and Late Model veteran Joel Hannagan occupying the first two positions of that Main Event. The third generation racer was just happy to be third in that situation. The points are just a little bit closer now.

Shane DeVolder has been getting valuable seat time at several different tracks this year, and he recently had a second place finish at Marysville. He has earned that position a couple times out at Antioch Speedway, and the next goal for driver of the #44 B Modified is first. DeVolder is battling Stock Car veteran Danny Jones for third in the standings. Jones hit another high mark last week in this class with his first heat race victory. The way Danny is going, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him win the B Modified feature at some point.

Other drivers to keep an eye out for in the B Modified division include Randy Brown, Megan Ponciano, Chuck Golden and K.C. Keller.

The Limited Late Model division figures to be a battle. If anybody thought 87 year old Larry Damitz was fading away, he reminded them who he is with his second feature win of the season last week. Despite not winning as much this year, Damitz has led the standings since the start. Coming off of a two race winning streak, Mark Garner suffered suspension damage and finished out of the running. That allowed Damitz to add a few points back to his lead.

"Rookie Of The Year" leader, Kimo Oreta is still in the championship battle. He reached another personal milestone last week with his first heat race victory ahead of Damitz. With over 20 Main Event wins and three track championships in the Hobby Stock division, nobody had more success in that division than he has, and the Limited Late Models have been an exciting new challenge for him. Joining the battle with these three this week should be the steady John Evans, Jim Freethy, Lori Brown and John Keith.

Danny Jones was riding along in front, figuring that he might have his second Hobby Stock feature win of the year last week. Running second in the points, he knows he needs to get some wins to have a shot at the flying rookie, Guy Ahlwardt. Alwardt was riding a two race winning streak and looking for his fourth win of the year when it happened. Guy made a move on the inside of Jones down the backstretch on the last lap and emerged with the lead and his third straight victory. Making that even more impressive is the fact that the previous winner has to start back in 10th every week, and yet he still made the charge.

These two drivers won't be the only ones battling for victory. Another driver who's been in the mix in the Main Event the last two weeks is 2010 champion Chris Sorensen. Sorensen would finish third last week and will probably be feature a winner if he continues to come back. Chris is not chasing points. Natalie Perry is chasing points, and she took some heavy damage to her race car in the heat race earlier in the evening. Thanks to a lot of help from people, she was at least able to get out there and run the Main Event. Natalie has done well in maintaining her Top 5 point status and might just contend for a feature win in the closing weeks of the season.

After some of the struggles that 2015 "Rookie Of The Year" Jordan Swank has had this season, he finally emerged with his first Top 5 finish in fifth last week. Jordan chased speedway veteran Rob Waldrop across the line. Rob had a heat race win earlier that night. The division is so competitive that you don't know who might win on any given week, and other racers to watch for include Cameron Swank, Top 5 contender Michael Cooper, Lindsay Biurch and Frank Furtado.

So to recap, the Winged 360 Sprint Cars are back in action at Antioch Speedway this week along with A Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks. It should be another exciting program. For further information go to

Antioch Speedway
All Star Series Top 5's

Winged 360 Sprint Cars

Billy Aton    374
Art McCarthy    247
Dan Gonderman    180

Doc Brophy    174
Burt Foland Jr.    160

Wingless Spec Sprint 

Jim Perry Jr. 330
Marcus Smit 304
Rick Panfili 294
Brandpn Burd 268
Roy Fisher 258

A Modified

Carl Berendsen II 294
Scott Busby 281
Tren Wentworth 248
Raymond Lindeman 236
Bobby Montalvo 234
raymond Lindeman

Hobby Stock

Guy Ahlwardt 354
Danny Jones 327
Cameron Swank 296
Natalie Perry 289
Lindsey Buirch 278

B Modified

Al Johnson 498
Trevor Clymens 484
Shane DeVolder 454
Danny Jones 416
K.C. Keller 324

Limited Late Model

Larry Damitz 306
Mark Garner 288
Kimo Oreta 288
John Evans 252
Jim Freethy 228

IMCA Modifieds Headline Four Division Show 
At Merced Speedway

The hard charging IMCA Modifieds return to Merced Speedway this Saturday night to headline a four division show on the fast quarter-mile clay oval.  Also on the card will be the IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and the fifth appearance of the Valley Sportsman division.

With seven races in the books so far, the IMCA Modified championship battle has been wide open between 2012 champion Bill Egleston, past Chowchilla Speedway champion Randy Brown and multi time Merced Speedway champion Ramie Stone.  At the moment, six points separate Egleston from third place Stone.  Egleston and Stone each have one victory, while Brown is a two time winner this year and is coming off of a second place finish last time out that moved him to within five points of the point lead.  This is a battle that could very well go to the final race of the season.

Another battle going on right now is the battle for fourth in the standings between rookie Bruce "Bubba" Nelson and last season's point runnerup, Ricky Thatcher.  Nelson has three Top 5 feature finishes this season, but his worst performance of the year last time out enabled Thatcher to close to within five points of fourth in the standings.  The only repeat feature winner in the field so far this year is Brown with two wins as R. Stone, Egleston, Paul Stone, Ethan Dotson, Jeff Streeter and Robbie Sawyer all have feature wins.

The fact that there are six different winners in seven races gives other drivers hope that they could have their turn on the winner's step of the podium.  Nelson could very well be the leader of likely candidates, but you can't count out such hard chargers as Jarod Fast, Harley Turner, T.J. Etchison, Derek Nance and Chris Shannon.

In the IMCA Sport Modified division last week, Steve Stone and Rick Diaz entered the night in a tie at the top of the standings.  Stone had a nightmare scenario as he had a bad heat race finish and started last in the B Main.  Though he managed to make the transfer with a fourth place finish, he did not finish the Main Event and was scored 16th.  Just a few weeks ago, it looked like Rick Diaz might see the end of his championship hopes as he lost his ride in the #9d car.  However, he has secured a ride, and his fourth place finish last time out has given him sole possession of the point lead.

The winner last week was reigning State of California champion Fred Ryland, who was enjoying his second win of the season.  The drivers in the field may be breathing a sigh of relief that Fred isn't pursuing the championship, and even though he has just four starts in eight races, he nonetheless finds himself ranked inside the Top 10 in the standings.

At the moment, there is also a tight battle going on between reigning champion Josh Hensley, Mike Drake and Tim Elias for third in the standings.  All three drivers managed to get Top 10 feature finishes last week to keep this battle close, but all three are still looking for their first feature victory  of the season.  The winner's list will find Diaz with three victories, Ryland with two victories and Stone, Nick Spainhoward and Levi Keifer each with one.

Last week was a week in which a couple of drivers had their best finishes of the season.  Danny Roe was credited with a second place finish, while Paul Espino was right behind him in third.  Even second generation racer Chase Thomas had a good night in fifth.  There are several drivers who are more than capable of getting victories, and drivers to watch include veteran Gary Tucker, Dwayne Short, Chris Falkenburg and Alex Odishoo.

Michael Shearer and his wife Kristie Shearer continue to battle it out for the Hobby Stock championship.  Last week, Michael thought he had a shot at his second feature win of the season, only get to be thwarted by multi time track champion Raul Rodriguez Sr.  Though Rodriguez is not chasing the championship this year, he still has three Main Event wins.  Following his second place finish in the previous race, Robbie Loquaci is coming off of a night he'd rather forget as he DNF'ed back and 15th.  Despite last week's disappointment, he still held on to third in the standings.

In ten races, the field has seven different winners as Bubba Nelson is a two time winner in one of the Shearer Racing Team cars, while three time winner Rodriguez, Michael Shearer, Ted Stofle Classic winner Phil Vaughn, Terry Campion, Ben Lewis II and Darren Miguel are also Main Event winners this season.  Though the Shearer Race Team is definitely a powerhouse, you never know who could win on any given week, and competitors such as reigning champion Kevin Joaquin, Dexter Long, Austin Van Hoff, Cody Parker and Jerry Tubbs are other drivers to keep an eye on.
When last we saw the Valley Sportsman division, they produced their biggest turnout in two years with an eight car field.  Leading the pack in the field was 2008 track champion Mark Odgers.  He held off the two time division champion Mike Friesen, who settled for second.  We now have seen ten different race cars in this class this season, and there are still a few drivers who have cars race ready that we haven't seen yet.  It is unknown who might show up this week, but we anticipate point leader Kenny Birdsong and second ranked Jeff Bristow.  Eric Seeley, the Jeanie Reveal-Canepa car, Shannon Fry, Jeff Amos and Mike Palmburg are others who could be there.

This four division show at Merced Speedway should be entertaining as the IMCA Modified drivers have a close championship battle.  The IMCA Sport Modified division has been producing high car counts all season long and should be good.  With Hobby Stocks and Valley Sportsman cars also on the card, this is sure to be an entertaining show.  For further information, check out

The All Star Series Sprint Cars Return To Antioch Speedway

The All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Car division continues to be a highly competitive class at Antioch Speedway, and they roll into town on July 16th to see if they can have their seventh different winner in seven races. The division has attracted several different drivers during the course of the season with over 30 names now appearing on the roster.

When the Sprint Cars visited on June 25th, it was young Caleb Montgomery scoring the impressive feature victory. Montgomery is burning up the scene on the Outlaw Kart tracks, and he was making his maiden appearance at the speedway. It turned out to be a winning visit for Caleb as he made a last lap pass on Matt DeMartini after starting in the last row to grab the win.

DeMartini was making his first visit to the speedway as well. The DeMartini name goes back several years as Marty DeMartini was a star in the BCRA Midgets back in the 1980's and raced at Antioch Speedway several times. Matt has raced in several different Sprint Car classes from the Winged 360 Sprints to the RaceSaver 305 Sprints.

Not to be forgotten in the mix was yet another young gun picking up his second Top 3 finish at Antioch, Giovanni Scelzi. Much like Montgomery, Giovanni has racked up an impressive resume in Outlaw Karts prior to moving up to do some Sprint Car racing, and in Giovanni's case, he has been given the opportunity to do some racing in the Winged 410 Sprint Cars as well. Giovanni isn't on the winner's list at Antioch yet, but it won't be a surprise to see him get a win if he keeps coming back

The list of winners at Antioch Speedway includes, Sprint Car veteran Bobby McMahon, Koen Shaw, Sean Conde and track title contenders Art McCarthy and Billy Aton. Speaking of the track championship battle, it was shaken up when McCarthy's car was unable to start for the Main Event last time out. Despite the fact that he didn't finish in the Top 5, Aton used his seventh place finish to move into the point lead.

Further ahead, it was Matt Barber picking up his best finish at the speedway so far in fourth. The fifth place finish went to open wheel veteran Burt Foland Jr. With that finish, Foland moved to within 20 points of Dan Gonderman for third. In fact, Doc Brophy use his sixth place feature finish in the recent race to move to within six points of Gonderman. Gonderman was unable to race last time as his car was still too damaged from his flip at the previous race.

Bobby McMahon was back in his own #18 Sprinter, but he made an early exit in the Main Event to end up eighth. Also in the field was David Lynch II, but he too was a Main Event scratch. The fact that there have been six different winners makes Antioch Speedway an attractive place for young up and coming racers looking to get good seat time. They may not just make good laps at the speedway, they could bring home a Main Event victory at a track that still pays the class well.

When racing resumes, McCarthy and Aton will renew their rivalry as Aton holds a 27 point lead over McCarthy following Round #6. Will one of them win again, could it be one of the third place point contenders getting their first win of the year or will it be yet another new face in the Winner's Circle? Also part of the June 16th show will be the track's Wingless Spec Sprint division. For further information about this and other happenings at the track, go to

2016 Antioch Winged 360 Northern All Star Points

Billy Aton    374
Art McCarthy    247
Dan Gonderman    180

Doc Brophy    174
Burt Foland Jr.    160
Shawn Arriaga    141
Matt Barber    136
Chris Magoon    118
Adam McCarthy    106
Koen Shaw    100

2016 Northern All Stars

Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule

July 9
July 16
July 30
August 6
August 13
August 20
August 27
September 10
September 17
September 24

Past Champions

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

Last 25 Feature Winners

June 25, 2016:  Kaleb Montgomery
June 18, 2014:  Bobby McMahan
June 4, 2016: Shawn Conde
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