Buddy Kniss wins Hobby Stock Nationals at Antioch Speedway

Buddy Kniss piloted Dave Baca’s #33b car to the $3,000 Hobby Stock Nationals win. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Gallaher, Robbins, McLeister also win

By Candice Martin, DCRR Racing

Antioch, CA…October 6-7…Buddy Kniss of Oakley won the 50 lap Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stock Nationals Saturday night at Antioch Speedway. The 2019 IMCA Modified champion got the ride in the Dave Baca owned entry and made the most of it. The $3,000 victory was the biggest of his career.

Three-time Watsonville Hobby Stock champion Rob Gallaher of San Jose ended up with the win on Friday night, putting him in the Trophy Dash on Saturday, which he also won. Gallaher motored into the lead at the start, followed by 2020 champion James Thomson of Pittsburgh and Kenneth Robles of Rio Vista. Thomson made an inside pass on the back stretch on Lap 2 to grab the lead, but Gallaher came back strong on the outside in the fourth turn a lap later. A yellow flag waved for a flat tire on the Nick DeCarlo of Martinez car on Lap 4. Gallaher continued to lead the restart with Robles briefly moving into second. Thomson went low in Turn 4 a lap later to reclaim second and then made an inside pass on the back stretch on the eighth lap to take the lead from Gallaher once again. Kniss briefly took second from Gallaher, but Gallaher moved back around on Lap 9. Saturday night arrival Nick Johnson of Bakersfield made a high pass in Turn 4 on Lap 10 to grab third, and the battle intensified up front.

Gallaher made an inside pass in Turn 3 of the 12th lap to take the lead, and Johnson went low in Turn 2 a lap later to claim second. Johnson began smoking as he made an outside pass in Turn 4 on Lap 14 to take the lead from Gallaher. However, Gallaher came roaring back on the inside for the lead on Lap 15. A yellow flag flew for Robles, Aidan Ponciano of Oakley and Steven Johnson of Bakersfield in Turn 2 on Lap 16. Gallaher led the restart with Kniss motoring into second ahead of Nick Johnson. Another yellow flag waved on Lap 19. The restart saw Nick Johnson make a big move on the inside to take the lead from Gallaher. DeCarlo grabbed second. Johnson was still leading the way despite serious smoking issues. Following a Lap 27 yellow flag, Kniss made an inside pass to settle into second. Following a yellow flag on Lap 35, Kniss took the lead from Nick Johnson on the restart. 

A yellow flag waved on Lap 39 for Robles. The restart lap saw contact between Nick Johnson and DeCarlo, and a yellow flag waved once again. Johnson retired, and Buddy Kniss now led Jared Baugh of Pittsburgh and Chester Kniss of Antioch. Chester Kniss pitted with a flat tire during a lap-48 yellow flag. Buddy Kniss led the restart and brought it home to victory ahead of Baugh, Lance Hurst of Madera, Jewell Crandall of Antioch and Charlie Bryant of Oakley.

Rob Gallaher X won the Friday night Hobby Stock Main Event. Photo by Katrina Kniss

On Friday night, they ran a twin heat race format that earned the driver’s points and 15 starting spots in the preliminary Main Event. Rob Gallaher of San Jose would end up with the win following the two post-race disqualifications of Chris Long of Antioch and Colten Haney of Brentwood. 

The first round of 10-lap heat race wins went to Gallaher, Robles, Steven Johnson, Michaela Taylor of Oakley and Long. The next round of heats went to Buddy Kniss, Thomson, Haney, Bobby Motts, Jr. of San Pablo and Long, making Long the only driver to win two heat races.

Long started up front with Haney in the Friday preliminary Main Event, but Haney led the opening lap. Long went by on the inside a lap later to take the lead. Motts settled into an early third, but he brought out a Lap 11 yellow flag. Long continued to lead Haney and track champion Grayson Baca of Brentwood. A final yellow flag bunched the field on Lap 18. Haney surprised Long by taking the lead, but Long went low in Turn 1 on Lap 19 to reclaim first. Gallaher had settled into third, and they took the checkered flag with Long ahead of Haney, Gallaher, Baca and Robles. Following the tech disqualification of Haney and Long’s failure to go directly to tech after the race, Gallaher was elevated into first ahead of Baca, Robles, Thomson and Buddy Kniss.

Jimmy Robbins ended up getting the Figure 8 win aboard his X Super Stock. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Jimmy Robbins emerged with his first Figure 8 Main Event win of the season following multiple disqualifications. This was also the Mike Conley Salute, paying tribute to the recent Hall of Fame inductee.

DJ Keldsen of Newman had won the previous four races and took the early lead over Robbins, who was piloting his Super Stock on this occasion. Dakota Keldsen of Watsonville was an early third before being passed by his uncle, John Keldsen of Watsonville. John has won roughly 150 Figure 8 races throughout his illustrious career in California. A Turn 3 pass on the fourth lap gained John Keldsen the second position, and he set his sights on DJ. 

Following a red flag on Lap 10 for a fire under the hood of the Dakota Keldsen car, John Keldsen surprised DJ by charging into the lead. The battle intensified between the two before DJ Keldsen made a pass as they exited Turn 2 on Lap 14. Undaunted, John Keldsen kept his foot in it and stayed on the inside as they went into Turn 3. Unfortunately, he hit an infield tire and rolled, bringing out a red flag. At that point, DJ Keldsen exited his car to check on his uncle and the race was stopped. Following some incidents after the races, all three Keldsen cars were disqualified, putting Robbins in the winner’s circle ahead of Michaela Taylor of Oakley and Mike Conley, Jr. of Antioch.

Devin McLeister #7b won the 600 Micro Sprint Main Event. Photo by Katrina Kniss

Devin McLeister of Stockton picked up the win in the 15 lap 600 Micro Sprint Main Event. He started on the pole and enjoyed a good battle with Fremont’s Ryan Dotson before the they scored the 1-2 finish. Bobby Caldeira of Salinas finished third.

Following a week off, racing returns in a big way with the Fifth Annual Bill Bowers Memorial West Coast Nationals. The big money affair will include the IMCA Modifieds, Sport Modifieds and Stock Cars along with the recently added Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks. The Friday night portion will pay tribute to Hall of Famer JD Willis as well. For further information, go to www.raceantiochspeedway.com or check out the Antioch Speedway by PROmotions Facebook page

Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 Race Results 

Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks 

Heat Winners Round 1 (10 laps)-Buddy Kniss James Thomson, Colten Haney, Bobby Motts Jr, Chris Long. Heat Winners Round 2 (10 laps)-Rob Gallaher, Kenneth Robles, Steven Johnson, Michaela Taylor, Chris Long. Main Event (25 laps)-Rob Gallaher, Grayson Baca, Kenneth Robles, James Thomson, Buddy Kniss, Chester Kniss, Steven Johnson, Kevin Brown, Michaela Taylor, Breanna Troen.

Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023 Race Results

Pacific Coast General Engineering Hobby Stocks

Heat Winners (10 lap)-Buddy Kniss, Charlie Bryant, Chester Kniss, Jared Baugh. Trophy Dash (4 laps)-Rob Gallaher. B Main 1 (15 laps)-Nick DeCarlo, Steven Johnson, Tyler Irwin. B Main 2 (15 laps)-Nick Johnson, Brad Coelho, Aidan Ponciano. Main Event (50 laps)-Buddy Kniss, Jared Baugh, Lance Hurst, Jewell Crandall, Charlie Bryant, Chester Kniss, Anthony Vigna, Rob Gallaher, Brad Coelho, James Thomson.

Figure 8

Main Event (15 laps)-Jimmy Robbins, Michaela Taylor, Mike Conley Jr, John Keldsen DQ, DJ Keldsen DQ, Dakota Keldsen DQ.

600 Micro Sprints

Heat Winner (8 laps)-Devin McCleister. Main Event (15 laps)-Devin McCleister, Ryan Dotson, Bobby Caldeira, Charlie Kight, Austin Cobb DNS, Don McCleister DNS.

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