Friday, September 8, 2017

Season Nearing Conclusion At Southern Oregon Speedway

Southern Oregon Speedway Race Discussion
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Season Nearing Conclusion At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...The season is nearing an end at Southern Oregon Speedway.  On the heels of the big R. Charles Snyder Salute, the track has two championship nights remaining on the schedule.  The first one is this week.  Late Models still have one more race, but Saturday night will be the season finale for the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites, JOAT Labs Hornets and the Pro Stocks.

The last time the Late Models competed, Dustin Knight hit the back wall and was out after the second lap of the Main Event.  Knight commented that his season was over, but a sponsor stepped forward to help him get his car back together.  Knight has won twice and finished second three times, but he lost the point lead following his crash.  Knight has a Pro Stock and IMCA Modified championship at the speedway, and if he were to win the Late Model title, he'd be the only driver in track history to win championships in three different divisions.

Nathan Augustine won his second Main Event last time out and his fourth Trophy Dash.  That gave him an 11 point lead over Knight.  Nathan was the Coos Bay champion last season, and he has been fast and smooth in his starts this year.  With Late Models on the schedule for the next two weeks, the championship battle between these two is far from over.

Bob Dees has a win and two thirds in his last three starts, and that has given the reigning Late Model champion a 24 point lead over Dave Foote in the battle for third.  Foote only leads Kristy Grout by 5 points and Mike Linder by 12 in a close battle for fourth.  These three drivers are looking for their first win of the season.

After his scacry crash in the Wingless Sprint Car race two weeks ago, Kyler Barraza has decided to end his season and regroup for next year.   "I am extremely thankful and feel very blessed to be able to walk away from a wreck like that with only a few burns, " said Kyler in a recent press release.  "I plan to take the time to heal and enjoy the little things in life before I strap back into the hobby that I love so much."

Barraza's dominant performance in the first eight races, which includes three wins, two seconds and two thirds, has enabled him to clinch the championship.  The battle is for second.  Coming off of his win in the most recent point race, David Hibbard has a 12 point lead over rookie Merissa Henson and a 20 point advantage over son Bailey Hibbard.  B. Hibbard has two wins this season, while Henson's season best finish is third.  Enrique Jaime has a solid hold on fifth in points, and after his second place finish last time, Camden Robustelli will be going for a win this week.

Bob Burkett is hoping to wrap up his rookie season in the Valley Stor-All Late Model Lites with a track championship.  Burkett leads Charlie Eaton by ten points.  Burkett has a win and three seconds this season, while Eaton has five Top 3 finishes.  Eaton is looking for his first win of the season, and he may need it to beat Burkett for the championship.  The battle for third finds Bill Spencer leading Eric Aos by nine points and the tied Randy Hansen and Greg Arnold by 19 points.  Hansen has won the last two Main Events and seems poised for a big move this week.  It's been all down hill since reigning champion Lee Doty won the season opener, but he'll be out for some redemption this week

When Jason Stoutenburgh won his third straight JOAT Labs Hornets Main Event last time out, he built a 24 point lead over Tim Hedges.  Stoutenburgh knows that if he doesn't stumble this week, he will win the championship.  This would be his second championship at the track as he is the 2000 Thrill Car champion.   T. Hedges has two wins, but motor problems in his last two starts has him battling his wife Jenna Hedges to hold on for second.  Jenna won her second Trophy Dash last time and trails Tim by five points.  Their son Ashtin Hedges will clinch fourth by starting this race, and 14 year old Dylan Irving is in a battle for fifth.  He leads Derrel Nelson Jr. by five points and Brandon Wonsyld by seven.

With three wins, Dr. Scott Lenz leads rookie Dean Hackworth by four points in the Pro Stock championship race.  Josh Kralicek is 19 points out of the lead.  The Outlaw Pro Stock group will be supporting this race, and Lenz also leads that point battle as Scott Flowers is headed for his fourth straight runnerup season.  Johnny Cobb and Jeffrey Hudson are also in the battle for second in the Outlaw Pro Stock group, and a good turnout is anticipated this week.

This will be the final opportunity for the Sprint Car, Late Model Lite, Hornet and Pro Stock drivers to make a move in points.  The late Models will bring more speed to the lineup, and it should be a great show for the fans as the season nears its conclusion.  Gates open at 5:00 PM with the first race at 7:00 PM.  General Admission is $12, Seniors, Juniors (6-12) and Veterans are $6 and Children 5 and under are free.  For further information, go to

Pit Stops

The R. Charles Snyder Salute at Southern Oregon Speedway was the biggest IMCA Modified event of the year on the west coast so far with a $5,000 first prize being offered to the winner.  The money drew Bobby Hogge IV, who has won the big Labor Day Weekend event five times in the past.  One might have assumed everybody was racing for second, but an all star lineup of racers came to challenge Hogge this year.

This included past Nevada Modified and California Late Model champion Robert Miller, two time reigning Cottage Grove champion Curtis Towns, recent Roger Haudenshild Tribute and John Arnberg Memorial winner Nick Trenchard, Susanville and Quincy stars Chris Nieman, Chase Nieman, Jeff Olschowka, Larry McCracken and Matt Murphy, four time Antioch Speedway champion Troy Foulger, seven time Southern Oregon Speedway champion Mark Wauge, 2003 champion Jeremy Richey and this year's top title contenders, Albert Gill and Jesse Bailey.  That was just some of the talent in the field.  Car count went up slightly from last year's Labor Day weekend event.

The schedule for the weekend called for qualifying heat races on Saturday.  Each driver got two ten lap heat races that earned them passing and finishing points.  The Top 8 drivers made it into Sunday's Scramble to determine the first four rows of the big 50 lap Main Event.  The Top 16 would qualify for the Main Event.  Everybody else ran a B Main.  Saturday ended with an Invitational Main Event.  That race was a money race, but not for points for the weekend or for the track.  The Top 4 finishers in the first set of qualifying heat races earned the drivers a spot in the Invitational Main.

Sunday's race was also for IMCA points, which would effect the track championship battle.  Because of the  increase in the competition, the first goal for championship contenders Mark Wauge, Albert Gill and Jesse Bailey was to make the show.  Wauge had a great weekend.  He was one of the Top 8 qualifiers and finished third in the Invitational.  An engine fire in the Scramble might have ended things for Wauge, but he got it back together for the big show.  He finished a strong second to collect $2,500 and keep the pressure on Bailey and Gill.

Gill's Saturday was a mixed bag.  He made the Invitational and earned a Top 10 finish, but he didn't earn enough points to avoid a B Main on Sunday.  He was unable to get out of that race.  Bailey did make the Main Event.  Though his race ended in a disappointing 13th place finish, he earned enough points to make it very difficult for Gill to beat him in the season finale.  In fact, Gill has his hands full now holding off Wauge for second in the standings.  If Bailey had the same sort of weekend as Gill, Wauge would have put himself back in the championship hunt.

Meanwhile, Hogge entered the weekend as the driver to beat.  The Hogge team comes prepared everywhere they go, and when he won both of his heat races, it looked like business as usual for him.  The Invitational Main Event had a good battle between Foulger and Hogge.  Foulger moved the Bowers Racing Modified into the lead at one point before Hogge got back around.  Though he spun with broken steering to end his race, Foulger served notice to Hogge that he came to win the big race. 

On Sunday, Hogge won the Scramble to earn the pole for the big show.  This made Hogge 4 for 4.  All was going well until contact in Turn 2 sent Hogge spinning for a restart in the 50 lap race.  Hogge had to restart at the back of the pack, and he wasn't seen in the Top 10 until lap 28.  Foulger had just moved in to the lead at that point.  When Wauge moved into second, he ran with Foulger, but he was unable to make a move.  Hogge made an impressive late charge, but he could only get to third before the checkered flag fell.  Third was probably a bit of a disappointment for Hogge, but it was still a nice drive from 22nd starting.  Combined with his $1,000 Saturday win, Hogge got $2,500 for the weekend, while Wauge's second was worth $2,500.  Foulger happily took home the $5,000 prize.

Throughout the first half of the race, 2003 champion Jeremy Richey led the way.  Richey finished second in Saturday's Invitational, and he was looking like a serious threat on Sunday.  Though he slipped back a couple of spots, he still finished a respectable $1,000 fourth after Hogge's late pass.  Counting his Invitational Feature earnings and Sunday's lap money, Richey still pocketed about $1,750 for the weekend.  Richey finished ahead of Nick Trenchard.  Trenchard has won some big races this year, including the Roger Haudenshild Tribute, Yreka's Speedweek and John Arnberg Memorial races and the Shipwreck Nationals in Elma, Washington.

Robert Miller has had an impressive career as a Stock Car champion in the 1980's and early 1990's in California, and he's won over 100 IMCA Modified Main Events and multiple championships in Nevada.  He ran a respectable sixth on Sunday ahead of this year's Speedweek champion, Jesse Williamson.  Just being in the Top 10 in a field like this is impressive, and two Antioch, California competitors, Chester Kniss and Anthony Slaney, were the next two finishers.  Both won a heat race on Sunday.  Preston Jones had a Top 5 run going intuit he spun.  He rounded out the Top 10 in tenth.  He had a respectable showing on Saturday as well with a heat win and ninth in the Invitational.

Darrell Hughes II is in the midst of a Top 5 season at Merced Speedway this year, but he has run strong in his appearances at Southern Oregon Speedway.  He had a decent start to his weekend with a heat win on Saturday and an eighth in the Invitational, but his Sunday Main Event ended early.  Jeff Olschowka is one of the stars in Quincy and Susanville, and he won a Saturday heat race before finishing a respectable fifth in the Invitational.  Unfortunately, he didn't make it out of his Sunday B Main.  Cottage Grove championship contender Jake Mayden was in a B Main, but he won that race.  He took great delight in receiving a B Main winner's trophy, though his Main Event ended in disappointment.  He finished sixth in the Invitational.

Chase Nieman collected a B Main trophy as well after beating Curtis Towns for a 15 lap win.  Towns hasn't been chasing points this year, but he is the two time reigning champion at Cottage Grove.  In 2015, Towns won both the Late Model and IMCA Modified championships at Cottage Grove.  He finished 11th on Sunday.  Two track regulars managed to make it out of the B Main.  Ray Kniffen Jr. is in a battle to hold on to a career best Top 5 point effort, and he knew he needed a Main Event start to keep that going.  Rookie Jantzen Knips continues to look good as he also made it out of a B Main.

The IMCA Sport Modifieds had a track record 31 cars during the weekend.  Two time champion Jorddon Braaten came into the weekend as one of the drivers to beat.  There was also the red hot Rich McCoy.  McCoy was hoping to use the increased car count to move up on Mike Medel and Willie McFall in the championship battle.  Both Braaten and McCoy won two heat races on Saturday, but McCoy's Invitational Main Event ended early.  Braaten was impressive as he won ahead of Justin McCreadie and Quincy, California star Craig Nieman.

Braaten looked like the driver to beat in Sunday's $1,350 to win race, but McCoy wasn't quite done yet.  McCoy drove the "Lightning McQueen" #95 car to a win in the Scramble and led the first half of the big 30 lap feature.  However, Braaten was hooked up on the outside groove and would race past McCoy for the victory.  McCoy's race ended a few laps after losing the lead.  For Braaten, this was one of his biggest wins, and he's planning to make a run at the big win later this year in Las Vegas.

McFall wasn't as fortunate.  Disappointing heat race finishes left McFall in the 20 lap B Main.  While battling for a transfer spot, McFall spun to avoid taking out another car.  Three Yreka competitors made it for Sunday's race and earned transfer spots.  Randy Wright followed his second in Yreka a night earlier with a second in the B Main, followed by Isaac Sanders and Cory Biggs.  The B Main was won by Keith Brown Jr.  All McFall could do was chase Biggs, and that left him out of the big Main Event.  Unfortunately, his championship hopes took a hit as Mike Medel got a fifth place feature finish on Sunday.  As long as Medel has no major slip ups in the finale, he will win his second straight championship.

While Braaten was winning the big Main Event, the battle for second saw Marysville, California competitor Alan Furuta make a last turn pass on Oregon State point leader Jayson Nelson to finish a $700 second.  Nelson collected $500 for third.  It was a nice comeback for Furuta, who spun earlier in the race.  Biggs, meanwhile, came from last starting to finish fourth in the feature, making him the "Hard Charger" of the race.  Not bad for only showing up on Sunday.  Marysville and Chico champion Phillip Shelby was hoping to make a similar charge, but unfortunately he fell out of the B Main early.

2016 "Rookie Of The Year" David Marble had his car at the track with two time Late Model Lites champion  Brian Johnsen behind the wheel.  Like Braaten and McCoy, Johnsen won both of his heat races, and he also finished fourth in the Invitational Main.  Unfortunately, Johnsen's Main Event ended early.  McCreadie ended up sixth in the big show.  Furuta and Jimmy Ford's teammate Mike Merritt finished seventh ahead of Travis Pruitt, Jesse Merriman and McCoy.  Pruitt has been a big supporter of Steve Kerstulovich's effort to build up the Pacific Sport Mod Series, which will crown a champion again this year.  Merriman emerged from the weekend with a good hold on fourth in the standings, and McCoy and McFall will likely be battling for second in the September 16th finale.

The SODCA Dwarf Cars offered up a $1,000 prize in each of the weekend's Main Events, but there was little support from Oregon's other two Dwarf Car groups.  Most of the stars of SODCA were on hand, and both races were entertaining.  Kalvin Morton was impressive both nights.  Morton might have won the Saturday race, but his car lost power while leading late on Saturday, and he and Camden Robustelli tangled coming out of Turn 2.  This opened the door for two time champion Josh King to race past championship contender Chad Cardoza to win the Saturday feature.  Coming off of his big win at Willamette, Robustelli won his heat race and the A Dash before settling for third in the Main Event.

Brock Peters struggled all weekend, but he continues to lead the standings by 11 over Cardoza.  Barring a major mistep, Peters seems headed for his second straight championship.  Meanwhile, Randy Slater picked up a fourth place finish on Sunday, while Ryan Smith was fourth on Saturday.  Smith leads Slater by ten points in the battle for third.  Slater got a good view of the battle in front of him on Sunday.  Morton was back and battling for the win once again.  It seems like every time Morton is on the verge of victory at his home track, something happens to derail his effort.  The Fourth Of July race last year is a prime example of that.  Morton was lapping a slower car exiting the final turn on his way to a sure victory when he made contact and flipped.

This time, Morton led several laps, and then C Dash winner Mason Lewman moved by.  Morton stayed with him, and the two made contact in Turn 3 of the final lap.  Lewman recovered first, while King got a run on both of them.  Lewman led King and Morton back to the flag in a close finish.  Visitor Doug McVae earned a respectable fifth place finish on Sunday, while a fifth place finish ahead of Fred Hay was the best B. Peters could do for the weekend on Saturday.  Son Cody Peters blew a motor on Saturday, which was not the birthday present he was looking for.  C. Peters is ten points behind Hay in the battle for fourth.  It's been an exciting season for the SODCA Dwarf Car group, and they will close their season on Championship Night #2 on September 16th.

Kendall Oil Sprint Car Season Finale This Saturday 
At Southern Oregon Speedway

White City, Oregon...The 2017 Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car season is coming to a close this Saturday night at Southern Oregon Speedway.  It would have to be considered a successful season in the track's effort to establish a Sprint Car presence.  Kyler Barraza was head and shoulders above the competition this season.  The two time Southern Oregon Sprint Tour champion won three races this year and had seven Top 3 finishes in eight starts, clinching himself the championship with one race to go.  As it turns out, that is a good thing.  Barraza won't be racing this week.

On August 26th, the track hosted the big Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge Race, presented by Herz Precision Parts.  Barraza had a fast car all night, but his fortune changed quickly when he was involved in a back stretch crash on lap 17.  He managed to make it back for the restart, but a steering component broke on the back stretch, sending him flipping on the back stretch wall.  The car caught fire.  Barraza escaped with a few burns, but he will take some time to regroup.  The Barraza team has offered their motor to 2009 champion Charlie Thompson for the season finale.

The battle will be for second between David Hibbard, rookie Merissa Henson and Bailey Hibbard.  The Hibbard family has been instrumental in helping build up car count this season.  David was searching for his first win.  He had three second place finishes, but his win finally came at the most recent point race.  This put him 12 points ahead of Henson, who held off B. Hibbard for a fourth place finish that night.  B. Hibbard is a two time winner this season, but his luck hasn't been so good in the past few races.  Bailey only trails Henson by eight points and his father by 20 points.

Camden Robustelli may be the driver to watch in the quest for a new feature winner.  Robustelli finished a strong second last time out and had a third earlier this season.  Camden is a star with the SODCA Dwarf car group and recently won a $1,200 to win race at Willamette Speedway.  He does have two Sprint Car wins at Cottage Grove, but he would love to get a win at his home track.  He's just one of the rising young stars in the Medford Sprint Car scene.

Two others to watch for this week are Enrique Jaime and Tanner Holmes.  Jaime is having a solid rookie season in fifth this year.  Holmes has two starts and made his debut with a fifth place finish.  Holmes has had an impressive career in Outlaw Karts, and he's definitely a Sprint Car star in the making.  David Johnson, Calvin Hibbard and 1997 Cottage Grove champion Hedge Carter are three others anticipated this week.

Saturday night's Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car season finale should be a good show.  There have been five different winners in eight races.  The competition is competitive and close.  For further information, go to

Southern Oregon Speedway
Kendall Oil Sprint Cars

Kyler Barraza         267
David Hibbard         216
Merissa Henson         204
Bailey Hibbard         196
Enrique Jaime         156
Camden Robustelli     112
Calvin Hibbard         105
Hedge Carter        84
Jake Wheeler        68
Tanner Holmes        45

September 9

Sprint Car Champions
1996  Dan Menne
1997  Bill Nutter
1998  Dan Menne
2001  Chad Bauer
2002  Todd Zeitler
2003  Dan Menne
2004  T.J. Winningham
2005  Dan Menne
2006  Bill Nutter
2007  Randy Rodgers
2008  Randy Rodgers
2009  Charlie Thompson
2010  Chadd Noland
2013  Kyler Barraza *
2014  Kyler Barraza *
2016  Jake Wheeler

* Southern Oregon Sprint Tour

Previous Winners
May 4, 2013:  David Hibbard
May 18, 2013:  David Hibbard
May 25, 2013:  Kyler Barraza
June 8, 2013:  Vern Wheeler Jr.
June 22, 2013:  Kyler Barraza
July 1, 2013:  Roger Crockett
July 27, 2013:  Vern Wheeler Jr.
August 24, 2013:  Lawrence Van Hoof
September 14, 2013:  Matt Moberly
May 22, 2014:  Andy Forsberg
June 14, 2014:  Kyler Barraza
June 30, 2014:  Rico Abreu
August 2, 2014:  David Hibbard
April 18, 2015:  Seth Nunes
May 23, 2015:  Roger Crockett
June 29, 2015:  Colby Copeland
August 15, 2015:  Kyle Hirst
April 30, 2016:  Vern Wheeler Jr.
May 7, 2016:  Vern Wheeler Jr.
June 4, 2016:  Jake Wheeler
June 25, 2016:  David Hibbard
July 9, 2016:  Trey Starks
August 27, 2016:  Aaron Miller
September 10, 2016:  Bailey Hibbard
September 24, 2016:  Jeffrey Hudson
May 20, 2017:  Jake Waddell
May 27, 2017:  Kyler Barraza
June 17, 2017:  Bailey Hibbard
July 1, 2017:  Kyler Barraza
July 8, 2017:  Bailey Hibbard
July 22, 2017:  Kyler Barraza
August 5, 2017:  Jake Wheeler
August 19, 22017:  David Hibbard