Trent Wentworth #141 leads John MacDougall #68 and Raymond Linedman #23 in a battle of Top 5 A Modified point contenders. Photo by Ryan Brown.
By Don Martin, II
Coming off a fitting tribute to sportsman legend Jerry Hetrick, that saw roughly 80 cars, last week, 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.
Al Johnson #43j has three second place B Modified feature finishes, but he may need a win soon to hold off Trevor Clymens in the championship battle. Photo by Ryan Brown.
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.
Robby Waldrop #7 gets ready to win his Hobby Stock heat race last week. Photo by Ryan Brown.
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.
Limited Late Model All Time feature win leader Mike Gustafson #2 leads rookie Kimo Oreta #03 and Jim Freethy #99 in a heat race. Photo by Ryan Brown.
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.
NFL Alumnus Jeremy Newberry #62 has his game face on before a Wingless Spec Sprint heat race. Newberry won a Main Event a few weeks ago. Photo by Ryan Brown.
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 ranked 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 www.antiochspeedway.com.