Serving notice to the competition that he will be a force in the A Modified division this season, Aaron Crowell won the 20 lap Main Event Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. Fred Ryland returned and won the 20 lap B Modified finale, while Dan Gonderman grabbed the checkered flag in the non stop 20 lap Wingless Spec Sprint feature. Richard Papenhausen rebounded from his season opening disappointment with a Late Model Main Event triumph, and Mike Gustafson won the Limited Late Model feature.
Aaron Crowell figures to be a major player in the A Modified point battle this year. The 2004 division champion grabbed the lead in the Main Event and led a trio of past champions in posting the impressive victory in the season opener for the division. It was Kellen Chadwick driving a good race to finish second ahead of 2014 champion Carl Berendsen II. Josh Combs brought it home in fourth as double division racer Chester Kniss finished fifth in the 22 car field. Kniss blew a motor at the checkered flag. Defending champion Scott Busby won the first heat race ahead of Norman Boeck, while Combs held off Jeff Thomas to win the second heat. The third heat race win went to Mikey Slaney ahead of Crowell.
With his protege, Marcus Smith, landing a ride in the Richard Basden Spec Sprint this year, two time division champion Dan Gonderman got the ride in Smith’s #28 car. The second generation racer took full advantage of it by scoring an impressive victory in the Main Event. Coming off of back to back Top 3 point efforts, Rick Panfili started his season off right by collecting another career best second place finish. Panfili set the pace for 12 laps before being passed by the flying Gonderman. His second place finish didn’t come easy with the division’s all time win leader, Jim Perry Jr., in hot pursuit for a hird place finish. Past Chowchilla Speedway Spec Sprint Champion Brandon Burd brought it home with a fourth place finish.
After missing a race two weeks ago, 2015 B Modified champion Fred Ryland returned to remind the rest of the pack that he is still a force in the division. Fred drove to his second feature win of the season, while wife Patti Ryland made it a Ryland Racing 1-2 finish at Bob Kempf’s checkered flag. K.C. Keller collected a career best third place finish ahead of title hopeful Brian Pearce and Paul Mulder, who was making his season debut. Pearce won his heat race ahead of Al Johnson, while F. Ryland beat P. Ryland in the other heat race.
The Late Models opened the night with a heat race duel between 2014 champion Richard Papenhausen and defending champion Jeff Decker. Papenhausen made a last lap pass to grab the lead and win from Decker. Coming off of his heat race win at the opener, Chester Kniss had high hopes of winning the feature from his front row start. He led for several laps before steering issues dropped him back in the pack. Papenhausen made his move from last starting to get the win ahead of Decker and David Newquist. Kniss settle for fourth as Dennis Souza rounded out the Top 5.
Two time Limited Late Model champion Mike Gustafson was back behind the wheel of his familiar blue and yellow #2 Limited Late Model, and the division’s all time feature win leader looked as fast as ever in collecting the win in their 20 lap feature. Previous winner Larry Damitz had to start in the back as per track rules, and his charge to the front was cut short as he pitted around the halfway mark of the race. At that point, the red flag flew when Jim Freethy’s car caught fire. As Gustafson led Mark Garner and rookie Kimo Oreta, Lori Brown’s fourth place run was cut short with mechanical issues. The mechanical gremlins struck again as Garner’s run ended with a few laps remaining. Gustasfson collected the win ahead of Oreta. Garner and Brown were scored third and fourth, respectively. Donny Richardson won the heat race ahead of Brown.
Racing continues at Antioch Speedway next week with Winged 360 Sprint Cars headlining along with A Modifieds, B Modifieds, Hobby Stocks and Dwarf Cars. For further information, check the official Antioch Speedway website at www.antiochspeedway.com.
Antioch Speedway, Saturday, April 16
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Scott Busby, Josh Combs, Mikey Slaney. Main Event (20 Laps)-Aaron Crowell, Kellen Chadwick, Carl Berendsen II, Combs, Chester Kniss.
Heat Winners (8 Laps)-Brian Pearce, Fred Ryland. Main Event (20 Laps)-F. Ryland, Patti Ryland, K.C. Keller, Pearce, Paul Mulder.
Wingless Spec Sprints
Main Event (20 Laps)-Dan Gonderman, Rick Panfili, Jim Perry Jr., Brandon Burd.
Heat Winner (8 Laps)-Richard Papenhausen. Main Event (20 Laps)-Papenhausen, Jeff Decker, David Newquist, Chester Kniss, Dennis Souza.
Limited Late Models
Heat Winner-Donny Richardson. Main Event (20 Laps)-Mike Gustafson, Kimo Oreta, Mark Garner, Lori Brown.