Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars Set To Open
Southern Oregon Speedway Season
Southern Oregon Speedway Season
White City, Oregon...The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars, presented by Hays Oil, are preparing to open the 2018 season at Southern Oregon Speedway on Saturday night, May 5th. Due to wet weather and a rainy forecast throughout the weekend, the April 28th opener was forced to be canceled. On May 5th, the Sprint Cars will headline along with IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Sport Modifieds, Mini Stocks and JOAT Labs Hornets.
The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars are now in their third season at the speedway, and this is the second under a rules package designed for affordability and car count growth. In a further attempt to help stimulate car count, long time Sprint Car competitor David Hibbard joined forces with promotor Mike McCann to help with the purse. The result was a solid 2017 season as several young competitors stepped up to join the class.
Hibbard has been competing in Sprint Cars for the past several seasons and is a past champion at Cottage Grove Speedway. Last season, he had a win and three seconds and appeared to be headed for second in points. However, when his son Bailey blew a motor in hot laps at the finale, David graciously stepped aside to allow him to drive the car and battle Merissa Henson for the runner-up position in the championship point battle.
Henson was a model of consistency last season in winning the Rookie Of The Year award and beating Bailey Hibbard by just one point for second in the standings. Marissa turned in one of her better performances in fourth in the finale, and that enabled her take second in the points despite the fact that Bailey Hibbard won his third Main Event of the season.
Bailey Hibbard could be seen as one of the drivers to beat in this season's championship chase. The field is going to gain several new cars, but the youth movement is still an important part of the class this year and in the years to come. Enrique Jaime is coming in off of a fifth place rookie season last year and hoping for better things. Decorated Outlaw Kart champion Tanner Holmes will be back this year after running a few races last season. Tanner could be a championship contender, but word is that the team will still make trips for special Outlaw Open Kart races during the season. Theron Smith and AJ Harbaugh are among the other young guns joining the class this year.
There will be some experienced competitors in the field. This includes past Sprint Car champion Hedge Carter, and Hedge will be joined by son Colby Carter this year. Past Southern Oregon Speedway Sprint Car champion Charlie Thompson has thrown his hat into the ring this year, and Aaron Miller will be competing with us as well. Miller won his first Sprint Car Main Event at Southern Oregon Speedway two years ago. Also back in the group will be Todd Whipple and Outlaw Kart legend Mike Wheeler.
Not to be forgotten in the mix is many time Sprint Car champion Kyler Barraza. Kyler will be racing with us this year, but there was word that he may not be ready for the season opener. All indications are that this will be the strongest season yet for the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars.
The IMCA Modifieds have been a mainstay at Southern Oregon Speedway since the place opened in 1996. There have been many great competitors to compete on the fast 3/10 mile clay oval through the years. Not the least of which is the most decorated champion of them all, Mark Wauge. Wauge not only leads the division in championships with seven, he is also approaching 50 career Main Event wins in this division, making him the all time winner in this class at Southern Oregon Speedway.
One of Mark's closest rivals in recent years is two time champion Albert Gill. Albert has been competing at Southern Oregon Speedway for two decades and is a threat to win any time he's on the track. Last season, if not for family events that took him from the track, Gill likely would have won his third championship. As it was, he was one of the nine different Main Event winners.
Another of the nine winners was the champion, Jesse Bailey. Bailey has been the most consistent competitor at the track during the past two seasons with more Top 3 finishes than anybody else in this class. Running for the championship wasn't necessarily in his plans, but he none the less added his name to the list of title winners at the speedway.
James Welshonse had a year he'd much rather forget last season, but he's back to see if he can recapture the form that won him Rookie Of The Year honors and a Main Event in 2016. Past Dwarf Car champion CJ Putnam is also anticipated as he is competing in a new car this year. Another force on the track anytime he is there is Jon DeBenedetti, who also has amassed nearly 50 Main Event wins at Southern Oregon Speedway alone. DeBenedetti is a Dwarf Car and Modified champ, and word it is that he will be doing some racing this year in a Modified, owned by Brian Bowman.
The list of competitors is likely to include such hard chargers as Nick Trenchard, Zach Fettinger, Jeremy Ohlde, Ray Kniffin Jr, Preston Jones and Duane Orsburn. Word is that we'll also be seeing past division championship runner-up, Matt Duste. After the rain out, the IMCA Modified racers are ready to go this week.
This season's IMCA Sport Modified lineup includes all three drivers who are two-time champions in the division. Reigning two-time champion Mike Medel will be back to see if he can become the first three time title winner in the group. Jorddon Braaten is certainly a threat to Medel if he decides to focus on running for the local title this year. During the past two seasons, Jorddon has made trips to other tracks for bigger money events. Also in the lineup this year will be Dwayne Melvin, though it looks like the team has some work to do on the chassis after a crash a week ago.
The IMCA Sport Modified division is poised for their biggest year ever. Last season at the R Charles Snyder Salute, over 30 cars competed. This was a record for the division. Last season's top rookie, Jesse Merriman, will be out to see if he can get his first win in the division. He certainly looked fast enough last season. Another driver looking fast and hungry for victory is last season's point runner-up, Willie McFall.
David Marble racked up some 20 Mini Stock Main Event wins in his career as well as a championship, and he's zeroing in on his first IMCA Sport Modified feature triumph. There is a great lineup of IMCA Sport Modified competitors just waiting for their opportunity to go racing. Other drivers to watch for include rookie Joby Shields, who was rather dominant in his time in Hornets, hard charger Justin McCreadie, Braxton Possinger, Tony Duste, Tony Bartell, Bob Thomas, Danny Rule and Lloyd Speer.
The Mini Stock division has been a mainstay at Southern Oregon Speedway since the place opened, and many great drivers have come and gone. Certainly, they don't get much better than David Steele. Steele has already won two races on the circuit this year and has his sights on the top spot on Southern Oregon Speedway's all time Mini Stock win list. The only thing eluding David at his home track is a championship. He's already won one down in Yreka. Steele closed last season with three consecutive feature wins, serving notice that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
One driver hungry for his first win is Kristopher Mix. Mix added his name to the long list of champions last year through consistency, but he would very much love to be a Main Event winner. With the competition as tough as it is, getting wins isn't so easy. 2013 champion Steve Goetz and 2014 champion Gary Anderson are still on the roster. 2015 champion David Marble has his old car and 2016 champion Bob Burkett still has a car in his shop. Things could get very interesting at the front of the pack.
Not to be forgotten is the driver of the fast Pinto Wagon, Andrew Hall. Hall ended last season on a strong note with a heat race win and Top 5 feature finish, despite terrible luck throughout the season. Hunter Magnan had his share of ups and downs and still won Rookie Of The Year honors last season. With a newer car, he's hoping to be more of a factor at the front of the pack. 2016 JOAT Labs Hornet champion Tim Hedges, Mike Cloud and Patrick Stringer-Stine are other drivers to watch for this week.
Jason Stoutenburgh left little doubt who the champion was in last season's JOAT Labs Hornets class. With a dominant run of four straight Main Event victories, Jason cruised to the championship while his rival, Tim Hedges, ended the season with dismal luck. Stoutenburgh may very well be the driver to beat again this year, but he can expect some good competition.
One driver to keep an eye on is last year's second-place driver and Rookie Of The Year, Jenna Hedges. With a pair of Trophy Dash wins, as well as a heat race win, the only thing eluding Jenna is a Main Event victory. She's hoping to change that this year. Husband Tim will still be competing as well as son Ashtin Hedges. However, the Hedges family won't be the only family well-represented at Southern Oregon Speedway in this class.
The Nelson family should be at least three cars strong this year as Darrel Nelson Jr hopes to get his name back on the winner's list again. Darrel won a pair of features in 2016 but could only finish as high as second last year. He did have a Pro Stock win to his credit. Sons Zach and Ryan Nelson both have cars, and they both showed the ability to run with the front runners in their starts last season. Young Gabe Nelson should also see some track time.
One of the young stars to watch this year could be last year's fifth place point competitor, Dylan Irving. Irving came very close to winning a Main Event at the end of the season and did pick up a trophy. Likewise, teammate Brandon Wonsyld will be another driver to watch. There are more cars being built in this class, and other competitors to watch for include Bree Tritchler, Kelli Burton and John Corder.
Rain may have washed away the April 28th event, but the May 5th event is on the agenda. Everything will be ready to go for an exciting five division program. Gates open at 5 p.m. with the first race at 7 p.m. General Admission is $12 with Junior's 6-12, Veterans and Seniors all $6 each. Children 5 and under are free. For further information, go to www.southernoregonspeedway.com.