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King Of The West Sprint Cars Set To Invade
Antioch Speedway On Saturday
Antioch, CA...There's no question about the fact that in it's heyday, the Winged 410 Sprint Car shows that visited Antioch Speedway brought in the fans. Even the special San Jose Speedway Super Modified races were a big attraction. With NARC and the Golden State Challenge Series, you had stars like Brent Kaeding, Kevin Pylant, Randy Tiner, Steve Kent, Tim Green and Rick Hirst burning up the circuit. These drivers were on a list of over a dozen or so who could win on an given night. However, at times it seemed like the needle was stuck in the groove, "Kaeding wins, Kaeding wins, Kaeding wins." You get the picture.
BK was very much the Steve Kinser of Northern California as his 13 King Of The West (Formerly Golden State Challenge) and 13 NARC titles would attest. The Kaeding family is Sprint Car royalty in California. Brent's father, Howard Kaeding, was a decorated Super Modified champion. Howard's brother, Herb Kaeding, was a Sprint Car guru. Brent's boys, Tim and Bud, are both champions. Tim is a past King Of The West champion, and Bud currently leads the title chase.
We saw the rebirth of NARC this year, which caused many long time fans to rejoice. The name NARC hearkens back to the glory days of Winged 410 Sprint Car racing in the 1980's, when car counts of 40 or more cars were common, and there was no need for support divisions. The 3-5 times NARC came to town sometimes sold out the stands at Antioch Speedway. You had to be there to see who was going to win next. The roar of the engine, the smell of the racing fuel, the lightning speeds, the occasional wheelie down the straightaway, the thrilling finishes and the spectacular flips. You had to be there to see what would happen next.
When the King Of The West Winged 410 Sprint Car Series, presented by NARC, comes to Antioch for the sixth race of the season, they will be looking for their first repeat winner. The record shows that reigning champion Kyle Hirst, Bud Kaeding, Hanford champion Gio Scelzi, Rico Abreu and Cory Eliason have each been in the winner's circle once. As for seconds, Carson Macedo has done it twice, while D.J. Netto, Sean Becker and Shane Golobic have done it once. Five drivers have third pace finishes, Hirst, Scelzi, Kaeding, Eliason and Macedo. Can you say competitive? There is no clear cut favorite at this point, and that makes things all the more exciting.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is a $10,000 championship prize, and it drops to $3,000 for second. Right now, 71 points separate first from tenth in the standings, and that means anybody can get hot and climb quickly to the top. Bud Kaeding has the Williams Motorsports #0 car 13 points ahead of Eliason in the Antaya Motorsports #20 Sprinter. Roth Motorsports always has a strong presence, and Hirst has their #83 machine just 17 points out of the lead and three ahead of the familiar Tri-C #3 machine of Netto. Who will be the winner on Saturday night? It's going to be an exiting race on the fast three-eighth mile clay oval.
Antioch Speedway's All Star Series Hobby Stocks support the show, and this division is in a bit of a resurgence this year. Car count is up, and the championship battle is very close. The winner's list now shows rookie Brent Curran with two victories, while 2010 champion Chris Sorensen, Chris Long and Michael Cooper have one win a piece. Any one of a half-dozen competitors are on the cusp of their first victory, especially Cameron Swank. The points tell the story. Long, who has been competing in this class on and off since the 1990's, is finally going for it. He leads Curran by just six points and the consistent Swank by 20.
Sorensen, Cooper, rookie Chris Bennett, Lindsey Buirch and Joey Rideway aren't too far out of the lead, but they all know that they will need to step up now or those hopes will fade. Every race counts, and this is the first of two important June races for the division. Who will be the winner on Saturday night? There are some good new drivers in the field this year along with a few veterans, and you can't count out hard chargers like Billy Garner, Russell Shearer, Steve Perry, Ricky Foster, Anthony Vigna and Lori Brown.
The King Of The West Series Sprint Car/All Star Series Hobby Stock show will be a hot ticket this week at Antioch Speedway. For further information, go to www.antiochspeedway.com.
King Of The West NARC Sprint Car Points
Bud Kaeding 294 (1)
Cory Eliason 281 (1)
Giovanni Scelzi 277 (1)
DJ Netto 274
Michael Kofoid 265
Kyle Hirst 263
Willie Croft 236 (1)
Carson Macedo 230
Jarrett Soares 226
Bobby McMahan 223
All Star Series Hobby Stocks
Chris Long 210 (1)
Brent Curran 204 (2)
Cameron Swank 190
Chris Sorensen 170 (1)
Michael Cooper 154 (1)
Chris Bennett 148
Lindsey Buirch 142
Joe Ridgeway 136
Ricky Foster 132
Billy Garner 129
Things Are Looking Up At Merced Speedway
With Ed Parker As Promoter
Merced, CA...Some people may have underestimated Ed Parker when he stepped up and took over Merced Speedway as promoter in 2016. There wasn't a lot in his racing back ground that might have had people nominating him for the job. In fact, there were other names being thrown around as people who could lead the nearly 70 year old racing facility back to prominence. But, Ed had a game plan. He began working on that plan while the 2015 season was still in session. He began putting people and resources in place to make it happen.. Everything was being planned out, from bringing Hall Of Fame racer Doug Williams in a Race Director, to Tim Ragsdale for track prep and Dale Falkenberg in promotions.
The 2016 season opened with lots of optimism, and the easy schedule Ed had booked led to big things happening that year. Nobody was overbooked. Drivers had much needed weeks off to make repairs and spend time with family. This led to car count increases in IMCA Sport Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and even the IMCA Modifieds. In fact, when Legend's night came up in August that year, the Valley Sportsman division fielded eight cars. Ed also indicated that a Hall Of Fame is being planned to honor the legends who have made this race track so great.
Merced tradition played a part in the panning of the schedule. Williams had facilitated the return of the once very popular Ted Stofle Classic to honor perhaps California's greatest Stock Car driver of the 1970's. He also played a part in making the Matt Van Hoecke Memorial Race happen. Parker is a guy who very much gets it. Racing history and tradition matters to him. In the highest post at the speedway, you still get the impression that he is humbled by his position. It's like every so often, in a quiet moment, you might find him pinching himself to see if he's truly the promoter of Merced Speedway. Yes he is, and the track is better because of it.
Last year, Ed worked in conjunction with Kim Barcellos to bring back the popular Timmy Post Memorial race, a race that is coming up once again on July 1st. Timmy was Kim's son and the grandson of Chuck & Marylee Griffin. He died tragically in an automobile accident on graduation night 1999. This race was the biggest race of the season at Merced Speedway from 1999 all the way to when the Griffin's ended their run as promoters at the end of 2009. The racers were delighted to have this race back on the schedule as young Timmy was a beloved member of the Merced racing family. The blue tow tractor he once rode is still there and is referred to as "Timmy's Tractor."
Parker and his staff work very hard to make each and every race special at Merced Speedway, and this doesn't just include the marquee races, but every race. Car counts have exploded at times this year to a point where the parking lot was used for excess pitting. The night of the All Star Series IMCA Modified race had over 40 cars, and with West Coast Sport Mod support, the IMCA Sport Modifieds had over 30 cars as well. All told, there were over 100 cars in the pits that night. Even if this is not a track record for car count, it's certainly the biggest count they've had in years.
The track is doing their traditional Merced County Fair race during the week again this year. It features IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks on Wednesday, June 7th. The Dwarf Car Nationals is coming to Merced Speedway on June 16th and 17th. The track has never hosted this blowout Dwarf Car event that brings several Dwarf Car groups together. Merced was actually the original home track of the NCDCA Dwarf Cars, which co hosts this WCDCA event along with SBDCA. If you ever wanted to see a Dwarf Car race, this is the one to see. June 24th gives the fans a taste of Motorcycle racing excitement when the AMA comes to town. July 1st features the IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks for the Timmy Post Memorial. Legend's Night is another big race on August 12th, and there's more to follow all the way through October's John Fore Jr. Memorial Sport Modified race.
Another thing that sets Parker apart from others is his willingness to work with other tracks and even go dark as he's doing for Watsonville in August. It's rare that you'll find a promoter struggling to not make conflicting dates with other tracks. If something comes up, many promoters just do what they want. Parker does his best to give Merced Speedway the best opportunity for success and work with others. This is one of many reasons that the track is having a resurgence in popularity. It will only get better with the way Ed Parker is running things.
If you haven't been to Merced, the June 7th County Fair race is a good opportunity to check it out. IMCA Sport Modifieds and Hobby Stocks are doing well these days, and the fair is a good back drop to the program. You can get a corn dog, check out the midway and then watch some great racing. For more information on coming events, go to www.racemerced.com.
Orland Raceway Returns To Action
Orland, CA...Orland Raceway returns to action on Saturday night with Pure Stocks, Mini Stocks, Mini Trucks, Micro Sprints and a Kid's Bike Race. Fans are still talking about the great night of racing during the Glenn County Fair, and some good point battles are developing after two events.
The strength of the show is the Pure Stocks. A field of a dozen cars did battle at the most recent race, and Jeremy Langenderfer joined reigning champion Steve Martin on the winner's list with an impressive victory. Kyle Cheney and Marysville visitor Matt Magenheimer joined Langenderfer on the podium with their Top 3 finishes. A calculation of the points now finds Langenderfer leading the battle by just four points over division rookie Keith Ross, five over Martin and ten over Shannon Collins. All four drivers are among the dozen or so competitors anticipated this week. Collins impressed with a fourth place finish in the 200 lap Chico Enduro recently.
Sean Perry was going for his second straight win during the County Fair. A field of ten competitors made this one of the biggest turnouts for this division in recent years. Past champion Tom Davis rebounded from a non finish in the opener to claim the victory, and Perry and reigning champion John Kirkpatrick joined him on the podium with their strong efforts. Perry's point lead over Kirkpatrick is just two points, and Davis is only three points back. Marysville star Donnie Fortney and Barbara Crain are also top 5 ranked, and all five of these hard chargers are among the competitors anticipated this week.
Keith Ross is doing double duty this year, and his Mini Truck is on a rail as he scored his second straight win in the most recent race. 2013 champion Ross Vige and William Fogle also grabbed Top 3 finishes. The standings are close as Ross leads Vige by six points, reigning champion Dan Webster by eight and Fogle by 12 points. All four of these drivers should be there on Saturday night. There's also word that long time competitor "Rollin" Olin Crane will return in his truck.
The Wingless 250 Micros are off to a strong start this year. With a ten car field in action in the recent race, second generation racer Jackie Whitson Jr. won for the second straight time. He was chased across the line by multi time NCMA Sprint Car champion Scott Holloway and former Orland Promoter Adam Zachary. Whitson is now leading the standings by 15 points over James Barnes and 19 tallies ahead of past champion Jess Garland. The track has been trying to establish Micro Sprint racing for the past four seasons, and it is poised for a breakthrough year.
The car count of nearly 40 drivers during the Glenn County Fair has management optimistic. These four divisions should put on a good show. The kid's bike races on Saturday are an opportunity for the young fans to have fun and compete on the race track. Through the years, bike racing has always been a big hit with the young fans. Grandstands open at 5:00 PM with the first race starting at 7:00 PM. General Admission is $8.00, Seniors and Children 7-12 are $5.00 and Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to www.orlandraceway.org.
California Hardtops Set To Invade
Petaluma Speedway Saturday night
Petaluma, CA...It seems like the most popular dirt track for the California Hardtops is Petaluma Speedway. They hit an association record 17 car field for a race in 2013. This was also the year that they honored Hardtop legends Johnny Franklin and Julian Castro. The drivers had a blast and raced hard. In fact, they raced so hard one night that Tommy Thomson flipped in the Main Event that season. The group was absent for 2014 and 2015, but they were invited back as part of the Johnny Soares Classic in 2016. Jason Armstrong beat the 11 car field that night, followed by Tommy Thomson, Dan Williams and Dennis Armstrong.
This Saturday night, the CHA is making their lone 2017 appearance at the popular three-eighth mile adobe oval. The drivers are chomping at the bit to get back out on that race track once again. J. Armstrong is loaded and ready to make an attempt to repeat as the Petaluma race winner. This may be a challenge. Jason is already a winner this year at Placerville, but Rob Waldrop has wins at Chico and Marysville this season in the Bill McLaughlin owned car.
Recently in Roseville, Joe Hopp gave the fans a show with his clean sweep feature victory ahead of McLaughlin and Ken Clifford. Hopp's wit in the winner's circle had the crowd laughing, and the loss of his hood on the race track earlier in the night may have earned him the nick name, Joe "Hood Pins" Hopp. Can he make it two wins in a row this week?
Ken Clifford could be joined by his son Jason in the black #4 car. This car not only has the heritage as one of the cars in the original 2002 field that sparked the modern California Hardtop movement. The car is also an OTRO original from 1988. It got a pair of California wins with Steve Lemley behind the wheel in 2002 and was driven to multiple victories by Jason Clifford last year. It's likely that Dan Williams will be in the field. Williams has had success at Petaluma in both Dwarf Cars and Mini Stocks. We saw one of the CHA originals, Mike McClure, in the field at Petaluma last year. Might we see the past Placerville Pure Stock champion this week?
The CHA has some great drivers on its roster this season, including Dave Reed, Ron Ruiz, Rhett Lange, Dan Whitney and Steve Cloyes. Reed made his first start at Petaluma last year after buying the car from CHA President John Philbert, and he finished fifth. We've yet to see the season debut of Santa Rosa's Spenser Nice, John Turner or Doug Braudrick. Might we see one or more of them this week? Petaluma has a way of making these Hardtop competitors want to go racing. It should be another great night of California Hardtop racing this Saturday night at Petaluma Speedway.
Previous Petaluma Feature Winners
August 2016: Jason Armstrong
October 2013: Tommy Thomson
June 2013: Nick DeCarlo
May 2013: Info Unavailable
April 2013: Terry DeCarlo
July 2012: Nick DeCarlo
June 2012: Mike Friesen