Thursday, August 9, 2018

$2,000 To Win Iron Head Nationals For Winged Sprint Cars At Southern Oregon Speedway Saturday Night

Southern Oregon Speedway Racing Discussion
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$2,000 To Win Iron Head Nationals For Winged Sprint Cars 
At Southern Oregon Speedway Saturday Night

White City, Oregon...The money is on the line for the Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Cars this Saturday night. It's the $2,000 to win Iron Head Nationals. Also competing on Saturday night will be the Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks, JOAT Labs Hornets and SODCA Dwarf Cars. On Friday night, the little track will have another Outlaw Kart program.

Perhaps it was the lure of the money and the need for some practice, but last Saturday night's Sprint Car show included the return of three past champions. Reigning champion Kyler Barraza was debuting a new car. Thanks to Prather Motorsports getting him a motor, 2016 champion Jake Wheeler was back in action, and 2004 champion TJ Winningham came out of retirement. They joined 2009 champion Charlie Thompson and point leader David Hibbard in a competitive field last week. The road to victory has gone through Hibbard. He has five wins and two seconds in his seven starts. Last week, it was Wheeler forcing Hibbard to settle for second. These two hard chargers may be the drivers to beat, but Barraza will also be fast.

Last week, Blaine Cory salvaged a third place finish with a last turn pass on Winningham. The night wasn't going too well for the third ranked driver until then, but he now has four straight Top 3 finishes. He and second ranked Jeffrey Hudson are two of the track's "Young Guns" who are eyeing the big payday. Drivers are anticipated from up north to make a run at the increased prize money, and this should be a good show. It comes two weeks before the track holds the Cascade Wingless Sprint Car Challenge Race, which will pay $3,500 to the winner.

Bobbio's Pizza Mini Stocks are back this week, and point leader David Steele has a target on him. He's won five of six Main Events so far and finished second to reigning champion Kristopher Mix the night he didn't win. Mix may seem like the driver with the best shot at Steele. However, 2013 champion Steve Goetz has a pair of seconds this season and is on the verge of a win. Second place point runner Hunter Magnan also has a second and would love to get his first career win. Garrett Fredrickson and Michael McLeod are also anticipated this week.

The battle is on in the JOAT Labs Hornets division. Bree Tritchler followed up her three straight second place finishes with a dominant first career victory last week. She trails 2016 champion Tim Hedges by just one point. The only two-time winner so far this year is Tim's son Ashtin Hedges. Tim is a one time winner as is reigning champion Jason Stoutenburgh, Brandon Wonsyld and Chris Boynton. Dylan Irving has back to back third place finishes after a rough three race stretch. Last week. he won his heat race and the Trophy Dash. Could a Main Event win be next for the second generation racer? Other drivers to watch for include Zach Nelson, Dylan Sauer and Jenna Hedges.

After hosting the big Nationals Event last week, the SODCA Dwarf Cars are back. Much like the Hornets, nobody is dominating the winner's circle this year. Kalvin Morton is the only double winner at Southern Oregon Speedway. Chad Cardoza won the most recent race, and Cody Peters, reigning champion Brock Peters, Guy Tow and two time champion Josh King are the other winners. The car count has been up this year, and that's made the competition that much tougher. Camden Robustelli has won twice at Yreka, but he's still looking for a win at his home track. Other drivers to watch for this week include Fred Hay, Ryan Smith, Mason Lewman and Sportsman Nationals winner Brett James.

The Friday night Outlaw Kart program has been exiting all season long as the future stars of the big track are racing hard and gaining valuable experience. Keaton Augustine leads the way in the Box Stock division and has won three Main Events. Uriah Sanders is still looking for his first Beginners Box Stock win, but he leads a close point race with Carson Henson. Reigning champion Trevor Grimes leads the 250 Kart standings with three wins, but two tine winner Vinny DeBenedetti isn't far behind. After winning the most recent race, Steve Rambo holds a slim one point lead over Larry Fuller in the UAS Speedway Kart class. A full lineup of Outlaw Kart racing is on tap for Friday night at the little track.

Gates open at 5:00 PM both nights with the first race starting at 7 PM. General Admission for the kart race on Friday is $10 and includes pit access. General Admission for the race on the big track on Saturday is $15. Veterans, Seniors and Juniors (7-12) are $10 and Children 6 and under are free. For further information, go to

Southern Oregon Speedway Point Standings
Kendall Oil Sprint Cars
3 David Hibbard 236
L88 Jeffrey Hudson 191
94 Blaine Cory 172
1 Bailey Hibbard 162
2m Aaron Miller 107
48e Enrique Jaime 103
101 Charlie Thompson 90
17m Merissa Henson 82
42 Theron Smith 76
04 Todd Whipple 71

Bobbio’s Pizza Mini Stocks
67 David Steele 226
33m Hunter Magnan 183
89m Kristopher Mix 162
55 Steve Goetz 135
45g Garrett Fredrickson 110

JOAT Labs Hornets
14t Tim Hedges 206
17 Bree Tritchler 205
28 Chris Boynton 165
54d Ashtin Hedges 163
7 Brandon Wonsyld 149

Pit Stops

The Western States Dwarf Car Nationals is a special event that happens four times a year. Southern Oregon Speedway gets the August race, which is hosted by the local Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Association. The SODCA makes preparations in the weeks leading up to the race as they have after race dinners on both Friday and Saturday. Saturday's meal is also the post race banquet. They brought in several great sponsors to help make the event a success, including Mary's BBQ Place, Granger Accounting & Tax Service, Little Caesars Pizza, Franz Bakery, Luke's Bakery, 7 Oaks Farm, Rogue River Denture Service, Rogue Printing and Party Place.

Some 60 drivers from Oregon, California, Nevada and Arizona came to do battle in three different classifications of Dwarf Cars. The Sportsman division seems to just barely be getting by. This is the group of new drivers, but getting double digit car count has been a challenge for this class in recent seasons. Some potential drivers opted instead to run Pro because they were concerned that there wouldn't be enough Sportsman cars. One of the reasons for a Sportsman class is to get the newer drivers to come run the Nationals and not feel intimidated by the drivers who have been racing for a while.

In the 1990's and early 2000's, the Nationals just had one division, and with 100 plus cars showing up back then, drivers would be forced to run through the alphabet mains to get to the feature if they had a bad heat race. The seven Sportsman Dwarf Cars included four SODCA drivers, including teen racers Ashleigh Strain and Michael Johnson. Strain was fourth on Friday. Johnson had better results on Saturday as he battled fellow SODCA racer Joe Sanders to finish second. Sanders was second in Friday's show for a double podium weekend.

The two stars of the weekend in this group were Nor Cal's Shawn Whitney and SODCA's Brett James. James is the grandson of past Medford Speedway promoter Cecil James and Stock Car great Markey James. He took the wheel of the #4us car and had a good battle with Whitney on Friday until Whitney spun and collected James. James, who had won the heat race, was out of the race, while Whitney won the Friday show. After a Fast Dash win, Whitney's Main Event on Saturday ended early. James took over and grabbed his first Dwarf Car feature win in a SODCA podium sweep that included Johnson and Sanders.

The Veterans run in their own group. They are the older racers, but some of these drivers are certainly as competitive as the front runners in the Pro group. Kevin Bender won the Veteran's Nationals event last season, but his weekend was in doubt after motor problems in his heat race on Friday. This was the same heat that saw Merced, CA Veteran Division Nationals winner Steve Kapaun blow a motor. Kapaun towed in from Arizona for this race, and he was lucky enough to get to borrow the Brad Ernst car for the Saturday show.

Bender started back in 20th on Friday and put on a passing clinic. 2016 Veterans Nationals winner Tim Fitzpatrick of Nevada led the way over SODCA's Fred Hay. Bender caught Hay on the final lap in an impressive drive for second. Like Fitzpatrick, Hay was a heat race winner, and he finished third on Friday ahead of Nor Cal's Buddy Olschowka in a borrowed car and 2009 Pro Nationals winner Brian Quilty. Mike Reeder won a heat race, but the Nor Cal racer barely made the Fast Dash with a tenth in Friday's Preliminary Feature.

Reeder drove an impressive race to win Saturdays Fast Dash and take the pole for the big show. Fitzpatrick finished third in the Dash, but he wasted little time taking the lead from Reeder in the Main Event. Traffic became an issue late in the race, but Fitzpatrick was not about to let that stop him from his second Southern Oregon Dwarf Car Nationals win. Reeder withstood a late threat from Bender for second. Nor Cal competitor and 2016 Antioch champion Kevin Miraglio finished fourth after winning his heat race, and Olschowka held off Hay for a fifth place finish. In a scene right out of The Flintstones and the famous "Gaggles Pisano" episode, Eric Weisler and Jack Haverty got together on the front stretch on the opening lap with Weisler driving up on the front wall and continuing. Both drivers finished in the Top 10.

The Pro Dwarf Car group generally gets the biggest car counts at the Nationals. This year, that meant 27 drivers showed up to do battle. The Diatte Racing Team came to town with eyes on the big victory. However, 2017 SBDCA champion Cameron Diatte had motor problems in his heat race and missed the B Main on Friday. Ryan Diatte may not have looked particularly impressive in finishing third behind PHRA champion Ryan Martinez and Nor Cal champion Danny Wagner in their heat race, but the best was yet to come for him. Camden Robustelli won a battle with fellow SODCA racer Kalvin Morton in their heat race, and Southern Oregon's Randy Slater had a second place finish behind SBDCA's Zach Price in the Friday B Main.

Ryan Diatte led most of the way in the Friday Preliminary Feature, while the #11 cars of Wagner and heat winner Darren Brown battled for second. Wagner ended up grabbing that finish, while SODCA's Robustelli and Josh King finished fourth and fifth, respectively. 2017 Nationals winner Cody Peters struggled in the Friday race and didn't do much better on Saturday. Top 5 Santa Maria point runner Jessica Clark had motor problems on Friday, and she was working on the motor all night to get things situated for Saturday. She is a feature winner at Santa Maria Speedway this year, and she finished outside the Top 10 on Saturday.

Saturday Preliminaries allowed Cameron Diatte to begin his effort to salvage something positive out of his weekend. Cameron won his heat race ahead of Nevada racer Dustin Loughton and then outran two-time SODCA champion Brock Peters to win the B Main. The Main Event was more of the same for Ryan Diatte and Danny Wagner as they ran 1-2 for most of the race. It was Diatte's first National's win at Southern Oregon and the second straight runnerup finish for Wagner. Arizona racer Mac Marmon made a couple of late moves in traffic to grab a third place finish. Cameron Diatte ended up a respectable fourth ahead of Martinez.

With three straight second place finishes, people were speculating about when JOAT Labs Hornets title contender Bree Tritchler might get her first career win. It happened last Friday and it wasn't even close. Tritchler battled point leader Tim Hedges early on. Once she took the lead for good, she stretched that advantage to half a lap. Hedges seemed to be losing power as the laps went on, and he finally got passed by dueling teammates Brandon Wonsyld and Dylan Irving, who finished second and third, respectively. Irving won his second Trophy Dash and a heat race as he is climbing back into Top 5 point contention after a rough three race stretch.

Hedges got good points in fourth, but he clings to a one point lead over Tritchler. The Hedges team started with four cars, but one has been parked and son Ashtin's car wasn't ready for Friday. Ashtin had been in championship contention, and his absence may have ended his hopes. Jeremy Mayfield made his first visit to Southern Oregon Speedway. He normally competes on the pavement of Roseburg. He's just looking to get more seat time at different venues, and did did okay with a fifth place finish ahead of Chris Boynton. A night later, Mayfield was in Coos Bay finishing third. Top 5 hopeful Zach Nelson was working until the last minute to get his motor ready, and he arrived late to the track. Unfortunately, he had more problems after his heat race and was a Main Event scratch.

The Valley Store All Late Model Lites point race was pretty much conceded to Charlie Eaton when Greg Arnold had to miss Saturday's race due to work. Eaton was the point leader with three feature wins, but he wasn't too comfortably ahead of Arnold. Arnold could have lost a position or two in the standings, but motor issues sidelined the father-son team of Eric and Dusty Aos from the Main Event. With reigning champion Bob Burkett missing to be with family, 2016 champion Lee Doty scored a clean sweep to move into fifth in the standings. Eaton ran second in everything to increase his lead over Arnold. Danny Prewitt made his second start in Doty's #99 car and finished third. Prewett's own car was totaled last season and he's been considering buying the #99 car.

The Kendall Oil Winged Sprint Car division saw reigning champion Kyler Barraza, 2016 champion Jake Wheeler and 2004 champion T.J. Winningham back in action last week. Winningham is the owner of the car that rookie Theron Smith has been driving, and he put his #9t on it and came out of retirement. Barraza was trying to work the bugs out of his new car and brushed the front wall in his heat race with a flat tire. He would finish sixth in the Main Event. Wheeler's return was made possible thanks to a motor from Chuck Prather.

Jake's uncle, Mike Wheeler, was looking good in his heat race for a while. Once Aaron Miller raced by for the lead, Wheeler seemed to encounter problems.  Miller won the race as he has moved into fifth in the standings, but Mike Wheeler was done for the night despite finishing second. Point leader David Hibbard started his night off with a heat race win ahead of 2009 champion Charlie Thompson. Thompson was the next driver to be derailed by motor issues while running second in the Scramble. Winningham won that race ahead of Jake Wheeler.

If you thought Winningham would be rusty, you were wrong. Not only is he a past champion at Southern Oregon Speedway, he was a star at San Jose and Baylands Speedways in California before that. He raced into the early Main Event lead, but eventually Jake Wheeler took over. You just knew Hibbard would find his way into second, but he was no match for the flying Wheeler. Hibbard settled for second, which is his worst finish of the season as he has five wins. Blaine Cory had a rough first 20 laps, but the end is what matters most. The division's top rookie, Cory made a last turn pass on Winningham for third. Second ranked Jeffrey Hudson finished fifth, but he's not too far ahead of Cory in the standings. Both drivers have finished as high as second, but they are still looking for their first wins of the season. This week is the $2,000 to win Iron Head Nationals. Might this be the night for Cory or Hudson to get that win?

When the green flag drops on Friday night's Outlaw Kart program at Little Southern Oregon Speedway, it will start the sixth event of the season there. This is the longest season the track has had in three years. There had been some questions about management's commitment to that track and the future stars of the speedway, but racers saw first hand how management feels when a race went on under threatening skies and got done. There are three more races scheduled for after this one. Bob Fredrickson has come on board as Race Director and track prep, along with Casey Shafer.

The young stars in the Beginner's Box Stocks have seen three very fast competitors this season. Chayce Smith won the opener. Chayce leads the Unrestricted Box Stock racers in Yreka. Reigning champion Malachi Johnson won three in a row, two in front of the flying Mike Wheeler Jr. Johnson moved up to Box Stocks last time as he has demonstrated that he is ready. Wheeler might be the point leader now, but he's not chasing points. This leaves Uriah Sanders and reigning Yreka Indoor champion Carson Henson batting for the lead. Sanders led most of the recent race before finishing second to Austin Bartholomew, and this enabled him to take the point lead over Henson. It's also close between Jayme DeBenedetti and Yreka point leader Shailene Horn in the race for fourth. Horn missed a race, but she is a two-time Main Event runner-up this year.

Keaton Augustine continues to win in the Box Stock division, but with the competition he's been facing, he has to win to maintain the point lead. He won for the third time in a row last time out. With his second place finish, Ryan Hirschbock moved ahead of Jacob James in a close race for second. Hirschbock has a win this season, and James has multiple second place finishes. One-time winner Taylor Fuller is also in this battle, and all four have a shot at the championship.

Trevor Grimes struggled for a couple of weeks in the 250 Karts. When Vinny DeBenedetti picked up back to back wins, people began to speculate whether DeBenedetti might just take over the lead. Grimes came back strong last time with his third win of the season. DeBenedetti finished further back, but he's still in the championship hunt. Meanwhile, Cadyn Smith used his third place finish behind newcomer Landon Green to moved into the Top 5 in points. The reigning Yreka Indoor champion may be in line for a win this week. Since she's not able to get into her Cage Kart, Brionna Fuller let Brenden Bartlett drive last time, and he ran strong in second for most of the race before spinning late. With Grimes in the field, you have to be fast to get a win here.

Brionna Fuller may not have been able to run her Cage Kart, but the reigning Yreka UAS Speedway Kart champion did race in that kart. Her hot laps were impressive enough that her mother gave the green light to do it. She was fast, and she earned a third place finish despite a pit stop. The flying Larry Fuller had a DNF last time out, and that cost him the point lead by one marker to Steve Rambo. Rambo was untouchable after 2016 Yreka champion Ed Grubb had problems, and he won ahead of teammate Johnny Hoult. With the 500 Open Karts questionable as far as who will race from week to week, the UAS Speedway Karts are providing the fastest karts on Friday nights.