Monday, July 25, 2016

Southern Oregon Speedway Hits Halfway Point Of The Season

Southern Oregon Speedway Hits Halfway Point Of The Season

White City, Oregon...We are at the halfway point of the 2016 season at Southern Speedway, and there has been some exciting racing so far.  Ten different divisions have competed on the fast 3/10 mile banked clay oval, and over 25 drivers have claimed feature victories so far.  The drivers have been racing hard for victories and podium finishes.  If you can count yourself among this list, you've done well.

The busiest division at the speedway is the Mini Stock class.  With seven races in the books, we've had three different Main Event winners so far.  At the moment, Bob Burkett is leading the championship standings in a quest for his first career track championship.  The record will show that Burkett leads 2014 champion Gary Anderson by a 253-195 margin.  Burkett has an amazing stat line as he has won three times, finished second three times and placed third once, meaning he has not finished off of the podium so far.  Not only that, the driver of the green #43 car has won five of the six Trophy Dashes held so far this season.

Anderson has certainly had his moments with one feature win, two seconds and one third, but he lost viable ground a few races ago when he was taken out for the night in a hot lap crash with rookie Garret Fredrickson.  Anderson just regained third in the standings from Merissa Henson following his fourth place feature finish last week.  It was not a good night for Henson as she finished last in the Main Event with mechanical problems and surrendered third in the standings to "Neon Mafia" teammates Andrew Hall and Kristopher Mix.  The record will show that Hall leads Mix, 178-169, while Henson has 163 points, but Henson has put her Mini Stock up for sale.  She will be moving up to a Limited Spread.  Marissa has won a Trophy Dash and earned two career best third place feature finishes.

As far as podium feature finishes are concerned, Hall has one season best second place finish among his top five efforts.  2015 Yreka champion David Steele has competed in the last four races, and he has three wins and one third place finish to show for it.  Not to be outdone, young Ethan Killingsworth, who is currently third in points at Yreka this year, has a career best second and three third place finishes in his four Southern Oregon Speedway visits.  Just grabbing a podium finish in this competitive division is an accomplishment, and two drivers on the brink of Top 3 Main Event runs with top five finishes this year are Mix and Eric Hanson.

The IMCA Sport Modified division is being led once again by two time reigning champion and current IMCA State of Oregon point leader Jorddon Braaten.  Braaten leads the reigning IMCA State champion Mike Medel, 233-210, in the track point race.  Jorddon tops the division with three feature wins, two seconds and one third in his six starts.  Like Mini Stock point leader Burkett, Braaten has yet to fail to finish in the Top 3 in the Main Event.  Medel has managed to stay in the hunt with the help of his two season best second place finishes.  Two of the other feature winners were visiting drivers.  Chico point leader Todd Cooper and reigning California IMCA Sport Modified champion Fred Ryland were winners.  Cooper won the extra money that was on the line for the Roger Haudenshild Tribute Race back in May.

Holding down the third podium position in the standings is rookie David Marble.  Marble leads fellow rookie A.J. Parker, 188-184.  Marble is adapting quickly to his new division and already shows signs of his Mini Stock championship winning form of last season.  So far, David has one third place finish.  The other feature win was earned by fifth place point competitor Bob Nelsen, who also has one third place finish.  Other podium finishes in second have been earned by California State point leader Brian Cooper and two time Medford champion Dwayne Melvin.  Yreka point leader Jimmy Lipke has two third place finishes, while David Henshaw has one.  The Trophy Dash winner's list so far has five different names on it as Lipke, Ryland, Medel, Braaten and Willie McFall each have one win.

In the Pennzoil Winged Sprint Car division, the Wheeler family has been tough to beat.  At the moment, third generation racer Jake Wheeler has a comfortable lead in the point standings over rookie Jeffrey Hudson, 140-84.  Despite his hard luck, Californian Bill Hopper holds down third, 77-74-66 over Vern Wheeler Jr. and Wayne Kniffen.  V. Wheeler won the opening two features and had a Trophy Dash win before deciding to retire and crew chief his son Jake's racing effort.  Jake has three seconds and one feature win, along with two Trophy Dash victories.

The Wheeler domination was ended by current Cottage Grove Speedway Limited Sprint point leader David Hibbard, who passed J. Wheeler with a couple laps to go to win the most recent Pennzoil Sprint Car Main Event.  Kniffen has grabbed one career best second place finish, while talented teen Hudson has two thirds.  Camden Robustelli and 2009 Winged Sprint Car champion Charlie Thompson each have one third place finish.  The most recent Sprint Car race was a Western Sprint Tour Speedweek event, and Trey Starks used his win to claim the Speedweek title.  Mitchell Faccinto and four time Speedweek champion Roger Crockett were in the place and show positions at the checkered flag, while Jered Ridge claimed the Trophy Dash victory.

In the IMCA Modified division, there's one man who has been near the top of the point list just about every season since the track opened.  That would be six time champion Mark Wauge.  Wauge leads a close championship battle 143-140 over Duane Orsburn.  Wauge has notched two feature victories, including his thrilling charge from the 10th row to win the big money in the Roger Haudenshild Tribute Race.  Mark's drive in that race was nothing short of spectacular as there was only one early yellow flag, and his low groove effort had him in the lead by lap 20 of the 30 lap event.  Current Yreka point leader Orsburn has one Main Event victory.  Duane is also a two time Street Stock champion at the track.

Rookie James Welshonse has a 128-122 lead in the battle for third over two time reigning champion Albert Gill.  Gill impressed with his dominant performance in winning last week's Main Event.  Welshonse finished fourth in that race and has one second place finish to go with his two Trophy Dash victories.  Ryan Scott Gaylord notched the big victory in the Wild West Speedweek race ahead of the eventual series champion Kellen Chadwick and Willamette Speedway point leader Collen Winebarger.  Also notching podium finishes in the first five events were second place finishers Matt Duste, Darrell Hughes II and Monte Bischoff.  Two third place finishes were earned by Jesse Bailey, while Willamette Speedway star Matthew Drager and Bo Shields in the "Triple Nickel" Modified each have one third.  Bailey and Gill have each earned one Trophy Dash victory so far.

The Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association splits time between Southern Oregon Speedway and Siskiyou Motor Speedway.  After six events, three drivers have notched Main Event victories.  Two time reigning champion Josh King has two wins, one third and one A Dash victory so far.  Current point leader Brock Peters now has three victories and one second as well as two A Dash victories.  Camden Robustelli has one win and one third so far.  The heartbreak of the season so far has to belong to Kalvin Morton.  Back on July 4th, Morton came within feet of winning the Main Event before tangling with a slower car and flipping.  The crash has left him struggling to get his car back in top form again, but he has one second and one third so far to go with his one A Dash victory.

2014 point runner up Ryan Smith has two seconds and a third, while Chad Cardoza and Rob Gergel each have one second place finish.  Gergel also has a third place finish as does Mason Lewman.  Cardoza is a two time A Dash winner, and the group has had two big money Dash For Cash races.  They ran a special Fred Hay Dash For Cash with $1000 on the line at the opener, won by Cardoza.  The popular Hay was sidelined this year after a spectacular flip at Chico Silver Dollar Speedway left him with a broken neck.  He has been in attendance at each event this year and is on the road to recovery.  Last week, Peters won the $750 first prize in that Dash For Cash.

The Valley Boys Auto Sales Outlaw Pro Stock division has split time between Southern Oregon Speedway and Siskiyou Motor Speedway, and three drivers have shared the glory so far. Point leader Steve Borror, Rocky Nash and Miles Deubert each have one win so far.  Nash also has one third place finish.  Two time series champion Ken Irving and John David Duffie each have one second place finish, while point runner up Scott Flowers has one second and one third, and son James Flowers also has a third place finish.  Point leader Steve Borror has won both Trophy Dashes so far.

The Super 4's division has been added to the schedule after being away for two seasons.  Currently, 2013 champion John Barger leads Lee Doty in the points standings, 95-75.  Bill Spencer is currently third with 73 points.  After Steve Thompson won the season opener, his luck took a severe turn for the worse as he blew a motor the next week and was gone last week.  Doty was unable to start the season opener, but he has won both Main Events since.  With two second place finishes, Barger is holding onto his point lead. Dan Pruett has one second place finish, while the remainder of the podium finishes have been picked up by Spencer, Krista Hadley and Terry Hadley, each with one third place finish.  The two Trophy Dash wins have been won by Barger and Doty.  The nice thing is there appears to be interest in rebuilding this division at Southern Oregon Speedway.

Another division that is in the building process is the Hornet division.  At the second event of the season, the division managed to match its high total from the previous two years at six cars.  A close point battle shows Tim Hedges leading Darrel Nelson Jr. and John Hoult, 100-99-93.  Nelson blew a tire in the second event while leading, or he would be leading the standings now.  As it is, he has two feature victories and thus far seems to have the fastest car in the field.  After missing the first race this year, the "Triple Nickel" Hornet of Joby Shields has one feature win, one second and one Trophy Dash victory.  Hoult has maintained his effort with two second place finishes, while Hedges has three third place finishes and a Trophy Dash victory.  Rumor has it that the division could see a new track record in car count when it's back in action on July 30th.  We shall see.

In the OTRO Hardtop division, Trevor Thomason sits atop the standings, 110-96 over Bill Trotter.  Thomason has won all three Main Events aboard the Vic and Louise Bridges owned entry as well as one Trophy Dash victory.  Jimmy Del Castille leads Brian Crouch and Rhett Lange in the race for third, 74-69-64.  Lange missed the opener, but the Winnemucca, Nevada based competitor has two strong second place finishes.  Trotter has all podium finishes with one second and two thirds, and he is also a Trophy Dash winner.  Gary Barber also has a third place finish, and Chris Mehrer won the first Trophy Dash before everything went bad for him in the Bill Trotter owned #16 truck as he hit the wall hard in the heat race and that knocked the front and out from underneath the car.  The OTRO Hardtop drivers are mostly running pavement tires on their cars to keep the tire cost down, and they bring much enthusiasm in their visits to the speedway.

The track continues its efforts to start an Open Stock division, which intended to bring the various different classes of Stock Cars together under an open set of rules.  Though Street Stocks are eligible, we have yet to see any in the field.  Late Model drivers are the only ones expressing any interest, and Mike Linder has won the first two races over Bob Dees.  Linder is also the lone Trophy Dash winner this year.  Rumor has it that there could be two more Late Models in the field on July 30th, but we'll just have to wait and see.

If the racing has been good so far this season at Southern Oregon Speedway, the indications are that the best is yet to come.  Some big events remain on the schedule, including the upcoming Dwarf Car Nationals event on August 5-6 as well as the 21st Annual Lon Skinner race on September 3-4.  When racing resumes on July 30th, Pennzoil Winged Sprint Cars will be in action along with the Mini Stocks, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Super 4's, Hornets and Open Stock Cars.  It should be another exciting night at the races, and it will be interesting to see who grabs the podium finishes this time.

2016 Points

Pennzoil Sprint Cars

Jake Wheeler         140
Jeffrey Hudson         84
Bill Hopper               77
Vern Wheeler Jr.      74
Wayne Kniffen         66

Mini Stocks

Bob Burkett             253
Gary Anderson        195
Andrew Hall             178
Kristopher Mix         169
Merissa Henson      163

Outlaw Pro Stocks

Steve Borror             364
Scott Flowers           331
Matt Harlow              255
James Flowers         251
Julia Flowers            246

IMCA Modifieds*

Mark Wauge            143
Duane Orsburn         140
James Welshonse    128
Albert Gill                 122
Jesse Bailey             91

IMCA Sport Mods*

Jorddon Braaten         233
Mike Medel                210
David Marble              198
A.J. Parker                185
Bob Nelsen               147

Super 4's

John Barger             95
Lee Doty                 75
Bill Spencer             73 
Krista Hadley           59
Terry Hadey             57

Open Stock

Mike Linder                74
Bob Dees                   67
Miles Deubert            29


Tim Hedges            100
Darrel Nelson Jr.       99
John Hoult                93
Joby Shields             67
Heather Menzel        33

OTRO Hardtops

Trevor Thomason    110
Bill Trotter               96
Jimmy Del Castllile  74
Brian Crouch           69
Rhett Lange            64

SODCA Dwarf Cars

Kalvin Morton             585
Brock Peters             547
Ryan Smith               488
Randy Slater              475
Camden Robustelli     471