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Six Divisions Race Into Antioch Speedway Saturday Night
Antioch, CA...After the huge Sprint Car opener at Antioch Speedway last week, All Star Series racing action returns this Saturday night to the fast three-eighth mile clay oval. The stacked six division program features DIRTcar Late Models, Wingless Spec Sprints, A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks. This week, Promoter John M. Soares is upping the purse in the B Modified and Hobby Stock classes.
The UMP DIRTcar sanctioning is back again for the Late Models. Antioch is the only track in California with a regular Late Model show, and two of its regular competitors have won the last two West Region Championships. It's no surprise that the $2000 Regional prize went to the last two track champions, Jeff Decker (2015) and Richard Papenhausen (2016). Both drivers are anticipated for the opener. In fact, both drivers also have A Modifieds, and we will probably see them in that division at some point this season too.
Rob Norris, himself a past A Modified champion, is planning to be there this week, along with last year's "Rookie Of The Year" winner, Mike Hynes. Speaking of rookie's, Kimo Oreta will be taking the wheel of The Sun Drop Racing Team car this year. He's already a three time Hobby Stock champion and won the Limited Late Model finale last year on his way to second in points there and top rookie honors. After getting married last year, David Newquist missed some races, but the two time Top 5 ranked driver should be there for the opener. Two time Petaluma Speedway champion Paul Guglielmoni, Dennis Souza and Danny Malfatti are others to watch for this week.
The A Modifieds are back for their 28th season, and there's a lot of anticipation in the air. Future "Hall Of Famer" Scott Busby is on the brink of history. With 70 career wins just at Antioch Speedway, he needs just three wins to pass the legendary J.D. Willis for the top position on the track's all time win list. Busby is a five time A Modified champion and may very well be the driver to beat this year. Carl Berendsen II held him off for his second championship in three years, but Carl has said he's planning to avoid point racing this season.
Bobby Motts Jr. was the 2015 point runnerup, but he enters the season with a heavy heart following the passing of family member Steven Cunningham. Another past point runnerup in the division, Mike Salazar, is anticipated this week along with last season's third ranked driver, Sean O'Gara. After a year in B Modifieds, Brian Pearce makes his return to the A Mod division this season. 2016 "Rookie Of The Year" Bobby Montalvo, hard charger Trent Wentworth, Josh Combs and Nick Viscusi III are just some of the drivers to watch for. There are likely to be some surprises in the field on Saturday.
Wingless Spec Sprints are back for their 18th season, and it's anybody's guess who will win the championship. We haven't heard the status of reigning champion Jim Perry Jr. or his son Jimmy Perry III. Rules adjustments left them scrambling to get ready, but this is a team we've learned to never underestimate. After his second straight runnerup season, Marcus Smith will be back. James East and Alan Miranda should both be there. East was looking fast at playday, and Miranda was putting his new motor in his car at last report. Division veteran Rick Panfili may miss a race finishing preparations on his car.
2016 "Rookie Of The Year" Adam Teves is ready to go, and Shannon Newton, Brandon Burd and ageless veteran Roy Fisher are among the other racers to watch for this week. The division also has some new drivers. Third generation racer Abigail Gonderman is making her debut as she moves up from the 4 Banger class. Past official Josh Floyd gets to go racing, and he'll be wheeling the #02 car that was last driven by the late Jimmy Lavell. When last we saw the division, a Hawaii native named Boy Moniz won his Antioch Speedway debut. It's possible that we may be seeing him again this week.
At $500 to win the B Modified feature, it's about double the usual payday. The competition level is expected to pick up this year, and some top teams are anticipated this week. With Merced Speedway dark to this division, it's hoped that there could be some visitors from there for the extra money. They don't come much faster than Trevor Clymens. The reigning division champion won seven times last season and just may be the driver to beat. One driver who will have his eyes on the prize is K.C. Keller. Keller won twice last season and was a Top 5 driver in the standings.
Mark Garner has a B Modified and a Limited Late Model. We know he's looking to make a run at the Limited Late Model championship, but the bigger prize may entice him to go B Modified racing as well this week. The Brown Brothers, Ron, Randy and Kevin, will probably field at least one of their cars this week. Other drivers to watch for include Danny Jones, Chuck Golden, Mike Mates, Megan Ponciano, Tim Hammett and rookie Alfred Johnson. Alfred's dad is two time runnerup Al Johnson, who will probably be racing in either this class or A Modifieds. Al took a nasty tumble in the New Year's Bash race, but the car should be back together for Alfred to race.
There's a shadow hanging over the Limited Late Model division with the passing of future "Hall Of Famer" Larry Damitz. Larry was the champion for the fifth time in six years last season. Two drivers we expect to step up and run for the championship are Kimo Oreta and Mark Garner, who finished second and third, respectively, last season. Garner won five Main Events. There's another veteran of some 40 years of racing that nobody should be ignoring. He's the division's all time feature win leader and two time champion Mike "The Blue Knight" Gustafson. Should he decide to make his presence known in the point battle, he may prove difficult to beat.
Likewise, past champion Lori Brown had her car dialed in last year and was in the hunt for a feature win before the season ended. Jim Freethy bears the distinction of being the only driver in the last six years to beat Damitz for a championship. He missed races last year, but he got his new car sorted out and won a Main Event along the way. Top 5 Petaluma competitor Ryan Cherezian, the steady John Evans, Paul Hanley, John "The Bear" Keith and Buddy Kniss are other drivers too watch for this week. Kniss won the Dwarf Car "Rookie Of The Year" title last year, and the teen leadfoot decided it was time to move up. Baseball season may effect how much racing he does.
The Hobby Stocks open with a $300 to win race and a question of who will be the new champion. The only drivers currently with Antioch legal Hobby Stocks who have won the championship are the husband and wife team of Brad and Melissa Myers, and the extra money could lure them out for a race. Melissa won twice last season. Danny Jones appears to be back, and he carries the experience advantage over the rest of the pack in the Ryan Thomason owned car. However, it was another Hobby Stock veteran, Chris Long, who won the New Year's Bash. Long could also prove tough to beat this year. Another Chris, Chris Sorensen, has both a B Modified and a Hobby Stock and may see action in both classes this year.
The driver nobody should be ignoring is Michael Cooper. If not for his work schedule, he would be a definite title contender. Even with that, he's a threat to win when he's there. Brother in law Jordan Swank is another driver to watch. Swank is coming off of back to back Top 3 point seasons. Jordan's cousin, Cameron Swank, is also a fast competitor. There are lots of talented racers to watch for his week, including Frank Furtado, Natalie Perry, Lindsey Buirch, Russell Shearer, Robert Niven and Anthony Vigna. There are some rookies to watch for this season, led by fourth generation racer Billy Garner, Chris Bennett and Sid Smith.
Saturday night is an action packed program of All Star Series Racing. With DIRTcar Late Models, A Modifieds, Wingless Spec Sprints, B Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Hobby Stocks all on the card, this will be a show you won't want to miss. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
IMCA Modifieds Headline Four Division Program
At Merced Speedway
Merced, CA...The IMCA Modifieds return to Merced Speedway this Saturday night, and it could be considered a tune up for the big All Star Series race that is scheduled for April 15th. Other divisions competing this week include Hobby Stocks, SBDCA Dwarf Cars and the debut of the Mini Late Models. The Dwarf Car race can also be considered a tune up for the big WSDCA Nationals Event on June 16th and 17th.
Last year, Randy Brown was so fast by the end of the season that he went down to Watsonville and won a race ahead of Bobby Hogge IV. Brown is the reigning IMCA Modified champion of Merced Speedway and the driver to beat. One of the drivers leading the charge to beat him is one of the track's most decorated champions of the past 20 years, Ramie Stone. Ramie had multiple IMCA Modified titles as well as championships in Street Stocks and Mini Trucks. He'll be joined this season by his brother Troy Stone.
Bruce "Bubba" Nelson has won in Hobby Stocks and Sport Modifieds, but he's setting his sights on a Modified win and a possible title run this year. He was the top rookie last season and finished third in the standings. Two years ago, John MacDougall had to abandon a championship run midway through the season after his car was destroyed in a visit to Petaluma. John has a new 2016 Evolution Chassis from the shops of Clay Daly, and he's excited about coming back to Merced Speedway.
Bill Egleston is a past division champion with two feature wins last season in a Top 5 season. He actually tied three time Street Stock champion Ricky Thatcher for fourth in the standings. Both drivers are anticipated this Saturday night. Ryan Larimer is a past Hanford Sport Modified champion, and he finished as high as second in his rookie season last year. The roster of talent in the area is impressive, and other drivers to watch for this week include Ryan Larimer, Jeff Streeter, D.J. Shannon, Jarod Fast and Harley Turner.
Michael Shearer's team of Hobby Stock cars are all very competitive. The 2015 "Ted Stofle Classic" winner was consistent last season in winning his first division championship. However, 2015 champion Kevin Joaquin came on very strong with two late season victories and nearly snatched that championship before settling for second. Shearer's teammates, Kristie Shearer and Shannon Nelson, should also be in action this week. We also can't count out 2016 Ted Stofle Classic winner Phillip Vaughn, who finished third in points last year.
The area's Hobby Stock roster is known to be in the 40's, and we will probably see at east 20 of them this week, including Top 5 2016 competitors Robbie Loquaci and Austin Van Hoff. Hard charger Dexter Long, Garrett Corn, Kodie Dean, John Hensley, Darren Miguel, Donnie Shearer, James Stockton and Jeff Lacy are others to watch for. The competition level in this division is probably the highest of any class at the track. Many of the drivers on the roster are capable of winning a Main Event, and that means an exciting show any time they are there.
It's been a few seasons since the South Bay Dwarf Car Association has paid Merced Speedway an official visit, but they are in town for their lone point race visit this week. There are some talented racers on the roster, including 2016 champion David Teves. Teves narrowly won the championship after a battle with Nick Squatritto. Like Teves, Squatritto has won Dwarf Car championships with SBDCA and at Antioch Speedway. Two other past champions to watch for this week are Gene "Punky" Pires and Mark Biscardi.
Other drivers anticipated this week include Top 5 ranked Justin Yanez, Eric Weiser, Kyle Jones, William Belfeild and Marty Weisler. The rival NCDCA is not booked this week, and that group is part of the WSDCA that will sanction the Dwarf Car Nationals race at Merced in June. It's possible that we could see some of their racers in action. A few stars to watch for include Ryan "Ice Chip" Winter, Buddy Olschowka, Scott Dahlgren and Jeremy Blackshere. The Dwarf Cars put on a good show wherever they race, and this night should be no different.
The California Sharp Mini Late Models will have their first race ever this week. Past Street Stock champion Robby Jeppeson has become the official car dealer, and his son Riley Jeppesen is one of the first four drivers on the roster. Second generation racer Ian Shearer will also be on hand along with Timmy Vaught and Tim Crews. We've heard there are others with cars, but we had no other names at press time. This smaller scale Late Model class runs a 600cc motorcycle engine, and this division is growing at other tracks around the country.
Racing fans will want to be there Saturday night for IMCA Modifieds, Hobby Stocks, SBDCA Dwarf Cars and Mini Late Models. It's going to be an exciting night of racing. For further information, go to www.racemerced.com.
Racing Returns This Sunday To Chowchilla Speedway
Chowchilla, CA...Chowchilla Speedway has a race track at the fairgrounds. This is actually the 18th consecutive year that we've had at least one event in front of the main grandstand. Tom Sagmiller opened the track back in 2000, and Joe Diaz Jr. and Kris Koontz reopened it last month. Actually, racing history goes back several decades, and one race of note was the Chowchilla Open in 1951. That race was won by the legendary Red Mullican. It's been a year since Red passed away, but he would surely be happy to see racing still continues in Chowchilla.
The fast Winged Sprint Cars opened the track on March 12th, and Ryan Robinson collected the win ahead of 2013 NCMA Sprint Car champion Eric Humphries and Shawn Conde. It was definitely an exciting and fast paced event with about a dozen drivers battling for position that day. When the A Modifieds got their turn a week later, past Chico Modified champion Ryan McDaniel held off the persistent Cody Laney for a thrilling victory, while two time Merced champion Rick Diaz won the B Modified race ahead of Tim Elias that day.
All three divisions will be on this Sunday's card, along with Wingless Spec Sprints, 600 Micro Sprints, Hobby Stocks and Mini Stocks. Diaz and Koontz thought it would be better to combine the track's Open Wheel and Stock Car races into one show featuring all divisions. It was hoped when this track was opened in 2000 that the racing tradition would continue, and management is excited about the opportunity to build it back up to where it once was and beyond.
It's worth noting that two of the track champions from 2015, Chris Corder (Mini Stocks) and Kevin Joaquin (Hobby Stocks) competed on March 19th and won their respective events. Both are anticipated on Sunday along with a pair of Spec Sprint rookies, Benjamin Catron and Eric Pilson. The fans will get a look at a variety of divisions that have different looking cars and run at varying speeds.
The Sunday racing program was scheduled this year so as not to run head to head against any of the more established Friday or Saturday night racing venues that aren't too far from Chowchilla. This gives racers an opportunity to come out and compete without missing races at their home tracks. It also means racing fans don't have to choose between two tracks. They can do both.
The grandstands for the seven division program open at 10:00 AM with racing to begin at about 1:30 PM. General Admission is $10, Seniors and Military is $7 and children 6-12 are $5.00. It should be a fun afternoon of racing at Chowchilla Speedway this Sunday. For more information, you can go to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/racechowchilla/.