Thursday, May 11, 2017

Larry Damitz Memorial Preview At Antioch Speedway, Merced Speedway Preview, More

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Larry Damitz Memorial Race On Saturday Night
At Antioch Speedway

Antioch, CA...There's news at Antioch Speedway.  The big news this week is the Larry Damitz Memorial for the DIRTcar Late Models.  Larry has won over a dozen Late Model races at Antioch Speedway through the years and was second in points in 1986.  Larry's division of choice in recent years, the Limited Late Models, are also on the schedule.  The All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars, A Modifieds and Dwarf Cars will also compete this week, and Promoter John M. Soares just announced that NASCAR racer/commentator Kenny Wallace will be competing on June 24th in both a Late Model and an A Modified.

Two time Petaluma champion Paul Guglielmoni got together with Soares to discuss the purse for Saturday's big DIRTcar Late Model race.  Guglielmoni was another of those drivers that Damitz took under his wing and would often help.  Damitz was there for Paul the night he scored an impressive victory at Antioch in 2015.  Soares dedicated Damitz's pit area to him with a special memorial marker before the season started.  Guglilmoni brought in the sponsorship of Vaca Valley Excavating And Trucking, Henner Tank Lines and the Matt Micheli family.  Soares added to the purse as well, and it's now $3,000 to win and $300 to start.  There will also be a special $200 to win Dash For Cash.

Antioch's two two-time Late Model champions, Richard Papenhausen and "The Hit Man" Jeff Decker, are both chomping at the bit to make a run for what may be the biggest payday for the division in the state this year.  Decker won the season opener a couple of weeks ago.  However, there's a hitch in this duo's plans in the form of Bobby Hogge IV.  Bobby has a tendency to come to town when there's a big race and leave with the prize money.  He's won a few Late Model races at Antioch in recent years and ranks a close third behind J.D. Willis and Scott Busby on the track's All Time Winner's List.  Hogge may be the driver to beat on Saturday.

However, past Antioch champion Andy Obertello is also coming to town to make a run at the payoff.  Obertello has won a couple of Main Events in his few visits in the past two seasons.  From Willamette Speedway comes news that 2016 point runnerup Joey Tanner will be making the trip thanks to tow sponsorship from Daren Campbell.  We received late word that multi time Willamette champion Darren Coffell will be there as well.  Many drivers from out of town are talking, and rumors abound as to who might be coming from Bakersfield, Placerville and out of state.  Guglielmoni has been racing in Placerville and spreading the word.  Placervlle is also the home track of long time Late Model racer Matt Micheli, who is anticipated for this race.  Guglielmoni won a heat race and placed fourth there last week.

Chester Kniss had an impressive third place finish last time out as he continues to dial in his Late Model ride.  Chester also won the A Modified feature last week.  Could he make his first win in this division the biggest win of them all?  There are some dedicated local racers who are anticipated this week, led by Shawn DeForest, rookie Kimo Oreta, Mike Hynes, David Newquist, Dennis Souza, Rob Norris and Danny Malfatti.  Speculation is that there will be at least 12-16 competitors, and possibly more for a race that will likely be an annual event.

If you got a win in Limited Late Models in recent seasons, often times you had to go through Damitz to get it.  "The Sun Drop Kid" won over 40 of them with five championships and two second place seasons in the last seven years.  Only Mitch Machado in 2010 and Jim Freethy in 2013 beat him for the title.  Damitz didn't rank at the top of the division's All Time Win List, although he was closing in on that leader.  Two time division champion Mike Gustafson is the man with the most wins in the class, and he added another victory to that advantage last week as he served a reminder to the rest of the field that there's another "old man" in the class that they will have to beat to win the championship.

Jim Freethy clearly had his new car dialed in last season as he won a Main Event, and he was the one who chased Gustafson across the line in second last week.  Freethy may be a contender this year, and that is also the goal of the driver who finished third and won his heat race last week, Mark Garner.  Even if the extra money isn't on the line in this class, getting a win in the Larry Damitz Memorial is something most of the drivers are looking to do.  Plus, Pete Paulsen has sponsored a special trophy for this event. 

Kimo Oreta will be driving the Sun Drop Racing #15 car, and the steady John Evans, Jeff Kendrick, Chad Hammer, past champion Lori Brown and rookie Buddy Kniss are other drivers to watch for.  Petaluma Speedway is dark to the class this week, so a visitor or two from there is possible.  We've seen racers like Machado, Steve Studebaker and Shawn McCoy in recent years.  Could they make an appearance this week?

The Winged 360 Sprint Cars are continuing the trend of last season when we had 10 different winners in 14 races.  Rookie Kyle Offill won the opener by a wide margin, and Tyler Seavey won the most recent race ahead of 2015 champion Shawn Arriaga.  Drivers are lining up for a shot at the glory, and that figures to be the case this season as various drivers will likely come through town from week to week, many of then newcomers to the class.  As for regulars, we have five drivers with a head start of the man who has finished second in points these past two seasons and figured to be the man to beat, Art McCarthy.

At the head of the pack with a pair of Top 3 finishes this year is open wheel veteran Burt Foland Jr.  Burt leads Offill by just six points.  Marissa Polizzi is eight points back, Aaron Miller is 12 points out and last year's top rookie, Jenna Frazier, is 14 points back in fifth.  Miller is coming from Grants Pass, Oregon to compete for this championship and is hungry for his second career win.  Frazier and Polizzi are looking for their first wins.  These drivers can count on the fact that McCarthy will be in the hunt for victory this week following a non start and then a fifth last week.  Other drivers to watch for are Jason Paniagua and Bryan Grier.  We're still looking for the season debut of Dan Gonderman and Tim Burcher.

Chester Kniss was all smiles after his impressive performance in winning last week's A Modified Main Event by a straightaway ahead of title hopeful and second generation racer Sean O'Gara.  Kniss had a disappointing outing with his Modified in Chowchilla earlier this year, but this win showed what he can do when the car is dialed in.  In the championship battle, Bobby Motts Jr. has all Top 3 finishes to maintain an eight point lead over Mike Salazar.  Salazar was initially declared the winner of the opener, but a review of the race gave the win to Scott Busby.  Busby's championship hopes seems to be over after crashing in hot laps in the next race, won by Kellen Chadwick, and missing last week.

O'Gara is next in line, 12 points out of the lead.  Next would be rookie Eric Berendsen, who isn't far behind in his brother Carl's old car.  Gregg McElhaney's hopes took a hit when he scratched from the Main Event last time out, but the lead four drivers seem intent on winning this championship.  None of them has won a championship in this division, although Motts has a Street Stock title.  Motts was second in 2015, and O'Gara was third last season.  Salazar also has finished in the Top 3 in the past.  If the racing budgets hold out for these four, we could see a battle that goes down to the wire.  Other drivers to watch for this week include Sean Wilson and Gary Hetrick.  With Bobby Hogge IV coming with his Late Model, it's possible we could see him with his A Modified as well.

The Dwarf Cars round out the exciting program as they return for their second race.  They gave the fans a thriller last time out as last season's top two drivers, Kevin Miraglio and Mike Corsaro, battled to a photo finish.  Reigning champion Miraglio won by inches.  They continue their battle this week, but there are others hoping to make a claim on the winner's prize.  Leading that charge will be two time Street Stock champion David Rosa, open wheel veteran Charlie Correia, Robert Coe, Jenna Frazier, Josh Miller and David Michael Rosa.  Roberto Monroy, Devan Kammerman and Mario Marques are three of the rookies in the field this year.

Saturday night will be a must see event at the Speedway with the Larry Damitz Memorial.  The big money is on the line for the DIRTcar Late Models as All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Limited Late Models, A Modifieds and Dwarf Cars are all on the card.  For further information, go to

Antioch Speedway Points
All Star Series
Winged 360 Sprint Cars
Burt Foland Jr.    96
Kyle Offill    94
Marissa Polizzi    88
Aaron Miller    84
Jenna Frazier    82
Tyler Seavey    56
Shawn Arriaga    54
Bryan Grier    53
Art McCarthy    51
Jason Paniagua    36

A Modifieds
Bobby Motts Jr.    148
Mike Salazar    140
Sean O'Gara    136
Gregg McElhaney    132
Eric Berendsen    116
Gary Hetrick    80
Scott Busby    61
Kellen Chadwick    56
Chester Kniss    54
Carl Berendsen II 52

DIRTcar late Models
Jeff Decker    54
Shawn DeForest    54
Chester Kniss    46
Kimo Oreta    44
Mike Hynes    42
Richard Papenhausen 42
Dennis Souza    40
Paul Guglielmoni 38
David Newquist    36
Joey Olschowka    36

Dwarf Car Points
Kevin Miraglio    56
Chuck Connover    52
Mike Corsaro    48
David Rosa    44
Charlie Correia    44
Robert Coe    40
Roberto Monory    40
Chris Becker    38
Ted Pastor    36
Devan Kammerman    32

Limited Late Models
Mike Gustafson    56
Mark Garner    52
Jim Freethy    50
Jeff Kendrick    44
Kimo Oreta    44
John Evans    42
Chad Hammer    40
Buddy Kniss    40
Lori Brown    34

BCRA Midget Lites, Hobby Stocks Headline 
Merced Speedway Show Saturday Night

Merced, CA...On the heels of last week's successful 16th running of the Ted Stofle Classic, Merced Speedway has another exciting show lined up for this week.  The Bay Cities Racing Association (BCRA) Midget Lites make their first of two appearances on the quarter-mile clay oval.  The Hobby Stocks are back this week along with the Mini Stocks, USAC Speed2 Midgets and the Mini Late Models.

Race Director Doug Williams has a connection to the BCRA Midget Lites.  A few years after selling his Late Model, Williams started racing Mini Sprints and then Dwarf Cars as well when Delta Speedway added the class.  Doug was a champion then too.  Mini Sprints were soon brought to tracks bigger than the eighth-mile oval of Delta, and by the mid 1990's, they were sanctioned by BCRA.  BCRA has had Midget Lites on their roster for over 20 years, and Williams is a champion and a BCRA "Hall Of Fame" member.

The Midget Lites get around the track nearly as fast as their Midget counterparts, and they have a great group of racers.  Leading the charge this week will be reigning champion Craig Dillard.  Dillard is also leading the standings, but the driver in second is off to a surprisingly strong start.  Emilee Lindgen has ranked as high as eighth, but she now holds a 22 point lead over Dakota Albright in a good battle for second.  Both of these drivers are a threat to win on race night.  Fourth ranked Hunter Kinney won the race at Antioch earlier this year for his first victory.  He leads rookie Kayla Green by just five points in another close point battle.  These drivers are anticipated along with division veterans Terry Bergstrom and Scott Kinney, Scott Males, Charlie Caraccilo and others.

Don't look now but second generation racer Kodie Dean is leading the Hobby Stock point battle by just 12 markers over reigning champion Michael Shearer, who is still looking for his first win of the season.  Dean and third generation leadfoot Garrett Corn have taken the division by storm this season with two wins each.  Corn closed the Ted Stofle Classic last week with an impressive drive on the dry slick track that earned him the 29 lap feature victory.  Chasing him across the line in that race was Dean.

Robbie Loquaci had a Top 5 finish last week, and that puts him third in the standings, 18 points behind Dean and nine points ahead of Kristie Shearer.  Kristie has won several Main Events in this division in recent seasons and has finished as high as second in points.  She could grab a win at any time.  Other hard chargers to watch for this week include Mike Stockton, Shannon Nelson, Austin Van Hoff and Darren Miguel.  2015 champion Kevin Joaquin has been struggling just a bit so far this season, but he shouldn't be counted out.

There's a bit of a rivalry brewing between long time Mini Stock supporter Chris Corder and third generation racer D.J. Keldsen.  Keldsen won the 2016 Watsonville championship and heard that the man to beat in Mini Stocks was three time champion Chris Corder, who fields several cars as the biggest supporter of this division in The Valley.  The Keldsen reputation is one of racing hard and not backing down, and it's served them well through the years as John Keldsen, Lloyd Keldsen Sr. and Lloyd Keldsen Jr. are all Figure 8 champions.  Last time out, D.J. Keldsen rolled the "General Lee" #01 Mini Stock after getting together with Jennifer Corder on the back stretch.  He returned to race at Watsonville in a new car with the #68j, a clear reference to the #68c of Chris Corder.

C. Corder finally got his first Merced win of the year last time out, which was a big deal as he has struggled this year and rolled his car six times at Chowchilla a couple weeks earlier.  That may have put the #48 car out of commission.  Keldsen leads C. Corder by just three points, while Chris's sister Jennifer, herself a Chowchilla feature winner this year like her brother, is six points back.  It should be pointed out that talented second generation racer Lucy Falkenberg had her best finish last time in second after winning a heat race.  She is only four points out of the lead in third.  Corder Racing teammate Destiny Carter had a Top 5 finish last time and has advanced to fifth in the standings.  Other drivers to watch for this week include Jason Womack, David Richards, 2016 point ruunnerup Paul Laoretti and Shawn DePriest

The USAC Speed2 Midgets are in town for their first of two scheduled appearances.  This is a group of young, up and coming open wheel drivers getting started on the bigger tracks.  USAC has been branching out with their sanctioning in recent years and is now sanctioning 600 Micros at some of the smaller tracks.  They are aware of the fact that it is important to start building the future stars of Midget and Sprint Car racing.  This division has been running mainly at Madera and other paved venues, but they have been trying to branch out more with some dirt races.  In fact, they are keeping dirt, pavement and overall point standings.

Jesse Love IV leads Annie Breidinger in the overall chase, 395-354.  Breidinger has her two wins at Madera.  Love has a win at Chowchilla, while Adam "The Shoe" Lemke" has a win each on pavement at Madera and dirt at Kern County Raceway, where they ran in support of the King Of The West Sprint Car Series.  Lemke is fourth in the overall standings, 19 points behind dirt series point leader Tom Patterson.  Patterson has a pair of seconds on the dirt to lead Love by four points, Lemke by five points and Breidinger by 11.  These four drivers should be in Merced this Saturday night along with Blake Brannon, Antonia Boscacci and Jeremy Speck.

Rounding out the program will be the second appearance of the California Sharp Mini Late Models.  Thus far, Tim Vaught has won a race each at Merced and Dixon.  Riley Jeppesen surprised Timmy Crews to finish second last time out.  These three drivers should be there this week along with second generation racer Ian Shearer, who has been doing a good job of making his laps and learning the car.  Michael Shearer is the California dealer for these cars, and there has been lots of buzz as drivers are looking at this class as a possibility for them.

Saturday night should be another exciting night of racing at Merced Speedway.  BCRA Midget Lites, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, USAC Speed2 Midgets and Mini Late Models should put on a good show for the fans.  For further information, go to

Merced Speedway Points
Hobby Stocks
Kodie Dean         194
Michael Shearer     182
Robbie Loquaci         176
Kristie Shearer     165
Austin VanHoff         158    
Shannon Nelson         155
Garrett Corn         154    
Mike Stockton         144    
Darren Miguel         137
Billy Nelson         111

Mini Stocks
DJ Keldsen         115    
Chris Corder          114
Lucy Falkenberg     111
Jennifer Corder     109
Destiny Carter         69
Jason Womack         69
David Richards         66
Paul Laoretti         39
Shawn Schwartzenberger     39
Shawn DePriest         38

BCRA Midget Lites
Craig Dillard        225
Emilee Lindgren        178
Dakota Albright        156
Hunter Kinney        128
Kayla Green        123
Scott Kinney        119
Terry Bergstrom        66
Danica Jo Parker    64
Jim Ridell        61
Roy Moody        52

Western USAC Midget2 Overall
Jesse Love IV        385
Annie Breidinger      354
Tom Paterson         335
Adam Lemke        316
Blake Brannon        303
Toni Breidinger        237
Antonia Boscacci    218
Cody Jessop        122
Joey Iest        119
Johnny Nichols        119

Western USAC Midget2 Dirt
Tom Paterson        150
Jesse Love IV        146
Adam Lemke        145
Annie Breidinger     139
Blake Brannon        129
Antonia Boscacci     67
Joel Rayborne        67
Cody Jessop        60
Jeremy Speck        58
Ashley Hazelton        19

Western USAC Midget2 Pavement
Jesse Love IV        239 (1)
Toni Breidinger        237 (2)
Annie Breidinger    215
Tom Paterson        185
Blake Brannon        174
Adam Lemke        171
Antonia Boscacci    151
Joey Iest        119
Johnny Nichols        119
Cody Jessop        62

Double Header Weekend For California Hardtops

Chico, CA...The California Hardtops are headed into a busy double header weekend.  On Friday night, the group brings their vintage Coupes and Sedans to Chico's Silver Dollar Speedway for an exciting night of racing.  Saturday night, they head to Marysville Raceway for what will be their third race of the season.

The season opened a couple weeks ago with a race at Placerville.  Jason Armstrong picked up wins in both his heat race and the Main Event, followed by his father, Dennis Armstrong, in both races.  Rhett Lange came in from Nevada and won his heat race before battling Ken Clifford and Joe Shenefield for a third place feature finish.  Clifford settled for fourth, and Shenefield was all smiles as he made some good laps in his fifth place finish.  Shenefield actually led his first Main Event laps.  Russ Kraft finished sixth, while Joe Hopp and Rob Waldrop had repairs to make following heat race problems.

Most of the competitors from Placerville are anticipated for these races with the possibility of a few more.  Dave Reed is working to get a motor together to come racing, as is Ron Ruiz.  The Kraft car may be there with CHA President John Philbert behind the wheel, and Shenefield is on vacation.  John Turner is another racer to watch for, and there was a rumor of the possibility of Chico's Troy Hovey racing on Friday.  The California Hardtops are an opportunity for fans to get a glimpse of racing from the glory days of the 1950's and 1960's.  Chico on Friday and Marysville on Saturday should both be entertaining shows.

All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars Return To 
Antioch Speedway Saturday Night

Antioch, CA...The third round of the All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Car season is at Antioch Speedway Saturday night.  The first two races have yielded two new Antioch winners as rookie Kyle Offill won the opener and Tyler Seavey won last week.  With the $1200 prize on the line, a steady stream of different drivers comes to town for each race to take a shot at the money and, in some cases, get first career wins.  This trend is likely to continue.

The championship battle has a different look this year as the Top 5 competitors have never won a Sprint Car championship.  Early season favorite and past Antioch and Petaluma champion Art McCarthy suffered a mechanical issue at the season opener that sidelined him from the Main Event.  Last week, Art returned and finished a respectable fifth, but if you know him, respectable doesn't quite cut it.  He had three wins last season in his second consecutive runnerup season.  Despite failing to start one Main Event last year, McCarthy nearly overtook Billy Aton for the 2016 championship.  He is currently down 45 points to the leader.

Chasing Seavey in the feature last week was 2015 champion Shawn Arriaga.  The lead duo also won eight lap heat races, while Burt Foland Jr. had his second straight Top 3 finish in third.  Marissa Polizzi and McCarthy rounded out the top 5.  2016 "Rookie Of The Year" Jenna Frazier, Aaron Miller, Jason Paniagua and Offill completed the finishing order, while Bryan Grier failed to start the feature. 

A look at the points after two races shows a very close battle.  Foland leads Offill by just two points.  Polizzi is six points out of the lead, Miller is 12 points back and Frazier trails the leader just 14 markers.  Foland was one of last season's Top 5 finishers in points.  Of the Top 5, only Offill has an Antioch win.  Miller got his first career win last season at his home track in Medford, Oregon, but he has committed to Antioch in a quest for the championship.  He looked really good in second at the opener until a spin gave Foland the opening he needed to finish second.  All five of these competitors have committed to Antioch this season, and this could be a battle that goes down to the September 23rd finale.  Can the veteran McCarthy catch them, or will we have a first time champion?

Different drivers will surely come to town to make a run at a nice payday, and there are still some local area competitors yet to debut.  Dan Gonderman waits in the wings following his third place season in last year's standings.  There's also Tim Burcher and Ricky Brophy.  Saturday night should be another exciting show for the All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Cars at Antioch Speedway.  For further information, go to

Race Results May 6, 2017
Winged 360 Sprint Cars
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Tyler Seavey, Shawn Arriaga.  Main Event (20 Laps)-Seavey, Arriaga, Burt Foland Jr., Marissa Polizzi, Art McCarthy, Jenna Frazier, Aaron Miller, Jason Paniagua, Kyle Offill, Bryan Grier (DNS).

Antioch Speedway Points
All Star Series
Winged 360 Sprint Cars
Burt Foland Jr.    96
Kyle Offill    94
Marissa Polizzi    88
Aaron Miller    84
Jenna Frazier    82
Tyler Seavey    56
Shawn Arriaga    54
Bryan Grier    53
Art McCarthy    51
Jason Paniagua    36

Antioch Speedway
All Star Series Winged 360 Sprint Car Schedule
May 13
June 3 King Of The West
June 10
June 17 Sprint Car Challenge
June 24
July 29
August 5 King Of The West
August 19
August 26
September 9
September 16
September  23

Past Champions
1998-Gary Geving
2007-Art McCarthy
2010-Craig Smith
2013-Chris Magoon
2014-Chris Magoon
2015-Shawn Arriaga
2016-Billy Aton

Recent Feature Winners
May 6, 2017:  Tyler Seavey
April 22, 2017:  Kyle Offill
April 1, 2017:  Cory Eliason
September 31, 2016:  Billy Aton
September 17, 2016:  Colby Johnson
September 10, 2016:  Matt Barber
August 27, 2016;  Billy Aton
August 20, 2016:  Riley Matson
August 13, 2016: Art McCarthy
August 6, 2016:  Seth Nunes
July 30, 2016:  Art McCarthy
July 16, 2016:  Brayden McMahan
June 25, 2016:  Kaleb Montgomery
June 18, 2016:  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