Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Modifieds Part Of Four Division Show
At Southern Oregon Speedway
Hay In Good Spirits After Flip
It was a nice start to the 20th Anniversary season at Southern Oregon Speedway last Saturday. A good turnout of fans watched the four division show as Steve Borror (Pro Stocks), Josh King (Dwarf Cars), Vern Wheeler Jr. (Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars) and Bob Burkett (Mini Stocks) were the respective winners. This week, the IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Sport Modifieds will kick off their season, while Sprint Cars and Mini Stocks return.
Albert Gill is the reigning champion of the IMCA Modifieds, while Mark Wauge is a six time division titles. Both drivers are anticipated on Saturday as well as several other hard chargers, including Tim Bailey and Jesse Bailey, who were both Top 5 competitors last season. Past Pro Stock and Modified champion Brian Poppa, Zach Fettinger, Jeremy Ohlde, Monte Bischoff and Andy Freeman are others we anticipate seeing this year.
There is another past track champion returning to the fold in IMCA Modifieds this season. That would be two time Street Stock champion Duane Osburn. After finishing second in points at Yreka last season, Osburn has a goal in mind. "We are running every race this year, " he explained. "We are going for the championship."
Jorddon Braaten has an IMCA Modified in the works. In the meantime, the two time IMCA Sport Modified champion attempts a "threepeat" and an IMCA State championship. To do that, he'll have to beat reining Oregon State champion Mike Medel. Braaten already has two wins on the circuit, while Medal has one. Former IMCA Modified point runner up Matt Duste will be racing this year. Two time champion Dwayne Melvin, Glen Severson, Randy Fernandes and Bob Nelsen are others to watch for.
After winning the 2015 Mini Stock title, David Marble will be making a run at "Rookie Of The Year" honors in a Sport Modified. That leaves the door open for Bob Burkett and 2014 champion Gary Anderson to win this year's Mini Stock title. Burkett, who has four second place rankings in this division, is going for it. "We're planning to run every race this season, " Burkett revealed last Saturday. "In the past, I've missed a race or two every season to do other things."
The Mini Stocks staged the best battle of the night last week as Burkett won a shootout with Anderson. Marrissa Henson was a close third and will be a driver to keep an eye on in the battle for wins this season. Even the Mini Wagon of Andrew Hall ran strong with a heat win and fifth place finish last week. The racers are stepping up their game to compete with Burkett and Anderson.
Several new drivers are entering the Mini Stock ranks, including 2015 Hornets point runner up Mikey Johnson, Devon Weiser and Dillon Lausen. Lausen is the teammate of Henson and Weiser, and he hopes to move up the ladder in the future. "I'd like to race a Dwarf Car, " he admitted. Dillon already has experience with motorcycle engine race cars as the runner up in the 250 Outlaw Kart class last season.
Speaking of Dwarf Cars, Fred Hay was a welcome sight in the Dwarf Car pits last week. Fred will probably be out for the season after suffering a broken kneck in his flip at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway a month ago. "I don't remember much about what happened, " Hay recalls. "The next thing I remember was waking up in the hopital and wondering how I got there."
Despite the crash that left him in the hospital for five days, Fred was in good spirits as he walked the pits and spoke with his fellow competitors. At one point, he quipped, "I have a better necklace than you do. Mine is more expensive."
The Dwarf Car group raised money for Hay's medical expenses by running a special 15 lap race, which was won by Chad Cardoza. Drivers paid a special entry fee that went to Hay. Former Dwarf Car racer Fred O'Nan also auctioned off some stuff and donated the money to Hay.
Not to be forgotten are the Winged Sprint Cars. Vern Wheeler Jr. and Jake Wheeler had a 1-2 finish in the Main Event last week. As a feature winner at the track in the past, it was not a surprise to see Vern grab the checkered flag. Jake had his hands full holding off 15 year old Jeffrey Hudson for second. It was Hudson's first start in the division, but the 2015 Pro Stock champion looks like he's been driving these cars for years.
Bill Hopper made the trip in from California and suffered nothing but problems. First, he got a flat on his tow vehicle, which caused him to arrive just before hot laps. Then, his motor wouldn't start. Another driver who had misfortune was budget racer Wayne Kniffen. In the end, it was lack of sponsorship that kept him from the track.
The former Mini Stock and Modified B Main champion did all that he could to be there. "I'm pretty bummed that we couldn't be there, " said Wayne. "I tried everything, but I just couldn't make it work."
Wayne has been trying to line up sponsorship to make his return, but it's been tough. However, it looks like he'll be able to make it this week. There have been a few rumblings in the Sprint Car community, but Kniffen see things differently. "To me, it's about going out there and putting on a show for the fans and having fun, " said Kniffen.
Kniffen will be among the Sprint Car field when they return this week. The gates open at 5 p.m. and the first race starts at 7 p.m. sharp. Adult tickets are $12, seniors and juniors are $6 and children 5 and under are free. For further information, check out the official website at www.southernoregonspeedway.com.